Cape Town – You can prevent your dream home from becoming a nightmare for your wallet by opting for a house inspection before concluding a purchase, according to John Graham, CEO of building inspection company House Check.
Speaking at a recent property show held in Cape Town, Graham highlighted to potential home buyers what defects they should look out for when buying a home, and why they should consider hiring an independent home inspector to do it for them.
The home inspector will be able to help a buyer determine if they are making an “expensive mistake”, said Graham.
Potential buyers need to follow a due diligence process. One of the first problem areas to check is to make sure there are no illegal structures built on the property you want to buy. The illegality will pass from the seller to the buyer, Graham explained.
Let a property inspector compare the building plans of a property which have been approved by the municipality to what has actually been physically built, he advised.
Graham added that a prudent home-buyer would make it a condition of sale to have an updated set of approved plans provided.
When it comes to certificates of compliance for water and electricity, the potential buyer can have these certificate audited to check validity. The illegality of a fraudulent certificate of compliance that was issued will pass on to the buyer, he warned.
An independent inspector would know which illegalities to look out for and raise red flags where necessary.
“The aim is to prevent you from buying a nightmare instead of a dream home.”
How to protect yourself
In South Africa, a seller provides a “seller’s declaration” to the estate agent where the known defects of the property are disclosed.
But Graham pointed out that the seller and estate agent have not necessarily climbed into roof cavities to check for damage or leaks, and might not know if a building is structurally sound.
For this reason, he believes the estate agent and seller may not be be a completely reliable source of information for the true condition of the property.
This is where the voetstoots clause comes in - a clause to protect the estate agent and the seller, in that the buyer purchases a home as it is and must be aware and understand the risk that passes on to them when they purchase a property, Graham explained.
“If you are spending a million or billions on a house, it is worth it to spend a couple of thousand to make sure you are not wasting your money.”
Graham warned that damage to a home could require thousands to repair, which the buyer won’t necessarily be able to claim from anyone else.
Graham explained that the Property Practitioners Bill would be able to protect buyers. But this might only be finalised in 2020, and until then buyers need to take their own steps to protect themselves. This could include hiring a home inspector.
Graham advised the buyer to make it conditional in the offer to purchase for a satisfactory home inspection to be done by an independent inspector.
This will empower all parties to renegotiate the deal based on the results of the inspection, and will allow for the buyer to cancel the transaction if they are unhappy with the damages.
“It allows everyone to make an informed decision,” said Graham. He explained that the home inspection builds bridges for trust between buyers, sellers and agents.
“Trust is created by knowing the facts,” he said.
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