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Cape Town - Our little house in Clanwilliam is starting to get more of a homely, rather than a “holiday house” feel, as we potter about making the whole concept practical and enjoyable.

If you’re thinking of buying a house, here are some more points to be considered, as suggested by my regular correspondent, John from House Check.

Buying a house, especially if you are a first-time buyer, is nerve-wracking and expensive. Once you’ve added the purchase price, transfer duty, legal fees and the cost of moving – hiring a van or furniture remover, curtains, schooling etc – it can seem overwhelming.

Most home buyers get so caught up in the pressure of negotiating the price of the home, finding money for the deposit and getting a bond that they don’t even stop to think about the wisdom of getting a home inspection.

It’s only after you’ve gone through all the problems of buying a house and moving in that the problems present themselves and, by this time, for most practical purposes, it is too late to do much about it.

Most buyers in South Africa don’t bother with a home inspection, compared with overseas where up to 80 percent of house sales are concluded only after a thorough home inspection.

There are a number of reasons why most South African buyers don’t bother with a home inspection:

* Most buyers are not even aware of home inspection services.

* Few estate agents recommend a home inspection – unless specifically asked by the buyer. The ethics of this are questionable, especially if the agent wants the buyer to sign an offer containing a voetstoots clause.

* Buyers are often financially stretched and the prospect of yet another fee to be paid is worrying.

* The estate agent and the seller usually assure the buyer that the property is basically sound and the buyer, after a quick walk through the house, agrees. The house looks well-maintained – how much could possibly be wrong with it?

An average home inspection should pick up problems such as a dangerously installed geyser, a leaking roof (hard to detect in the dry season), drainage and damp issues, electrical and plumbing concerns, and raise a red flag.

Make sure your estate agent writes into your offer to purchase that the deal is contingent on your being satisfied with the results of a home inspection, which is to be done within seven days of acceptance of your offer.

Set aside a few thousand rand to pay for the inspection. The actual fee will depend on the size of the property. Ask friends and relatives for a recommendation for a reputable home inspector and get a quote before or as soon as your offer is accepted. Be sure to get a sample report from the home inspector so that you have a fair idea of the quality of the service.

Home inspections cost a bit, but they could end up saving you thousands in repairs.

 

Questions and answers

* Lilian employed – according to his quotation – a contractor registered with the Building Industries Bargaining council. Lilian sent me a long list of complaints for a contract that was quoted for R2 900, labour only. I have checked his membership on the BIBC website and can find no record of his name or membership number.

The first lesson is, check for yourself to see if your “registered contractor” is really registered. I will hand this query to the BIBC to investigate.

Second, I would strongly advise against a “labour only” contractor, where you are buying the materials. In a scenario like this there will always be the argument about what was at fault when something goes wrong, so always go with supply and fix. She added: “All three of my paint rollers are ruined due to them being coated in gloss paint but never cleaned off – they are now only fit for the rubbish bin.”

Never lend your contractor your tools – any person who does not provide his own tools should not be employed.

I know hindsight is an easy science; I am going to help Lilian and try and follow up on this one.

* Linda has renovated a couple of homes and has had her fair share of problems with contractors; she wants me to publish her comment to help others buying a home.

 

When buying our house in 2010 we discovered the electricity compliance certificate was not worth the paper it was written on. In fact, it was fraudulent.

My warning to unsuspecting home buyers is not to trust the electricity compliance certificate that comes with the house. Rather insist on your own registered electrician doing the inspection or ask the Western Cape electrical inspection authority to do an inspection if the seller has already submitted the certificate. They have the legal authority to compel the electrician to rectify any errors at their own expense. We did not know about this – would have saved us a ton of money had we known. - Weekend Argus

* Please keep your questions or comments coming to [email protected] or sms only to 082 446 3859.

 

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