Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make but too many people buy this expensive asset without really knowing what they’re buying.
Homeowners should have the property professionally inspected before signing a disclosure document or purchasing agreement.
Most buyers are not property inspectors or builders so they might not know that a fresh coat of paint and some new pot plants could be hiding serious structural problems that could turn their dream home into a house of horrors.
Know the real cost – have a home inspection!
Eric Bell of Inspect-A-Home warns that you should have the property professionally inspected before signing a disclosure document or purchasing agreement. Although some estate agents might try and get you to sign a disclosure document, it is not required by law. Remember that by signing these documents, you are accepting that the house is structurally sound. This means if you end up with a house which needs unexpected repair work, you will have no recourse with the seller or estate agent.
Unless you are a structural engineer or qualified building inspector, it is unlikely that you will be able to identify latent property defects. Surface impressions may mask underlying problems that only arise months after a purchase has been made.
For example, a Westville couple noticed a patch of damp on the ceiling and some wet flooring and requested an inspection of their newly purchased home. Inspect-A-Home discovered the slate roof was leaking as the Malthoid underlay was completely rotten. This wasn’t disclosed to the new buyers and is an expensive item to replace. These buyers were released from the property agreement based on the professional report but other buyers have not been so lucky, facing repair bills worth hundreds of thousands of rands.
A professional home inspection will ensure a true reflection of the condition and cost of the property and peace of mind.
Consumers fight back
Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with estate agents who push property deals through without complete disclosure and have brought a number of cases before the Estate Agents Affairs Board (EAAB) and the National Consumer Commission. The EAAB points out that unless the property has undergone an inspection by accredited professionals, there is no guarantee that latent defects will be discovered and unexpected costs won’t arise. A professional home inspection will ensure a true reflection of the condition and cost of the property and peace of mind.
What should I do?
Although over 90 percent of houses may pass inspection, the balance will have structural damage that could have serious implications that affect the properties price, future repair jobs and your safety. Inspecting the property you want before buying it is a must. It is better that an inspection take place beforeany sales agreement is signed, but it can also be done afterwards if defects are found. However, this could lead to costly litigation which can be avoided if an inspection and report by an accredited home inspection agency is supplied. In most cases, once the defects are discovered the cost of repairs is paid for by the seller and this repays the cost of the inspection tenfold.
While highlighting structural concerns and recommending repair solutions, Inspect-a-Home will not recommend service providers, as this is a conflict of interest and ensures that you will receive a fair and unbiased assessment of the property. Inspect-a-Home will also come back to check that the repairs have been properly carried out, says Bell.