Home owners not adequately protected by legislative requirements

Home owners not adequately protected by legislative requirements

Properly anchoring the roof to the walls in fundamental for structural soundness.  Yet there appears to be a loophole in the legislative requirements which may leave home buyers exposed.

HouseCheck was recently commissioned to do a HouseCheck on two relatively newly built duplex units.

When inspecting the roof cavity it was very apparent that the method of securing the roof structure to the walls was not compliant with SANS 10400. Without going into technical detail, the builder had deviated from the standard and this raised the concern of the inspector. Now as HouseCheck inspectors are not engineers our advice was that the seller should be asked to provide the buyer with a roofing engineers A19 certificate.  An A19 certificate is a legal requirement for municipalities prior to issuing a certificate of occupation.

Our client, an investor who looks for high-end properties as residential stock, uses our services to limit his risk. He has been burned before. He has a few properties where the hidden defects have come back to haunt him and he has rather adopted a cautious approach by always getting HouseCheck to inspect before he finalises his purchase.

This is contrary to conventional wisdom which dictates that newly built properties have fewer problems and therefore a detailed home inspections is not necessary. Estate agents usually advise buyers to do a home inspection on older properties only. Nevertheless, this inspection highlighted an important defect. One that had the potential to cause considerable loss.

The buyer asked the agent to deal with the issues in our report and he asked our HouseCheck inspector to be present at his meeting with the seller.  The seller said that she had an engineers certificate to say the structure was compliant and she produced a copy. It wasn’t in the standard A19 format as specified in the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act – yet the municipality had accepted this “A19 roof certificate. However, the certificate contained a  disclaimer to say that the engineer did not verify the method of anchoring the roof structure to the building.

HouseCheck was recently asked by another client to do an inspection on a property that had been damaged in a storm. A section of the roof had been blown off and the rain had destroyed carpets, cupboards and some furniture. The insurance company had repudiated the claim (running into R200 000) because the assessor had determined that the roof construction had not been in line with SANS 10400 standards. We had asked the Client, affected by the storm, to provide the assessors report, which he duly did, and we had to agree with most of the assessor’s observations.

Home owners policies are very specific about their terms and conditions. In most cases, they stipulate that construction must conform with the National Building Regulations. As this client found out to his detriment, his property did not comply and therefore his insurer refused to pay out the hundreds of thousands of rands of damage.

Coming back to the first property inspection that we were commissioned to do.  Here we had a home owner or seller who thought she was totally compliant and yet there was an obvious problem, which in a similar insurance claim, her insurer most certainly would have used against her if the roof had subsequently suffered major damage in a storm.

How many home owners are totally unaware that they face this type of risk? Would you like to face an unexpected R200 000 bill for something you didn’t know about?

This actual case study shows how important it is for buyers to commission inspection reports when buying existing homes from individuals and to commission snag reports when buying new homes.

In the scenario described in this blog post the sale has not been concluded and now we have an anxious buyer, seller and estate agent.  HouseCheck has made a recommendation which we believe is fair to all of these parties. As soon as this scenario has played out we will tell you what our recommendation was and how the situation has been resolved.

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