Approved plans are important part of buyer’s due diligence

A buyer asks: When buying a house, is it a must to get the plans from the seller? What are the disadvantages from not requesting this? Thanks

John Graham replies:  It is always wise to get plans from the seller and to do a visual due diligence to ensure that the approved plans correspond with the “as built” structures on the property.

Many South African homes have unapproved additions and alterations and these illegal structures become the buyer’s problem after transfer.

As part of its home inspection services, HouseCheck home inspectors will check the approved plans against the structures – so long as the house inspector is given a copy of the plans for his site inspection.

Because some SA municipalities have lost some of their records, getting a copy of the approved plans is not always easy or even possible.

To be absolutely safe, the buyer should make the supply (by the seller) of a set of approved plans a condition of the sale agreement.  If the seller is unable to produce a copy of approved plans, then the buyer should insist that, prior to transfer, the seller should pay for an architect or draughtsman to draw up and submit a set of plans to the local authority for approval.

If this is done, then when today’s buyer eventually becomes a seller, there will be no problem in showing that all structures on the property are both legal and approved.

John Graham, john@housecheck.co.za

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