Buying a house is such an exciting and yet nerve wracking experience

Buying a home? – Have you inspected it yet?

Once you find a house to love and you start thinking seriously about putting in an offer…. then that is the time to think with your head as well as with your heart.

HouseCheck home inspections are there to help home buyers make sure that choosing the right home is a good decision in every way.

I can’t tell you how many times we have saved our customers a ton of future problems when we have found faulty unsafe geysers which could have burst and emptied hot water on sleeping children; horrible damp with dangerous mould spores; rotten roof timbers and roofs which will leak once the dry season is over.

When making a final decision about which house to buy, it is natural that you and your family will be considering very important personal factors like:

  • Can we afford this house without too much stress?
  • Will our family and its furniture fit in – are the rooms big enough?
  • Is there enough space in the garden for the kids and pets to play?
  • How convenient is the house to schools, work and shops?
  • How safe would it be for me and my loved ones to live there?
  • What are the neighbours like?

HouseCheck – reducing your risk

While you are pondering these important personal questions, more and more South African home buyers are now also asking HouseCheck to make sure that there are no unpleasant hidden surprises lurking in in places like the roof and the roof cavity.

Very important: Voetstoots clause can cause buyers huge stress

Judging by the number of calls HouseCheck gets each week some buyers face even greater problems and disappointment. This is very sad and yet totally avoidable.

When you find the property you love, the one that fills you with a promise of a great future, the estate agent will ask you to sign an offer to purchase form (OTP). This document sets out the conditions of sale such as the price you are prepared to pay, how long you have to raise a bond and the OTP almost always contains a standard voetstoots clause.  This voetstoots clause ensures that for practical purposes you give up most of your legal rights if you later find that the property has serious defects.

A voetstoots clause or “as is” clause forms part of most South African property transfers. Including this clause in an offer to purchase is the standard way the real estate and conveyancing industry works in South Africa. If you are buying a second hand or pre-owned home, for practical purposes, you sign away your rights when signing an offer to purchase form containing a voetstoots clause.

HouseCheck peace of mind comes in two flavours

You have two options when considering a HouseCheck.

  • A HouseCheck Comprehensive Inspection  is designed to give the South African home buyer a complete picture of the condition of the house including all observed structural, safety and functional defects and also maintenance issues.  A cost estimate for repairs is included.
  • A HouseCheck Vital Home Inspection covers only the critical core areas of the house – it is a report on the true condition and facts on the most Vital components of a house which are often missed or overlooked by buyers, estate agents and sellers.

 Areas Covered




Structure – internal and external walls (including windows & doors), foundation structure, floor slabs tick  tick
Damp – rising and penetrating damp, roof flashings and waterproofing tick tick
Geysers – we check that this potentially very dangerous item has been safely installed – according to regulations? tick tick
Roof – roof structure and insulation, roof covering, fascia and barge boards, rainwater goods (gutters & downpipes) tick tick
Ground & storm water drainage – erf grading and storm water management tick tick
Exteriors – including paving, driveways, boundary walls & gates; pools, lapas etc cross tick
Interiors – including finishes, ceilings, floors, cupboards and sanitary ware cross tick
Compliance – HouseCheck does not issue compliance certificates (that’s the responsibility of various licensed specialists and is normally paid for by the seller). But we report on all observed problems with the electrical, gas, electric fence and plumbing installations.  We also report on observed evidence regarding active or non-active wood borer or termites. cross tick
Due diligence of building plans – If the approved municipal plans are made available to the HouseCheck inspector we will do a visual comparison of the approved plans with the “as built” structures. cross tick

All HouseCheck inspections are conducted by trained and qualified SAHITA certified home inspectors. 

The Comprehensive Inspection.  Here the HouseCheck inspector covers the vital areas of your home plus all the maintenance and patent defects as well. This inspection will check – among other things –  for leaking taps, floor coverings, condition of cupboards, hinges, glazing, shower enclosures and will even do a due diligence report on whether your home is built according to current plans (if plans are supplied).

The HouseCheck Comprehensive Inspection will provide you with a summary of defects, together with cost estimates, divided into two categories: The first will focus on the structural , functional and safety issues with your house. The second will focus on the maintenance issues. This allows the home buyer to plan the stuff that needs to be addressed immediately and also to plan for maintenance in the next while. A win-win situation that will allow you to get the most benefit from your new home.

The HouseCheck VITAL inspection, has been priced so that this important report is affordable for most home buyers.  The HouseCheck VITAL report is by far the best way buyers can protect themselves. HouseCheck VITAL inspections are independent and factual.   HouseCheck VITAL inspections conducted by trained and qualified SAHITA certified home inspectors. The HouseCheck inspectors will look at all the crucial areas in your home to ensure that there are no hidden surprises after you move in.

Together with the legally required certificates of compliance – electrical, gas, electric fence, wood borer and plumbing (Cape Town only) – the HouseCheck VITAL report will give you, the buyer, complete peace of mind that your dream home won’t turn into your worst nightmare!

Won’t I pick up these defects myself?

You will be amazed at what defects you and the estate agent can so easily miss. At HouseCheck we have had buyers who are engineers miss defects. Some sellers are not even aware of impending disasters waiting to happen.

We urge you to read through our report on the 8 Most Common Problems you are likely to find in your new home AFTER moving in.

Finding a defect in your new home is not necessarily a deal killer. But knowing what the defects are AND having an estimate for repair will allow you to structure a better deal. And if we do pick up an absolute disaster then it may be better to walk away from the deal.

How do I protect myself as a buyer?

Simple… you should insists that the estate agent add in a HouseCheck contingency clause to your offer to purchase. 

When asked to sign an offer to purchase ask your estate agent or conveyancing attorney to include the following clause:

“This offer is subject to the purchaser obtaining a report on the property from HouseCheck within 7 days of the final signature on this offer and is also subject to the purchaser being satisfied with the condition of the property as detailed in the HouseCheck report – specifically with regard to patent or latent defects documented in the HouseCheck report”.

How do I get a HouseCheck Comprehensive or VITAL report?

Commissioning a HouseCheck report is as simple as filling in the form below to get your free quote. If the quote is acceptable to you the HouseCheck inspector will arrange with your estate agent or seller for a convenient time to do the inspection. Dependant on the size of the property the onsite inspection mostly takes between two and four hours.

You will receive your report within one working day of the inspection.

Then armed with your HouseCheck report you can go back to the seller and estate agent and negotiate the best deal for each party. If the HouseCheck VITAL or COMPREHENSIVE report has uncovered serious problems, then you will often recover more than the cost of the HouseCheck in this process.

John Graham, the HouseCheck Chairman, has written a very informative eBook on buying homes in South Africa. We would love you to have a copy of this eBook with our compliments. In this book you will be led through the entire home buying process and you will uncover excellent advice on how to make this process as streamlined as possible.  You can download this eBook here.

“Grateful to have a good report for Agent to offer prospective buyer”

- Nell Browne

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