I am a victim, says Tobie

Here is another sad story about a house buyer who bought voetstoots without the protection of a home inspection. Now neither the bank, which gave him the bond and which insured the house, the estate agent who pocketed the commission, nor the private seller can or will help Tobie.

Tobie Smuts is a policeman who was transferred from Bloemfontein to Port Elizabeth a couple of years ago, where he bought his family a home in one of the suburbs.  Unbeknown to Tobie, his dream home had a number of problems which were not disclosed to him at the time of sale and which are now going to cost him more than R60000 to sort out.

These problems are:

  •  A 2.8m retaining wall at the back of his property which is now bulging and has developed cracks wide enough for Tobie to put his hand in. When Tobie bought the house  he says there were slight cracks in this structure.  However, Tobie, knowing nothing about building, didn’t worry about these slight cracks.

Cost to rebuild the wall around R60 000.  The bank’s home insurance company won’t come to the party – because they say the wall was not built in accordance with the National Building Regulations.  This wall, which holds back tons of ground from the neighbour’s property, was not engineer designed says the bank’s assessor; it contains insufficient or no steel reinforcement and there are also no drainage holes.  This means that underground water builds up incredible pressure behind the wall.

 Tobie now plans to fix the wall on his policeman’s salary – because he fears for the safety of his children.

  •  Illegal structures, including a garage which may now need to be demolished if the PE municipality declines to pass the plans.   Tobie now has to draw up and submit plans for all the unapproved structures – at his expense.

Tobie writes to HouseCheck:  “Thanks for this website. I wish I known about you before I bought my house.  I am sending this mail for your help.  I bought a house against a slope. I have a retaining wall and it started to fall. I informed the bank and they did all their stuff with the assessor.

“They didn’t approve the claim due to a lot of reasons I don’t understand because I am not a builder. I don’t know anything about retaining walls. How it must be built. I bought the house in good faith but unfortunately I was trapped. 

“With further inspection it was brought under my attention that there are some stuff not on the building plans.  I am in the process to rebuild the retaining wall out of my pocket and the quotations is between R54 000 and R60 000.  We are busy with reporting it to the Ombudsman.  Is there anything that you can do to help me? 

 “I can tell you my next home, you are the first people that is going to assist me thanks.

John Graham is CEO of HouseCheck. HouseCheck is a South African home inspection company providing home buyers with home inspection services nationwide.  You can contact John at john@housecheck.co.za or call him on 083 3109 766.

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