Home inspection industry in for a shake-up?

Private Property South Africa

Cowboy home inspectors watch out! A new bill will seek to define and regulate their role in the property industry.

The Estate Agents Affairs Board (EAAB) recently announced that the Property Practitioner’s Bill is being drafted. In essence, the Bill seeks to define and regulate the role of estate agents as well as home inspectors by recognising them as a category of property practitioners.

Eric Bell, CEO of Inspect-a-Home fully endorses the Bill as he says the home inspection industry needs to be regulated. “It is all too easy for back yard operators to begin trading with almost no traceable qualifications, undercutting established companies with sound reputations and putting consumers at risk,” notes Bell.

The Bill is arguably long overdue. Although consumers are better protected thanks to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), sellers are still allowed to include a ‘voetstoots’ clause in sale agreements which exposes buyers to risk as they essentially agree to buy a property ‘as is’, faults and all. The CPA also doesn’t apply to estate agents as they are technically already governed by the EAAB.

Should the Bill become law, estate agents will be required to offer the services of professional home inspectors. That said, it will be entirely up to the buyer to make use of a home inspection service. The Bill will also hopefully weed out unqualified, fly-by-night home inspectors. According to Bell there are numerous unscrupulous inspection companies operating in South Africa which do not have the required expertise or training to complete a proper inspection and will sometimes influence a sale that should not take place.

An example of such a sale recently took place in Durban. The buyer hired a newly established home inspection company and received a report stating the house was in good condition. On the strength of this report, the buyer purchased the house and, after moving in, discovered that quite the opposite was true.

There was borer dust everywhere and the roof cavity was so badly damaged that a structural roofing engineer was called in. Upon inspection, the engineer immediately condemned the roof structure. The roof repair quote came to well over R200 000, but with the windows, doors, and floors also being badly damaged, the total cost to repair this home was well over R500 000.

Unfortunately, as things stand, even if a home inspection company claims to be a member of home inspection body, this alone does not completely prove credibility. Bell says that there is no recognised Home Inspection Association in South Africa and companies that claim to be part of such an association are not being completely honest with consumers.

At the end of the day, when it comes to choosing a home inspector, trust your instincts, ask for references and go with well-established companies which have a good reputation. For example, Inspect-a-Home has been operating for nearly 30 years and each inspector and franchisee is compelled to attend a comprehensive in-house training course based on NHBRC and SABS regulations before being permitted to enter the field.

Moreover, whether or not the Bill goes forward, contracting the services of a reputable, professional home inspector is in your best interest. Doing so will give you peace of mind that you are buying a sound property as opposed to somebody else’s problem.

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