Check the plans before you buy

Private Property South Africa

Find out why it's of utmost importance to check the plans of a property before you buy it.

If you’re buying a home, an illegal extension on a property can put the homebuyer in a potentially tricky situation

says Charles Haigh, broker/owner, RE/MAX Elite.

Haigh cautions potential property buyers to be on the lookout for extensions, alterations or additions to dwellings, and to specifically request a copy of the plans of the property.

“An approved plan will shed some light on the age of the property, setbacks for building lines and, of course, whether the changes have been endorsed by the local authority for building regulations,” says Haigh. “Property buyers need to be aware that the council seeks recourse and remedy for illegal extensions to properties from the registered owner of the property at the time that the notice to comply is issued.”

He notes that failure to comply will attract penalties and a stiff fine. However, there are ways that buyers can protect themselves. “Buyers who are in the process of purchasing a property can simply request a copy of the approved plans as a suspensive condition of sale. This means that unless the plans are produced, transfer will not take place and, in effect, will pass the responsibility of proving the legality of the structure to the seller or the current registered owner.”

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

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