Home inspection services are still relatively unknown in South Africa, unlike overseas countries like the US and UK, where up to 80% of house sales are concluded only after a thorough home inspection.
John Graham of home inspection company, HouseCheck, says that most home buyers in South Africa don’t bother with a home inspection – even if they are aware of them.
“Buyers are often financially stretched and are tempted to save the home inspection fee, which is understandable. However, many buyers afterwards regret not having commissioned a home inspection that would have highlighted problems before they committed to buying the property.”
He says distraught home buyers often contact him once they have bought a property and have found problems after moving in. But, unfortunately, it's often too late to sort things out at this point.
A home inspection shouldn't be confused with a valuation by an estate agent or bank valuer. A valuation provides an approximate indication of the market value of a property. In contrast, a home inspection report is a detailed analysis of the condition of all the various components of the property.
Graham says a home inspection report should document and evaluate significant defects and safety concerns or potential threats concerning the property.
A professional home inspection should include an examination of:
- the roof and roof cavity
- walls, floors and ceilings
- doors, windows and cupboards
- plumbing, electrical and gas installations systems
- visible portions of the foundations
- exterior features such as paving, boundary walls and gates, swimming pools and lapas.
“A professional home inspection is much more than a list of all the defects in a home. A home inspector should identify any issues and suggest remedial action and indicate the potential costs of repairs,” says Graham.
“A home inspector should also identify any obvious building regulations or law violations. Problems like these are quite common in older homes built before the latest building regulations. Home buyers need to be aware of these deficiencies to make more accurate decisions on how to proceed.”
If the home inspection report reveals significant problems, home buyers can discuss options for resolving them with the sellers. This could, for instance, result in the buyers putting in a lower offer or the sellers agreeing to fix the problem. Alternatively, buyers must knowingly accept the property with all its defects.
A home inspection helps prevent future legal complications and general unpleasantness.
“This is why estate agents are increasingly recommending that buyers commission a home inspection report,” says Graham.
Fees are determined by the type of inspection commissioned. For example, a comprehensive report for a typical three-bedroom home with two bathrooms will cost about R4 200.
According to HouseCheck’s website, the standard comprehensive home inspection report is the most popular product.
The vital inspection report focuses on five critical areas of a property and may be suitable for budget-conscious buyers.
Sellers and estate agents may want the red flag reports, and if you are a developer or are building your own home, the snag reports would be helpful.
“A home inspection is the most effective way to ensure that a property doesn’t have any major flaws which may cost you dearly in future,” says Graham.