Home Inspectors and Inspections

Home inspections: A must for every home buyer

inspector
Jurie Fourie – Owner of THE HOME DETECTIVE and Certified Home Inspector and Member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

When you’re buying a home, you don’t want to skip the home inspection step. Home inspections are an important part of the home buying process. An inspection by an InterNACHI certified home inspector can prevent you from purchasing a home with serious issues such as mould, structural defects, faulty plumbing and more.

Firstly, you should insert a contingency in the “Offer To Purchase” which states that the sale is dependant on a satisfactory home inspection. In addition, you should also agree on an “Inspection Contingency Period” which will give you time to have a home inspection done. Furthermore, this period should be between four to seven days depending on how soon you can get an appointment with a home inspector.

Based on the results of a home inspection, the contingency will then give you the right to cancel the sales agreement. In addition, you can walk away from the transaction without recourse if you are unsatisfied with the seller’s response to a request for an inspection and inspection contingency.

You lose the right to have the home inspected and to negotiate over defects found in a home once the contingency period ends.

What is a home inspection?

As a home buyer, it is your right to have your future home inspected for potential faults and defects. Therefore, don’t skip this step!

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Boundary Walls

Preventing and Repairing Cracks in Boundary Walls

Damaged boundary walls around your property can spoil the whole look and feel of your property. Furthermore, cracked and leaning walls can also pose a danger to passers-by should the wall fall over.

boundary wall
This was a wall that was butt jointed against the neighbour’s wall. The danger here is that when the wall falls over portions of the wall will be spread over the pavement and possibly into the road. If a pedestrian is close by serious injury could result!

This article explains the correct way to repair boundary walls and install expansion joints!

Firstly, if your walls have ugly cracks and broken plasterwork and brickwork at the expansion joints do not plaster them up as shown in the photos below!

boundary wall
This expansion joint was chopped open and plastered up. The joint will crack at the joint again. This is a waste of time and money and will cause more problems than before!

Furthermore, the work done on these boundary walls will result in more cracking in the walls!

Many boundary walls and retaining walls may fail prematurely due to the lack of provision for movement. However, this is usually not a fault in the materials used, but usually a lack of proper design. Even when the design is correct, the construction of the boundary wall and expansion joints are often faulty.

What is an expansion joint?

It is a separation between two portions of the same structure. A butt joint in a boundary wall is not an expansion joint!

Expansion joints in boundary walls

When building a boundary wall, an expansion joint is a separation designed to relieve stress on building materials caused by movement induced by thermal expansion and contraction. They are therefore specifically provided in boundary walls to avoid cracks occurring in the wall.

Temperature changes and seasonal changes mostly cause the movement in the boundary walls. However, expansion joints also permit movement due to ground settlement, seismic events and expansive soils.

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Estate Agents and Property Inspections

When Estate Agents Should Insist On An Independent Inspection

independent inspection
An independent inspection and report protects both the estate agent and the seller

The EAAB (Estate Agents Affairs Board) encourages buyers to have a home inspection. However, which buyer ever reads the articles on the EAAB’s website? Maybe estate agents read the articles and the EAAB encourages estate agents to advise buyers to have an independent property inspection?

Most estate agents prefer not to have an independent property inspection, mostly because of concerns over defects that may make the sale fall through and because of the cost involved.

Estate agents should know better! Insisting on an independent property inspection may save the agent from strained relationships with both sellers and buyers. Furthermore, an independent inspection will prevent damage to their reputation or possibly even costly liability later on, should problems occur with the condition of the property.

An independent home or property inspection doesn’t kill a deal by forcing sellers to disclose defects that they wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Any defect that is serious enough to kill a real estate transaction is best discovered before it can kill the deal or result in litigation at a later stage.

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Plants Growing against Your House.

The Danger of Creeper Plants Growing Against Your House

Creeper Plants

A while back, I inspected a house in an older part of Johannesburg. From the road, the house was very pretty with an ivy creeper growing on the walls. However, having plants winding their way up your outside walls can cause actual damage to your house. Therefore, you should think twice before allowing creepers to grow on any wall in the first place.

In fact, the best advice is not to have any gardens within 1 metre of your home! Watering gardens against your home can cause uneven settlement of the foundation and cracks in your house.

The worst plants to plant against your house are destructive plants known as “self clingers”.

Self-clinging creepers

Self clinger creeper’s rootlets go into existing fine cracks and fissures, using them to enhance adhesion and occasionally penetrating the interiors of buildings through them. The mortar between bricks can be loosened through this activity and is often torn away from the wall when a creeper is removed. The same strong adhesion can result in chunks of plasterwork being pulled away, attached to the creeper vines.

In addition, on roof structures, creeper tendrils and rootlets can work their way under roof tiles and other roofing materials. Unless you remove the creeper maintenance, like painting and roof repairs, is impossible.

Moreover, any plants and shrubs with their foliage against your home may even dislodge gutters and roof tiles and can hold damaging moisture against wall surfaces causing moisture to penetrate into the wall and roof structure of your home.

Some articles and posts claim not all climbing plants bad for your house and some can provide “genuinely benefits”. However, the detrimental effect of having these climbers on your walls far outweigh any benefits they may have. Moreover, some climbing plants are very aggressive in the way they attach themselves to your walls and, if left unchecked, can cause serious structural problems.

Which creepers to avoid?

Ivy is a prime example. The sort of plants to avoid having grown up your wall are often the ones that have “suckers” or little mini branches like spikes, that burrow under the paint into the plastered walls and into the mortar joints of the face brick walls for a foothold.

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Efflorescence

WHAT ARE THOSE POWDERY WHITE AREAS ON MY BRICK WALLS?

 

efflorescence

Efflorescence is one sign that is often dismissed as just being an eyesore and is given surface treatment only.  This is the presence of the white powder that forms on the face or surface of concrete, plasterwork and brickwork.

It is a cause for concern!

 

Efflorescence is a build-up of minerals and salts on the surface of the concrete, brick and plasterwork due to repeated bouts of excess water in the material. The minerals and salts that naturally occur in the material are dissolved when the brickwork, plasterwork or concrete is waterlogged with water.

Concrete, pavers, brickwork and plasterwork are porous and can absorb or wick water and draw salts to it like a tree transports water from its roots to its leaves. This is capillary action. When efflorescence happens, it can indicate a moisture issue that could potentially damage the structure.

When water reaches a building material’s surface, evaporation will occur. Water absorption and wicking will continue after the water evaporates and the salt is left behind. This eventually creates a high salt concentration, leading to osmosis.

What is Osmosis

 

Simply put, osmosis in building materials is the movement of water from a region of low salt concentration to a region of high salt concentration in the material.

During osmosis, when water moves toward salts and minerals to reduce its concentration, it can cause large hydrostatic pressures within the porous building material. As a result, these pressures can damage or destroy the material.

Osmosis can cause pressure that ranges up to 200 bar, exceeding the structural strength of concrete. Therefore, osmosis may result in porous building material cracking, flaking or falling apart. Continue reading “Efflorescence”