Leaks at Window Sills

Moisture Intrusion at Window Sills

window sills

During many property inspections, I keep coming across moisture problems associated with water leaking into window sills and at windows.

Moisture absorbed into brickwork and plasterwork causes them to expand slightly. When the brickwork and plasterwork dry they contract slightly. The water absorbed by the bricks and plasterwork usually causes a slight vertical crack at the edges of the internal window sills. The paint then starts to bubble along the vertical crack. This crack may continue around the length of the window sill before you notice it. What started out as a small vertical crack then becomes a horizontal crack along the bottom of the window sill on the interior face of the sill wall.

The cracks are usually not significant unless allowed to continue unabated.

Rising Damp

Sometimes the moisture intrusion at sills are mistaken for rising damp! Water leaking in at the window sill may bypass the damp proof course (DPC) built in under the window sill as a water-resistant barrier. The moisture may then appear as bubbling paint or crazing cracking of plasterwork, or both, below the window, extending down to floor level.

On external face-brick walls, this may appear as efflorescence (a white powder).

Internally, this may appear as bubbling paint above the skirting or discolouration of the skirting itself.

How do you prevent the moisture intrusion into window sills?

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Home Warranty

Is a Home Warranty worth the money you pay?

home warranty against defects

A new way to “protect” home buyers and enrich insurance companies is available in South Africa in the form of a “home warranty” which will protect home buyers against future defects for a period of 2 years!

The “Voetstoots Clause”

Thousands of homes are sold without any guarantee that the homes are free of defects. These homes are all older homes sold with the “voetstoots” clause in the “offer to purchase”. The Consumer Protection Act does not protect you, the buyer, in this case. Selling his home is not the seller’s normal course of business.

The seller’s disclosure is required to declare all known defects. Can you trust that document?

I would not!

You have to prove that the seller was aware of the defects and did not disclose them!

The defects could be maintenance issues or latent defects that the seller knows about, but that is hidden from view. Such defects can cost a lot of money to fix. Furthermore, the legal process is expensive and frustrating if there’s any doubt that the seller did not disclose known defects.

About the home warranty

An insurance company is offering a “home warranty” to protect you from issues and defects for a two year period. In addition, the premiums are determined on an individual basis according to the insurer. However, the cost of this home warranty apparently ranges from R12,000 for a one million Rand home to R28,000.00 for a five million Rand home!

The seller can include the cover as a feature of the sale, or the buyer may insist upon the home warranty as a condition of the sale. In both cases, payment for the warranty forms part of the offer to purchase.

There are costs like certificates of compliance, levies and rates clearances, bond cancellation fees and the estate agent’s commission on the sale that all come off the selling price. Then there are the costs the seller has of buying a new property and moving to it as well!

I can only wonder how many sellers will want to cough up such a large amount of money?

Which leaves you, the buyer, to protect yourself by buying into the home warranty!

But what does the “home warranty” work and protect you against?

Apparently, the key benefits of the home warranty are a cover against:

  • Roof, structure or workmanship defects.
  • Defects with foundation design, structure or workmanship.
  • Faulty electrics, plumbing, drainage, sewerage and gas installations.

If you will have a bond on the property you want to buy, your bank will insist you have a homeowner’s insurance. Furthermore, except for the foundation and structure, a homeowners insurance will cover most of the defects mentioned above. This includes flood water or storm damage to the structure.

In addition, the insurer’s home warranty includes a property inspection beforehand!

Why buy a home warranty?

A home warranty will provide a professional inspection report that lists any exclusions or defects so you know what you are dealing with when it comes to negotiation time.

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100 things to do in South Africa

A very interesting and informative website

travel

I thought I would travel to a different topic for a change!

I suggest you have a close look at the website called Jen Reviews. Amongst other very interesting sections, it has a travel section with the “100 Best Things to do in South Africa“!

I have been to most of the entertaining and interesting things in South Africa. However, I now see that there are some that I have missed! Before I left for my trip, thankfully, I went through multiple reviews of various products, as doing that really helped me grab all the best essential products or the trip.

The Swartberg Pass, Ukhuthula in Brits, the daisies in the Namaqua National Park and Tswaing Soutpan Meteor Crater are a few that I still must visit. 

Have a look at Jen’s website. You will find places in that list that you will need to put on your bucket list!

There’s a lot more than just travel!

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Trees and Your Home

Tree Damage:

trees close to your home and clay soils can cause serious damage

Trees can cause major damage to your home, garden and boundary walls. This is especially true on the Witwatersrand where most areas and soils have some clay content. Without care and control, they may cost you a lot of money and no small amount of effort to fix.

Furthermore, shrubs should not be planted too close to the masonry walls either. The building regulations specify a minimum distance of 1,2 m for normal soils and 1,5 m if you have clayey soil.

Roots

Roots can also grow beneath your foundation and lift the house or they can leach water from the ground during dry spells and sink or settle the house unevenly.

They will cause the soil to dry out and, in the case of clay soils, to shrink.

Any subsequent watering or extended rain periods will cause the clay to swell. In this way, trees and large shrubs can cause movement on clay soils resulting in damage to your home and walls.

The amount of movement depends on the percentage of clay content, the depth and extent of the root system and the efficiency of the tree to extract moisture from the soil.

When underground sewer and water pipes develop small leaks, roots will quickly take advantage of those leaks. Before you realise it you have a blocked sewer line and pools of water and sewage in your yard.

What not to plant

All trees should be regarded as a potential source of damage. The following varieties are, however, particularly prone to causing damage:

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Cracks and how to handle them

Don’t Panic when your house cracks!

 

cracks

Most homes develop some cracks. Old and new homes can develop cracks as well depending on climatic and physical factors.

However, it is worth getting to the bottom of what is causing the cracking. A crack is actually the visible symptom of a possible problem and not the problem in itself.

What causes cracks?

New homes

In new homes, settlement may cause minor cracks. Normal foundation settlement occurs when the underlying soil compacts as a result of construction on previously undisturbed soil, changes in soil conditions and moisture. Typically small, hairline-sized cracking may be the result of the minor settlement, expansion and contraction, or changes in a season or cycle.

Usually, these defects, though often unsightly, are not structurally significant.

Thermal movements between different materials

Different materials such as timber, bricks, steel, concrete etc. have different coefficients of linear expansion. In other words, the differing materials contract and expand differently. This causes stresses in structures where they are combined and may cause cracks to form. The best way to combat these defects in plasterwork is to provide a joint between the different materials.

Older homes

In older homes, changes in climatic conditions can affect the structure. Houses move with the climate. Heat and moisture will make them expand, cold and dryness will make them contract slightly. This movement is normal and in most cases will not cause cracking. Unusually hot or cold spells can result in increased expansion or contraction of the structure which may cause cracks.

The rise or fall of the water table in very dry or very wet conditions can also affect the house’s foundations. Continue reading “Cracks and how to handle them”