Questions about Home Inspections and Property Defects
Property defects can affect the property sale. Buying the right home is an important investment in your future. Conducting your own personal inspections will help you weed out those properties from your consideration that have too many obvious defects. It is then a smart move to discover all the remaining property defects that need attention by having the home inspected.
1) What are the “Voetstoots” Clause and patent property defects?
In South Africa, the “voetstoots” clause states that you are buying the property “as it stands“. This means with property defects and all. Therefore, as the buyer, you have no claim against the seller if there are obvious (patent) property defects. An inspection of the property, by a suitably qualified professional, will reveal these patent and non-apparent defects (latent defects).
In the event of latent defects, the seller only becomes liable for these defects if the seller was actually aware of them. The voetstoots clause in the agreement of sale does not take away the seller’s liability. Therefore, the seller is legally required to reveal any latent property defects he is aware of.
In order to find latent and patent defects, it is necessary for you to employ the services of a professional home inspector. Furthermore, any Contract to Purchase must contain the clause “Subject to a satisfactory Home Inspection Report” for you to be protected. The home inspector typically performs the inspection before your final signature on the Offer to Purchase.
2) Is it okay to perform the inspection myself?
Unless you are a home inspector yourself you should rather rely on a professional. InterNACHI home inspectors are specially trained to look for both patent and latent defects. You will probably miss out on many of them.
3) What does a home inspection cost?
Costs depend on the type of home inspection you require. Most home inspectors quote inspection fees using different methods. Some charge a flat rate by the square meters of living area, or the amount of time spent on the inspection. For a Comprehensive Home Inspection, I charge per room because this defines my workload for the inspection and the report.
4) What does the inspection cover?
To keep it short, a comprehensive property inspection covers the roof, the boundary walls and everything in between.
5) How much experience does the inspector have?
You should choose an InterNACHI certified home inspector with a proven track record. It is also preferable if he has extensive knowledge and experience in the building trade.
6) How long will the inspection take?
It depends upon the size of the home, the number of rooms and the condition of the property. An average inspection takes about 2-2½ hours (1-2 hours for a townhouse). The time is well-spent considering there are more than 500 components in the average home. A professional home inspector will be able to give you a good time estimate.
7) Does the Inspector need to specialise in residential inspection?
Most inspectors started as residential property inspectors. InterNACHI requires all InterNACHI Certified inspectors to increase their certifications every year to maintain their membership. This forms part of the InterNACHI Continuing Education Policy to improve the inspector’s training and skills to serve you better.
Furthermore, this allows inspectors to branched into other types of inspection such as commercial property inspections or mould inspection etc. As a result, InterNACHI inspectors are usually specialists in more than one type of inspection.
In addition, InterNACHI inspectors normally have more certifications than inspectors from other associations. Ask about an InterNACHI inspector’s certifications or check on their website.
8) Should I attend the inspection?
It is always better to attend the inspection if you can. You will gain invaluable insight into the issues at hand, and will also be able to ask questions on site.
9) Is it possible for a home to fail an inspection?
No! The home inspection reveals the property defects. There may be some components of the house that needs replacement or repairs. You need to know what they are, either to budget for them or to cancel the sale. Alternatively, you may still choose to buy the property with the defects.
10) Who repairs property defects that are found?
A number of options are open to you if defects come up during the inspection:
You can negotiate with the seller for repairs because it is not a requirement that defects are automatically repaired by the seller.
If the seller is not willing to do the repairs for you or he is not negotiable on a reduction in the sale price, you may terminate the contract. If you still want to purchase the house, you may have to make the repairs at your own expense.