About Property Inspection
Having a property inspection advises you of the condition of the property before you buy it. A property inspection helps you avoid problems and extra costs. The best way of doing this is to get a Buyer’s Comprehensive Property Inspection or Comprehensive Home Inspection. A Pre-purchase Home Inspection or Comprehensive Property Inspection are other names for this type of inspection.
The following information explains what you need to know about property inspection.
A Buyer’s Comprehensive Property Inspection or Pre-purchase Comprehensive Property Inspection
It’s one type of home inspections you can have done. A buyer’s home inspection is your protection against the ‘voetstoots’ clause. When you have made your purchase subject to a favourable home inspection you have this inspection done. A Buyer’s Property Inspection report is a written account of the condition of the property. It will tell you about any significant building defects or problems such as rising damp, movement in the walls (cracking), safety hazards or a faulty roof to name a few. You would have this done as part of your condition of sale so you can identify any problems with the property which, if left unchecked, could prove costly to repair.
Note: A property inspection report is different from a ‘pest inspection report’. A home inspection report will identify any visual damage caused by termites or woodborer. However, it usually won’t include the existence of termites or other timber destroying pests.
Why do you need one?
Four good reasons why you need a buyer’s home inspection done:
- Protection against the Voetstoots clause in your Offer to Purchase
- You will know in advance what the problems are.
- This allows you to negotiate a lower price for the property i.e. you may have to pay to repair some of the problems.
- You can get specialist advice about any major problems and maintenance issues, and how they will affect the property over time.
Of course, the home inspection will be one of many things you will need to consider before buying a property.
Choosing the right inspector to inspect the property
You should always use a suitably certified home inspector, such as a certified member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. A professional inspector will see through any cosmetic improvements covering up faults that might otherwise be missed by an untrained eye.
The format and amount of detail in my report will depend on your property type, its size, age and condition. These factors will also influence the cost of my inspection and report.
My home inspection reports adopt a standard format recommended by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. All my reports include marked-up photographs.
My home inspection report includes the information to make you aware of the property’s condition and identify any significant problems.
However, a home inspection report is generally a visual inspection only and may not identify hidden problems or deli.
I inspect all accessible parts of the property. These include the following areas:
- all the interior of the building
- the exterior of the building
- roof space and roof structure
- under-floor space (if it exists)
- roof exterior
- the site.
My home inspection report includes the following:
- garage, carport and garden shed
- separate laundry or toilet
- small retaining walls (ie. non-structural)
- fencing and boundary walls
- surface water drainage
- stormwater run-off
- paving and driveways.
Make sure you specify any particular items or areas on the site that you want inspecting.
The report should also include the following information:
- your name
- the address of the inspected property
- reason for the inspection
- the date of inspection
- the scope of the inspection
- a summary of the overall condition of the property
- a list of any significant problems that need fixing
- if necessary, a recommendation that a further inspection or assessment be carried out by a suitably qualified specialist. This can be a suitably qualified electrician, plumber, roofing contractor, structural engineer etc.
The summary is possibly the most important part of the report. It lists the major faults found in the property and its condition considering its age and type.
Things not included
A home inspection report usually will not include:
- parts of the property that were not or could not be inspected
- matters outside the home inspector’s expertise
- an estimate of repair costs
- minor defects (chipped paint, corners or tiles unless they are structural issues)
- termite detection.
A home inspection report is not an all-encompassing report dealing with every aspect of the property. It’s a report to identify any major problems that are visible at the time of the inspection. The extent of any problem will depend to a large extent upon the age and type of property.
While the report will give you valuable expert advice, it will not cover everything. This is explained by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors’ Standards of Practice.
I normally would not check things such as:
- foundation footings (below the ground, cannot be inspected visually)
- concealed damp-proofing
- concealed electrical wiring and smoke detectors (lights, switches, plug points and distribution boards are inspected)
- concealed plumbing, drainage and gas installations
- watering systems
- alarm and intercom systems
- appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, tumble dryers, ducted vacuum systems or hot plates (stoves, hobs and extractors are inspected)
- television reception
Sectional title properties
With sectional title properties, I only inspect and assess the condition of the interior and immediate exterior of the unit. If you want me to inspect other common property areas you will need to request a ‘special-purpose’ or ‘single component’ property inspection report.
Most older properties will have minor defects such as blemishes and physical damage to materials and finishes. I would not normally report on minor defects and imperfections unless the property is a new home or building.
Factors affecting the report
There are certain conditions you should be aware of that will affect the final report. These include:
- problems that are difficult to detect due to weather or other conditions such as rising damp and leaks if there has not been any rain
- the information you provide to the home inspector
- defects that are deliberately covered up to make an area appear problem free.
It may be difficult to detect leaks and other problems if services have not been used for some time. For example, if the shower has not been used recently or if it has not rained recently, leaks or dampness may not be obvious. However, even under these conditions, there are normally many clues of such defects that I will detect and report.
Using the report for other purposes
Your property inspection is carried out specifically for your information. It gives you an expert’s view of the condition of the property you are interested in buying.
It is not a certificate of compliance with any law, warranty or insurance policy against future problems. Nor is it intended to estimate the cost of fixing problems. However, with my report, you will be able to get a rough estimate of the repair cost.
Ordering a report
Depending on my workload I will need a minimum of 1½ days notice to do a property inspection.
When ordering your home inspection report, make sure you give yourself enough time to make a decision. You should get the seller’s permission to have the property inspected as early in the sale negotiations as possible. This will help you decide if the property is worth buying. There may be little point in spending money on conveyancing until you know the condition of the property.
The cooling-off period
When you buy a property under R250,000 a cooling-off period applies. In South Africa, there is a 5 business day cooling-off period after you exchange contracts. During this period, you have the option to get out of the contract as long as you give written notice. A cooling-off period does not apply if you buy a property above R250,000 or at auction.
Other types of reports
Different types of property inspections and property inspection reports are available depending on your requirements:
Single Component or Special Purpose Property Inspection
I often receive calls from clients who are looking for a home inspection for a single component in the home. For instance, this can be a roof leak, a bulging ceiling, or damp problems and so on.
A single component inspection is also the cheapest inspection, costing less than R1000.00 depending on where you are in my inspection area. Moreover, if you want a second component inspected at the same time, this will only cost an additional R500.00.
Critical Property Inspection
This is the home inspection for the budget conscious! The Critical Property Inspection costs about ¾ of the price of a Comprehensive Property Inspection.
A critical home inspection covers the major components which are the roof, structure, windows and doors, electrical and plumbing.
Mould Property Inspection
You should have a mould inspection when you suspect you might have a mould problem in your property. Have your property professionally inspected when you experience breathing difficulties (shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or respiratory irritation). You may also experience neurological difficulties (headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea).
If your house has obvious mould contamination such as parts of the wall or ceiling, an inspection is essential. My mould inspection will identify and confirm the true extent of the problem and provide a recommendation on how to rectify it
Building Progress Inspection
When you are building your own home or alterations and extensions are being constructed you need progress inspections.
Furthermore, pricing is negotiable depending on the number of inspections you require.
New Property Inspection (snag list)
A snag or new property report covers the same items as a pre-purchase property inspection report but it also includes:
- A list of minor problems
- Recommendation of the repairs and maintenance work needed.
Check on what information I include in your property inspection report and inform me if you require additional information.
Commercial Property Inspection
Whether you are considering buying or renting a commercial property it advisable to have a Commercial Property Inspection. As part of your “due diligence”, I can provide you with a detailed evaluation of the building and its components. Furthermore, I will advise you of the overall condition and make recommendations regarding maintenance and improvements.
Pest inspection report
My home inspection report will identify any visual damage caused by termite activity. However, it won’t include the detection of whether termites and other timber destroying pests still exist.
You should have a pest inspection done as well as the property inspection. A pest inspection is necessary where termites are a problem.
Pre-listing or Seller’s Property Inspection
Sellers will sometimes get a property inspection report on the property so they can give it to interested buyers. While this can be helpful, it is better from your point of view to get your own independent report.
If you end up buying the property you may need to organise repairs or renovations before you move in. If this is the case, there are some important things you should know. When using a builder or tradesperson for work where the value is over R1,000 the builder or tradesperson must:
- be correctly licensed for the work they are doing.
- provide you with a written contract where the value of work (labour and materials) is over R1,000.00.
- issue or provide you with certificates of compliance or conformity for electrical, electric fencing, plumbing and gas installations. This applies to any repair or change made to the installation. Furthermore, you must obtain an occupation certificate from the builder for extensions and renovations.