Home inspections – how buyers and sellers can benefit


It is any buyer’s worst nightmare – finding out their dream home has many problems – therefore, a home inspection must be carried out before signing on the dotted line. For sellers wanting to make a quick sale, going the extra step of getting an inspection shows potential buyers just how serious you are about selling.

By having a professional inspector examine the property, you will be able to uncover any safety concerns, structural issues, or repairs that may not be immediately visible.

In South Africa, home inspections are not mandatory, but they are highly recommended. A home inspection can be especially important if you are purchasing a property that is older or has had significant renovations. It can also be helpful if you are concerned about potential issues like water damage, termites, or mold.

When choosing a home inspector, it’s important to look for someone who is licensed and qualified to perform inspections. You may also want to ask for references from previous clients and check online reviews.

During a home inspection, the inspector will typically examine the following areas:

  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Windows and doors

After the inspection, the inspector will provide you with a detailed report outlining any issues they found, along with recommendations for repairs or further evaluation. This information can be extremely valuable in negotiating the purchase price or deciding whether to proceed with the purchase at all.

What buyers should know

Here are 8 key areas you should be looking out for when viewing a property:

1. Rotten Wood:

Wood is a common construction material, and areas exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens, are particularly susceptible to wood rot over time. Neglected wood can lead to costly repairs. Buyers should ensure that wood elements are properly treated and protected with suitable paint or finish. This also extends to exterior features like decks and trims, which are exposed to the elements and require regular maintenance.

2. Loose or Dangerous Railings:

Safety is paramount in a home, and one aspect often overlooked is the stability of railings on decks, staircases, and balconies. Ensure that all railings are securely fastened, with none missing. Unstable or insecure railings pose a significant safety hazard and should be addressed promptly.

3. Ventilation:

Proper ventilation is essential for a healthy home environment. Moisture accumulation can lead to various problems. Adequate ventilation helps in moisture evaporation. It’s crucial to check the space between the roof and the ceiling, as this area should be well-ventilated to promote roof longevity. Weep holes and ventilation ducts allow heat to escape and moisture to evaporate, helping to keep interior walls and structural elements dry.

4. Roof Problems:

The roof is your first line of defense against the elements. During a home inspection, pay attention to the condition of the roof. Look for old, broken, or missing tiles that may need replacement. Ignoring roof issues can lead to costly problems elsewhere in the home.

5. Plumbing Problems:

Inspect the plumbing system carefully. Look under sinks for signs of leaking or the need for repairs. Addressing plumbing issues before finalizing the home purchase can save you a significant amount of money on costly repairs down the road.

6. Electrical Faults:

While sellers are required to provide an electrical compliance certificate, it’s a good idea to double-check the electrical systems in the home. Outdated or faulty electrical systems can be extremely dangerous and cause issues like breaker tripping or even fires. Ensure that the electrical system is up to code and safe.

7. Drainage and Water Control:

Poor drainage systems around the home can lead to water and damp problems in low-lying areas. This can result in penetrating damp and compromise the foundation of the structure. Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems. Ensure that all drainage areas are properly graded and direct water away from the house. Additionally, check that water control elements like gutters and downspouts are well-maintained.

8. Amateur Repairs:

Homeowners who have lived in a property for an extended period may have attempted DIY repairs. While these might not always be obvious, plumbing and electrical areas are common places where amateur repairs are made. It’s essential to thoroughly inspect these areas to identify any potentially unsafe or non-compliant repairs.

Sellers- should you get a home inspection done before listing your property for sale?

While getting a home inspection done before you list your property is not mandatory it might still be beneficial. By doing a pre-listing home inspection, you can identify any issues with your property that may come up during a buyer’s inspection.

This gives you the opportunity to make repairs or address issues before putting your home on the market, potentially saving you time and money in the long run.

A pre-listing inspection can also be helpful in setting a realistic asking price for your property. If there are issues that need to be addressed, such as a leaky roof or outdated electrical system, it may affect the value of your home. By knowing about these issues ahead of time, you can adjust your asking price accordingly and avoid any surprises during negotiations.

Another benefit of a pre-listing inspection is that it can give potential buyers peace of mind. When you have a recent inspection report available, you can show buyers that you have nothing to hide and that you’re committed to being transparent about the condition of your property.

How do I prepare for a home inspection?

There are several steps sellers can take to prepare for a home inspection – and if they have been diligent in keeping up with maintenance and paperwork, it will be much easier than they think.

  • Clean and declutter: Make sure the property is clean and free of clutter. This will not only make a good impression on the inspector but also make it easier for them to access various areas of the home.
  • Repair minor issues: Fix any minor issues around the house, such as leaky faucets, loose doorknobs, or cracked tiles. These small repairs can improve the overall impression of the property.
  • Check major systems: Ensure that major systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC are in good working condition. Consider hiring a professional to inspect these systems before the home inspection.
  • Provide documentation: Gather any documentation related to renovations, repairs, or maintenance done on the property. This can help demonstrate to the inspector that the property has been well-maintained. Make sure you have all your compliance certificates ready and that they are valid.
  • Ensure access: Make sure that the inspector has access to all areas of the property, including basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Clear away any obstacles that may hinder their inspection.
  • Be prepared for questions: Be prepared to answer any questions the inspector may have about the property. This includes questions about renovations, maintenance, and the condition of various systems.

Who can perform home inspections?

Home inspections in South Africa are typically performed by qualified and licensed professionals known as Home Inspectors.

Home inspectors require intensive training in order to responsibly do their work. They are required to have a working knowledge of every component in a South African home.  To meet this need the curriculum for a new building (home) inspector qualification has been developed by the municipalities, private home inspectors, the banks, the NHBRC and others.

The National Association of Building Inspectors or South Africa (www.nabisa.org.za) represents the interests of all qualified building and home inspectors in South Africa and enforces a Code of Conduct on its members.

When choosing a home inspector in South Africa, it’s important to look for someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, and has a good reputation. You may also want to ask for references from previous clients and check online reviews.

Should I hire a professional home inspector to assess the structural integrity of a property?

If you have any doubts, it’s advisable to hire a trained and certified home inspector who can help you identify defects and guide you in making an informed buying decision. Remember, being proactive in identifying and addressing these issues can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

How am I protected?

The Property Practitioner’s Act 2019 took full effect in 2022, bolstering consumer protection. The Act imposes a mandatory obligation to disclose defects in all transactions, both sales and rentals. This practice, though long-executed, is now enforceable by law with the document needing to be signed by all involved parties and attached to the respective agreements.

Sellers would do well to steer clear from hiding defects as it may inevitably lead to legal backlash from the buyer. Can you imagine the financial pinches and headaches that would entail? There are two broad defect categories: patent defects that are easily visible and latent defects, mostly structural, and harder to spot. A detailed inspection by a property practitioner is essential. The seller must disclose all defects, whether they are patent or latent.

You may wonder, what exactly are these patent defects? Visual elements like cracks on walls, deteriorated cupboards or woodwork, damaged light switches, and faulty floorings are such. On the other hand, latent defects encompass issues such as unsteady walls, leaking roofs, and rising damp. It is therefore important to equip yourself with a reputable home inspector.

Keep in mind, that once the contract is signed, it becomes a laborious task to make alterations and could potentially require expensive legal recourse. With a thorough inspection, however, buyers are placed in a more secure position to request repairs or negotiate reparations under the sale conditions. And isn’t peace of mind worth the investment?

Original Article: https://www.myproperty.co.za/news/market-and-opinion/home-inspections-how-buyers-and-sellers-can-benefit-23-02-24



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