Buyers beware: 10 common home defects (John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck, 23 Sep 2013)

3 Oct 2013

Faulty electrical, plumbing and gas installations in older homes often need electrical and plumbing upgrades, including new wiring, DB boards, hot water geysers and plumbing pipes and sanitaryware.

John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck has the following advice...

1. Home inspectors shouldalways check for poor drainage - that storm water flows away from the house properly and whether the roof needs new gutters and downpipes. They should also inspect whether there is a danger of water 'ponding' seeping under the foundation.

2. Faulty electrical, plumbing and gas installation in older homes often need electrical and plumbing upgrades, including new wiring, DB boards, hot water geysers and plumbing pipes and sanitaryware.
If electrical wiring, geysers and gas lines are not properly installed, a home may become a safety hazard.

3. Leaking roofs result from poor flashing, blocked gutters or aging roof coverings. Depending on the type of damage, repairs can range from minor to extensive.
Leaking roofs result from poor flashing, blocked gutters or aging roof coverings.

4. In the days of cheap electricity most South African homes were built with no thought given to insulation and energy efficiency.
As a result many South African homes are 'freezing' in the winter months ? far colder than homes in Europe or North America, even though our climate is much milder.

5. Poor maintenance -a do-it-yourself seller?s or bakkie-builder?s fixes to plumbing, electrical and other problems may cause more harm than good.

6. A leaking roof or settling or weak moving foundation may mean roof structures, doorways, walls and support beams become unstable. Most South African homes are built on problem soils which move with the seasons and this may lead to structural damage.

7. If a home inspector sees evidence of water damage or water ingress, then re-caulking windows and doors, adding weather-stripping or other more extensive repairs may be necessary.
If moisture continually accumulates in a home, as a result of poor ventilation, it can lead to structural damage and health hazards.

8. South Africa has a host of pests like borer beetles, termites and wood-destroying fungi which attack timber components of a house ? especially in the dark, moist areas of the structure. This can lead to rotten window and door frames, timber floors and roofing.

9. If moisture continually accumulates in a home, as a result of poor ventilation, it can lead to structural damage and health hazards.
Installing ventilation fans and keeping windows open to improve cross ventilation will help, but buyers may need to alter walls or other structural aspects of a home in order to improve light and ventilation.

10. Hazardous materials in older homes may contain lead-based paint and asbestos materials.

These homes may also contain unhealthy levels of potentially toxic moulds.
A home inspection company will provide sellers and their agents with a quick and factual inventory of the home and let them know of any exiting problems. The seller can then decide how to address these issues and whether to fix them immediately.
If home buyers are informed about these common home defects through a home inspection report, then the buyer can decide on how to proceed with the home buying process, for example, he can request that repairs be completed or that the major repair costs be covered by the seller.