In March 2017, the Property Practitioners Bill (PPB) was gazetted. The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), which falls under the Department of Human Settlements, announced that its goal is to create 10 000 jobs for home inspectors within the five years following the bill’s official implementation.

Architect and founder of Archicheck, Sheldon Jennings, warns prospective buyers about the risk of appointing unqualified service providers when there is an influx of home inspectors. He says the EAAB’s target aligns with the looming implementation of the Property Practitioners Bill, which will usher in a consumer focused era in the real estate industry.

“With the new Property Practitioners Bill, more focus will be placed on the protection of consumer rights. The property inspection industry is currently unregulated, meaning even in situations where an inspection is conducted, the home buyer cannot be sure of the qualifications and knowledge of the inspector,” says Sheldon.

The South African Home Inspection Training Academy has been working with the National Association of Building Inspectors of South Africa to develop an accredited 3-year building inspector qualification, but currently no legislation ensures that property inspectors possess the knowledge and necessary expertise to issue a quality report.

“Too often homes are sold without the buyer having cross-referenced the structure against the existing building plans to ensure that they have been approved by the local council. In fact, sometimes people purchase a property without having laid eyes on any building plans at all. This can have catastrophic repercussions down the line, both from a financial and timeline perspective,” says Sheldon.

Unfortunately, it’s usually only when a new home owner starts renovating that he or she becomes aware that they have purchased an unapproved structure.

“Regrettably, it is too late to claim against the seller at this stage, as most properties in South Africa are sold “voetstoots”, meaning the new home owner will bear the financial brunt of this loss. In the worst-case scenario – when the structure does not comply with the building guidelines at all – the city will demolish any part of the building that is not indicated on the approved as-built plan. In cases where the structure does comply with the building guidelines, but plans were not submitted for approval, the new home owner will need to have the existing structure approved, before submitting plans for new renovations,” says Sheldon.

This process is lengthy and costly, as the home owner must first submit an application to amend the existing building plans to council. Council has approximately two months to respond to an application.

“If you are fortunate and council does not issue an instruction to demolish, you will likely need to apply for departures, obtain necessary approvals from neighbours and submit the amended plans for evaluation, to name but a few of the hurdles that must be overcome. The timeline for this process is typically six months, but it can easily exceed a year depending on the specific situation. On top of this, a penalty fee of a 100% of the building cost is charged for any unapproved structures. Scrutiny fees are also calculated according to the square meterage of the building,” says Sheldon.

At Archicheck, only qualified architects who are registered with the South African Council for Architecture Professionals (SACAP) can issue prospective home buyers with a truly unparalleled inspection report. Aside from the physical onsite inspections, Archicheck can also furnish a home buyer with vital information such as the zoning, remaining permissible coverage, height restrictions and boundary lines of the site.

For more information, contact Archicheck on Tel: +27 72 696 6439 or via www.archicheck.co.za.

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