New homeowners warned to check for faults within 24 hours
CAPE TOWN (February 13) - The latest building statistics from Stats SA show that residential buildings completed in 2005 rose by 5,5 percent - as compared to 2004 - and that the number of plans passed for houses, flats and townhouses still to be built has risen by 15,6 percent.

Against this backdrop of increasing new homeowners, many consumers are not taking the time to inspect their new homes during the crucial period of moving in - often to the detriment of their properties long term value, warns the Master Builders Association Western Cape (MBAWC).

Rob Johnson, Executive Director of the MBAWC, says that many new homeowners do not know what is expected of them and in turn do not inspect their house correctly during this crucial window period. “After making a big financial contribution towards the building process, the last thing that you want is a property that is less than perfect.” To ensure that new homeowners fully empower themselves during this process, Johnson has the following tips:

  • Check all sanitary ware in your new home - particularly your bathrooms. Look for scratches, chipping or discolouration on the bath. “A contractor cannot reasonably be held accountable for faults arising after 24hrs of use,” says Johnson.
  • Inspect all glass for cracks and scratches.
  • Review all floor and wall tiles. “Also check splashbacks which are designed to protect walls from grease and cooking splatters, as well as liquid or water splashes from the sink area.”
  • Ensure that the extras you have ordered have been fitted.
  • Check that all services are operating properly.
  • Use the provided keys to ensure that all locks are working and ensure that duplicates are handed to you.
  • Test that all windows and doors operate correctly.

“Electrics should also not be ignored. Check your electrical distribution board, test the earth leakage, and distinguish between water cylinders and main electrical switches.” Johnson also advises to be aware of the position and capacity of the hot water cylinder. “Check that the cylinder is mounted on a tray with the fitted overflow leading to the exterior of the house.”

When it comes to the exterior and garden area, Johnson recommends the following:

  • Check to make sure that the boundaries are correctly and visibly marked – and that the garden area is clear of all debris.
  • Verify that all garden soil, paths and driveways adjoining the house are at least 150mm below the damp proof course, which is normally situated at floor level.

If any of the above is not satisfactory the buyer must inform the builder in writing. “You may be asked to sign a form stating that you have inspected the work and that everything is in order. This is a reasonable request given that the time to report a crack in a pane of glass, or a chip in the bath, has to be on the date of entry,” concludes Johnson.

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