Property Practitioners Act will grow

SA home inspection industry

The Property Practitioners Act which came into force on 1 February 2022  can be expected to provide a big boost to the home inspection industry in South Africa.

This is because the Property Practitioners Act has a strong focus on home buyers’ consumer rights.

  • Property owners who decide to sell, must complete a written declaration of all defects on the property of which they are aware.
  • Estate agents may not accept a mandate from a property seller without the owner’s signed mandatory disclosure of known defects.
  • Estate agents must hand a copy of this  disclosure of defects to every potential buyer of the property.
  • The disclosure of defects must also form part of any Agreement of Sale – and is therefore legally binding on the seller. 

The Property Practitioners Act states that the buyer may wish to commission an independent professional inspection of the property .

An independent inspection of any property being sold is important because there may be latent defects of which the buyer is unaware.  Defects not known to the owner, and in the absence of an independent home  inspection commissioned upfront from the owner or the estate agent, could obviously not be disclosed in the owner’s mandatory disclosure of known defects.

Latent defects, which can usually only be found by a professional home inspector and which existed prior to the property sale, may trigger serious damage to the property only after the new owner has moved in.

Such latent defects may include:

  • Wear and tear to the roof covering, waterproofing or roof drainage.  A major storm may trigger roof leaks and/or flooding.
  • Sagging or collapse of the roof structure.  Many older South African homes have non-compliant roof structures built in the days before the current National Building Regulations were introduced.  Many of these old roofs are ending the end of their lifespan and it  may take a storm to trigger serious roof damage.
  • Leaking hot water geyser in the roof cavity.  Many geyser installations are not defective and not compliant with the national building regulations.  Sudden flooding from a burst geyser can cause major damage to a home.
  • Lack of fire safety where a garage forms part of a residence. Fires in garages built onto a home are very dangerous if the garage is not properly separated from the home by means of a compliant fire wall and fire door.  Fire walls must extend to the underside of the roof covering and only an inspection of the roof cavity will confirm whether there is a fire risk.
  • Dangerous boundary walls. Many free-standing boundary walls over 1,8m in height have not been approved by the municipality as compliant with the national building regulations. A competent person ( an engineer) must design free-standing walls higher than 1.8m.  A home inspector will be able to compare the “as-built” structures on a property with the approved plans.
  • Risk of flooding.  The national building regulations include many measures to ensure proper management of stormwater and to reduce the risk of structures being flooded. A knowledgeable home inspector will be able to identify defects in the stormwater management systems.

The SAHITA online course trains South African building inspectors and home inspectors in all aspects of the South African National Building Regulations.

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