Selling? Not so fast if your house has these 10 usual suspects
Very few homes are unique: they all have similar building blocks, standard features and layouts. Home inspectors agree, saying most homes suffer from the same defects. So, if you’re thinking about selling, knowing upfront what to look for and decide on what to fix before listing may be the make or break of the sale.
The 10 usual suspects
- Storm water management. A good home inspector will always check that storm water flows away from the house. This includes both water from the roof and rain falling directly onto the surrounding ground. Storm water should be properly managed to ensure that water does not pond against the walls of the home and then seep under the foundations. Most South African homes are built on expansive clay soils; water getting under the foundations will cause foundation movement and wall cracks.
- Faulty electrical, plumbing and gas installations. Older homes often need electrical and plumbing upgrades, including new wiring, DB boards, hot water geysers and plumbing pipes and sanitary ware. If electrical wiring, geysers and gas lines are not properly installed, a home may become a safety hazard.
- Leaking roof. Leaking roofs result from poor flashing, blocked gutters and valleys, and aging roof coverings. Depending on the type of damage, repairs can range from minor to extensive.
- Defective or non-existent insulation. In the days of cheap electricity most South African homes were built with no thought to insulation and energy efficiency. As a result many South African homes are freezing in the winter months – actually far colder that equivalent homes in Europe or North America – even though our climate is much milder.
- Poor maintenance. Maintenance is routinely neglected by a surprising number of South African homeowners who are often more willing to maintain their cars than their homes. Do-it-yourself sellers or bakkie-builder fixes to plumbing, electrical and other problems may cause more harm than good.
- Structural damage. A leaking roof or settling or weak moving foundation may result in roof structures, doorways, walls and support beams becoming unstable. Most South African homes are built on problem soils which move with the seasons.
- Water seepage through windows and doors. If a home inspector sees evidence of water damage or water ingress, then it may be necessary to re-caulk windows and doors, or do weather-stripping or other more extensive repairs.
- Rotten window and door frames, timber floors and roofing timbers. 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.
- Poor ventilation. If moisture continually accumulates in a home, it can lead to structural damage and health hazards. Installing ventilation fans and keeping windows open to improve cross ventilation will help. Buyers, however, may find they need to alter walls or other structural aspects of a home in order to improve light and ventilation.
- Hazardous materials. Older homes may contain lead-based paint and asbestos materials. Homes may also contain unhealthy levels of potentially toxic moulds.
HomeTimes advises sellers to do a pre-listing inspection to help them and their agents with a quick and factual inventory of the home to know if any problems exist. The seller can then decide how to address these issues and whether to fix them immediately.
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Who is John Graham?
John Graham is a South African who has spent more than 30 years in the property industry. He has hands-on experience as a developer, investor, estate agent, home builder and property inspector. John is the founder and CEO of HouseCheck and the principal of the SA Home Inspection Training Academy. He is the author of a number of popular eBooks including: The South African Home Buyer’s Guide; Quality Control for South African Home Building and The Complete Guide to South African Home Inspection.