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Did your contractor give you these documents for your new home?

There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.

Moving house

What you need when you receive a newly built house


Here’s why you shouldn’t buy a sectional title home with the lowest levy. Click the pic

The contractor must hand you the following documents when he hands over the house to you:

  • A copy of the NHBRC enrolment certificate

  • A copy of the approved plans from the council

  • A guarantee from the pest control company that the foundation was treated for termites

An engineer’s certificate must be issued that the following was done according to his designs and instructions:

  • Footings
  • First floor slab
  • Roof slab
  • Roof timber structure
  • Retaining walls
  • Boundary walls
  • A glazing conformity certificate that all glass installed meets the safety requirements
  • An electrical compliance certificate
  • A plumbing certificate which will include the sewer drain
  • If applicable, a gas installation certificate
  • An occupation certificate issued by the local council

Guarantees for the following (if applicable)

  • Geyser and heat pump
  • Solar panels
  • Oven, hob and extractor fan
  • Under-floor heating
  • Swimming pool pump
  • Garage door motor
  • Waterproofing

Check the dates on all of these items. The engineer cannot sign off the roof trusses the same day as the foundations, and the geyser guarantee cannot be issued when your foundations were poured. This is very important because your guarantee is only valid for a specific period.

What you need when you take occupation of a pre-owned house


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  • Make sure to get all the keys and remotes and ask for the duplicates as well. Do not accept only one key for an outside door. Where is the other one? Rather change the lock than have a duplicate made. The keys for the internal doors should be in the locks.
  • Get all relevant codes for alarms or gates and then change the codes as soon as possible.
  • Find out where the water main stop cock is and the main switch for the electricity supply.
  • Get clear instructions for irrigation systems, borehole and swimming pool.
  • Get the dates and days that rubbish is removed and meters are read.
  • Record the water and electricity meter readings, take photos with your cellphone to keep a record.

What you need to know when handing over your house

cleaning house

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You are proud of your home and want to hand it over in a good condition.

  • Leave the keys of all the internal doors in the locks.
  • Hand over all the keys and remotes that you have, with applicable tags.
  • Record the water and electricity meter readings by taking a photo with your cellphone.
  • Remove all the rubble from the garden and the garage.
  • Cut the lawn and tidy the garden.
  • Clean the pool.
  • Clean the baths, basins, toilets and showers.
  • Pour disinfectant in all the toilets.
  • Clean the stove and kitchen units.
  • Clean inside the built-in cupboards.
  • Switch off the water and electricity if you are not sure when the new owner will take occupation.

For more, and to order your copy of The Proud Home Owner, click here, or visit Gauteng Home Inspections if you’re building, buying or doing maintenance


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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