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Ask a building inspector – How do I prove the seller knew the roof needed replacing?


Hi, we have recently bought a property and it was transferred on 9 May, 2017. We have found that the electricity is not compliant in certain respects and the garage roof has rotting roof trusses which we were not told need to be replaced. There was work done as a number of nails and bits of wood and attempts to reinforce have been made.
I’m not sure our insurance will cover this. Is there any other recourse? – Amiel


Dear Amiel, we receive these kinds of questions daily from clients; that is why we are fighting so hard to get the banks to make a full home inspection compulsory.

In terms of the electrical compliance certificate, contact the Electrical Contractors Board and lay a complaint with them against the electrician who issued the Certificate of Compliance (COC).

The body will come and do an inspection and then take on the electrician on your behalf – it is a very well organised body and takes illegally issued CoCs very seriously.

Who pays for the home’s latent defects?

Sweeping under the carpetbroom-sweeping-dust

The matter of the rotting roof timber and other defects is an issue we have helped numerous clients with and we have won numerous court cases for our clients.

You can take a chance and submit a claim with your insurance company, but in our experience they will not pay out, as their conditions very clearly state that if maintenance was not done, they do not consider claims.

What defects did the seller declare to you in the offer to purchase (OTP)? In terms of the Consumer Protection Act the seller must declare all defects and you have a three-year recourse on the seller to repair defects he didn’t declare to you.

I get very suspicious when a seller declares no defects, as it is impossible that a house has no defects, even if you do regular maintenance. I recently did an inspection and the seller insisted that there was nothing wrong in his house and that the purchaser was wasting his money. During the inspection I found that one cistern had a hole the size of my fist and the guest toilet cistern had a crack from top to bottom. The buyer had to replace both toilets, but the seller insisted there were no defects in the house!

Look under the hoodlook under the bonnet

The next step is to get a full home inspection done to determine what defects there are which the seller should have declared to you. Once a report is compiled, I would suggest you obtain quotes to repair the major items and send it to the transferring attorney. Inform him that the seller did not declare these defects in term of the CPA and you would like to know what the seller proposes to do.

Why is my wall cracking?

See what his response is and then you either negotiate with him or involve your own attorney to issue summons against the seller and the estate agent, as the agent should have ensured that the seller declared all the defects (unless the OTP specifically states that you cannot take action against the estate agent).

We will do our inspection in terms of defects that the seller knew about, as experts we can tell the difference between a defect that was there when the seller lived in the house and one which developed since you took occupation. Our report is done in accordance with National Building Regulations and NHBRC Guidelines and I am one of only 40 ITC-certified roof inspectors in South Africa and will be able to successfully represent you in court.

Got a building-related question? Email david@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist you

Who is Albert van Wyk?albert-van-wyk-hi-res

Albert van Wyk of Gauteng Home Inspections and author of The Proud Home Owner has been in the building industry for more than 38 years, having  built many luxurious houses on difficult stands to the satisfaction of very meticulous clients as well as office blocks, factories, cluster developments and townhouse developments. Many of the homes were featured in SA Home Owner and on the TV program, Top Billing.

Albert has extensive knowledge of the National Building Regulations and the NHBRC requirements, and is one of only 40 ITC-certified Roof Inspectors in the country.




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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