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With an anticipated 10,000 jobs in home inspection, is yours qualified?

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The Property Practitioners Bill (PPB) was gazetted for comment in March 2017, and the industry is holding its breath for the 10 000 new jobs that will likely be created with its official implementation, but prospective home buyers must take heed not to trust unqualified service providers.

This is according to Sheldon Jennings, architect and founder of Archicheck – SA’s only property inspection firm that employs qualified architects, when commenting on the Estate Agency Affairs Board’s (EAAB)  target of creating 10,000 jobs for home inspectors within the next five years.

“This target aligns with the looming implementation of the Property Practitioners Bill, which will usher in a new era for the real-estate industry, where more focus will be placed on the protection of consumer rights. Government recognition of the home inspection industry is long overdue, as currently many home owners purchase their properties voetstoots without the knowledge that they can and should insist on an official investigation or report to protect their interests. This leaves the home buyer in a very precarious position down the line when functional or structural issues begin to arise.”

Unscrupulous fly-by-nighters

dishonest builder

When a relatively unestablished industry booms so suddenly, there is the odd unscrupulous service provider who delivers a subpar service and preys on unsuspecting clients.

“While the South African Home Inspection Training Academy (SAHITA), together with the National Association of Building Inspectors of South Africa (NABISA), has been working on developing an accredited 3-year building inspector qualification, currently no legislation ensures that property inspectors possess the knowledge and necessary expertise to issue a quality report,” explains Jennings. “It is for this reason that we decided to establish Archicheck, where only qualified architects, who are registered with the South African Council for Architecture Professionals (SACAP), can issue prospective home buyers with a truly unparalleled inspection report.”

This is how a home inspection report benefits buyers

Too often homes are sold without the buyer having cross referenced the structure against the existing building plans to ensure that it has been approved by the local council. In fact, sometimes people purchase a property without having laid eyes on any building plans at all. This can have catastrophic repercussions down the line, both from a financial and timeline perspective.”

Buyers carry the load alone

carry a rock or stone

Unfortunately, it is too late to claim against the seller at this stage, and in the worst-case scenario, when the structure does not comply with the building guidelines at all, the city will demolish any part of the building that is not indicated on the approved as-built plans.

In cases where the structure does comply with the building guidelines, but plans were not submitted for approval, the new home owner will need to get the existing structure approved, before submitting plans for new renovations.

“The timeline for this process is typically 6 months, but it can easily exceed a year depending on the specific situation. On top of this, a penalty fee of a 100% of the building cost is charged for any unapproved structures. Scrutiny fees are also calculated according to the square meterage of the building,” warns Jennings.

Although the prospect of growth for the industry and job creation in general are exiting consumers must remain vigilant and ensure that they are getting the right level of service.

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  • John Graham 13th June 2018

    You mention “fly-by-nights”. Good point. There are some people now offering 3-day inspector training – that’s a joke. The new national building inspector qualification which SAHITA is helping develop, will flush out these bad apples. In the meanwhile consumers should be wary. HouseCheck, South Africa’s largest national inspection business, only contracts SAHITA accredited inspectors who are also members of NABISA, SAHITA’s detailed training embraces all aspects of the South African built environment. A trained building inspector will generally do a better all-round condition assessment of a property – better than a specialist , who is trained in only one aspect of building – people such as engineers, architects, electricians or plumbers, for instance.

  • Sheldon Jennings 14th June 2018

    Hi John, thanks for the engagement, but surely as the chairperson of SAHITA you will inevitably be biased towards the course you have developed. For interest sake, what official legislative or regulatory body approved the SAHITA course? It seems as though NABISA is a voluntary association which does not seem to have an independent mandate to audit or regulate its members as yet and is not yet recognized by The Council for the Built Environment.

    The South African council for the architectural profession (SACAP) was established in 1971 and is elected and appointed by the Minister of Public Works. It has over 10 000 registered architectural candidates and professionals and is recognised by The Council for the Built Environment (CBE).

    Surely it is absurd to suggest that Architects and Engineers, as the most senior professionals in the building industry, do not command a comprehensive knowledge of the entire construction process ranging from structural integrity, plumbing, electrical layout, drainage layouts etc.. These professionals can not only identify signs of potential risk, but can likely provide an unparalleled analysis of the forces, causes and consequences of such signs.