5 Defects to Look Out for When Buying a Home


Purchasing a property is a major investment that should be considered carefully. On the surface, a home could be stunning, but there might be underlying issues that, if overlooked, could cost you a lot to repair.

According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, although sellers are required to provide you with a list of defects of which they are aware, it is best to cover all bases and make sure to ask the right questions before going ahead with any purchase.

“The voetstoots clause largely protects the seller by stating that the buyer needs to prove that information about the defect was deliberately withheld from them,” he explains. To protect themselves, he recommends that buyers ask as many questions as possible. This includes things such as whether there have been any disputes or boundary issues with neighbours and whether any sort of pest problem exists, with snakes, mice, bats, bedbugs, cockroaches and ants being the most common issues.

Apart from this, Goslett also warns buyers to look out for structural and other damages or defects that could end up costing a substantial amount to fix. RE/MAX of Southern Africa provides the following list of defects buyers should look out for when viewing a home:

Defect 1: Rotting wood

If not maintained properly, wood that is exposed to moisture, such as in kitchens and bathrooms, will rot over time – so be sure to open all cabinets before signing an OTP. The wood should be painted or treated with a finish that is specifically designed for this purpose. Wooden exterior features such as decks or trims should also be checked as these will be exposed to the elements.

Defect 2: Ventilation issues

Adequate ventilation is required to ensure that any moisture in the home can evaporate. When water or moisture sits in an area for an extended time frame it can cause dampness and mold issues, which pose serious health risks and are often expensive to fix. The space between the roof and the ceiling is an aspect that should be paid special attention, as the ventilation in this area ensures the longevity of the roof. Weep holes and ventilation ducts will allow the intense heat in that space to escape, which will promote evaporation of the moisture and ensure that interior walls and structural elements stay dry.

Look out for any old, broken, or missing tiles on the roof that need to be replaced, or rust patches on metal roofs. A damaged or leaky roof will cause issues inside the home, which could be costly to fix – not to mention cost of fixing or replacing the roof.

READ MORE: How to Spot a Neighbourhood on The Rise 

Poor drainage systems around the exterior of the home can lead to water and damp problems in low-lying areas around the property. Waterlogged areas could cause penetrating damp as well as compromise the foundation of the structure if it persists. Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems. Ensure that all drainage areas are properly graded and direct water away from the house. Also, check that water control elements such as gutters and downspouts are well-maintained.

Not always an easy thing to spot, but often homeowners who have lived in a home for an extended period will have attempted to make some repairs themselves. Check the plumbing and electrical setup as these are the areas where dodgy DIY repairs are most common.


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If you are not sure of anything that seems suspicious, Goslett recommends getting the opinion of a professional home inspector. “If the homeowner refuses to resolve the issues that are revealed in the home inspection, then it is advisable to move on and start the search for property again rather than take on the costly repair work that will be required,” Goslett concludes.

READ MORE: Expert Tips to Get Your Rental Deposit Back


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