If buying a fairly new home check details of build

Generally, although reinforced by the current tough economic times, people will try to save money where they can and often where services are perceived to be able to be done by the owner of the home themselves, will cut out the service provider, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential SA. 

Most would never dream of not using the services of a doctor, lawyer or dentist, and would recognise the expertise involved, but would try to do the job of an interior designer, painter or repair contractor.

There are some who will try to sell their homes themselves and not use an estate agent or project manage a renovation on a home instead of paying an architect or project manager to oversee the whole renovation or build, she said.

A property that recently came to the market which was not even a year old, had disturbing deviations. Sea sand was used to build with (the salt in which could corrode any steel components in the structure), pine wood doors instead of a harder wood as an exterior frame, a serious lack of engineering and inadequate plans, i.e. there are no drawings for certain details on this home, were only a few of the problems, said Steward.

On a complex design, where there are multiple levels, where the home is built on a slope, and where there are many other aspects where things could go wrong such as a flat roof or a rim-flow swimming pool set on the edge of a ledge on the property, there have to be detailed plans for the design. This enables the end result to be checked against these plans and if faults are found, assists the person doing the repairs to know what to look for and where. An architect in this case was not asked to supervise and to make matters worse it has transpired that the builder has gone out of business.

“If you think you are saving money, think again, because you might find it costs you a lot more in repairs or rebuilding later,” she said. “If there is a limited budget, it is probably better to rather build a slightly smaller house with a higher quality, and have someone who is qualified manage the project and supervise the builders, than to stick to the larger build where corners will have to be cut in order to get the dream home.”

The warning here is to buyers who are buying a fairly new home, said Steward, to ask who the builder was, if he is still in business, who managed the project and if there are other homes the builder completed that he can look at or get references from the current owners.

“This is probably the biggest single investment you will make, think about the large amount of money spent on building or buying a home – and if it is not built properly could never in all honestly be resold for the amount it was meant to be worth,” added Steward.

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