Call for more building protection

Regulations governing home building standards need to be drastically overhauled to adequately protect the multimillion rand investments of homeowners, says a leading property expert.

"We have all seen and heard the horror stories of newly built homes needing major repair work within months of being completed. Short cuts and sub-standard work appears to be increasingly widespread.

"The existing, limited inspection regime managed by the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) simply does not cut it any more and we are in serious danger of simply creating expensive future slums as our construction standards slip," says ERA South Africa CEO Gerhard Kotzé.

Kotzé was reacting to rumours of new legislation to protect homeowners from poor structural standards and related issues - reports that have subsequently been denied by an NHBRC spokesperson.

"The denial is disappointing given the poor comparison of our scenario with the extent of structural and related inspections carried out in the UK, Canada and parts of the US," says Kotzé.

"The NHBRC's warranty is concerned only with minimum norms relating to strength, stability and serviceability, resistance to rain penetration, protection against harmful substances and the structural stability of the unit being built. Also it only applies to mortgagable houses built by a registered NHBRC builder, leaving many building projects outside the 'net'.

"Clearly what's needed is to involve private sector specialists to, firstly, ease the load on the NHBRC inspectors and secondly, to broaden the scope of the inspections carried out.

"There remains this misguided impression among consumers that between the banks and the NHBRC there is sufficient legal and financial protection from poor construction workmanship. The fact is we fall far short in this respect and one would hope that change is in the air notwithstanding the denials."

Issued by ERA South Africa

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