Blog | 18th February 2021

What To Inspect In Your New Home

Ah February! The month of love — and we’re not just talking about that between two people. You may have swiped right on your dream match of a property and overcome the primary hurdles towards getting yourself through the front door… but making sure that this long term commitment is a great fit after the honeymoon phase is over, is part of the hard work you have to put in at the beginning.

From mould, damp, pests and drainage to roof insulation and paint codes, we chatted to an inspector heavyweight with over 20 year’s experience in the industry to get the rundown. Click here to listen to the discussion with Mr. Jacobus van Rooyen on our PodAcademy Podcast, and for those of you who prefer the reading-material option, we’ve summarised the top issues for you here.

Let’s take a look at some of the most overlooked potential problems you might face when it comes to owning your next home:

Mould

You might smell it before you see it. With a musty odour lurking about, you should be on the lookout for spot clusters that may be black, grey-brown or even grey-green in colour.

What does this tell you?

That there have been unresolved water damage or leaks previously.

Damp

This is different to mould in that it is moisture found beneath the surface of walls or ceiling boards. There are five types of damp to be aware of, namely:

  1. Rising damp
  2. Penetrating damp
  3. Falling damp
  4. Condensation damp
  5. Chemical damp

You should be on the lookout for tide marks and/or bubbles or crumples on the walls, and wet patches during or after periods of heavy rainfall.

What does this tell you?

That there is heavy condensation within unsealed surfaces. Rectifying this takes time and professional procedures to dry and repair.

Pests

This is one of the most commonly overlooked areas by new homeowners and — like with other issues — is harder to resolve the later it is left. You should check outdoor drains and kitchen cupboards for signs of cockroaches and other crawly irritants, and be particularly mindful of this concern when buying a wood structure home or one with extensive wood features.

What does this tell you?

That beyond checking pipes, drains and crevices, you should check for cracks in walls. It’s not just the kitchen areas where these pests make themselves at home, but bedroom cupboards, boxes, shoes and so on too, so a thorough fumigation will be required and it is recommended that this is done at least twice a year.

Drainage 

Paying attention to drainage systems is particularly important when buying a free-standing home. Be on the lookout for eroding soil, water pools in and around the ground where downpipes exit gutters, peeling wall-paint in vertical lines, puddles and soggy areas, and where wood floors look like they’re warping. These issues can eventually cause onward problems like mould and damp (mentioned above).

What does this tell you?

That there is an unattended inadequate pitch or slope in the yard which duly prevent s water runoff from being diverted away from the house. These issues are complicated when rainwater from gutters isn’t piped away from the property correctly.

Roof insulation

Be sure to ask about the details pertaining to the roof insulation and when it was installed. Roof insulation is important to form a barrier of both heat and cold (depending on the season). The most popular materials used for insulation are Earthwool, Fibreglass, Polyester, Cellulose, Reflective foil and Spray foam.

What does this tell you?

A verification certificate should be available and will tell you when the work was completed and what the guarantee of the work is. Remember that the lack of correct insulation can lead to excessive moisture in the roof cavity which can lead to mould, damp and rot.

Paint

That new, fresh paint smell is part of the excitement of moving into your brand new home. And while paint isn’t a primary concern when buying in a new development, you should be sure to get the paint code from your developer. The time will come when you want to move pictures or repair scuff marks or chips, and having the accurately-matched colour will save you from much frustration.

If you are buying a previously-owned home, be mindful of the additional expense that repainting would incur. Here too, find out what the paint code is for future touch-ups that you may want or need to do.  More importantly: ask the seller when last the walls were painted, whether this was completed by a qualified contractor, and what the life-expectancy of the paint used is.

What does this tell you?

The quality of the paint used and the experience level of the workmanship is important to know. Simply painting over problems like damp and mould (covered above) doesn’t resolve the issues underneath them.

Remember

You’ll notice that there are many possible overlaps with issues, so checking one problematic area should prompt you to look at others, for example: damp is not necessarily fixed at the point of the problem but should motivate you to look into the quality of the roof insulation, drainage, gutters, etc.

While we’ve covered the concerns we think you should pay attention to most, each situation is unique, so making sure you’re completely happy with the levels of inspection is as much a part of your investment as the home is. Many people also insist on a certified electrical clearance certificate and in-depth background information on any renovations done.

Take your time. Your investment comes first. Being informed about the house you are soon to move into is your right and helps to prevent any possible nasty surprises that may prove to be trickier to resolve later on.

Not only is this about your comfort and happiness now, but is an important part of knowing what you would be selling if and when the time comes for you to move on.

If you have any questions related to this topic, feel free to drop us an email on catherine@reeflords.co.za or post them to our Facebook page.

We wish you happy house hunting!

Think home. Think Reeflords.


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