Please note that you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer which is not compatible with some elements of the site. We strongly urge you to update to a newer version for optimal browsing experience.

8 property defects to look out for

12 Jan 2012

It’s easy to get excited when viewing a property and forget to look more closely at common defects that might not be obvious at first sight. 

Goslett says that if homebuyers are in doubt, before they sign on the dotted line they should get a trained, certified inspector who can help them look for defects and guide them to a smart buying decision.

Whether it is a first-time buyer purchasing their first home or a property investor looking to purchase an additional investment to add to their portfolio, buying property is a big investment, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa

Therefore, he says, it is important for buyers to be able to look past the aesthetic appeal of a home at the integrity of the components that make up the property to ensure that the purchase won’t end up costing more in the long run. 

With the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act many buyers are requesting a list of defects from the seller, however, there are a few things to look out for when viewing a property, says Goslett. 

1. Rotten wood

Goslett says that in certain areas in the home that are exposed to moisture, such as the kitchen and bathroom, wooden components may have begun to rot over time and should be checked.  These elements must be treated and protected with a paint or finish that is specifically designed for this purpose. Exterior features such as decks or trims that are made from wood should also be checked as these will be exposed to the elements. 

2. Unsafe or loose railings

Other elements to check while inspecting the exterior decks are that all railings are fastened securely and that none are missing. This applies to any staircases or balconies as well – unstable or insecure railings are not safe. 

3. Adequate ventilation

Make sure that the home has adequate ventilation. According to Goslett, if a home does not have proper ventilation, the moisture in the home will not be able to evaporate, which will cause problems. It is also important that the ceiling space under the roof is well ventilated to ensure that the roof has a long life span. 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. 

4. Amateur repairs

They may not be easy to spot, says Goslett, but often homeowners who have lived in a home for an extended period of time will have attempted to make some repairs themselves.  Check the plumbing and electrical areas as these are the areas where DIY repairs are most commonly seen. 

5. Plumbing problems

While checking the plumbing areas, look under the sinks for pipes that are leaking or need repairs. Goslett says that it is important to have all plumbing issues addressed before the purchase of the home as this will save the buyer a lot of money in costly repairs. 

6. Electrical issues

Outdated or faulty electrical systems can be extremely dangerous and cause breaker tripping or fire. He advises buyers to look out for faulty wiring in the electrical panels as well as elsewhere in the home. “Even though an electrical certificate that certifies that the electrical systems in the home are within code is issued during the sale process, buyers should still double check the wiring.” 

7. Drainage and water control

Poor drainage systems around the exterior of the home can lead to water and damp problems in lower level areas of the property. This could cause mould as well as compromise the foundation of the structure if it persists. Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems. Make sure all drainage areas are properly graded and direct water away from the home. Buyers should also check that water control elements such as gutters and downspouts are well-maintained. 

8. Roof problems

Goslett says that buyers should look out for old, broken or missing tiles on the roof that need to be replaced. If the roof is in bad repair, it should not be ignored as a leaky or damaged roof can cause other costly problems elsewhere in the home. 

Goslett says that if homebuyers are in doubt, before they sign on the dotted line they should get a trained, certified inspector who can help them look for defects and guide them to a smart buying decision. 

Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article? Email us now.

I found the article very interesting. We are property inspectors who have over 400 points we inspect and provide an unbiased report. We have been in the industry for over 4 years and conduct +- 60 inspections per month. The Industry in South Africa is not controlled and is not regulated. Home Inspectors in America are controlled. We have saved some buyers enormous capital layout and also assisted some sellers in providing an honest opinion of the property they were selling. As long as it is not a condition of grant, the general public will not insist in an inspection, although the buying of a property is usually their single biggest investment to be made. - Hannes  


Print Print
Top Articles
For wealthy South Africans an investment from $500k is often less than the cost of a second property, and with this minimum amount set to rise, the rush is on...

Those hoping to sell in the current market should be patient, but pricing your property right and working with a good agent can speed things up. Here's what to expect...

With rentals so high in Cape Town’s prime coastal strip, buying property often makes more financial sense than renting, with good buy-to-let opportunities for investors...


Your browser is out of date!

It looks like you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer.

If you are using Internet Explorer 8 or higher, please verify that your Internet Explorer compatibility view settings are not enabled.

For the best browsing experience, update to the latest Version of Internet Explorer or try out Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Please contact our Property24 Support Team for further assistance. Tel. +27 (0)861 111 724