The Best Laid Plans

I had a reader ask about home extensions and how they can affect a potential sale. In bygone days building inspector drove around neighbourhoods looking for rubble and bricks on pavements. When they came across a likely suspect they would approach the home owner and ask to see the approved plans.

Today it is estimated that ninety percent of residential building alterations in greater Randburg are done illegally. The worst examples are when owners build several rooms in their backyard. This is obviously done to subsidise their bond repayments. It essentially makes their property unsellable. But what makes matters worse is that if these illegal structures are clearly visible from your own backyard it will severely affect the value of your own property.

Multiple-family dwellings overwhelm the infrastructure of any suburb. Where there would normally be five people living in a three bedroom house there are now maybe thirty five people on the same property. This causes noise issues, traffic problems and a general deterioration of the area.

Over the years I have seen many home extensions that were not just illegal but also downright dangerous. Second stories where you could put a tennis ball in the corner of the room and it would roll to the opposite corner. I've seen cracks in the walls that cats could crawl through. And I've seen roofs that were just waiting to cave in at the first opportunity.

Fortunately during the home loan valuation phase the banks look for obvious visible defects like roof leakage, rising damp and structural cracks. And they also keep their eye out for recent extensions and new outbuildings. The bank can request approved plans before bond approval.

Never take the agents word that "the owner has assured me approved plans exist". If you want to make an offer write in the additional clauses section that you require approved building plans as a condition of the sale. Then the transfer attorneys are required to obtain these before they can submit their documents to the deeds office. With the right plans you will always come right.