Code of Ethics

code of ethics

The Vital Role of a Code of Ethics for South African Home Inspectors

InterNACHI South African Code of Ethics enhances both professionalism and the home inspection industry standards.

In the competitive realm of home inspection, adherence to a robust code of ethics is not merely commendable—it’s indispensable. In addition, from safeguarding consumer trust to elevating industry standards, a well-structured code serves as the cornerstone of professionalism in home inspection services.

Upholding Integrity with a Code of Ethics

Such a code outlines the ethical principles and standards that guide my conduct and that of other home inspectors. Moreover, it represents a commitment to honesty, impartiality, and transparency, instilling confidence in clients.

Ensuring Consumer Protection: A Paramount Responsibility

Central to the essence of running an ethical business is the protection of consumer interests. Therefore, by prioritising thoroughness, objectivity, and accuracy in inspections, I reduce risks for my clients, enabling them to make informed decisions about their property investments.

Fostering Professionalism: Setting the Bar High

A code of ethics raises the bar for professionalism within the home inspection industry. Furthermore, it creates a culture of accountability and excellence, driving me to continually enhance my skills and knowledge to better serve my clients.

Building Trust: The Currency of Success

Trust is the currency of success in the home inspection business. Moreover, by adhering to a code of ethics, I earn the trust of my clients, creating long-term relationships and resulting in positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Navigating Ethical Dilemmas: A Compass for Conduct

In the complex landscape of home inspection, ethical dilemmas are inevitable. A robust code of ethics serves as a guiding compass. In effect, it offers clarity and direction in navigating challenging situations while upholding the highest ethical standards.

Instilling Confidence: Enhancing Industry Reputation

A code of ethics is not merely a set of rules! It’s a testament to the integrity and professionalism of the home inspection industry as a whole. Consequently, by adhering to ethical principles, I contribute to the positive reputation and credibility of the profession.

A Code of Ethics Embraces Accountability – The Key to Longevity

Accountability is the cornerstone of a sustainable home inspection business. Therefore, by holding myself accountable to ethical standards, I safeguard my reputation and longevity in the industry. As a result, this earns the respect and loyalty of my clients and peers alike.

Elevating Standards, Empowering Success

In conclusion, a code of ethics is not a luxury—it’s a necessity. Significantly, by upholding integrity, protecting my client’s interests, and fostering professionalism, a well-defined code catalyses success, elevating standards and empowering me to thrive in my profession.

Find the InterNACHI South African Code of Ethics below:

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » Home inspector

South African Standards of Practice

South African Standards of Practice

South African Standards of Practice

The South African Standards of Practice differ somewhat from the American Inspection Standards mainly because of the different construction materials used in the construction of residential properties in the two countries. South Africa mostly uses brick or blockwork and concrete instead of frame construction.

In addition, we have the South African National Standards (SANS) which are our National Building Regulations (NBR) applicable to all construction within the borders of South Africa. They differ substantially from the American building codes.

A home inspection is visual and not destructive

The descriptions and observations in my report are based on a visual inspection of the structure. I inspect all the viewable structures without dismantling, damaging or disfiguring the structure and without moving furniture and interior furnishings. However, areas that are concealed, hidden, inaccessible or unsafe to view are not covered in this inspection as per the Standards of Practice. Some systems cannot be tested during this inspection as testing risks damage to the building. For example, overflow drains on baths are generally not tested because if they were found to be leaking they could damage the finishes in the building. My procedures involve non-invasive investigation and non-destructive testing which limits the scope of my inspection.

The minimum scope of my inspection

My Comprehensive Home Inspection exceeds the following systems required by the Standards of Practice.

  • Roof
  • Exterior
  • Cellar, Underfloor Spaces & Structure
  • Heating
  • Fireplace
  • Cooling
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Roof Space and Insulation
  • Doors, Windows & Interior

The Standards of Practice do not require a technically exhaustive inspection

Furthermore, the evaluation will be based on observations that are primarily visual and non-invasive. As mentioned in the South African Standards of Practice, my inspection and report are not technically exhaustive.

Such inspections are available but they are generally cost-prohibitive to most homebuyers and homeowners.

Below is the South African Standards of Practice for the Inspection of Residential Properties.

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » Home inspector

Cavity Walls In New Buildings In South Africa

SANS 10400-XA (Energy Usage in Buildings)

The 2021 SANS 10400-XA revision requires the construction of cavity walls in place of 230 mm solid brick external walls. This energy-saving change is applicable in all the energy zones in South Africa except in zones 3, 5 and 5H.

How wise this course of action is considering the lack of skills in the building trade will have to be seen!

What is a cavity wall?

A cavity wall consists of two skins separated by a hollow space (cavity). The advantage is that a cavity wall gives better thermal insulation than a solid wall. The space between the two leaves of cavity walls reduces heat transmission into the building from outside.

The following are the advantages of cavity walls when compared to solid walls.

  • This type of wall gives better thermal insulation than solid walls.
  • The hollow space between leaves prevents moisture penetration through the wall from the outside. This prevents dampness internally.
  • They also act as good sound insulators.
  • These walls also prevent efflorescence from occurring.

Construction of cavity walls

how to build a cavity wall using DPC and brickforce
window built in on a cavity wall with vertical DPC

The construction of these walls is technically more difficult than for solid 230 mm walls.

  • The cavity between the two masonry leaves should be a minimum of 50 mm. The gap must be consistent from the bottom of the wall to the top.
  • Below the DPC level, the bricklayer must fill up the wall cavity with concrete or mortar before installing the DPC.
  • The bricklayer then installs the DPC at slab level to step down from the slab-level interior wall across the cavity to the outer wall and weep holes. Its purpose is to drain away any water in the cavity towards the weep holes to discharge it outside.
  • Weep holes must be provided in the external leaf above the Damp Proof Course (DPC) at every 4th brick horizontally.
  • The bricklayer must build in wall ties at every 5th course of brickwork vertically and space them horizontally at every second brick to tie the two leaves of brickwork together.
  • Mortar dropping down in the cavity can stop water from draining away. The bricklayer should leave some bricks out temporarily at the DPC level to clear mortar droppings at the end of each day’s work.
  • The normal method of preventing mortar droppings from falling to the base of the cavity is to use a cloth-rapped batten (38 x 38 mm) or specially sized 50 x 38 mm planed to 45 mm. The bricklayer places the batten on the wall ties while building the wall. The bricklayer raises the batten, using wire tied to its ends and then positions it on the next row of ties.
  • Furthermore, the bricklayer should install a vertical DPC on the sides of doors and windows when closing off the cavity wall. This is to prevent water from driving to the inner face.
  • In addition, the bricklayer should install a layer of DPC and weep holes in the cavity above exposed doors and windows similar to the DPC at floor level. This is to prevent moisture from penetrating the inner leaf.
  • At the roof line, the bricklayer should fill or brick up the cavity for two or three courses below the roofline to stiffen and distribute the load over both leaves. He should also build in roof ties at this level to tie down the roof trusses or beams.
  • No wide brick force can be used to span both leaves and cavities of brickwork. A 90 mm width of brickforce will need to be used on every 5th layer of brickwork on both leaves up to window or door height and every course above that until the cavity is closed at roof height.

My Concerns with the new requirements

The Western Cape Province has already been following this practice for many years. Cavity walls are also better for damp prevention than solid walls. The introduction of cavity walls nationally is to satisfy regulatory requirements for building energy efficiency.

However, such sweeping changes to the construction of brick buildings in other areas of the country may have serious consequences because of skills shortages. They may lead or may have led to substandard work because of the lack of sufficient skills and training of bricklayers and their supervisors!

The newer generation of bricklayers and builders never adhered fully to the requirements of the building regulations before with the construction of solid 230 mm walls! Most of them have had no experience with building cavity walls either!

I have listed some of the issues I have seen on building sites below:

  • In my experience, the bricklayers in the building trade never used collar jointing of the solid brick walls leading to weakened wall structures.
  • The bricklayers seldom place the DPC on a half layer of mortar on the brickwork. Instead, they place the DPC directly on the brickwork. This often led to moisture intrusion in the structure at the DPC level.
  • Generally, no bricklayer has installed DPC on the sides or above the door and window openings to prevent moisture intrusion through the wall at the windows and doors inland from the coastal areas.
  • Few bricklayers build in the correct number of layers of brickforce reinforcing above windows and doors.
  • Often, the bricklayers tooth the brickwork of the internal walls to external walls and corners instead of stepping back the brickwork as required.
  • The mixing of large amounts of mortar resulting in the retempering (adding additional water) of mortar is a common practice. This causes weakened mortar and brickwork.

Most of the issues result from a lack of knowledge and training. This includes not only the bricklayers but also the supervisors!

So how do we get the bricklayers to build the more technical cavity walls correctly?

  • One way is to train the supervisors who in turn can train the bricklayers!
  • Various brick associations and training schools offer bricklaying training. The various training associations and schools may be open to do on-site training.
  • Both the supervisors and the bricklayers can learn from videos that show how to build cavity walls. They all have cellphones on which they can view the videos.
  • Articles by the Clay Brick Association can update supervisors and bricklayers with the technicalities of building a cavity wall.

Let us hope the above happens so that new homeowners will have properly constructed homes!

Conclusion

With the correct training, newly built cavity walls will provide the thermal benefit required by the new revision of SANS 10400-XA. In addition, the construction of cavity walls will minimise moisture intrusion into new buildings if constructed properly. They also provide sound insulation benefits.

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » Home inspector

Don’t Skip Your Home Inspection

Why Skipping a Home Inspection Can Cost You Thousands

At some point, you may be considering purchasing a new home and the question of whether to get a home inspection might cross your mind. You might think that skipping a home inspection can save you money. In reality, it can cost you thousands in repairs in the long run. A home inspection is a crucial step in the home-buying process! A home inspection can help you avoid potential pitfalls, identify hidden problems, and negotiate better terms with the seller. Read why skipping a home inspection can be a costly mistake, and how it can affect you and your investment.

The Risks of Skipping a Home Inspection

Skipping a home inspection can lead to several risks that can affect your investment. One of the most significant risks is the potential for hidden problems that can be expensive to repair. With the “Voetstoots” clause in most preowned house sales, you are at risk! Without a home inspection, you may not know about any defects, building regulation violations, or safety hazards. This may lead to costly repairs! Additionally, without a home inspection, you might miss out on important details about the home’s condition. This includes systems such as the age of the roof, plumbing and electrical systems or the foundation. These systems can also impact the value of the property.

Another risk of skipping a home inspection is the potential for legal and financial liabilities. If you purchase a home without a home inspection and later discover significant problems, you may be held liable for the costs of repair. Furthermore, if you decide to sell the property without disclosing the defects, you could face legal consequences and even lose your investment.

The Benefits of Getting a Home Inspection

On the other hand, getting a home inspection can help you avoid these risks and provide you with several benefits. One of the main benefits of a home inspection is that it can identify any defects or issues that you may not be aware of, which can help you negotiate with the seller for better terms. Additionally, a home inspection can help you plan for any future maintenance or repairs that may be necessary. Regular maintenance will save you money in the long run. A good reason for not skipping your home inspection!

Furthermore, a home inspection can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that you have a home inspection report of the home’s condition. The report will include the property’s strong points and any suggestions for repairing the defects of the property. Regular maintenance is a feature of any property! The report will give you a good idea of the maintenance you may need to undertake. Additionally, a home inspection can help you avoid surprises after the purchase, reducing the stress and anxiety associated with buying a new home.

Conclusion

In conclusion, skipping a home inspection can be costly! It can lead to hidden problems, legal and financial liabilities, and reduced property value. Getting a home inspection, on the other hand, can provide you with several benefits. These include identifying defects, negotiating better terms with the seller, planning future repairs, and providing you with peace of mind. Therefore, I recommend that you always get a home inspection before buying a property to ensure that you are making a sound investment.

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » Home inspector

Building Work, Building Plans and Building Lines

Questions about Building Work, Building Plans and Building Lines

approved plans and house building work

Hardly a day goes by without questions from disgruntled homeowners relating to issues with discrepancies in house plans and building work. When I’m inspecting, I often find discrepancies between the approved plans and the built structure.

If you are selling your house, and don’t have municipal-approved plans or necessary permissions, you could be in trouble. If you are buying a house, and don’t ask for approved plans or permissions, you might have very expensive problems.

Homeowners can also be in trouble with the municipality for the erection of illegal structures. Some municipalities have aerial photographs of suburbs taken every four years to check if alterations have been made to homes. In addition to this, municipalities assign building inspectors to monitor developments on the ground.

The law requires all major building work to have plans drawn up and approved by the local authority. Therefore, it stands to reason that every house should have plans. But this is not always the case! A lack of approved building plans is a major problem for many people buying and selling houses and other buildings.

Sometimes people only discover that there are no plans years after they have bought a property. This comes to light either because they eventually want to do alterations, or because they want to sell. Buyers often find that a house they are buying does not have plans. They then want to know whose responsibility it is to have plans drawn up retrospectively (“as-built”).

It can become a complex legal matter if alterations and additions have been carried out without local authority approval.

Are Building Plans and Building Approval Always Required for Houses?

The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act specify the need for building plans and approval. Therefore, it is the local authority that governs what can be done in terms of its zoning regulations and National Building Regulations. So it is they who give approval (or deny it) for all building work and renovations on all properties. However, most municipalities are more lenient when it comes to minor building work.

The Act states that the municipality may grant relaxation where the approval of plans requires the necessity of relaxation. However, you will have to apply for relaxation in writing and receive approval in writing.

If your property is within an estate townhouse or cluster complex, you will also need to get a copy of the Estate Guidelines from the Aesthetics Committee, Body Corporate, Residents Associations etc. Moreover, there may be a list of requirements that ensure aesthetic harmony and good building practices within the estate or complex. Furthermore, you will need your plans stamped and a letter from the Body Corporate for Council indicating that they are happy with your planned building.

How the Issue of “Voetstoots” Affects Building Approval and Plans

The purchase agreement made between buyers and sellers of the property will include a voetstoots clause. Essentially this clause indicates that the purchaser accepts the risk relating to defects existing at the time of the sale, patent or latent (but not visible). However, the exceptions to this clause are instances where the seller deliberately and fraudulently conceals latent defects from the purchaser, that they were aware of at the time. In this instance, the seller will remain liable for these defects. But of course, the purchaser will have to provide evidence that the seller knew what was wrong.

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