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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Pre-listing Home Inspection & Report ( Seller’s Disclosure)

About Pre-listing Home Inspections

A Pre-listing Home Inspection and Report include the really important parts of the home! It is a critical or “Safe Home” inspection.

This inspection is an ideal inspection for sellers because it is the “Seller’s disclosure“.

With a Pre-listing Inspection, I focus and report on the critical components of a home which are the roof, roof space, structure (inside and outside), windows and doors, electricity and plumbing installations, and any damp problems!

Therefore, a Pre-listing Inspection is ideal if you only require an inspection of the major components of the home. Besides, it is more affordable!  My fee for a Pre-listing Home Inspection report is about 75% of the cost of a Comprehensive Inspection, depending on the distance I would need to travel to the property.

What does a Pre-listing Inspection include

It may include structural cracks in walls, ceilings, and floors. Issues such as dampness, roof leaks, illegal or unsafe geyser installations, and window and door issues. However, I only inspect the external and internal wall, floor, and ceiling finish for signs of structural issues, dampness or damage from moisture intrusion.

Electrical and gas installations are also part of a Pre-listing Home Inspection. I inspect and report on stoves, air conditioners, and other built-in appliances. Plug points, light fixtures and switches are also checked. Moreover, I report on surface drainage, vegetation, and foliage issues that may affect the structure and roof adversely.

Besides the geyser installation, I check the water supply to all other plumbing fixtures and fittings as well as the drainage from them. I report on all leaks or faults observed during the Pre-listing Home Inspection.

A Pre-listing Inspection includes unsafe, functional, or structural issues which, in my opinion, require prompt remedial attention. Furthermore, I report on preventative remedial actions that are required to preserve the safety, functionality or structural integrity of the home or major installation.

What is not included

Other external elements such as boundary and yard walls, the site, driveways, walkways, garden sheds, etc. do not form part of the Pre-listing Inspection.

In addition, I inspect walls, floors, and ceilings for damp and structural issues only! I also inspect BICs, sink and kitchen cupboards, and counters for moisture intrusion only.

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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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Home Inspections Kill Deals

Four Reasons Why Home Inspections Kill Deals:

buyer, seller and estate agent home inspection for houses
A buyer, a seller or an estate agent blames the house and the home inspector when a house sale falls through! Why?

A buyer may cancel a transaction after a home inspection! Sellers and agents may be tempted to blame an overzealous home inspector when a transaction falls apart after the inspection of some houses.

But there’s more to that situation than meets the eye.

Estate professionals know there are many ways that deals can fall apart, from credit, and financing to plain cold feet. But certainly, one of the more common deal killers is the home inspection.

But it doesn’t have to be!

Houses and Home Inspectors Do Not Kill Deals

Four home inspection situations lead to a cancelled transaction. Two things which are not on this list are the house and the home inspector. Some estate agents blame the home or the home inspector. However, let’s consider what happens in these situations.

Problems are caused when the home inspection report significantly alters the buyer’s expectations about what they thought they were buying. The client may say, “Gee, I thought I was buying a well-maintained home, but now that we have looked closely, I see the house requires a lot more maintenance than we expected”.

Therefore, the cancellation has everything to do with the client’s expectations coming into the inspection! Agents may wish that the home inspector had been less forthcoming about the condition of the house but this is not the solution! The solution to this problem is for buyers to have more realistic expectations before they sign the contract. My website and blog attempt to teach people skills that will help them look at houses and evaluate risk so they are more prepared to make an offer on the right house.

Here are the top four reasons buyers cancel a deal after the inspection.

1) Unprepared buyers

There are no classes in university or high school to teach people how houses work or where the risk lies. Even professional estate agents have little or no training to help them understand how to look at houses and identify issues. A new generation of homebuyers, many of whom did not grow up working on their houses with their parents, compounds this problem.

Continue reading “Home Inspections Kill Deals”

Critical Home Inspection

About Critical Home Inspections

Critical inspection
Don’t let this happen to you!

A Critical Home Inspection and Report include the really important parts of the home! It is a “Safe Home” inspection.

This inspection is an ideal inspection for both home buyers and sellers! The inspection is for those clients who do not require the full Buyers or Sellers Home Inspection.

With a critical inspection, I focus and report on the critical components of a home which are the roof, roof space, structure (inside and outside), windows and doors, electricity and plumbing installations, and any damp problems!

Therefore, a critical inspection is ideal if you only require an inspection of the major components of the home. Besides, it is more affordable!  My fee for a Critical Home Inspection report is about ¾ of that for the Home Buyers or Sellers Inspection, depending on the distance I would need to travel to the inspection.

A Critical Inspection includes

A critical home inspection includes issues that are NOT plainly obvious to any observant layman.

These include structural cracks in walls, ceilings, and floors. Issues such as all damp, roof leaks, illegal or unsafe geyser installations, windows, and door issues. However, I only inspect the external and internal wall, floor, and ceiling finish for signs of structural issues, dampness or staining from moisture intrusion.

Unsafe electrical and gas installations are also part of a critical home inspection. I inspect and report on stoves, air conditioners, and other built-in appliances. Moreover, I report on surface drainage, vegetation, and foliage issues that may affect the structure and roof adversely.

Besides the geyser installation, I check the water supply to all other plumbing fixtures and fittings as well as the drainage from them. I report on all leaks or faults observed during the critical home inspection.

A Critical Inspection includes unsafe, functional, or structural issues which, in my opinion, require prompt remedial attention. Furthermore, I report on preventative remedial actions that are required to preserve the safety, functional or structural integrity of the home or major installation.

What is not included

Other external elements such as boundary and yard walls, the site, driveways, walkways, garden sheds, etc. do not form part of the critical inspection. In addition, I inspect walls, floors, and ceilings for damp and structural issues only! I also inspect BICs, sink and kitchen cupboards, and counters for moisture intrusion only.

CONTACT ME

Inspected Once, Inspected Right!®

SEE WHERE I INSPECT IN GAUTENG!

THE HOME DETECTIVE » house inspections

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