Advice and Opinion

Essential to have approved residential property plans before signing to purchase

The Consumer Protection Act, says Schalk van der Merwe, co-franchisee for the Rawson Property Group’s Somerset West and Strand franchises, makes it clear that a building plan application must be submitted for any structure, whether this is of a temporary or permanent nature and irrespective of the materials used to build it. This also includes alterations or extensions to existing structures.

“Some people,” says van der Merwe, “think that if they are selling voetstoots, i.e. selling the property as it is, it is legitimate to do the deal without the plans being produced – but this is not the case.”

No matter how urgently the buyer wants to take over the property, he should, says van der Merwe, insist that he is given the plans first and that these have been approved by the local municipality.

It is surprising, says van der Merwe, how many sellers have never owned plans of their own homes and how often, when these are finally drawn up for municipal approval (sometimes at the buyer’s expense), it transpires that certain aspects of the building, particularly additions and extensions, have been carried out without permission.  Some may even be completely illegal as they contravene the zoning and other regulations that apply to the site.

Although in most cases it is possible to get a copy of the plans from the local municipality, van der Merwe reminds us that it is not the municipality’s responsibility to keep such plans – this is an extra service that they provide.  The true responsibility for holding such plans, he says, lies with the owner and he alone is accountable to the buyer.  He should therefore ensure that his plans are drawn up and approved before putting his home on the market.