The Star (Nairobi)

12 December 2012

Kenya: Demystifying Myths Held By Many House Buyers in the Market

Well, in every property market, there are some beliefs peddled by both sellers and buyers and they largely do influence how each category executes business. Let's examine a few.

For instance, there is an assumption that large property agents always have the latest portfolio of new property on sale. If you believe so, you may end up giving up too soon searching for your dream property if they don't have it.

The fact is that smaller real estate agents and individual dealers may have such a property in their portfolio. Better still, they may have a clue where you would find it, faster.

Another myth, many buyers assume a house on sale was approved by the local authority. Not establishing whether the developer has received approval for construction can be costly, it is a huge risk.

A local authority may decline to approval planned construction for various reasons. Perhaps the owner never adhered to by-laws such as on ground coverage. The remedy for such would be demolition, and you pay!

Many buyers are also fond of assuming that a house on sale is always structurally sound and thus do not seek expert opinion before closing a deal.

On the contrary, it has become increasingly common these days to notice cracks on walls and floors soon after occupation. The new construction laws in the pipeline are a good thing now, because building contractors for private houses will also be regulated and will be blacklisted if found flouting rules.

The best practice internationally is that the contractor should give a six-month warranty for patent defects such as leaking roofs, blocked pipes, broken door frames and handles, among others.

For latent defects such as structural cracks, falling walls and roofs, sinking foundations, and so on, there should be a six-year liability period.

Now with the new laws, it will be easier for property owners to get recourse once such defects become evident since it will be easy to trace a contractor with the sector regulator, the National Construction Authority.

Another major assumption by buyers is the belief that buildings last forever! Buildings have a lifespan. Depending on the type of materials used for construction, a building can last up to about 50 years on average.

So, when you are buying, or building, as the case may be, carefully analyse choice of construction materials. It is possible to buy a building then discover later that the walls are made of soil blocks and covered with plaster hence a short lifespan. It is also possible to buy a building then discover that the roof trusses have all been eaten up by wood-borers, shortening the roof's lifespan.

You must therefore carefully analyse the cost of renovations to avoid situations where you acquire a property at a premium only for you to rebuild the whole house again!

Gichuhi is principal architect at A4architect consultancy. Email: info@a4architect.com

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