Monday, 11 January 2016

The Implications of Selling a House Without Approved Plans

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During December we received several inquiries for assistance to update plans. Purchasers, Sellers and Property Agents have requested our help with bringing their house plans up to date for Council approval, in the shortest amount of time.

We have had Estate Agents inform us, that they have been advised by Insurance companies; Home inspectors and Bank evaluators, that up to date Council approved plans have been required from them to be included in their documentation. For legal reasons, it is obvious that all documentation pertaining to the sale / transfer of a property needs to be correct and current, this includes the approval of the house plans.

We have asked several Banks and Bond originators if this was Law or an official requirement. It is our understanding that to date this is not the case. However, not having the up to date plans may cause delay’s during the property transaction.

Furthermore, Insurance companies may query claims of property damage i.e Fire and / or structural failure, if they discover that the dwellings have had additions and / or alteration made without Council approved plans.

We did come across a reference to plan requirements from a Standard Bank checklist :

This document does not state if the plans referred to are for new dwellings or for existing ones.

The Implications of Selling a House
Without Approved Plans

If you are selling your house, and don’t have approved plans, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. And if you are buying a house, and don’t ask whether the seller has approved plans, you might end up inheriting some very expensive problems.

Legal Implications of Selling a House

Without Approved Plans

Since the law requires everybody to have plans drawn up in a particular manner, and approved by the local authority in their area, it stands to reason that every house will have plans. But this is not always the case, and a lack of approved building plans is clearly a major problem for many people buying and selling houses and other buildings in all parts of South Africa.
Building Plans and Submissions

What plans are required?

All building plans have to be submitted to the relevant Local Authority for approval. 

The National Building Regulations & Building Standards Act (No.103 of 1977) stipulates that no person may erect, alter, add to, or convert any building without the prior approval of the Local Authority.
Haviside v Heydricks and Another (AR27/13) [2013] ZAKZPHC 53 (17 October 2013) 
This judgment confirms the position in our law that the absence of approved building plans constitutes a latent defect, in respect of which a voetstoots clause protects an innocent seller. The Court in this matter upheld the seller's reliance on the voetstoots clause, in the face of a claim by the purchaser to make good his additional expenses to his planned renovation necessitated by the absence of approved plans relating to an existing garage.

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