A reader has contacted the experts about buying a fixed property, which is being sold without plans.
He would like to use the property as a residential dwelling and asked whether it is advisable to purchase.
See the reader’s question here.
To consider the reader’s question one must look at the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act.
According to it, no person can erect any building without the prior written approval of the respective local authority.
The dwelling in question was clearly built in contravention of the act, which is a criminal offence and it could result in a fine on conviction.
The application to build is submitted to the local authority, which examines and considers it for approval, subject to various requirements.
Subsequent to the completion of the structure and before occupation, a certificate of occupancy must be issued in accordance with section 14 of the act.
A local authority has to issue such certificate within 14 days after the owner requested it.
Granting permission to a third party to occupy is an offence if no certificate has been issued.
As a specific penalty is not set out in the relevant provision, so the general penalty provisions apply.
These allow for up to 12 months of imprisonment on conviction.
Even if one ignores the potential for criminal conviction, the risk of financial loss is great.
This concerns the current and potential future owners as the dwelling may be demolished due to the failure to comply with the provisions of the act.
Building without plans is not advisable and neither is purchasing such a dwelling.
If the reader is adamant that the house is desirable and he wants to proceed with an offer, the offer should be subject to formal and proper submission and approval of the plans by the relevant local authority.
It may even be advisable to obtain a report from one or more professionals.
This would ensure that the dwelling is built with acceptable materials and that the foundations are built to accepted specifications.
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