After employing a builder to construct his new home, a reader wants to know what options are available to him to remedy some serious defects which became apparent after he took occupation.
Costs were an issue in deciding to build a home rather than purchasing one and he accepted a friend’s recommendation when it came to deciding on a builder.
This friend had recently used the builder for a few small projects in his house and appeared to be happy with the result.
After speaking to the builder, the reader felt sure he would be able to carry out the job successfully.
However, he says, from the beginning he experienced issues such as delays in the construction, an insufficient number of builders on site and deadlines missed.
All in all, though, he felt it was nothing too serious.
See the reader’s question here.
But within a few months of taking occupation he experienced the consequences of some construction defects.
Among them, seemingly due to poor workmanship and shortcuts taken, was a serious leak in the roof during a heavy rainstorm.
He contacted the builder and, despite numerous promises to repair the problem, he has not returned.
The reader did confirm with the builder that he held the necessary registrations with the NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council).
The Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act potentially provides the reader with a remedy.
Firstly, it states that nobody shall come to an agreement with a builder about constructing a house unless that person is a registered home builder.
Contravention of this may result in the builder being fined or imprisoned if he is convicted.
Notwithstanding the potential for a criminal sanction, a consequence of the act is that the builder is not entitled to be compensated for his work if he is not registered.
The act also provides for the inclusion of several deemed warranties in respect of the construction that form part of their agreement.
These include provisions such as the house being constructed in a workmanlike manner and being fit for habitation.
The home shall also be constructed according to certain technical and other requirements.
The act states that, within a period of not less than five years from the occupation date, the builder shall be required to rectify major structural defects caused by non-compliance with the NHBRC technical requirements.
Of course, the cause of the defects will have to be determined to ensure that they qualify under this section.
Another section states that within a period of not less than three months from the occupation date the builder shall rectify non-compliance with or deviation from the terms, plans and specifications of the agreement.
He will also need to correct any deficiency related to design, workmanship or material of which the homeowner has notified him.
Thus, in the event of the defects being related specifically to the workmanship of the builder, this section may be applicable.
Possibly of more importance to the reader is a section which states that the builder shall repair roof leaks attributable to workmanship, design and materials.
This is applicable if the homeowner notifies the builder within a period of not less than 12 months from the occupation date.
The reader may refer complaints to the NHBRC, who shall investigate those complaints in terms of the prescribed procedures.
Depending on the circumstances of the matter, the NHBRC may pay out to the reader an amount for the rectification of the effects.
In turn, the council may be entitled to recover any costs or expenditure from the builder for his failure to comply with his obligations under this act.
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