A need for private
27/10/2006 By National House Buyers Association
Published in Iproperty Magazine
For many people the purchase of a house or an apartment unit is the most
important financial decision of their lives. What happens if you have paid
for your house and discover defects later which are going to cost thousands
of ringgits to repair? This would not have happened if you had used the
service of the building inspector to give you a report on the condition of
the house or check for permitted renovations against shoddy renovations
before you buy. The report would have given you room for negotiation with
the seller too.
Most people are under the mistaken belief that the local council issuing the
Certificate of Fitness for Occupation ('CFO') will discover problems such as
defects & shoddy workmanship when they issue it. They do not. Their job is
strictly to ensure that there are no by-law violations or safety issues.
are not quality assurance officers nor do they have that authority. Further,
there could be problems with the house that are not necessarily By-law
violations, yet have serious consequences for the new owner.
We believe that it takes three types of know-how to make a wise decision on
a purchase: financial know-how; legal know-how and technical/engineering
know-how. In the first two, consultations with financial or legal experts
are not a problem as these professionals are already in the market. However,
when it comes to the technical part, there is a lot of tension from the
layman's point of view and the vendor's as getting a professional home
inspection report has yet to be practised by house buyers as one important
process of the purchase.
The layman is only guided by his untrained eyes (to inspect) and naïve
assuming attitude. When it comes to quality and workmanship, new homeowners'
problems are compounded by the fact that there is no degree of benchmark on
buildings and its components for the layman to rely on.
In countries like America and Canada, home inspections are standard practice
in the purchasing process. Home inspectors conduct inspections of newly
built or previously owned homes. Prospective home buyers hire home
inspectors to inspect and report the condition of a home's systems,
components, and structure. They typically are hired either immediately prior
to a purchase offer on a home, or as a contingency to a sales contract. In
addition to structural quality, home inspectors inspect all home systems and
features, including roofing as well as plumbing, electrical, and heating or
Different kinds of inspections
A valuation report is the formal process of estimating a property's value as
it relates to a mortgage loan. It does not itemise defects or reflect
potential problems in the home whereas the CFO is an official document
issued by the Local Council under the Uniform Building By-laws to certify
that a certain building is safe and can be occupied
In newly completed residential projects, the architects' roles is to certify
that the building has been constructed and completed in accordance with the
relevant Acts, by-laws and regulations and that all conditions imposed by
the Appropriate Authority in respect of the issuance of CFO has been
complied with. In purchases from housing developers, it is not uncommon to
hear of buyers' claims of vacant possession being given 'pre-maturedly'. In
circumstances, like this, a home inspector would have come in handy to
report outstanding works and the possibility of the issuance of CFO being
further delayed, so that buyers can take action quickly to remedy the
When to get an inspection
Get an inspection of the property before accepting vacant possession or even
before you buy. For owners of strata titled buildings it is equally
important that a joint inspection be done before the transition from the
developer to the owners' management corporation. An inspection is meant to
evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property.
People involved in real estate transactions need unbiased information about
the physical condition of property they plan to buy or sell and your
contract should include a contingency that you obtain a satisfactory
inspection report. Private home inspection protects the buyers' interests,
just as a bank's valuer's report protects the lender.
Where to find an inspector
The Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia has a Building Surveying Division of
professional building surveyors who can provide a home or building
The Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia
3rd Floor, Bangunan Jurukur
64-66, Jalan 52/4, 46200
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
The Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) - do have a list of
their members who offer home inspection services. For building failures,
there is a joint panel between ACEM and Institute Engineers Malaysia (IEM)
who will undertake consultations on building failures.
Association of Consulting Engineers, Malaysia
63-2 & 65-2, Medan Setia 1,
Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, 50490 Malaysia.
There are also licensed architects who doubled up as building inspectors as
well as companies who offered this service. Look them up in the telephone
What the inspection, at minimum should include
Every inspection should include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of at
least the following:
Plumbing and electrical systems
Ceiling, walls and floors and
Roof and their materials
Hazardous materials concerns
Common areas (in condominiums)
How much does it cost
According to Sr Zarim Ibrahim of
the Building Surveying Division, a general condition survey which takes
about an hour cost RM350 to RM500 for a residential home. The cost will vary
with the type of report, comprehensiveness and the size of the property.
Getting a home inspection can be a 'peace of mind' which every house buyer
should be including in their house purchase process.