How can they ex­pect me to move into an un­safe house?

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Anesh Ram­balie

I AM cur­rently build­ing a house and had a few is­sues with my builder, so I con­tacted the Na­tional Home Builders Reg­is­tra­tion Coun­cil (NHBRC) as my house was reg­is­tered with them for the build­ing process.

One of the main is­sues was the con­struc­tion of the roof. It has leaks and, af­ter get­ting an in­de­pen­dent roof com­pany to have a look, it has been noted that it is struc­turally un­sta­ble.

The NHBRC has is­sued e-mails and let­ters to the builder but has not re­ceived any re­sponse from him.

The house is now at the fi­nal stage and I have a com­pleted roof that is struc­turally de­fec­tive.

If the NHBRC has taken the re­spon­si­bil­ity to over­see the build­ing process and make sure the house is built to their stan­dards, how did they al­low it to get to this stage with­out pick­ing up ma­jor struc­tural de­fects?

I con­tacted them and asked if they will re­pair the roof as it was cov­ered by their in­sur­ance. I was told ‘no, the NHBRC in­sur­ance only cov­ers the con­sumer af­ter oc­cu­pa­tion’.

Is there a waiver in place for this type of sit­u­a­tion? I can’t move into a house that is not safe. I find it to be gross neg­li­gence on the part of the NHBRC as I paid them for a ser­vice which they did not carry out cor­rectly.

So why have NHBRC in­spec­tors? I paid R32 000 up­front to the NHBRC so they could over­see the build.

I was is­sued with a cer­tifi­cate in­di­cat­ing that the house was in­sured for R4.8 mil­lion. Now I’m told they only help af­ter oc­cu­pa­tion. This is a to­tal ripoff. My lat­est re­sponse from the NHBRC was that they have taken ac­tion against the con­trac­tor, but this doesn’t help me as I still have a roof that’s de­fec­tive. I’ve been quoted R120 000 to re­pair it.

To en­sure my home was built ac­cord­ing to proper stan­dards and spec­i­fi­ca­tion, I utilised the ser­vices of NHBRC over­sight, as I be­lieved I would have the um­brella body of builders over­see­ing the con­struc­tion of my home.

I’m told by an NHBRC rep­re­sen­ta­tive that the only time I may lodge a com­plaint and claim com­pen­sa­tion is once my fam­ily oc­cu­pies the home. In ac­cor­dance with this re­quire­ment, my fam­ily and I are ex­pected to oc­cupy a home with a se­verely de­fec­tive roof. In essence, I am re­quired to put the lives of my fam­ily in dan­ger in or­der to lodge a claim! This de­fies all logic. It’s un­ac­cept­able. The over­sight was at all ma­te­rial times con­ducted by an NHBRC in­spec­tor.

I’m now forced to rec­tify is­sues that should have been dealt with by the in­spec­tor. First, they tell me they can’t help as I needed to be liv­ing in the house in or­der for the in­sur­ance to kick in. Now it’s “we can’t use money from the funds if you fixed it your­self ”. What is the real an­swer? Why did the in­spec­tor not pick up the faults?

Th­ese were ma­jor faults. Lives could have been lost. I am just go­ing to com­plete the house by my­self. I don’t have the time and money to waste on this.

NHBRC spokesper­son Tshepo Nkosi said: “The mat­ter of the er­rant home builder is be­ing ad­dressed within the le­gal pro­cesses, as set out in the Hous­ing Con­sumers Pro­tec­tion Act and it is an­tic­i­pated that the process will be fi­nalised within 120 days. The onus is on Mr Ram­balie to wait for this process to un­fold.

“Should Mr Ram­balie elect to ap­point a new builder to fin­ish his house, it is im­per­a­tive that the NHBRC is for­mally in­formed as this will have a di­rect im­pact on his War­ranty Fund cover. This is done so that the new builder takes over all li­a­bil­i­ties for the com­pleted house.”

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