How to not buy a property – the story of how we almost bought a house

COVID-19 had many negatives. One of the benefits is that employers were forced to adopt remote working. Working from home opens up one’s options as to where to live. Also, having lived through the July 2021 Durban riots and still having PTSD, moving to a sleepy town with a lower crime rate seemed like a good idea. This forms the basis for a really good story on how not to buy a property. This is the story of how we almost bought a house.

The green house on the hill

My wife first found our dream house online, broadening her search of areas in which to buy a house. The price was just right, and the quirky house with the green roof seemed like our forever home. Little did we know what adventure we would embark on when we signed that deal.

We viewed the house on 28 August 2021, and signed the offer to purchase the next day. Like a runaway romance getting married in Vegas, we let love get in the way of reason. Not long after we moved in, reality set in and the cracks started to appear.

Cracks appear

The house had previously been a holiday rental and been on the market. Before we moved in, the house had been vacant for at least a year. We moved in on 27 November2021, and started to pay occupational rent. The seller was not prepared to pay to fix the electric fence and had crossed this out on the sale agreement. This is the seller’s responsibility, and we only picked this up much later.

Found some sweet pool loungers in the garage.

We also discovered that the gate motor was not working. After getting approval from the transfer attorneys, the owner sent out a contractor to come and fix the issue.

A few days into our eternal summer holiday at the new house, a family member cut her toe in the swimming pool. The pool light has cracked and shattered, and that shorted out the transformer in the pool pump. Lovely! Another one for the seller’s bill

To add to our list of woes, apparently the gas installation was also illegal. You cannot have gas bottles under a wooden deck. More contractors and disruptions. At least it was also the seller’s obligation.

One day, we woke up to the smell of something foul. The drain between the kitchen and the septic tank has been blocked. We manage to get hold of a plumber who informs us that the septic tank needs to be emptied. Luckily, our Christmas guests weren’t there to experience the wonderful aromas.

Me in happier times. Sitting on the stoep, waiting for the next braai.

Man overboard

In the lead up to Christmas, we are preparing to host our entire extended family for Christmas. There is a lot to be done. On 22 December 2021, my wife’s sister Jessica and her niece were at the house during lunch time. Jessica stands on the corner of the deck and leans back on a balustrade. Suddenly, there is no support as the balustrade gives way and she freefalls about 3 metres into the garden. This is a feat in itself, seeing that she doesn’t weigh much. Her first unexpected attempt at freediving fails miserably, and she lands twisted on a wooden walkway down below.

The scene of the crime with the missing balustrade.

And just like that, our Christmas was cancelled. Jessica spends Christmas and New Year’s in a hospital. To add insult to injury, I drove my car into the gate post. A large window pane falls out of its frame and nearly slices my wife’s hand.

Showdown

By now we are questioning everything, apart from the meaning of life. The deck is not on the house plans. We find the previous tenant, who reveals that the owner knew about the deck. They also decided not to buy the property. We commissioned an engineer to assess the deck. The building inspector pays a visit. The seller is issued a notice and a fine to bring the plans up to date. There are more illegal structures on the property, including the pool.

The electric compliance certificate had been signed off without there being power on the property. We get our own electrician, who assures us that the power is in good repair.

The location of impact a full story down with the pieces of balustrade as they fell.

Legal implications

The seller knew about the deck and its faults. He did not disclose it in the sale as a defect, which gave us the right to cancel the sale. To add insult to injury, Jessica had two shattered vertebrae from the fall. She has since recovered well but has lingering reminders of her unplanned bungy jump from the deck.

As of September 16, 2022, the house is back on the market. At the time of writing, we are still in a legal dispute to claim back our expenses from the seller. We vacated the green house on the hill only eight months after moving in.

Looking up at the scene of the crime.

Conclusion

Even though we did not buy the property, I could not shake the eerie feeling. As we closed the door and drove down the drive, I had the ominous feeling that, like a bad divorce, even though this was the end, we would still be dealing with this house for a long time to come.

Update

The original Property24 listing is no longer available but it is still listed on the Seef website.

Available at https://www.seeff.com/results/residential/for-sale/umkomaas/clansthal/house/174413/1-duiker-lane/

 

Spread the love