My wife and I learned another important lesson yesterday. We are now in our new house which, despite having to put up all these curtains and things, is fantastic. Last night we were going to heat up a chicken pie for supper and we discovered, much to our dismay, that our oven isn’t working. While our first response is to cry foul and demand some sort of compensation, our sale agreement, like almost any offer to purchase, contains a voetstoots clause which basically means that you take the house as you find it.
Short of fraud on the part of the seller (the seller knew about a significant defect and intentionally misled you about it, to your detriment) you have no cause for complaint if something turns out to be defective. It is your responsibility to conduct a proper inspection and ask the right questions when you inspect a possible new home.
A corollary to this issue is that you are well-served making a note of items such as water features, alarm systems, light fittings, intercom systems or any other item which the seller could conceivably remove from the property when the seller moves out and clarifying whether those items are going to be there when you move in. If they are, make sure your agreement specifically lists those items as items that are part and parcel of the purchase, even if these items are pretty obvious. A friend of mine purchased a property on the coast and when he took possession he noticed that the toilet seat, security gate and light fittings had been removed. Of course these types of items can not legitimately be removed from the premises but you will save yourself a lot of aggravation and possibly legal fees if you deal with these items upfront, in your offer to purchase.
Don’t be afraid to be a little pedantic when it comes to your agreements and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.