Checking for any defects should be the main priority for any Malaysian homebuyers as soon as they get the keys to their new homes. You can either hire someone to do it or do a home inspection on your own.
Getting the keys and stepping into a newly completed home is always exciting for home buyers. That excitement comes with a tendency to think about things like where the furniture goes or who gets which room. However, a lot of people forget that as with anything you purchase, you need to check that the home does not have any defects. This should be the main priority as soon as vacant possession is delivered, besides setting up your utilities in your new place.
In Malaysia, all new property has a defect liability period of 24 months under the Housing Development Act. This is like a warranty period where any defects in the property will be rectified by the developer without any additional cost – and of course no hassle for you. We have put together a few tips and checklists to ease your house inspection journey and to ensure you are buying and up to code property that is worth every Ringgit you spent.
1. What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is a process of going through a new property to identify any defects or poor workmanship so that the developer can rectify it at no extra cost to the property owner. It is a process where you check your home thoroughly if there are any red flags. It could be the structure, utilities, grounds and rooms. It is also important to inspect the home from a safety standpoint to make sure it is hazard-free. Usually, homeowners will hire an expert to inspect the house. The inspector will then deliver a report of the major component of the home, its condition and whether it requires fixing.
2. When should a home inspection be done?
A home inspection should be done once the buyer gets the keys to the property. Bear in mind that there will also be other owners submitting defect lists so there could be a waiting list for rectification works. To avoid disputes with the developer over who or what caused the defects, be sure to do the inspection and submit the defect list before you do any renovation or fitting works.
3. Who pays for a home inspection and how much does it cost?
The cost for a home inspection is borne by the homebuyer. As a buyer looking for defects in a new home, this makes sense as you would not want someone paid for by the developer to be doing this for you. The price of a professional inspector’s services depends on the size of the property assessed and the location.
4. Where to find a qualified home inspector?
Companies specialising in engineering or building surveying often also offer home inspection services. Just search for “home inspection” or “building assessor” on the internet and you will get a list of companies that offer this service. The advantages of hiring a professional inspector are that they know exactly what to look out for and have the right tools to do the job. On top of that, check with the inspector of what is included in the inspection. If you have any concerns that you wished to address, inform it to your inspector so it can be added to the checklist.
5. How do I do my home inspection?
If you are not prepared to fork out the money to pay for a professional inspector, you can do it on your own.
The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) has a free information kit for homeowners who want to assess the quality of their new homes. The booklet is quite handy as it guides how to carry out your assessment, tips on what to look out for and even a checklist that can be used as a reference. It even includes a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section that covers topics such as buyers’ rights and the homebuyer’s claim tribunal.
Some of the basic tools that you would need to carry out your inspection, besides a good amount of patience, are:
- Stepladder (or a sturdy stool you can stand on)
- Marker pen
- Digital camera (or smartphone)
- Masking tape or post-it notes
- Measuring tape
- Spirit level
- Tapping rod (this is to test if the tiled floor or wall is hollow and you can also use any kind of metal rods or a coin)
- Sales and purchase agreement (with relevant specifications and measurements)
Before you start your inspection, it will be useful to find out from the developer how they expect to receive the defect list. Some developers have a standard form to fill in while some may prefer the report via email and with pictures. With an inspection checklist as a guide, you would need to go through the items one by one.
If you find any defects, mark it with the masking tape or post-it note and take a picture of it. These will help the developer or its contractors to identify the defects easily when making rectifications.
6. What should you look out for during a home inspection?
Make sure that the electricity and water supply are connected before you do your inspection. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the things to look out for:
General building problems
- Doors and windows – Check that the hinges are working and there is no cracks, rot or adhesives left on the glass. Also, there should not be damaged screens or broken glass.
- Doorknobs and locks – Test all the keys provided to make sure they open and close easily.
- Walls – Check for cracks, watermarks, uneven surfaces, and uneven paintwork.
- Floors/tiles: – Check for cracks, uneven surfaces, hollow tiles, and no discolouration. Also, make sure the tiles are consistent joints with the wall.
- Ceiling – Lookout for any gaps, stains, cracks, uneven paint or watermarks.
- Cabinets and countertops – Besides checking for scratches, test all drawers and cupboards to make sure they open and closes properly.
- Fixture and faucets – Check that all the taps work and look out for scratches and leaks. If it is a mixer tap, make sure that the hot and cold water comes out the right way.
- Water heater – Turn on the water and leave it running to check that the water heater works. Make sure the temperature is okay and adequate for daily use.
- Water pressure – If the water pressure is too low, there could be problems with the plumbing works.
- Toilet bowls – Drop some toilet paper in before testing the flush to make sure that there are no blockages.
- Drains – Leave the water running to check that the drainage work. It is important to make sure the drainage system isn’t blocked. This applies to kitchen, bathroom and sink as well.
- Sink, tub, and shower – Make sure it drains easily. There should be no mineral stains or rust around the tub, shower and wall.
Refer to the sales and purchase agreement to check that all items included are in place and working order.
- Lights – Turn on all lights to make sure that they are working without any flickering and there are no missing bulbs. Check that all switches are installed properly with no gaps.
- Air conditioning – Make sure that additional accessories like the remote control are included and in working condition.
- Power outlets – Bring along an electrical item like a small lamp or a phone charger to test that the outlets are working.
- Electrical panel – You might want to hire an electrician to ensure that all the wiring is in place and safe to use. Make sure there is no exposed wiring.
- Doorbell – If there is one installed, remember to test that it works.
If the property is landed, remember to check the outside areas like the walls, roof garden and car porch.
- Paint – Check for evenness and consistency of paintwork on external walls.
- Foundation – Check for any cracks or watermarks.
- Porch – Check for the evenness of the floor and make sure that the tiles are properly laid. Also, check the gradient of the floor to ensure that water will flow out of the house.
- Gate – Check that the gate is aligned and opens and closes properly without any squeaks.
- Roof – Check for missing or damaged shingles.
- Gutters and drains – It might be worth dropping by your property when it is raining to check that there are no leaks in the gutters and no blockages in the drains.
While it might seem like a tedious task, a home inspection should be a priority for all home buyers to make sure that they are getting a home without any defects. Besides the inconvenience, fixing these defects after the defect liability period could incur costs to the homeowner. It is also important to check the property again after the rectification works to ensure that all defects are properly fixed and all faulty fittings and appliances repaired or replaced.
Edited by Rebecca Hani Romeli