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Building inspectors to the rescue

KUALA LUMPUR: Shoddy work and poor finishing of new houses have driven Malaysians to engage building inspectors to give their property a thorough check.
Although the law provides a 24-month warranty for owners to refer defects to the developers, many house buyers do not know what to look out for.

The inspectors, whose fees range from RM500 to RM3,000, will examine a property and submit a report, which includes recommendations for follow-up action.

Those who use such services are mostly professionals and young couples in their 30s who are first-time house buyers.

The hiring of experts to give a piece of property the once-over is common in Singapore and countries in Europe, but has only recently caught on in Malaysia.
Leon Hamid, operations and liaison director of Specialised Surveying Solutions Sdn Bhd, which provides such a service, said more Malaysian house buyers were realising the need for experts to check their properties.

"With increased affluence and exposure, consumers are now more aware of their rights. Moreover, the reports of the inspectors could be used as evidence in case buyers wanted to take their developers to court," he said.

Since the company was set up in March last year, Leon has seen the number of clients increase from two to eight a month and enquiries had increased by 20 per cent.

Among the major defects commonly found on newly-completed houses are uneven or hollow flooring, as well as water seepage and leakage — all signs that point to poor workmanship and use of inferior materials.

Building surveyor Steven Yap said the awareness of the availability of such a service in the country was still low.

"Many are unaware that getting building inspectors to inspect their homes can save them a lot of heartache at the end of the day," he said.

"By getting these professionals to conduct defect checks, owners will be able to identify problems early and get them rectified before they escalate."

National House Buyers Association secretary-general Chang Kim Loong said house buyers should hire building inspectors to look into their new homes to preempt problems later.

"Buyers may not know what defects to look out for, and for a few hundred ringgit, these professionals can do a better job," he said.

Patrick Chong was among those who had engaged a building inspector to conduct defect checks on his newly-completed condominium.

The 38-year-old manager said the one-hour inspection unveiled problems like water seepage in the guest bedroom and leakage in the bathrooms.

"Of course, I was upset over these problems. But I was glad that I engaged the inspector because if I were to do this on my own, I won’t know what to look out for.

"After the inspector’s report was submitted to the developer, the problems were immediately rectified."


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