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What are the most common defects when receiving the keys of a new house and how to manage them.

18 Property Defects: Powerful Tips on How to Go & Get’m!

This is my third and last blog of the “New Property Defect Management” series. In the previous two I’ve been writing about what to get ready for in terms of what to check and what falls under Defect Liability clause in the first and on how to carry on your “defect inspection” in the second.

I’ve been going through general information and checklists to be used before, during and after the Property Defect Management day. 

In this final blog of this series, I will walk the readers through the most common issues a new property is causing because of workmanship and use of inappropriate materials or design. Few more information of the most common mistakes can be found here and here.

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Let’s start from a general statement which is: it doesn’t matter if you are going to personally use or rent out the property, a well done Property Defect Management will save you time and money in the years to come. I’m saying this because I’ve seen plenty of investors receiving the property keys and just putting aside or delaying till too late, the defect inspection.

Later only, unfortunately it always happens when the “warranty period” is expired, regretting the missed opportunity and forking out considerable amount of money and time!

Doors 

Doors and windows might be causing future headache in terms of opening and closing as far as water proofing. 

First thing to check is, of course, the proper alignment of all doors by looking at the space left between the door itself and its jamb. There must be enough room for the door to open and close properly but not too much as the latter will cause trouble in future with the door lock not working properly.

Verify that the alignment is correct by looking at it from both entrance and exit. The picture below clarify this important point of your Property Defect Management.

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It is better to double check that all the door locks are working properly. To accomplish this, close the door and then, without touching the door itself, close and open few times the door lock with the given key. If you need to push or pull the door to get the door-lock to work then you have a defect and better get it noted down and fixed by the developer. 

Another important verification which needs to be done is related to the door hinges. Does the door have enough hinges to support its weight? This question normally goes to the main entrance door, as the heaviest in the house. All hinges need to be controlled in terms of tightness, loose hinges are going to be source of issues in future and correct mounting job. 

Verify also that the screws, holding the hinges to the door and the jamb,  are all there and are all duly tight! 

Is there any screw missing or hinge-seat left empty? It shouldn’t as doors and jamb are always supplied by one contractor and there shouldn’t be any “missing” one. If any is found, it should be brought up at least as request of explanation during the Property Defect Management with the developer’s team. 

Windows

Windows, either fixed and un-openable, swinging or sliding, are definitely another source of possible issues. The important points to be check with your property windows are material, assembling, sealing and glass conditions. 

As your unit has remained empty for quite sometime before you receive its vacant possession, it is always better to check on walls and floors if there is any mark of water leakage nearby all windows and their frames. If any is found then, better mark it as a defect and let the developer handle it.

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Sealing mounted on metal window frames (normally is steel or aluminium and is most of the time declared in the technical specification page of the SPA, it can be checked using a magnet – If it sticks is steel if it doesn’t is aluminium or stainless steel) are important to guarantee that noise and water will remain outside your property.

There might be single or double sealing (normally made of rubber or silicon) which needs to be checked in terms of being assembled properly and completely. There shouldn’t be any missing part. To check this the property owner may need to climb over a ladder, make always a rule to have someone to help for this operation. 

Window’s glasses wise, check that no crack is visible and the sealing holding the glass is all assembled properly. There should not be any visible “seal pinch”, if any is found better to get it fixed as Property Defect Management by the developer. 

Finally, if the property has sliding doors or windows, normally to the balcony or garden, open and close in full and make sure that it slides without obstructions. Sometimes it happens that excess of cement or a not properly cleaned rail may cause issues to the sliding windows. These are clearly workmanship defects which need to be amended by the developer within the Property Defect Management.

Floors

Property are normally delivered with three possible types of flooring: tiles, engineered parquet flooring and solid wood flooring. 

Starting with tiles, by far the most common, what needs to be controlled is the proper alignment of the tiles, there should not be excess of space between tiles and that space has to be the same everywhere as most of the times is. Issues with tiles are normally coming from:

  • cracks, visual checking is normally sufficient to find possible cracks or chipped tiles, in which case all needs to be done is to mark the tile with a piece of masking tape and a number reporting to the developer for due repair. 
  • not properly laid tiles in terms of “adhesion” to the cement underneath. This might be a tedious verification to be done as the property owner will need to gently hit every tile, suggested the use of a piece of wood to avoid any damage, on the floor and walls, marking the ones which are giving an “out of tune” sound (if under the tile there is not enough adhesive/cement but empty space, the sound will definitely be different). Mark all the tiles making the different sound and get the developer defect management team to handle it.

Engineered parquet flooring has been widely used by developers and is a “preferred” choice by property buyers too, I definitely like it as it gives a different tone to the whole property, does not need the heavy maintenance of solid wood flooring and is not subject to damages by sunlight. It is, however, very sensitive to water. With this type of flooring what needs to be controlled is:

  • all the areas nearby windows to verify the possible presence of “water damages”. Damages might by either caused by a window left open by the developer’s team or a water leakage from the window itself. If detected, this type of issue is definitely part of the property defect management which developers will need to take care of.
  • proper assembling of the flooring. Engineered parquet flooring comes with different type of join-systems but all should render a nice a tight “sticking” of each floor piece into the next ones. If any looseness of flooring strips is found it has to be reported as defect and handled by the developer within the warranty period.
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The second verification has to be done on the proper assembling of the solid wood flooring and again the same expert checking the quality/type of material of your flooring will also be able to confirm the quality of laying it down. Solid wood flooring should have an even and smooth surface without difference in height, empty spaces between consequent pieces of wood flooring and definitely without surface damages such as chips or cracks. 

As suggested for the tiles flooring, mark every detected defect and issue a defect notice to the developer for its due action and follow up. 

Last common issue with solid wood flooring comes from sunlight. Solid woods, in general, are very sensitive to natural sunlight and, if windows in the room with solid wood flooring were not properly curtained with kraft paper, there might have been changes in the colouring of the wood tone of the floor is the areas hit by the sunlight.

This too is a workmanship defect and can be claimed under the property defect management for developer to substitute or repair the affected parts of the flooring.

Water and power supply and in/outlets

Water related defects might arise in terms of leakages of taps, sinks and in general water outlets, obstruction of bathrooms, showers, kitchen and yard manholes. Make sure that the water can freely flow from all taps with the same pressure and the sinks are properly assembled and no leakage appears once the water flow through.

Advisable to let the water flowing for few minutes as the obstruction might not be nearby. All manholes in the property should also be controlled by pouring several buckets of water through, again a possible obstruction is not said to be nearby the manhole itself. 

Electrical system wise, besides counting the switches, power points, aircon, water-heater and ceiling fan points it might be a good idea to hire an electric technician to come over for one or two hours and testing that the whole electric system of the new property is in good working conditions and all fittings are working properly. It might be a wise investment to avoid dangerous and costly issues later on caused by hidden defects.

Conclusions

The list of possible defects found in a new property could be keep on going and in general the above are by far the most important of them to be checked carefully when receiving the keys of a new property!

A very good advice, though, could also be to hire a “defect consultant” to help in the property defect management of your new house. I’m saying this as, sometimes, defects are hidden and not immediately visible.

A good “defect consultant” is equipped with tools and devices allowing a perfect scanning of the new property highlighting not only the clearly visible defects but also the invisible ones!

However, it is always good to have an open mindset in terms of relationship with the developer as, most of the times, defects are not intentionally caused and the law is duly protecting the property buyers through the Defect Liability clause in all residential SPAs.

Communication jam between developer team and contractor/sub-contractors are most of time the actual cause of these defects. I always recommend to have a soft and kind approach with the developer’s team and keep in mind that, the defect claim in the property, is only one of many the developer’s team has to face. Be patient and willing to wait but remain firm in your requests. 

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Several developers have been adopting digital tools allowing an easier and faster way of communicating with both their buyers and the contractors in charge of the repair works. ProFix, developed by the ProSales technical team, helps making the property defect management an easy journey, seamless and always highly informed. Hopefully, the developer constructing the property chosen by the readers has already been adopting a digital way to deal with defect, it will be much better for all parties!

About The Author

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The opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author, Dr Daniele Gambero. 

Dr Gambero has been an expatriate to Malaysia from Italy, since 1998 and has more than 35 years of real estate experience. He is the co-founder and group CEO of REI Group of Companies, the Co-founder of Propenomy.com and the deputy president of the Malaysia Proptech Association. 

In the past 10 years Daniele, as international and TEDX speaker, has engaged several hundreds thousand people talking about Property, Economy, Propenomy, Digital Marketing and Motivation. He is also a bestselling author and columnist on several magazines and main stream media. You can reach him directly through his LinkedIn page here. Previous

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