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Engineer Chaim Milun B.Sc. was trained in both Architecture and Engineering in Cape Town, South Africa, and has been working as a Consultant Building Engineer in Israel for almost 30 years. You can contact Chaim at +972-52-220-0311 or by e-mailing him at [email protected]
Why hire a building engineer?
Not many people would buy a new car without first studying its specifications or a used car without inspecting its faults. The same can be said for appliances or consumer electronics. Thorough research and investigation is normally conducted before even entering a store to make a purchase. What about real estate? Purchasing a home is probably one of the greatest investments you will ever make, so it is paramount that you seek professional advice and guidance from a qualified building engineer before finalizing the transaction. Of course, you may argue that anyone can walk through a property and identify glaring problems, but only an experienced building engineer can accurately understand and interpret the findings of the investigation.
Since no two properties are identical - not even two adjacent apartments in the same development - a competent building engineer will view each inspection as being separate and unique.
The current status of the engineer's report overseas and in Israel
The engineer's report is considered extremely important in many states and countries to the extent that it is obligatory according to the law - similar to the legal obligation to hire a lawyer and realtor. This is not yet the case in Israel, but steps are being taken to rectify this situation.
Quality of construction in Israel
The quality of new construction in Israel continues to improve with the specifications of better materials and greater attention to building and code details, as well as rigorous quality control when it comes to hiring tradesmen. However, much still needs to be done to improve building standards. Hiring a qualified building engineer to conduct the final inspection prior to receiving the keys has both immediate and long-term advantages: in the short term, the Kablan will take the contents of the snagging list more seriously, and in the unfortunate case of litigation against the Kablan at a later stage, the report has significant weight as a court document.
There are no guarantees provided with used construction as there are with new buildings. The concept of buying "as-is" is widespread, but the seller is obligated according to the "Chok HaMecher/I>" to provide the buyer with information regarding any major defects which may exist. The engineer's report highlights these defects, and protects the interests of the buyer by ensuring the seller's compliance.
The process of inspection
The building engineer's report could significantly impact the negotiation process and the final closing, so its importance cannot be stressed enough. A building engineer will adopt the following methodology when inspecting a property:
1) The building engineer will study the documentation of the property provided by the client to verify the correct address, ownership, size, conformity with building permits, and in the case of new construction, the layout and specifications of the property;
2) The building engineer will then visit the property and, applying his expertise, will carry out an in-depth inspection to investigate the state of each element of the property, including the internal structure, windows and doors, piping, waterproofing, electrical installation, heating/cooling systems, etc. The building engineer will use the various tools of the trade, from such simple devices as a tape measure to such specialized electronic tools as a damp meter, which indicates unacceptable levels of wetness in the walls or floors. Most importantly, the building engineer will rely on his/her technical knowledge based on training and experience;
3) The building engineer will then produce a clearly written and comprehensible report of the technical findings so that the client who is perhaps unfamiliar with technical terminology will be able to easily understand and grasp the true condition of the property and receive recommendations regarding the purchase of the property.
Hiring a building engineer to inspect your property before finalizing the purchase is extremely important. Below are the three main advantages of taking such a step:
1) As the potential owner, you will have a clearer understanding of the true condition of the property;
2) As the potential buyer, spending a few hundred dollars on an engineer's report is a worthwhile investment when you can potentially save yourself thousands of dollars later on by using the information contained in the engineer's report as a valuable negotiating tool;
3) As the client, you can benefit from the building engineer's expertise and seek technical advice at any stage of the transaction, and after taking possession of the property, so that you can make well-informed decisions.
Buying real estate in Israel is an enormous investment, so it is crucial that you do not finalize the purchase until you have received professional advice from a qualified building engineer. If you are purchasing a first-hand home, the building engineer will review the layout and specifications of the property; if you are purchasing a second-hand home, the building engineer will visit your property, and with the help of his tools and broad experience in the field, will investigate each element of the property and will then produce a clear report that contains all of the findings.
Although not yet legally obligatory in Israel, the engineer's report is extremely important and can potentially save you significant expense down the line, since you can use the information in the report as leverage during negotiations with the Kablan. When you purchase a property in Israel, you should be fully informed about the state of your property. A building engineer will provide you with a clear picture of the true state of your property, and will guide you through the entire process - from finalizing the transaction until after you have taken possession of your new home.
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Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal or professional advice but rather a discussion of general issues. Readers are advised to receive professional advice before making any decisions or entering into transactions.