Written for Property Poser

Our Property Poser panel of experts has been asked to advise a reader on the drawing up of building plans to extend a house.

The reader says he plans to extend his house in the next four years when he is finished paying off the current bond. He intends taking out a second bond to finance the project.

He is considering drawing up the building plans now and asks if there are any legal ramifications if done so far in advance. He also wants to know if there is any other advice the panel may have for him.

Liesel Greyvenstein from Greyvensteins Nortier says in terms of building regulations, building plans are only valid for one year after they have been approved. Drawing them up now is therefore not advisable.

“From a practical point of view, one may well ask if it is wise to prepare and pay for plans so long in advance,” she says. “I’m not aware of the personal circumstances of the reader, but a host of variable factors may intervene before the actual construction starts in, let’s say, three years’ time.”

Greyvenstein says factors that may change and affect the reader’s building plans include that the building regulations or municipal policy for the particular area may be amended. This could make the present plans invalid.

“Another possibility is that the reader’s financial conditions may change. The interest rate can rise, building costs may increase or it could become less attractive to invest in a particular neighbourhood,” she says.

“There are many examples of once sought-after areas becoming unpopular due to industrial developments in the area, the construction of a nearby highway or the demographic profile of the neighbourhood. One example of the latter is the average age of the population.

“A new suburb usually attracts newly weds causing the area to become a popular choice for crèches. Later it becomes popular for families with children in primary school and then high school,” says Greyvenstein.

“When the kids have left home, it typically has an older population. I don’t think these changes will necessarily take place in three years’ time in the reader’s neighbourhood, but there is certainly a possibility that a new trend could become evident in that time.”

Jaco Rademeyer of Jaco Rademeyer Estates says the personal financial position of the reader may also change. “It could take a turn for the worse or an unexpected windfall may lead to a total change in preference,” he says.

“The personal circumstances of the reader may also be altered by the time he can build. An accident or disease causing some kind of incapacity or disability may also call for a different kind of alteration to the house.

“It is also possible that the reader or members of his family could pass away before the building process starts, or there could be an unexpected increase in occupants. Babies or members of the extended family such as elderly parents may have to be accommodated.”

Rademeyer points out that the personal preferences and taste of the reader may also change over time, as may the fashion. “A colour scheme that seems a good idea now could be a source of embarrassment in a few years’ time.

“It is also reasonable to expect technological advances in the near future that could be an advantage, but would make today’s decisions and designs rather obsolete.”

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