Buying a property is a big investment, and the last thing you want to discover after you’ve taken ownership are hidden issues that could cause you problems down the track. That’s why it’s vital to do your homework before you commit to the purchase. See also our article: Before you buy your first home.
The LIM Report
Luckily, your local council is a rich source of information about your potential new home, as they hold records that can tell you a lot about the property’s history. You’ll often hear the LIM (Land Information Memorandum) report mentioned, and some real estate agents may already have a copy of that ready for you to view when you express interest in a house.
The Property File
Another vital document to check is the property file - a complete record of what the council knows about the property. It contains things like the original building plans and the outline of the buildings in relation to the boundary. If there have been changes to the property, the file should also contain copies of any building consents, resource consents, or permissions issued. Approved alterations should have a corresponding CCC (Code Compliance Certificate). The file might also show other information, like complaints made by the neighbours.
If you can see changes to the property that aren’t included in the property file, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. You can ask the current owner to apply to the council for a COA (Certificate of Acceptance), although they can decline your request, and there is no guarantee that the council will issue the certificate. If the unconsented changes don’t comply with the building code, the council will issue a Notice to Fix, and once the problems are rectified, a Certificate of Acceptance can be issued. Bear in mind, though, that many lenders will not approve a mortgage on a property that has unconsented changes, so you may have to ask the seller to rectify the issues at their expense.
The best way to determine if the property you intend to buy matches the property file is to review it in conjunction with a full Innohome building inspection. We can verify if the building matches the file and if any changes that are not listed are likely to comply with the building code and be eligible for a Certificate of Acceptance.