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House Buying Guide For Gambia

Property Tips & Advice Checklist:
Building Types:-
2, 3 & 4 bedroom houses on sale in Gambia come in all shapes & sizes. Some are described as 'villas' when in fact they are just bungalows, so it's important to check out the photo & see what the building actually looks like. Better still try & visit the site yourself.

Legal Advice:-
Always use the services of a qualified Greater Banjul based legal practitioner before entering or making any real estate decisions. They can carry out the property conveyancing process on your behalf such as searches at the Registry of Deeds, acquiring title deeds, preparing a draft contract for you, registration of title deeds, stamp duty, leases and other formal types of documentation. Tip: do check your lawyers fees & request references.

When looking to buy a home see whether it has a flat roof. If it has, then make sure that it is lined with a waterproofing product as these buildings are prone to leaking. Also do take a look at the ceiling for any signs of leaks.

If it has a corrugated or tiled roof then look out for signs of damage on the top as well as the ceiling. Repair costs could run into thousands of Dalasi so this could be a negotiating item.

The cost of replacing defective windows can be costly. If the property has sliding windows then do check that all are sliding properly. Check to see that all the insect screens are properly fitted.

Electrical System:-
The first thing you should check is whether the property is connected to the main grid supply from the Gambia's National Water and Electricity Company (Nawec). If not then check to see if there are supply lines running outside the property as you may be able to apply to get connected to the mains, though this can take some time, so do enquire how long this is likely to take before deciding to buy.

Get a fully qualified electrician (preferably someone who has graduated from the Gambia Technical Training Institute - GTTI) to look over the quality of the wiring, particularly in the ceiling area, as you cannot be certain of the standard of work. To be really on the safe side it might be advisable to rewire your new house completely with British Standard wires by a fully qualified electrician under the supervision of an electrical engineer. This would include switches, sockets and distribution boxes.

The electrician should look at the fuse box for signs of overfused circuits, improper wiring,  burned wiring, etc.

Water Mains Supply:-
Check that the property is connected to the water mains. In The Gambia water metres are usually located just inside the compound near the front fence. If the building does not have a water metre then look to see that your immediate neighbours have supplies. If they do then you would be able to apply after you have acquired the property.

Sewage & Plumbing:-
Check all the taps to confirm that they all produce running water. Get a fully qualified plumber to check for signs of leaks, incompatible joints, damp on walls, the manholes, etc.

Look at the outside of the house's wall near the ground for any signs of termite tunnels or leads rising from the ground. If you do see signs then this is a possible indicator that the foundations did not receive proper treatment with Dursban TC or other kind of anti-termite infestation treatments. Should you see these signs then it is advisable to reject the property.

Also look for termite leads inside the home at the bottom of door frames, walls and other areas.

Swimming Pools:-
This will require the inspection of a pools engineer. There are a number of companies that sell supplies and construct swimming pools and may provide you with inspection services for a fee. If this is not possible then get a good plumber to check over the performance of the pump in the pool house, and that water is actually being emptied into the pool. If possible ask to see it when it's empty of water to check the condition of the tiles. If it has lights then these should also be checked.

Structural Survey:-
And finally before deciding to purchase a home in Gambia you are advised to seek out the services of a fully qualified building structural surveyor to check over the property for any defects and to give you an idea of the cost of rectifying any problems. This will give you more leverage over negotiating for a lower price from the owner and possible big savings for you.

If destructive probing is necessary then this should be with the seller's written approval and under the advice of your lawyer, with a clear written agreement as to which party will carry out proper and full repairs after such an inspection.

A survey is intended to reduce the risk for the buyer, but does not eliminate it.

As with any property you are bound to find some defects. If you like a property then this should not necessarily discourage you from buying as it all depends on the final repair cost which you are most probably going to have to bear. Just remember that by totalling these repair costs could give you more leverage to reduce the asking price when negotiating on the price of the building.

Before Moving In:-
After purchasing your Gambian home you should consider installing (if your new home does not have one) a 1,000 or 2,000 litre reserve water tank, a generator, a solar hot water heater, and a borehole. If it has a large garden the borehole will almost certainly save you money on future water bills. Note that the tariff goes up in bands the more water you consume.

Note: Please read the disclaimer. The owner of does not accept any responsibility for any damage, misunderstandings or losses of any kind arising out of anyone following or not following any of the information above. Get legal advice first before inspecting any property or making any real estate decisions.

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