Investing in property is quite heavy on the pocket and you need to be very careful when buying; after all, it has taken you a while to save that precious nest egg and you wouldn’t want it going down the drain – something which has happened to many a home-buyer who has had a run-in with some unscrupulous property builder.

When buying a property or home, one of the most difficult jobs is to check your builder’s credentials. So once you have finalized on a villa or apartment, the next thing is to do some sleuth work on the builder. You could start by verifying whether all the features, amenities, fittings and measurements shown in that glitzy brochure are actually there on ground. Next round of sleuth work involves going through the various permits that are required to start construction. Check whether the builder has an approved layout plan and has permission to start construction. Does he have environment clearance and is he building on land that is registered in his name – or does he just have building rights to the property.

All this might seem too much to take in, in one go, but if you do the checking in a step-wise manner, it is all do-able! You will also need to confirm the completion and occupancy certificates in case the building is already ready. In such a case, make sure all earlier electricity and water bills have been paid. Other things that are important include tax payments on the property; aside from the latest tax receipts, ask for a couple of previous ones too, so you know you are going to be in the clear on this.

Ask for ‘Encumbrance Certificate’ as this will indicate that the property is free from any litigation; make sure that the property isn’t pledged to some bank, in which case you will need a ‘Release Certificate’ to ensure that the loan has been repaid. Property court cases are notorious for hanging in the courts for years, so going to this level of investigation is important.

Finally, scrutinize the clauses related to payment penalties as well as construction delays; traditionally, these aspects come in small print, so don’t skim over them, but get out your reading glasses and go over the details with your builder. When preparing the contract, you can insist on removal of clauses that you are not comfortable with – after all, the customer is always right, and the builder is always afraid of losing out on the business the customer brings.

Fraudulent builders always have a long list of reasons for delays in delivery of projects, but in the end, it’s always the customer who gets to suffer, as he has to pay rent as well EMIs on the new home. So the onus is on the buyer to check if the property builder is trust-worthy or not.

Always opt for builders who have been in the business for long and have a good track record of delivery timing. If the builder’s projects have been delayed before, there is a strong likelihood of its happening again. And remember, the larger the project, the greater the chances of delays.

Finally, you can always walk away if you find any discrepancies in the builder’s papers or history.