Contrary to general opinion, winter can be a good time to renovate or upgrade one’s home, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group. “Many South Africans, but particularly those in the winter rainfall areas of the Western and Southern Cape,” says Clarke, “tend to go into hibernation with the onset of winter. They cut back on many of their usual activities and this includes building and renovation work. The construction sector at this time is often short of work and prepared to buck their usual practice of increasing costs by 20% per annum. To find work and keep their staff and themselves employed, they are willing to quote more competitively. This is a situation that can work to the advantage of those awarding any small contract whether in summer or winter, says Clarke.
They can choose between established builders, who are usually registered with Master Builders Association and the NHBRC, but who are willing to take on small jobs in winter and the small time ‘bakkie’ builders who work almost exclusively in the residential sector and who can often handle only one job at a time.” “The risk with this second type of builder is that the quality may leave a lot to be desired. The reason for this is that many of their so-called artisans have had absolutely no training at all, other than what they have acquired on the job.
I have, for example, come across a plasterer who, only a week or two before, had been the other plasterers’ mixer.” In appointing a contractor, but especially one from the unregulated sector, says Clarke, it is essential to get and to sign an all-inclusive, no-extras quote, listing, if possible, every one of the materials and all the activities required on the site. The only upfront payments agreed to should, says Clarke, be those for materials and these should be paid by the client directly to the suppliers and not to the builder. In some cases, too, the first few weeks’ wages of the workforce can be paid by the client and this sum deducted from the final end payment.