Blue Designs - Architectural Designers

Choosing a Builder

You can not be too careful when choosing a contractor or sub-contractor, go the extra mile and make sure you feel confident that you have choosen wisely before you start building.

The Master Builders Association and the NHBRC (National Home Builders Regulatory Council) are a good place to start when looking for a reputable builder.  You can also check in local publications and newspapers for builders who advertise their services, they are more likely to be reputable and contactable. Look around your neighbourhood for builders currently working on projects and chat to the home owners and get their opinion on them. Alternatively get referrals from your architect or friends and associates.  Shortlist at least 3 builders from whom you can obtain quotes.

Obtain and check the potential builder's references. Obtain the addresses and contact numbers of at least 3 previous projects that he has worked on. Do not appoint any builder who is unable to supply you with contactable references.  Ask for information on the project he is currently busy with. Visit the site and speak to the owner.  If the builder is in financial difficulty on that project then chances are that he needs your project to finance the completion of that one.

Make sure that you have your builder's business and residential addresses and full contact details. Check that your builder has a valid insurance policy in place to adequately cover the project and personal liability.  

Find out where your builder gets his main building materials supplies from and check on his credit-worthiness with that supplier.

Check if a Health and Safety Plan is required for your project and whether your builder is able to produce and comply with one. 

Check the registration details of the electrical subcontractor and the plumbing subcontractor that your builder will be using with their respective associations. This is very important, electricians and plumbers who are not regisitered are not permitted to sign compliance certificates which you will need for your occupation certificate. For Electricians - the Electrical Contracting Board of SA - Johannesburg 011 392 0000, Pretoria 012 342 3248, Cape Town 021 462 2690, Bloemfontein 051 447 0859, Port Elizabeth 041 363 1990, Natal 031 312 6313.

It is wise to present your short-listed builders with a drawing, a specification and a pricing schedule. This will ensure that the quotes can easily be compared. Your Architect can assist you in this regard. Be aware of items that have been deliberately excluded by the builder from his quote. You will have to install and pay for those items yourself. Check if the item is excluded from the other quotes as well so that a proper comparison can be made. Obtain rates from your builder in his quote for items that you may wish to extend during the contract.

Avoid lump sum quotes, having a breakdown of the various items gives you better control and a better basis for comparison.

Be aware of provisional cost items with regard to the quality of those items. The specification should cover most of this.  If the specification does not cover things like taps, for instance, make sure that your builder has priced a reasonable quality product in his quote.

Apart from the quote that your builder will give you, which you will be expected to sign, make sure that you have a valid building contract signed by your builder and yourself in place.  Make sure that you have a payment schedule worked out before you sign any contracts.

You will be investing a lot of money in your building project. Protect yourself by following the advice in this article and make your project a good experience instead of a nightmare.

Claire - 082 399 0180 / 073 924 4035

011 025 4458

bluedesigns5@gmail.com

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