Many people are not aware of the difference between a Building contractor, a Project Manager and a Bakkie Builder and there is a big difference. In many cases there is a degree of overlap and as with all businesses there are good ones and bad ones all the way through the mix.

Starting with a Building Contractor or Builder. Generally they employ a number of skilled workers and the majority of trades are done in-house. They own a much of their equipment and are able to take on larger projects. They are, more often than not, members of the Master Builders’ Association and are in a financial position where they can fund at least the first 10% of your project and thereby only claim for work done. They are fully insured, have all the necessary legal registrations and conduct their businesses in a professional manner. They operate from a fixed office with a yard for equipment. It is often thought that this type of contractor is more expensive but the truth is that you will probably save on time and remedial work with your project because of the in-house back-up that these firms have with their labour and they are therefore not so reliant on sub-contractors.

The second one is the Project Manager which is far more common. The Project Manager will only have a small staff of one or two site managers and a few handymen permanently employed. All the trades within the entire build will be sub-contracted, from the labour force digging the foundations, to the brick layers, to the carpenters, painters, roofers and the rest. Much of the equipment required for a project is also hired and not owned in-house.  As with the larger building contractors, many of these Project Managers have all the legal registrations, are fully insured, often members of the Master Builders’ Association, have a sound financial footing and are thus also able to fund the first 10% of your project and only claim for work that they have completed. The only negative is that they are fully reliant on the performance and reliability of the sub-contractors that they employ and are often forced to use different sub-contractors on their projects when their regulars are employed elsewhere.

The last one is probably the most common of the lot and that is what we all know as the Bakkie Builder. Bakkie Builders are not actually builders but in fact more small time informal project managers. They employ two or three workers and are themselves involved in the building work and sub-contract all the trades within a project. The major difference between Bakkie Builders and the rest is that they are seldom in a financial position to fund the first 10% of your project and are reliant on large deposits to do any work. You are therefore always paying for work which has not yet been done and are always at risk. Bakkie Builders are seldom fully insured, seldom have any legal registrations in place and operate from home with only a cell phone as contact. Consumers often choose a Bakkie Builder due to the low price quoted for work and end up with shoddy or unfinished work. The vast majority of building disasters occur when Bakkie Builders are employed without any scrutiny or precaution. There are good ones and bad ones and it will always be a case of doing your homework properly.

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