With so many 'fly-by-night' contractors out there, any building project can quickly turn into a nightmare. Learn what to look for when selecting a builder.
Not everyone has the skills - or the desire - to take on building projects, and it is in these instances that you will look at hiring a builder. Whether it is for a small project or to design and build your own home, you need to do some research to find the right builder for the job.
Any building project can be fraught with pitfalls and it isn’t for everyone since many projects typically entail patience and fairly deep pockets. We’ve all heard of nightmarish scenarios where builders produced sub-standard work, didn’t deliver at all or ran way over budget and time. As such, it is imperative to do your homework and understand fully what you are getting yourself into. Making sure you can actually afford such a project is also crucial from the outset.
While a builder recommended by friends or family, or who is a friend, is usually a good way to go about things, this course of action doesn’t always work out, especially if you’re only contracting that person as a favour or to help them out. If things go wrong, not only could you end up with shoddy workmanship but you could also end up losing a friend or spoiling a close relationship.
Where possible, visit previous projects to see for yourself the quality of workmanship.
Any building project is going to need approved plans, so it's essential to use a professional architect or architectural designer who has a good reputation and who will assist you throughout the building process. The South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) is a good place to start. Obtain at least three quotes for the job - keeping in mind that the cheapest isn’t necessarily the way to go. It could be that corners are being cut which means you’ll end up with a badly built house.
It is important to contract builders who are registered with professional and reputable organisations. Here, in South Africa, there are two primary building organisations, the Master Builders Association South Africa (MBSA) and National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).
When entering into any type of arrangement with a builder, a contract should be drawn up and checked by both parties’ attorneys. As previously mentioned, the MBSA offers standardised contracts. Altering these contracts is discouraged but if necessary, any changes made should be reduced to writing.
Lastly, when contracting builders, use your common sense. Be sure to obtain references, try to view some of the projects the builder has worked on and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It will quickly become apparent whether or not your house is really going to be the home of your dreams or the stuff of nightmares.