In the first of a new series called #FixForwardFix, our team look at common household DIY problems and give you some tips and tricks on how to tackle them!  This week we met up with Herbert Makamba – who has been painting for 15 years now – and got his thoughts on how to deal with rising damp.

Rising damp occurs when there is inadequate protection in the building’s foundation to block groundwater and/or by rain water penetrating cracked or badly installed damp proof course (DPC). Herbert explained how the problem sometimes only manifests years after construction is complete, and is more prevalent in a lot of the older houses in areas such as Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory where moisture tends to sneak through structural cracks.

We recommend that people closely supervise the construction of their homes to make sure that all cement work is done properly, and that there are no cracks evident – these make the walls porous and susceptible to dampness. Although every measure should be taken to ensure correct waterproofing during the build, sometimes these cracks are caused by uncleared tree roots or branches that have grown over time.



Dealing with Damp.

Whilst rising damp issues can occur throughout the year, people usually tend to notice the dampness in the rainy seasons.  Damp causes the discoloration or staining of the walls, a noticeable smell of moisture, diminishing of grout, and the presence of mould. Aside from the structural damage, damp can also cause some nasty health problems, especially to those who suffer from asthma.

Rising damp bringing you down? Contact Us to talk solutions and get your #FixForwardFix!

When faced with rising damp, the first step in the DIY process should be attempting to identify any obvious external factors, such as an overhanging branch or a crack in the wall, and removing these as best as possible. If your flower beds are higher than the damp proof course, dig away or lower the flower beds to divert runoff water from the building. Oftentimes some trusty PolyFilla and a coat of paint working in tandem with some garden shears are enough to solve the problem, but if not then it’s best to get experts in. Herbert says it takes less than a week to repair the affected walls and he boasts an enviable success rate!

Kingstone Katuruza has been one of longest partner tradesmen, and he never fails to disappoint in the high standard of service he delivers to each and every client. Below is a recent review we received from a past client, Tony Cross, from Somerset West.

“We asked Kingstone to quote for the repainting of our house and boundary wall. In addition to the quality of his workmanship, we were also very clear what we expected: punctuality, that he as the ‘boss’ had to be onsite every day and that his team had to be regulars that he employed and not casuals picked up on the side of the road that day. In good detail, he explained what they would undertake and the process they adopt dealing with cracks and other areas needing repair.”

IMG_8516“The quotation was not the cheapest but there was something about him, his knowledge and his quite confidence which was reassuring and persuaded us the instruct him. We were not disappointed. His team worked methodically and carefully under his supervision, cleaning up along the way. The finished product was actually better than I could have achieved and as someone who has been decorating his own house for over 30 years, I was impressed. We have since re-engaged him for two other jobs and have recommended him to friends based upon his workmanship and reliability.”

Well done Kingstone, keep flying the flag high!

Gladman Maphuma, skilled building contractor

Gladman Maphuma, skilled building contractor on the Fix Forward team in Cape Town

Any wonder the building industry has such a shocking reputation: everyone these days seems to have a horror story about a renovation project or home build that has gone terribly wrong. If it wasn’t you personally, the chances are good that you have a friend or neighbour that has a tale to tell about the nightmare process that it was.

Fortunately, if you do your planning carefully – most importantly, what you need and what you can afford – and appoint a reliable and reputable building contractor, the process needn’t be the traumatic – and expensive – comedy of errors that so many people seem to expect and, unfortunately, experience.

No matter what your building project, additions, renovations or a complete new home, the choice of building contractor is without a doubt the single most important factor in the various choices you need to make during the project period. You might have appointed the best architect, have a huge budget for top quality finishes and materials but this cannot in any way compensate for shaky workmanship and structural unsoundness.

A good building contractor values his reputation and will put in extra effort to satisfy his client in every way, but, remember choosing the right building contractor would in most cases not be choosing the least expensive one. Even the most skilled builder cannot do a good job for less than its true price.

Fix Forward’s strict selection process ensures that only the best of the best tradesmen and building contractors are invited onto our programme. Things that we check include how long they have been in the industry, whether they have an extensive and reliable network of material suppliers and sub-contractors and we fully investigate their track record, including doing site assessments and getting references from previous clients.

Getting Quotations

Ask to be provided with a detailed cost estimate and in the event that this cannot be provided consider getting quotes from other contractors who would be willing to provide you with a detailed layout. Not knowing what you are quoted on specifically is the quickest way of getting into a dispute with your builder. If you get tenders from more than one contractor, keep in mind that in most cases the cheapest one is not necessarily the best so be sure about the contractor before signing anything.

The Building Contract

Never start any building work without a written and signed contract in place between you, the employer and the contractor (in our case, the quote and contract will be between yourself and Fix Forward, as our head office handles the process). A written quotation and signed acceptance of the agreed price with protect both parties in the event of a dispute or in arbitration.

The contract should be very comprehensive without any loop holes and should be drawn up by a professional or an accepted pre-written contract. Clearly specify all work to be done on paper or plans, and clearly state project start and completion dates. Ensure a fixed price for all work to be done, and make provision for recourse against builder defaults. It is customary to include an agreement for delays and penalties, to clearly specify special items or appliances to be installed, and to make provision for disputes that might arise and that cost is for both parties in the event of arbitration.  It is also important to agree as to how the site will be arranged in terms of storage, water & electricity supply and ablutions for the workers.


Payment for large jobs is usually divided in increments of project stages completed or specialist items completed by sub-contractors where the main contractor will invoice for these items separately. Be wary of a builder who asks for large deposits before any work is carries out. Too many owner home builders have lost money with financially unsound contractors.

Your home is one of the most valuable financial assets, so you should never compromise on the quality of your home or the person you are entrusting with building it. You can rest assured that Fix Forward has done the necessary background checks to ensure that any of the tradesmen on our books are the cream of the crop, with professionalism guaranteed.

Remember that we are currently recruiting for skilled building contractors in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. We are extremely strict in terms of who we take on to our training and development programme as we only work with the best, so please read through our selection criteria on our website and refer someone if you feel they are a good match.

Source: Spancon, South Africa’s most efficient concrete slab supplier and erector.