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Questions to Ask Your Builder Before Starting Your Project

CAPE TOWN – With a lot of people planning construction or renovations for the second half of the year, we often get asked a few fundamental questions from clients who might not have had much previous experience in undertaking major construction work. With that in mind, we asked Fix Froward founder, Joshua Cox, to give us some insight into valuable questions you should ask your tradesmen before signing on the dotted line.


The contract between your contractor and you should be fair, clear and reasonable. Make sure to carefully read the terms in order to ensure that they represent what both parties agreed to. The contract should include several components which will be further detailed below.

Key Question: What is included and what isn’t?

Most important is to check that the contract clearly outlines the description of what will be done, with a detailed costings per stage. It’s critical that you check which of the materials and/or fittings will be supplied by the builder, and which you will be supplying. For fittings in particular (e.g. basin, shower screen, etc), if it is not noted on the quote who will supply it then it’s difficult to make an argument for the builder supplying it, even if it has been agreed to verbally.


This is a step-by-step breakdown of works to be conducted by the contractor by breaking them down into detailed components. These smaller, more manageable components are categorised by size, duration and responsibility.

Key Question: What we do if there are changes or additions we want to make along the way?

We recommend that any changes are captured in writing, signed by both parties with a clear description of the changes and the associated costs. The best way to record this is in a ‘site instruction book’. Ask that builder has one of these onsite at all times to record any changes.


A project timeline plots the scope of works against the time it takes to complete it. Put differently, it determines the order of works as well as the beginning and end date of each phase. This enables the contractor to determine a project commencement and completion date, which must both be clearly stated in the contract.

Key Question: What are the timelines for each stage and have you factored in some time for weather and other delays?

On this end, we recommend that your builder maintain a daily site activity log that accounts for the work done each day. This can be signed by both parties to remove any room for error.


With so much that could potentially go awry on a building site, it’s vital that your tradesmen is on-hand to supervise the project and ensure compliance. We recommend that you ask the builder to be on-site at least once daily, to monitor progress, discuss plans for the next day and note any changes or additions.

Key Question: If the main tradesmen is not on site, ask who would be the person that you should speak to to ensure continuity.


As the name implies, this part of the contract specifies when payment to the tradesmen is due. This will vary depending on the project size; smaller jobs require 50% upfront and 50% on completion, whereas bigger projects are paid on a phase-by-phase basis.

Key Question: Are there any hidden costs?

On larger projects, there may be a need for additional certification in the form of certificates of compliance (CoC’s) for specific tradesmen such as plumbers or electricians. Be sure to communicate with your tradesmen whether the costs for these certificates are included or not so that there are no surprises down the road.

Do you have more questions about your upcoming project? Contact Us and we’ll be sure to point you in the right direction!

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