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.
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.