Peter Allsopp of Baobab recently authored an excellent piece titled Valuation of building work in which he states: “I can count the number of times on one hand when I have been involved in a building dispute that did not involve the builder being paid for more than he had produced”. Drawing from personal experience, Peter explains how and why instances of this occurs and gives some excellent incites as to what precautions can be taken to prevent it.
Further to the advice that Peter has offered, I would strongly recommend that you ensure that a proper written agreement is entered into that is fair to both parties. Master Builders associations throughout the country offer a suite of contract documents that are suitable for most situations.
It is also wise to obtain a schedule of rates from your chosen builder before work commences and make sure that they are reasonable and fair. When the builder at a later stage asks for more money, for whatever the reason, you will have a benchmark by which to check that you are not being taken for a ride.
Finding the right contractor is highly imperative to the success of a project and a good place to start looking is among members of the Master Builders movement. Upon becoming member of the association contractors are required to sign a code of conduct and, should a complaint be lodged and they are found to have transgressed, disciplinary action is taken. In addition, the association offers a free mediation service and, in most cases, is able to resolve any issues between the client and the member to the satisfaction of both parties.
While employing the services of a member of Master Builders does not guarantee that your project will go off without a hitch, it does give you recourse in the event that there is a dispute. From the outset, it allows for peace of mind as the association does have a member criterion and there are checks and balances in place to ensure it. The act of joining the association is a declaration of integrity and, if a member is found to have given a false declaration, the consequences are severe. To find out which Master Builders association covers your area, or for further information, contact Master Builders South Africa (MBSA).
There is no denying that the scenario Peter describes does occur, not only in South Africa but also throughout the world. It is however important to keep in mind that not every contractor operates in this manner and it is unfortunate, that there are cowboys in the industry that give it a bad reputation. Part of the process when choosing a contractor, is separating the roses from the thorns. Don’t be shy to ask for references and, especially, don’t be shy to check them.