Finding The Right Builder

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Finding the right builder is one of, if not the most, important decisions anyone having a home built can make. There are many who promise the moon, but how does one actually go about finding a person who will not only complete the job to the owner's satisfaction, but will also comply with South African law.

Marsha Haupt Cooper, the principal at Links Living in St Francis Bay, says the best way to find a competent builder is by contacting the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). She says this organisation was established to protect homebuilders and to set and maintain construction quality standards in the building industry. It is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation, established to assist homebuilder when a registered contractor defaults on his contract or fails to rectify certain faults. A builder registered with the NHBRC will guarantee that they will carry out the following in terms of the standard homebuilder's warranty:

  • Make good any defects related to plans, specifications, workmanship and materials occurring within 90 days of occupation.

  • Repair any roof leaks occurring within 12 months of occupation and

  • Provide a five-year warranty on the structural integrity of the new house.

As a condition of registration with the NHBRC, the builder must issue a standard home builder’s warranty (SHBW) on the new home. This defect warranty forces the contractor to give the customer a five-year guarantee that any structural defects will be rectified by the contractor, for the contractor’s own account. The party which signs the contract, whether it builds the dwelling or not, is the party responsible for supplying the SHBW and should by implication be registered with the NHBRC. A unit enrolment certificate will be issued by the NHBRC after the SHBW has been registered.

It is important for owners to understand that photocopies of the warranty or enrolment certificates will be accepted as the original documents are a prerequisite for registration. No party may waive the SHBW.

Haupt Cooper says that all new homes (freehold and sectional title), including

  • Houses

  • Cluster homes

  • Flats

  • Townhouses and

  • Sectional titles are covered by the warranty.

It is also important for homeowners to remember that alterations and additions are not covered by the warranty.

"Using a builder who is registered with the NHBRC and who has agreed to abide by all the rules and regulations laid out by the body offers homeowners peace of mind," says Haupt Cooper. "This is due to registered homebuilders agreeing to build the house to a minimum quality standard that has been set out in the NHBRC's Home Building Manual."

If something goes wrong during the building process and the builder refuses or is unable to assist, a valid complaint may be raised and the NHBRC will investigate. It's worth remembering that a valid complaint is one that relates to defects causing or likely to cause major structural damage.

Haupt Cooper adds that the days of any Tom, Dick or Harry setting up shop are well and truly over. "The construction industry is well regulated in this country and today's homebuilder is evaluated before he is deemed capable and competent enough to operate."

Having your own home built should be an uplifting, satisfying exercise. Finding the right builder who not only understands your needs perfectly, but is also capable of making the dream a reality will go a long way to ensuring that the new home will be enjoyed by generations to come.

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