Cost of skilled build­ing work can be pro­hib­i­tive

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

BUILD­ING costs have in­creased by 55% in three years and the sooner those con­tem­plat­ing im­prove­ments to their homes or in­vest­ment prop­er­ties get them started, the bet­ter, says Bill Raw­son, chair­man of the Raw­son Prop­er­ties group.

“Build­ing costs are likely to level off, but are show­ing no signs of re­turn­ing to pre­vi­ous lev­els. The boom is still ben­e­fit­ing the big construction groups like WBHO, Group Five and M&R, but has now ended for the ‘bakkie builders’ who rely largely on res­i­den­tial con­tracts that have been cut off by the lack of de­vel­op­ment and con­sumer fi­nance. Their avail­abil­ity is an­other good rea­son to get go­ing on im­prove­ment now.”

Raw­son says he has done ex­actly that this year on sev­eral prop­er­ties.

“The chal­lenge fac­ing land­lords who want to up­grade is that many ar­ti­sans now in the build­ing in­dus­try are not in any real sense qual­i­fied or fit for skilled, so­phis­ti­cated work. It is in­creas­ingly nec­es­sary to pay for spe­cial­ist teams to han­dle skilled work which, 20 years ago, might have been done by most ap­pren­tices and trades­men teams. The demise of the ap­pren­tice­ship sys­tem has left a gap only partly filled by an in­crease in off-site man­u­fac­ture and clever sub­sti­tute ma­te­ri­als.”

As a re­sult, says Raw­son, qual­ity custom-de­signed build­ing with good fin­ishes is now cost­ing up to R15 000/m² and is tak­ing far longer to com­plete, whereas sim­pler repet­i­tive work can be had for R6 000/m².

Cer­tain con­trac­tors and de­vel­op­ers, said Raw­son, were far-see­ing and built up core teams of good, trained ar­ti­sans whom they have kept in work year round. They have also sus­tained re­la­tion­ships with re­li­able sub­con­trac­tors whom they pay timeously and, again, keep sup­plied with a steady flow of work.

“This has re­sulted in rea­son­ably good stan­dards be­ing main­tained, but the fact re­mains that you have to pay high prices for de­sign and con­trac­tors to get custom-de­signed work.”

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