Make sure you build some­thing be­fit­ting our beloved Madiba

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

This is the last col­umn of the year – I’ll be back with you on Jan­uary 11 to try to as­sist you with build­ing-re­lated prob­lems for another year. I hope that your sup­port con­tin­ues to grow as it has this year, and that my in-box is never empty. Please let me have any themes or ideas that you would like to see next year – I have a cou­ple of weeks to sit on the stoep, soak up the sun and spend a lit­tle time strate­gis­ing about next year’s col­umns.

Last week I had the plea­sure of at­tend­ing the Mas­ter Builders As­so­ci­a­tion’s Past Pres­i­dents lunch and, apart from catch­ing up with old friends, it was in­ter­est­ing to lis­ten to the cur­rent pres­i­dent’s speech. This is a sum­mary of what he had to say and pretty much sums up the in­dus­try at the mo­ment.

Mem­ber­ship of the as­so­ci­a­tion has stayed con­stant for the year, with de­fault­ing mem­bers be­ing re­placed by new en­thu­si­as­tic mem­bers. (I be­lieve this shows that there is still a need for a for­mal body where con­trac­tors can meet, but also that you, the clients, have an av­enue of re­course if you be­lieve you have been un­fairly treated by a mem­ber.)

The for­mal build­ing in­dus­try to­gether with the build­ing-re­lated unions have signed a three-year wage agree­ment; this was again han­dled at the Build­ing In­dus­try Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil. (Hope­fully the in­dus­try will be free of strikes for three years; this is one of the rea­sons that I am con­tin­u­ally plead­ing with you to use reg­is­tered and com­pli­ant con­trac­tors as they are gov­erned by this agree­ment and you know that you are em­ploy­ing con­trac­tors who are pay­ing fair and rea­son­able wages.)

Un­for­tu­nately the as­so­ci­a­tion has ex­pe­ri­enced more liq­ui­da­tions or clo­sures this year than in the past 10 years. This could be linked to the clo­sure of two brick­fields and the con­tin­ual strug­gle of lo­cal sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers to com­pete with prices from over­seas sup­pli­ers.

How­ever, build­ing ac­tiv­ity ac­cel­er­ated nicely in the fourth quar­ter, led by in­creased ac­tiv­ity in the non-res­i­den­tial sec­tor. The out­look how­ever re­mains un­cer­tain and the moder­a­tion in the work done by ar­chi­tects and quan­tity sur­vey­ors sug­gests that the re­cent ac­cel­er­a­tion may well slow down in com­ing quar­ters. On bal­ance, gen­eral busi­ness con­di­tions in the Western Cape seem to be im­prov­ing, with main con­trac­tors now in a pos­i­tive zone, al­though sub-con­trac­tors are still lag­ging be­hind.

I think my high­light of the year has been the re­la­tion­ship that I have de­vel­oped with John Gra­ham from HouseCheck. I am sure that his ar­ti­cles re­lated to the pur­chase of a home have been both help­ful and in­sight­ful.

My big­gest dis­ap­point­ment of the year has been that I did not fully de­velop the re­la­tion­ship that I had in­tended with the city coun­cil. Yes, we did, over a cou­ple of weeks, go through the role of the build­ing in­spec­tor and how he should be as­sist­ing you, but I never de­vel­oped the two-way re­la­tion­ship I’d hoped. I will try again in the new year. Frank has writ­ten in. A while ago we were dis­cussing the re-fix­ing and clean­ing of wall and floor tiles; he also com­ments on my notes on the insurance in­dus­try. Thank you for your weekly con­tri­bu­tions from which I al­ways pick up some­thing.

It is grat­i­fy­ing to note your insurance an­gle, and hav­ing re­tired af­ter de­cen­nia as claims man­ager fol­lowed by risk as­sess­ment I find your re­port­ing fair and in the in­ter­est of your read­ers.

I should have let you know about an ar­ti­cle I read on re­plac­ing tiles. It says that to re­move tiles from a wall, you should heat the tiles with a heat gun and prise the tiles off with the heavy-duty metal scraper. Ad­he­sive can be re­moved with a com­mer­cial ad­he­sive re­mover. Don’t for­get eye pro­tec­tion. I have tried this my­self and can vouch that it works.

My prob­lem is that I have to keep re­plac­ing tiles around my bath.

This is not an un­com­mon prob­lem; the first thing to check is to see if the bath has been built in cor­rectly and solidly. There must be ab­so­lutely no move­ment when the bath is filled or when you get in. The brick­work around the bath must be solid and well plas­tered, not just smoothed off. Be­cause of the heat trans­fer from the wa­ter, which will cause some move­ment, the plas­ter needs to be thick and well-ad­hered.

En­sure you use the cor­rect ad­he­sive. Also, we tend to splash a fair amount of wa­ter around in the bath, so make sure all your joints are well sealed; mois­ture be­hind tiles is a killer.

In clos­ing, many thanks for all your ques­tions. I wish you a merry Christ­mas and a prob­lem-free build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the new year.

Please keep your ques­tions or com­ments com­ing to don@maca lis­ or sms only to 082 4463859 Af­ter build­ing, my sec­ond pas­sion is cook­ing so at this time of the year I get to give you one quick tip. If you want a re­ally great Christ­mas tur­key, baste it with may­on­naise and roast it in a brown pa­per bag.

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