Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlis­ter, is our ex­pert on house­hold DIY is­sues

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - HOME -

AF­TER the col­umn a week ago, in which I chat­ted about in­sur­ance, Clive sent this:


A com­ment about build­ing in­sur­ance. have al­ways be­lieved if my house burns down, even to­tally, I will still be left with the land. In the area in which I live, three­bed­room free­hold houses typ­i­cally sell for around R2.5 mil­lion, in­clud­ing land. How does this all fit in with in­sur­ance?


I love ques­tions on one of my favourite top­ics and as­sure you that the mar­ket value of your prop­erty in no way re­flects what it should be in­sured for – the fig­ures could be poles apart.

Work­ing back­wards, the area in which a per­son lives could de­te­ri­o­rate over the years, re­duc­ing the value of the prop­erty. Con­versely an area could be­come a sought-af­ter sub­urb and prop­erty prices would then rise. Nei­ther of these two events would af­fect what it would cost to re­build your home if it were de­stroyed by fire.

Your build­ing in­sur­ance in­sures the value of the bricks and mor­tar, not the land.

IYou need to be in­sured for:

Pro­fes­sional fees – ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers to pro­duce draw­ings for a new build­ing.

This might not be nec­es­sary if the build­ing is to be re­placed ex­actly as it was, but it is a re­quire­ment of most in­sur­ers.

An al­lowance for de­mo­li­tion – the re­mains of your prop­erty have to be de­mol­ished and carted away.

The cost of re­build­ing your home at cur­rent rates, not what it cost to build ini­tially. This is of­ten where peo­ple are caught.

The price to build in a com­plex, where many houses are be­ing built at the same time, could be cheaper than do­ing it as a once-off af­ter a fire.

An­other thing to watch out for is types of ma­te­ri­als used – if you want to re­place teak win­dows and doors with sim­i­lar, you need to have a high sum in­sured. The cost of teak is ex­or­bi­tant.

You need to in­clude all the other hard items around the prop­erty, bound­ary walls, paved drive­ways, paths and pa­tios, as well as fences, and the swim­ming pool.

Fi­nally, don’t for­get the gov­ern­ment – all these fig­ures must in­clude VAT.

Some ma­jor in­sur­ers have cal­cu­la­tion ta­bles on their web­sites to guide you through this process.

You do not in­sure for mar­ket value, you do not in­sure for mu­nic­i­pal val­u­a­tion, you do not in­sure for what the bank thinks your home is worth in terms of a loan or bond. You in­sure for what it would cost to re­build at to­day’s rates.

This comes up at least twice a year and I of­ten see homes that are way un­der-in­sured.

No­body wants to get half a house back.

As the in­sur­ance in­dus­try om­buds­man has ruled, the only per­son re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing you are in­sured for the cor­rect amount is you – not your in­surer, not your bro­ker and not your bank.


Hen­drine is look­ing for ad­vice on tim­ber treat­ment.

In an ar­ti­cle found on your web­site, you gave ad­vice on how to re­move var­nish from a balau deck.

Is it ad­vis­able to use a high­pres­sure cleaner to re­move the dried flakes?


You are re­ally delv­ing back into my old ar­ti­cles, but the ad­vice does not change.

No water-jet­ting on tim­ber, please.

As I say in the ar­ti­cle you read: dry sand, lots of el­bow grease and sand­pa­per, af­ter a long and hard brush­ing ses­sion with a wire brush and steel wool.

When you in­sure a home for re­build­ing, fac­tor in the ar­chi­tects’ fees.

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