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Refurbishing? Appointing a reputable contractor is vital

When it comes to refurbishing your building, it is critical to appoint the right contractor.

All contractors can look good on the internet, but by asking the right questions, you will be able to identify a suitable contractor, says Geffrey Jäck, managing director of building refurbishment company Indawo.

“For reputable contractors, reputations are important and they will maintain these positive market perceptions,” he says.

Often, emotion drives the buying decision, and listening to contractors making unsubstantiated promises can be confusing.

So, how can you check on a contractor?

Jäck suggests turning to industry bodies to check references. Reputable contractors are generally members of an industry body, maybe more than one. They subscribe to industry ethics and will not compromise on regulations and legislation.

Important industry bodies

The Building Industry Bargaining Council Cape of Good Hope is responsible for monitoring employment conditions in the industry. By law, all contractors must pay employees minimum rates as prescribed and contribute to minimum employee benefits.

Other industry associations include the Master Builders and Allied Trades’ Association, the National Association of Managing Agents, the Roofing and Waterproofing Institute, and the Concrete Society.

“Appointing the right contractor is largely dependent on the project,” says Jäck.

“Selecting a compliant contractor is critical, but choose one with the right skills for the job. Painting, for example, is more complex than applying a coat of paint. Adequate primers, correct paint selection and preparation are vital. The key question here is which contractor has the skills and experience to complete the job?”

With building refurbishment, a range of skills are required. These contractors should have project management skills and the right proficiencies for the job.

Indawo recommends:

  • Check references. Obtain at least three references.
  • Check the Building Industry Bargaining Council. If the contractor is not listed on www.bibc.co.za, it is operating illegally in the Western Cape.
  • Check if the contractor is an approved applicator at suppliers. All major paint and material suppliers approve contractors as competent in applying their products to validate product guarantees.
  • Check the contractor’s portfolio. You will be able to identify whether the contractor has been operating for a number of years.
  • Confirm the contractor’s membership with industry bodies.

If you have appointed a bad contractor, what can you do?

All contractors have to register with the bargaining council, so check if the contractor is compliant. Landing up with an unscrupulous contractor could be disastrous. This is where industry bodies play a role, says Indawo. If a member is not providing services to industry standards, clients have some recourse through these bodies. Building owners can report non-performance.

This may not eliminate the need for legal action, but it does mean contractors can be punished to safeguard the industry’s reputation.

Jäck suggests following a vetting process to reduce the risks of appointing a “bad” contractor.

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