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HANDY MAC: Check your policies

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Insurance company delights with speedy responses to two different leak problems in our household

Do you know what your insurance policy really covers? It turns out I didn’t and, much to my surprise, I was recently impressed twice. You will recall two weeks ago Mrs Mac did an amazing job handling a burst pipe in our roof space.

Then on Friday she reported another leak. (I promise I will get the pipes replaced this week). I called my regular contract plumber at about 4pm on Friday, but he was nowhere to be found (golf course?). Then I had a thought.

I was convinced my insurance policy includes callouts for home emergencies, not just motor emergencies. I asked Mrs Mac to find the emergency card and to call the insurers, and 10 minutes later I received an SMS saying a plumber had been appointed and was on his way.

At 6.15pm on a Friday a plumber was in my roof, and 10 minutes later we were back in business. I was gobsmacked. But the story does not end there. At 5.30am the following Sunday I woke early to start this column, only to hear a strange tapping noise.

I thought it was the dog’s tail tapping on the floor but when it continued, I went to investigate, only to find water dripping out of the down-lighter in the dressing room ceiling. Bucket in place, mains off, I contemplated what to do next. I tried calling the insurance emergency number at 5.36am, not expecting to get an answer, but I did.

At 6.15am my new best friend, Allen the plumber, rang and said he was on his way. I was dubious, but by 7.15am all was sorted. This is top-drawer service.

Tip of the week

Picture: LEEROY Agency/Pixabay

With the holidays around the corner, I thought I would give you time off from painting and provide tips about what to look out for if you have building going on and the builders are about to go on holiday.

These tips are provided by Jaques from Safetycon, who looks after our company’s health and safety on site. If something happens and the correct insurance or health and safety plans are not in place, you can be held responsible for accidents.

  • Contractor’s staff may not stay on site during the builders’ holidays without permission from the client.
  • Are unnecessary services, such as water and electricity, isolated?
  • Are perimeter fences/barriers secure to prevent unauthorised access? Are gates locked?
  • Are all tools and materials safely stored?
  • Has all plant and equipment been made safe?
  • Is scaffolding safe? Have ladders been removed and boards removed or tied down?
  • Are ladders and staging secured or safely stored?
  • Are distribution boxes made safe against accidental electrocution?
  • Are all brick/block stacks properly bonded to prevent accidental collapse?
  • Have all excavations, pits, manholes been covered or made safe with barriers? No exposed reinforcing steel is permitted in excavation – it must be capped or otherwise protected.
  • Has a standby person been nominated by the contractor to respond to emergencies?
  • Is there safety signage warning against unauthorised entry to the site?

Q and A

Bring tiles back to life by cleaning them with the correct products and equipment. Picture: Supplied

Kenton is looking to save time and effort when cleaning floor tiles.

Q: I hope you can assist with advice about how best to clean these tiles. I live in an old block of flats in Mouille Point and the tiles on the landing outside the flat are dirty. The block has just finished a muchneeded renovation / redecoration which has made the tiles look even worse than before by contrast. I have tried various things to clean them, but none has been too successful. I am sure they can be cleaned with the right stuff. What works best is a scourer such as Vim and elbow grease, but it’s time-consuming and tiring. Do you have suggestions?

A: Looking at the photo and hearing that Vim (I thought I was the only one who knows about this great abrasive) works best, I guess we are dealing with an older type of tile, probably terrazzo.

Terrazzo tiles are made by embedding pieces of marble in concrete and then polishing the surface to a smooth finish. If they are regularly maintained, only a good regular wash is necessary, but over time, especially if the wrong cleaning agents or polishes are used, they will become dull.

Vim is doing the job, but you are likely to run out of elbow grease before you finish. To get them back to their best you need polishing machinery which may be too heavy for you to handle. We are talking about a floor polisher to which different discs can be added, one for stripping off dirt, a second to “sand” to a smooth finish and a third to polish. I believe you would be best served by getting in a professional tile-cleaning company and having the whole block done.


A reader is adamant the Newlands stadium should be repurposed. Picture: Hanson Lu

A few weeks ago I replied to a reader who wants to retain the Newlands Rugby Stadium. As I said, I am not in total agreement, but everybody has a right to be heard.

She has written again: “You fell into the same trap as everyone else. Why must Newlands be used only for rugby? It could be used – and has been – for soccer matches, and what about the Sevens, netball, hockey or displays by Lipizzaners? The station is right there for easy access. “An iconic stadium could be repurposed for so many different things, so why tear it down?”

I am happy to keep this story going. My feeling is that it is difficult to turn stadiums into multi-functional venues

If you have a question for Don, send it to or SMS only to 0824463859. 


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