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HANDY MAC: Do not let panic get a grip

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Tackle the current health situation in good South African fashion - stay positive and make sure staff take the necessary precautions

On site last week, the team asked me to order some new face masks as we are in a dusty phase of the contract. I placed the order with our buyer, and this is the reply I got:

Hi Don, I managed to get one box of masks (15), with the valve from Parksafe which the guys can wear for three days max. None of the other suppliers and hardware shops has stock of masks – they are made in China and they don’t supply other countries at the moment “as per our normal suppliers”. They are keeping that for themselves.

Mrs Mac has also picked up on toilet paper shortages worldwide and while shopping today, I saw the toilet paper shelves were certainly not full. We have just met a travel agent who says tours are being cancelled left right and centre. So you all know what I am talking about.

I want to appeal to readers in Cape Town and elsewhere not to panic but to handle this situation in good South African fashion. Please be positive and ensure all your staff take the necessary precautions. I got up early last Sunday to watch the Cape Town Cycle Tour and was amazed by the lack of support on the Main Road in Lakeside at 6.45 am.

Back in the day our little enclave was up supporting the race, skottels on, in fancy dress, beer flowing, music pounding and cheering. Have I got old or are things changing? I think it’s the latter, we are starting to become a society that accepts a mundane lifestyle. We need to re-energise ourselves and our cities. 

We need to get out there and get things done, get into looking after our properties, encouraging staff and rewarding them for their hard work. I got into an argument on WhatsApp during the week with builders who are anti the Building Bargaining Council and are not ensuring our workforce is registered and compliant. If we are to survive in these drastic economic times we need to see the positive in the future and work together to ensure it.

Tip of the week

Be aware of how long plans will take to win council approval. Picture: Supplied

I was excited to find an article entitled “What to consider when attending to renovations on your property” in the C&A Friedlander Attorneys’ newsletter dated February 2020. It is well worth a read and great to see advice being issued on proper building by a law firm.

It makes reference to time lines issued by the City of Cape Town for approval of plans, and if you have plans with the council, hold them to their times:

Building plans for an area smaller than 500m²: Thirty days, if the building plan complies with all requirements.

Building plans for an area larger than 500m²: Sixty days, if the building plan complies with all requirements.

Top tip: If you need help with your application, visit your local district office for a pre-application consultation.


Picture: Jesse Gardner

Two weeks ago, Margaret wrote asking about filling in a fibreglass pool. She had been sent a quote for R48 000 which seemed a bit high. Now she has updated me: 

I’ve received second quote for R14 000 from a pool company and am going ahead. So, there is the value of getting a second quote. In the interim Carmel has sent me this: I have been debating for some time about what to do with my fibre-lined swimming pool which is never used. It now has a slow leak, so I must act. The quote for filling it in is in the region of R60 000 (the same or more than relining it) so I am intrigued to know what the other options are that you referred to.

They are ideas that I saw when I googled “filling in swimming pools”, and most of them will also come at a cost. They range from low-level vegetable gardens to state-of-the-art “sunken braai and bar areas”. You need to be careful about leaving an empty pool, as unless they are heavy, they can pop up out of the ground. You say the pool is fibre-lined, if it is purely a fibreglass pool you would need to remove it and fill in the hole as that would definitely pop out if your water table rose. I agree R60 000 seems high. Difficult access will always lead to a higher price, plus the size of the pool. But as you can see, Margaret’s second quote was less than a third of the original. I do believe that in the long run a pool adds to the value of a home.

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


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