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HANDY MAC: Get working

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It is time to dust off the cobwebs and start all those projects

This week I qualified as “and partner” to attend the farewell cocktail party for the outgoing Irish ambassador. Mrs Mac, a genealogist, had cracked the nod because of the work she does with the Irish Society on tracing Irish Heritage in South Africa.

She attended a meeting of the Irish diaspora in Dublin last year. After all the negativity we have been hearing recently, it was an absolute pleasure to hear a well-respected international diplomat talking up South Africa.

Yes, he did highlight corruption and state capture, but was positive about what we have achieved and of what we are still capable, if only we have faith in ourselves.

It was great to be able to chat to a room full of people who come from all walks of life and from many different industries, but with everybody positive because of the talk up.

So, let’s shake off the cobwebs and start building. Are we becoming a four-and-a-half day working community, taking every opportunity not to work? On our way to the cocktail party late on Friday, Mrs Mac and I both commented that fewer emails are arriving on our computers after lunch on a Friday.

This is just another sign that more people are looking for an easy payday. Everything else is becoming more important than getting the job done.

If we could add up all the idle hours spent on any sphere of life, I bet we could reduce the cost of most products by at least 30%.

Smoke breaks, private phone calls and social media all mean labour production costs escalate.

*For those of you who would like to ask me a question directly. I will be back on the radio with Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk 567 on August 8 at 1.30pm.

Q and A

Kate wants to reline her swimming pool:

Q: Could you give me advice with regards to relining my pool? Currently it is lined with fibreglass but I have been told marbelite is better. What is your view, and would you be able to recommend a reliable pool company in Johburg/ Sandton to do the work? Any other advice would be much appreciated.

A: Our swimming pool started life as a gunnite/marbelite pool but is now lined with fibreglass, done by the same contractor – Radiant Pools – both times, and there is no doubt in my mind that fibreglass is better. Here are excerpts of views expressed by pool experts. Initially a marbelite pool should last 10 to 20 years.

However, this drops to six years if it is relined with marbelite with a one-year guarantee. Marbelite surfaces are porous and require many more chemicals than fibreglass, which is 100% non-porous and is impervious to chemicals, acid and chlorine. A plaster refurbishment is much more likely to fail than fibreglass.

A fibreglass finish will always be kinder on your skin than plaster, especially after a few years. Stains are likely to be more permanent in a cement-lined pool than in a fibreglass-lined pool. A large build-up of algae is much more likely in a marbelite pool and is definitely easier to remove in a fibreglass pool.

That’s about the limit of my knowledge. I am wondering why you need to reline? There could be a number of reasons for the failure. I know repairs are possible, but you would need to consult an expert. I am based in Cape Town, not Joburg, so I can’t advise on who to use. However, please ensure you get at least three quotes. If you send the quotes to me, I will try and check them or get local advice.


Fibreglass pool linings are non-porous. Picture: Roberto Nickson

In November last year I wrote the following item because I believe this is what our industry needs. “Wynberg Boys’ High continues to pioneer the way for young men to fulfil the needs of the future South Africa.

The introduction of specialised technical subjects will, we believe, be the catalyst in reinvigorating technical training in South Africa.”

Here is the latest update from headmaster Jan de Waal: “It is with great excitement that I inform you that after almost two years of planning and preparation, building has commenced on phase 1 of the school’s engineering and design faculty. The completion of phase 1 is scheduled for the end of 2019, while we hope to start construction on phase two in January next year and schedule full completion by December 2020.”

Many old boys are involved in this project and I really look forward to welcoming the first graduate from this course into the building industry.

Tip of the week

The building industry must always remain honest. Picture: Bill Oxford

We are all facing historical and new problems to keep our industry a fair workplace for all while continuing to try to break even.

I do believe the industry will turn the corner, but in the short term we must all remain loyal South Africans and be honest in our dealings. It annoys me that the Building Industry Bargaining Council is forced to issue the following statement because many fellow contractors are trying to bend the rules.

“Access to building sites by designated agents of the Building Industry Bargaining Council (Cape of Good Hope), also known as the BIBC.

“The BIBC is currently experiencing resistance when conducting site inspections. Please note the BIBC, as per the Labour Relations Act, is not required to make appointments and our agents are under instruction from management not to make appointments with companies to conduct inspections.”

There is a lot more to the statement, but we all know why certain contractors are trying to keep inspectors off site. It will harm our industry.

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


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