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HANDY MAC: Lighten up

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Power failures affect many aspects of living, but it’s pure joy when turned back on

Last weekend was not a good one for Handy Mac. When I sat down to write this column I discovered I had no power to the electrical power trunking running across the top of my work station.

This was followed by a plaintive cry from the gardener who informed me the electric pool cleaner was not working. And he was cleaning the pool because the previous day we had a mini-disaster: my own guys were here to clean out the gutters, but they did not realise that I had the main downpipe into the swimming pool connected.

This meant a lot of the dirt from my large box gutter was washed into the pool. All this came at the end of a long week as we finally had new flooring laid in the passage and main bedroom and Mrs Mac had to live with that and weather the storm. I am quite happy to recommend her to any contractor looking for a finishing manager.

The poor flooring contractor was not allowed to leave on Thursday until every vestige of their visit had been removed from the property – apart from the new floor of course. It was a three-day job, moisture-barrier screed, levelling screed and finally the flooring.

It might have helped their cause had they arrived with their own broom on day one, Mrs Mac’s pet hate. All is now back to normal, power restored after “someone” had turned the wrong power point off which controls my work station; the pool cleaner was nothing but over-filled with leaves following the strong winds and the pool will eventually clean itself.

Q and A

Applying paint and fixing cracks rejuvenates a tired driveway. Picture: Jachan Devol

Travers has a couple of questions: 

Q: My tarred driveway is looking old and faded. Is there a way to clean it or paint it. I can’t find paint for tar. Also, my shower does not mix hot and cold water correctly. It’s either too hot or too cold. Any way to sort this without breaking tiles and replacing mixers?

A: There are few things worse than a tired old driveway, but fix the holes and apply some “paint” and you will feel a whole lot better. We are often called in to repair minor damage to driveways and it is something that you can try yourself if you are into DIY.

Like most things that you repair around the home there is no point in making the surface look good if there are underlying problems. Begin by giving the whole area a good clean with a pressure wash or a stiff broom. Remove all vegetation, weeds etc so that you have a good firm surface.

All holes or hollows need to be filled in and this you can do with a couple of bags of premixed asphalt. Once you have a nice level surface apply a coat of ABE Bituprime Black. Both products should be available at your local Builders Warehouse or Builders Trade Depot.

If you are not up to the task yourself there are many small driveway contractors who can give you a quote. I spoke to my plumber about your shower problem because it’s a common one. Often it is nothing to do with the mixers themselves, but the water pressure.

When a system is first installed, everything in relation to your plumbing is chosen and fitted to match. Over the years things change, the mains water pressure can drop or increase, you have your hot-water cylinder replaced or you add an extra bathroom or change fittings.

This means your system needs to be rebalanced so that pressures flowing to your fittings remain constant. This is quite a technical problem and you are going to need a plumber to sort it out. Possibly your taps or mixer need a good service.


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 industry faces new problems and needs to remain honest. Picture: Bill Oxford

We are all facing historical and new problems to keep our industry a fair work place 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 honest in our dealings and loyal South Africans.

It annoys me 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 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.


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