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HANDY MAC: Q and A: Building an extension

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Last week Mark asked: Q: We are considering building an extension to our home and I would like your advice on how to proceed.

A: The following is the second part of the answer which I began last week.

The price

Obtain quotations from at least three reputable contractors.

To compare costs, make sure that each contractor is quoting on the same written specifications and conditions and ensure that the quotation is inclusive of VAT.

Be cautious of unrealistically low quotations.

Accepting the quote

Don’t sign acceptance unless the contractor’s offer is firm, in writing, clear, covers all your requirements and is signed.

Protect all parties by making use of a MBSA or MBA-approved building contract. Insurance Your contractor should be insured for public liability and contract insurance. Appropriate insurance should be agreed to cover damage to your existing building and contents.

Defects

If you are unable to determine defects and quality workmanship, it is advisable to employ a building consultant or architect to monitor the construction work for the duration of the contract. Defects during the construction stage must be dealt with in terms of your contract document.

Extra work and/or variations

You must establish the cost of any extra work requested from the contractor in writing before the work is carried out and confirm any changes in writing, with both parties signing acceptance.

Payment

You should normally not be required to pay a deposit before work begins or be asked to pay workers’ wages during the contract. Before making final payment, inspect the completed work and put your complaints or defects regarding workmanship or materials used in writing.

Disputes with non-MBA contractors

Clients have little recourse to local authorities, financial institutions or building inspectors for building, electrical or plumbing problems with contractors. The MBA will be unable to assist the client unless a MBSA-approved contract has been used and the above steps have been followed.

Complaints procedure for MBA contractors

In the event of complaints against a member company who has refused to attend to said complaints within a reasonable period, you can appeal to the MBA, provided the contractor is a registered member and your complaint has been submitted to the MBA in writing.

It must be noted that the MBA is a voluntary association of contractors, suppliers, manufacturers and consultants. There is no legal requirement that members must belong to the association and, as such, the association does not have the jurisdiction to be prescriptive.

The association cannot, thus, guarantee that the complaint will be solved to the satisfaction of one or both parties but will endeavour by all means at its disposal to do so.


If you have a question for Don, send it to don@macalister.co.za or SMS only to 0824463859.

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