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Q&A with Handy Mac: Would-be landlord and damp carpet concerns

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Long-time reader seeks a quote and Tracy from KwaZulu-Natal has a problem with damp.

I received a letter from a long-time reader:

Q: You have mentioned making plans for income in retirement and we would appreciate your opinion. We have a large house on a corner plot which we are considering dividing, letting out the original house and moving into a 75m² section next to a triple garage and my husband’s workshop.

A rental agent said we could hope for R12 000 per month rent. Our section already has a basic shower room, but we have a 4m x 2.2m heated pool which will have to be removed and a slab installed.

Half the roof is under IBR which will need proofing against rain and insulation for heat/cold. Soundproofing is essential between the living spaces, plus a kitchen and division of space with cupboards. We had a quote from a local builder who completed two excellent alterations for friends, and we await a quote for a motorised gate on a side road, which we understand will require plans. We will ask the council what we can do. If you can visit to give us an idea if our quote matches yours, we would be grateful.

A: I visited the writer and agreed to help. We will pass on our experiences to help others in similar situations. First step is to see the council. Over the years I have found many make life-changing decisions without first checking rules and regulations.

Beware of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. My sons have always laughed at my theory of working backwards as I like to set a goal and then work backwards to see how I am going to get there, and I consider the consequences of each action.

In today’s world, where life moves rapidly, there is no time to hesitate. In this case we will establish the boundaries and try to make it happen for a couple I look forward to assisting.

I am thrilled to receive nationwide questions, but upset that readers from other areas, especially KwaZulu-Natal, outnumber Cape questions three to one. I can’t physically get to queries from other areas – budget forbids that. I am hoping, however, that if I publish some questions, readers in those areas may be able to offer advice or recommend local experts and we can set up a national support network.

Q: When it rains hard, a downstairs room gets wet as moisture comes up, causing dampness in a carpet. Please advise who I can call to tell me what to do. I did get damp specialists in, but it has not helped.

A: I would love to help, but without being hands-on in your area there is not much I can say or do. Looking at your home on Google, you appear to live in a lush area with many trees.

It is possible a tree root has pushed up inside the house and fractured the damp-proof course, so when it rains the water table rises and moisture is pushed up. I suggest you get hold of a good old-fashioned builder. Keep me in the loop.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB: Like us on Facebook



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