In Grahamstown, what do you need to do when you want to renovate or build on to your home? Grocott’s Mail asked some experts.
Perhaps you want to open your home to guests during the National Arts Festival. Perhaps you have an elderly relative who needs the security and companionship your family can provide, or a young relative who wants to take advantage of the town’s excellent educational facilities. Or maybe your immediate family is growing!
With the cost of buying property prohibitive for most, many families opt to build on to their existing properties.
You need to start with a plan… a building plan!
The person to draw a plan is an architect or draftsperson – and there are several in Grahamstown,.
“Plans are submitted and approved in terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (103 of 1977),” explains Gemma Pogidin of Makana Municipality’s Town Planning Department.
“The main objective of the Act is to ensure that buildings are safe and built to acceptable standards rather than any inputs in terms of desirability,” Pogidin says. “Any structure or alteration should be submitted to the Building Control Officer for their consideration.”
Plans are circulated to other municipal departments for their comments and to check that they comply with other legislation – including Town Planning Requirements in terms of the Makana Integrated Land Use Scheme.
Once your plan has been approved and signed off (the architect or draftsperson usually manages that) you need to choose a building contractor.
“To ensure you get a reliable contractor, ask for references and evidence of their track record – what they’ve built previously,” says Sales Manager at BUCO 46 Bathurst Street Shaun Sawyer. “Check whether they’re registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) or the Master Builders Association.”
At www.hbrc.org.za you can verify a builder’s registration.
“Get two or three quotes and choose the one who ticks all the right boxes,” Sawyer advises. “That doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest quote.”
DECIDE WHO DOES WHAT
Establish whether the contractor will buy the building material or is giving you a labour-only price.
MANAGING THE PROJECT
Appointing a project manager (often the architect or draftsperson) means they can ensure the correct materials are being used and that things are going according to… well… plan. This usually involves an additional fee.
FINISHES AND INTERIOR DECORATION
If you have the budget, you may want to hire an interior decorator to ensure co-ordinated fittings, furnishings and finishes.
Otherwise, use a reliable hardware store that has properly trained sales staff who can give you the right advice about the fittings and finishes you need.
“Our staff are trained not just to sell, but to know their products and to make sure they sell the right product to the customer,” Sawyer says. “Here, we offer not only quality materials and competitive prices, but also sound advice.”
DRAW UP CONTRACT(S)
Make sure you and the builder, project manager or decorator all sign contracts that specifify how long the work will take, to what standard and specifications it will be done, and how and when payment will be made.
“Most builders ask for a deposit,” Sawyer says.
After that payments are usually made in tranches according to the stages of the project – foundation, wetworks, electrical, roof, windows, painting and finishes.
“You’d make a percentage of the payment with each of those, and there’s always a retention amount that only gets paid once the builder has completed everything.”
“There are very few houses coming out of the ground in Grahamstown,” Sawyer says. “Most people prefer to buy a house and turn it into their dream home.”