How to avoid those renovation nightmares

Revamping an existing home is not only an expensive exercise but can be stressful too if things turn awry.

There are a few basics to consider before embarking on any building project.

  • Draw up a contract between yourself and any prospective service provider or supplier;
  • Choose your contractor or supplier carefully;

Head of portfolio management at IntegriSure, Lizette Erasmus, takes a look at each of these in more depth.

The contract

Drawing up a contract can be costly as it involves legal counsel, but the investment is worth it. Alternatively you can download the relevant contract from the National Home Builder Registration Council’s (NHBRC) website.
The contract should include clear timelines stipulating by when certain tasks must be completed. It should also explain exactly what building projects you have agreed on and when you as the consumer will be required to pay for work done. Be cautious of paying upfront in case of non-delivery.

The agreement should stipulate in detail what materials will be used during the renovation, for example, woodwork, bricks and tiles and what you are prepared to or can expect to pay for them.

The contractor

In this regard Erasmus says choosing a reputable building contractor is crucial to avoid extra insurance costs due to incomplete or faulty workmanship. It is up to you as the homeowner to ensure that the contractor has its own liability insurance in place: “It is critical that home owners ensure they are aware of the extent of their insurance cover before signing a contact with a builder, as they may not be covered in the event of poor or incomplete work done on their homes.”

Why this is so important is that as a homeowner your insurance might not cover abandoned or badly executed work and you might have to claim from the contractor’s liability insurance.

Asked how to go about choosing a contractor, Erasmus replied that referrals from other consumers were one way to go. “Get references. Speak to other consumers who made use of their services. Ask if you can inspect their work,” Erasmus said.

She added it was also important to check that they were registered with a professional body like the NHBRC. “Doing this will give you some recourse should their work be worrying. Also ask the contractor if they have the correct liability insurance in place and that this falls in line with the Consumer Protection Act,” she says.
It’s also important to remember that as a homeowner you have five years in which to seek recourse to report faulty or incomplete workmanship to the NHBRC.

The NHBRC website states: “The NHBRC warranty fund was established to cover consumers against major and defined structural defects for a period of up to five years. Enrolling your new home with the NHBRC is not only a statutory requirement but also affords consumers protection against contractors who deliver substandard design, workmanship and poor quality materials”.


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