1. Who is the NHBRC and why should I enroll my home with them?

The National Home Builders Registration Council aims to protect housing consumers from unscrupulous builders by having home builders register with the council and by enforcing an enrollment fee for all new homes, the fee is paid before building starts and in return the NHBRC will insure the home owner against damages suffered as a result of unscrupulous building practices. It bears pointing out that the NHBRC only indemnifies the home owner in the event that there is a structural problem with the foundation, walls or roof (the “superstructure”) of the house and only up to a maximum amount of R 500 000,00

Should the builder breach the building contract by delivering sub-standard workmanship or materials in any other area of the building project like plastering, painting or finishes of the house the NHBRC will only do an inspection of the house, at the request of the owner, and slap the builder on the fingers with a fine or a suspension should they find that the builder did not adhere to the required standard of workmanship.

The NHBRC will not indemnify the owner in such circumstances and will leave the owner to pay for making good any defects.

Enrollment is required by law, should you fail to enroll your home you will not be able to pass ownership for a period of 5 years.

2. What does an architect’s service entail and how should he/she be paid?

The architects service consist out of 6 stages:

Stage 1:The architect receives, appraises and reports on the client’s requirements with regard to the brief and budget, the site, project program, the need for consultants and methods of contracting.
Stage 2: Client receives an initial concept design indicating space provisions with proposed materials and intended building services.
Stage 3: The architect develops the design and construction system and consults with local and statutory authorities.
Stage 4: The architect prepares documentation sufficient for local authority submission and complete construction documentation for tenders.
Stage 5: Contract administration.
Stage 6: Complete the project closeout.

The bulk of the fees, up to 75%, will be payable for stages 1 – 4 with the balance being payable for stages 5 – 6.

3. What does it mean if a builder claims to be a master builder?

The Master Builders Association of South Africa (MBSA) is a voluntary association for builders and sub-contractors, they have various provincial chapters and membership does not ensure competency. The MBSA aims to train and equip the industry, they do not focus on protecting the housing consumer.

Membership could however indicate that your builder is proud to be involved in the building industry and takes an active role in same.

4. Where do I get a building contract?

As a general rule most builders who have their own building contract have, over time, changed it to protect them at the cost of the owner.

It is never advisable to sign a builders in house contract without getting some legal advice.

There are quite a few standard form building contracts that are published by, amongst others, Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) and the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC).

These contracts can be obtained from these institutions and most builders would be amenable to sign them, they have also evolved over time and aims to anticipate & deal with possible hickups.

5. Who will make sure the builder is building correctly?

Generally the architect will administer the building contract, which means he will attend site a few times during the course of the building and give instructions to the builder to ensure that the builder follows the approved plans and specification.

It is not the architects job, or the building inspector, to ensure the quality of the builders work.

This is the reason why a tried and tested builder is an integral part of a successful project.

6. What can I do if my builder is taking much longer to finish my home than he said he would?

If, like in most cases we encounter, you and your architect have only been shouting at and threatening the builder at site meetings there is not much you can do as you have not followed the building contract correctly.

Without following the building contract correctly there is almost nothing you can do to a tardy builder.

However if we are involved we will ensure compliance with contract procedures via our monthly meetings with your architect and builder

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