HouseCheck protects home owners from being exploited by builders

HouseCheck reports already protect cautious South African home buyers from making expensive mistakes when purchasing a property.   However many home buyers want to alter, extend or otherwise renovate their new house and that is where more expensive mistakes and huge stress and conflict can easily occur.

HouseCheck helps home owners ensure that they are not ripped off when undertaking building operations

John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck says fraud and misrepresentation is rife among “bakkie builders” operating in the South African home extension and renovation industry.  Graham says that very seldom does one hear of a home alteration being finalized without an unpleasant and often costly fight between the home owner and the builder.

Graham adds that usually, both the builder and the home owner are jointly to blame for this very unsatisfactory state of affairs.  He explains:

More often than not the deal was concluded with a brief one-page quote from the contractor and a handshake.  There is no properly drawn, detailed and legally binding written contract, schedule of works or bill of quantities.

  • The home owner, who has a tight budget, wants to get everything done as cheaply as possible and the builder who is desperate for the work becomes quite creative in his vague promises and undertakings.
  • The more unscrupulous builders also sometimes use a combination of subtle blackmail and sob stories to extract part payments from the owner far in excess of the value of works actually completed to date.   Sometimes the builder even temporarily (or permanently) abandons the job and uses the money extracted from the gullible  home owner to bankroll the start of his next job.
  • It is also quite common for the builder, as the job draws to a close, to present the owner with a list of “extras” which need to be paid for before the job can proceed.  Sometimes these extras are a result of variations to the original specification asked for by the owner.  However, very often the “extras” constitute items like waterproofing, or steps which the owner assumed was incorporated in the original quote and specification.

HouseCheck’s advice to home owners is as follows:

  • Never let any builder or contractor start work on your property until a legally enforceable written contract, including a detailed schedule of works has been signed.
  • Ensure that all of the contractor’s workmen are properly qualified, registered and insured and check the trade references of the contractor with previous clients.
  • Make sure the contract stipulates a fair schedule of payment “draws” and stick strictly to the payment terms.   Don’t be pressured into making additional payments.
  • Ensure that the contract provides for a retention of 10 per cent of the contract value to be held for 90 days after the contractor has left site.   This ensures that if problems and snags arise (and they will) there is money out to sort out these issues.

How HouseCheck can help home owners with building operations:

  • For an agreed fee HouseCheck will check the contract beforehand and also scope the schedule of work.   This helps ensure that all foreseeable works and “extras” are included and have been costed into the original contract and don’t become a later bone of contention.
  • HouseCheck inspectors will also inspect the completed works and provide the owner with a written report on the quality and condition of this work.  (Staged inspections by HouseCheck can also be allowed for in the contract.)
  • HouseCheck reports provide both owner and contractor with an informed and factual third-party documentation of the condition of the building work.
  • HouseCheck fees for this service are by quotation and depend on the scope of the work. Generally HouseCheck will charge around R3000 per inspection and report.
      • First inspection and report – contract scrutiny and scoping of schedule of works.
      • Second inspection – quality control report when contracted works have been completed.
      • Interim inspections and reports for larger jobs – as required by the client.

“Grateful to have a good report for Agent to offer prospective buyer”

- Nell Browne

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1 thought on “HouseCheck protects home owners from being exploited by builders”

  1. Hi

    Late November we took on a building contract with durban construction recommended by dial a contractor. Owners name Ally Hoosen Sheik and Dave(who’s name is really shoheb wahab).

    Ally and dave came out to give us a quote which we were happy with and accepted. I was not going to build in December an we will start in jan however Ally came to me the following day and told me he could start my building now and finish on the 9th of January as stated in his contract. He assured us he would work throughout the December holiday period. Due to this my wife and I accepted his proposal and he required a 50% deposit (45000) in order to start the building and order the materials for the decking.

    Ally came to our house the next day with Dave and 3 guys and they removed the roof and windows from the building. We then paid him the R45000 deposit to order the materials to start the decking. They came through over the next 2 days and continued breaking walls etc. After this and us paying him the deposit he tells me that the engineers plan for the decking is for a concrete slab and he wants to do block and beam. He initially saw the plan from the engineer when he came to give us the contract and he was fine with it he did not mention to us at all that it is incorrect. He still went on to request for the deposit to order the materials. Once he got the deposit then he tells me that the plan is wrong and he needs a new plan from the engineer for block and beam. We then had to request that the engineer redo the plan for an additional charge of R400. The engineer did this for us over 4 to 5 days as that is his lead time. When we received the plan we then emailed him the plan and told him to order the material.
    I did not get a reply on Thursday so I called him Friday morning and he said to me that it was too late to order material as his supplier was closed. I asked if we could get our own supplier and he said no and that his guys were going on holiday and he was having a company break up party. (Bear in mind he initially agreed to work throughout dec). Had he told us the plan was incorrect in the beginning we would of started the building in January as I wanted to do knowing that places would close for ordering material and I would not have a house.

    This was the last we heard from Ally or dave until Monday last week. On Monday I spoke to dave and he said ally is on holiday in cape town and he had ordered the material for our decking and he would be back on the 12th to start. I then managed to finally speak to Ally on Wednesday last week after trying to contact him numerous times, he assured me that he and I quote ” has everything under control and would be at our property with the material on Monday 12th and Wednesday the 14th the decking and steps would be up”.

    To my surprise Monday morning nobody pitches up, I called Ally and there was no answer, I then called Dave and Dave says to me that Ally is still on holiday and that he was waiting for his guys at Umgeni station and they did not pitch up and that they would definitely be here the next day (Tuesday).

    Up until now nobody pitches up, nobody answers their phone or responds to messages or voice mails left. I get a message from Dave this morning saying that he spoke to Ally regarding our job and Ally says he cannot do it and I must send my banking details for him to refund my money. I sent the details and asked for it to be sent immediately so I can get another builder and get started and up until now there is no payment and still no sign or word from Ally or Dave.

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