How do you want the perfect contractor for your kitchen renovnation. Picture: RODNAE Productions/Pexels
How do you want the perfect contractor for your kitchen renovnation. Picture: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Read: 6 tips from an expert to ensure you don’t get conned by your building contractor

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 16, 2021

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*This article first appeared in our latest Home Improver digital magazine.

Don McAlister

We have all come across terrifying accounts of homeowners wanting to update their kitchens, and being left in the lurch by unscrupulous building contractors. So, how do you ensure this doesn’t happen to you?

What do you want?

Before calling in contractors for quotations, draw up a detailed plan of what you want done and what you can afford. For substantial work, get a detailed cost estimate. Find a qualified person to draw up plans, determine specifications and submit them to the local authority for approval. If you don’t do this, you may have problems later when it comes to selling the property.

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Choosing a contractor

Go with recognised companies that have a track record and are registered and compliant. A so-called bakkie builder may be cheap, but does he have insurance should one of his workers be injured in your home? If the builder doesn’t, the worker could sue you.

Do you have any recourse if the contractor causes defects to your existing home? Contractors don’t have to be members of the Master Builders Association but membership will give you some protection if things go wrong. Ensure your contractor is registered with the necessary legal or statutory bodies, such as Workman’s Compensation Insurance, the Bargaining Council for the Building Industry and the Receiver of Revenue. Get references from all contractors.


Picture: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Get quotations from at least three reputable contractors. To compare costs, make sure each contractor is quoting on the same written specifications and conditions and includes VAT. Be cautious of unrealistically low quotations. Do not begin any work while the price is still under negotiation.

Accepting the quotation

Get a written agreement with the contractor you have chosen. Don’t sign acceptance unless the contractor’s offer is firm, in writing, clear, covers all your requirements and is signed. Make sure the agreement includes the starting date, the approximate duration of the work, the anticipated completion date, specifications for cleaning up during the work, including the disposal of waste or rubble, and payment details. Use a Master Builders SA or Master Builders Association-approved building contract.


Your contractor should be insured for public liability and have contract insurance. Appropriate insurance should be agreed to cover any damage to your existing building and contents. Tell your insurance company you are having renovations done.

Extra work and/or variations

Establish the cost of any extra work you want the contractor to do, again in writing, before the work is carried out and confirm any changes, in writing, with both you and the contractor signing.


Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Usually, you will not be expected to pay a deposit before work starts or be asked to pay the wages of workers during the contract. With fairly large jobs, interim payments on completion of certain sections can be specified in a contract or agreement. A request for a progress payment should be accompanied by an invoice detailing the percentage and value of the work completed.

For a small job, payment is usually made in one lump sum when the work is satisfactorily completed. Before making the final payment, inspect the completed work and detail in writing any complaints or defects. It is acceptable to withhold money for defects or incomplete work but it is unfair to withhold a large sum for minor defects.

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