Spring is time for maintenance check

By Don MacAlister Time of article published Oct 7, 2015

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Clanwilliam - You will be wondering what season we are in. It could be a winter’s day in Hermanus while it was summer in Clanwilliam last week.

However, as spring is supposed to have officially sprung, I thought I would take a look at what you should be doing around your home.

I know that our readers in KwaZulu-Natal and Joburg have different climates but everything is relevant at some time of year.

* Strike while contractors are not too busy.

Fixing what went wrong in winter is cheaper to do in spring or summer. All too often we decide to leave those pesky little leaks or other problems until the start of next winter, when contractors are busy and pushing up their prices.

* Check all your unused tools and fittings.

These are tools and fittings that would not have been used during the autumn and winter months, but will be used in spring and summer. They include outside taps, sprinkler systems and lawn mowers. Air-conditioners should be checked and serviced. You don’t want to break out in a panic sweat when you should be cool.

* Assess the damage done by the weather.

Check what damage the winter storms have done to your external windows and doors. As temperatures rise, putty will start to loosen and cracks widen.


Time for a facelift

During a trip round the Western Cape, I got to keep an eye open on the old towns en route and this is what I found.

In general I would say that everywhere is starting to look like it’s time for a facelift. Why?

Chatting to a few property people it appears that tenants are hard to come by. To hang on to tenants, rents are not being increased which leads to no money for maintenance and it is becoming a case of just holding on or waiting for the season. However, if you don’t do something about continually maintaining your building, it is going to cost more in the long run.

An exception to the rule: Barrydale

In Barrydale, things were different. Firstly, we stayed in an ageing hotel, but the ageing is so well disguised that you don’t notice anything wrong unless you have a really trained eye.

Beautiful art work, clever furniture ideas and bright colours really want to make you come back. Then, as you go further down the main road, there are new shops, cafes and curio shops springing up, built out of timber and shutter board or panelled with brightly coloured corrugated iron.

I would really like to go back and check on these really unusual construction methods. To use a modern phrase, they were really “cool”.



If you are planning a new build or renovation, ensure that your architect knows what you want, and that you realise what you are going to end up with.

Architects prefer to design in their own style and, unless you are very precise in your specification, you may be in for a shock.


You and your architect

* Start by seeing preliminary sketches If you don’t understand lines on a flat piece of paper ask the architect for three-dimensional drawings or even a small model.

* Ensure the architect is properly trained and registered.

* Don’t expect your architect to be a mind reader. Let him know your budget constraints or anything else that may have an effect on the design.



* Get your marketing and sales pitches right.

* Go the extra mile. Visit the client late at night or over a weekend if that is what is wanted.

* Never judge a book by its cover. Just because somebody looks like he doesn’t have two cents to rub together or that he doesn’t know which end of the hammer to hold, does not mean that he is not a millionaire or a great builder.


You and your builder

In the case of the builder, ensure that he is “Registered and Compliant”. I was close to a case recently where the main contractor – who could in theory be the owner/builder – was sued because a sub-contractor was not registered.


Question and answer

QUESTION: Recently I had to move due to ex-landlord selling his house. His electrical compliance certificate will only be issued once repairs/upgrades to the tune of R7 000 are done. Rumour has it that the new owner plans to flatten the property. Is the seller still liable for those repairs/obtaining the certificate? I’m very curious. - Paddy

ANSWER: My opinion is the law is the law and that the sale cannot be registered unless all correct pieces of paper are in place. The demolition may be a long-term plan and no one else would be able to live in the house without the correct paperwork.

The seller could approach the buyer about his intentions and then agree to a reduction in the price which would benefit both parties.


An idea that really works

There is always hope, whatever the situation. I have included a photograph of a sign that I saw on a wall of a building site in Knysna, next to a complex that recently burnt down. The sign is not that elegant, but, after more than 40 years in the industry, it really rang true. Someone has come up with an idea that really works. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, did a U-turn, went back and took the photograph. A really simple sign next to a prestigious development.

Weekend Argus

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