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If you are using a building contractor for your home build or renovation, know this...

Homeowners should only work through a contractor who is certified by the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). Picture: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Homeowners should only work through a contractor who is certified by the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). Picture: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Published Jun 19, 2022


Renovating a home can be stressful, especially for those who are managing the project themselves, and so, to eliminate stress, some prefer to hire a general contractor to run the whole build themselves.

This solution, however, has its own challenges, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

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Homeowners will need to remain vigilant to ensure that the project does not run over time or over budget.

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Your first step will be to thoroughly research the competency of the contractor.

“The success of a building project will be based on how competent the contractor is to complete the project within the allotted period. If the property is not finished within the expected time frame, it can have some harsh financial implications.

“Not only will you then have to fit the bill for extra labour costs for every hour that the build goes over, but you might also need to pay for temporary housing until the build is ready.”

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To mitigate this risk, Goslett suggests that homeowners only work through those who are certified by the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). NHBRC aims to reduce the risk of sub-standard building work as much as possible and ensures that only qualified, experienced contractors are used to build homes.

Beyond this, RE/MAX shares a few tips on how to manage a successful build when working through a general contractor:

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Find out how sub-contractors will be managed

Most general contractors will hire other trades (including plumbers or electricians) to complete some of the work. To make sure the project continues to run according to schedule, find out how your contractor plans to manage other trades and what will happen if a sub-contractor is delayed or postpones. It is also important to check that the contractor only hires licensed professionals whose work will be up to scratch.

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Request an itemised quote

The best way to ensure that a project stays within budget is to request an itemised quote for the work that needs to be completed. Where possible, select the exact fittings (brand, shade, etc.) so that you know beforehand how much each item will cost. If you haven’t selected these features yet, the general contractor will set aside an allowance – but this is where things can easily end up costing way more than initially planned.

Conduct onsite progress meetings

To avoid unnecessary delays, hold the contractor accountable for progress by conducting regular site inspections. If anything is running behind schedule, find out what the contractor plans on doing to get the build back on track.

Regular site inspections also help to correct any issues before it becomes too costly to repair. Sometimes the contractor might misunderstand what you envisioned for the space, for example, the contractor might install the tiles horizontally instead of vertically. Being on site regularly helps to spot these mistakes early so they can be corrected before the build is finished.

Allow some breathing room

The only thing that you can plan when renovating or building is that things will never go 100% according to plan. Set aside some extra money for unexpected costs and plan for the project to go over by at least a week or two. This will alleviate some of the stress and pressure from the build.

“As stressful as the build might become, homeowners should remind themselves that upgrading a home is always a good investment decision when undertaken wisely,” Goslett says.