Upholding high standards in the home building industry

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The reputation of the entire home-building industry has been brought into ill repute by the poor performance of unscrupulous “fly-by-night” operators.

This is despite the high quality workmanship of many skilled and experienced contractors operating in this specialist market and that continue to take immense pride in their ability to complete their projects on time and within budget.

They have demonstrated time and again that constructing a house, or undertaking major repairs, or upgrades to a home need not be a source of immense frustration for their clients.

Responsible clients also need to be given credit for helping the industry uphold high standards by insisting that they only work with reputable contractors on their projects.

While the term “bakkie builder” is used to loosely describe the entire South African home-building fraternity, there is a significant difference between these “jack-of-all-trades” and professional National Home Builders Registration Council-registered contractors and project managers.

Unfortunately, in most instances, it is the first-time home builder that unsuspectingly becomes a victim to the practices of deceitful operators in the industry.

The more experienced client knows that a reputable building contractor or builder employs many skilled workers and exercises direct control over most of the primary works and specialised trades. This is in addition to owning a sizeable portion of the equipment required to take on large projects.

Moreover, they operate from a fixed office or yard; are fully insured; and have all the necessary legal registrations.

However, a key differentiator is that they are in the financial position to fund at least 10% of the development and are, thus, in a strong position to claim payment from the client only once the work has been completed.

They work according to expectations that have been  clearly defined in a set contract, usually a Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC) type for small works. It includes a clearly stated commencement and completion date, in addition to defining the work that will be undertaken during the process, counting plans, specifications and particular requirements.

Project managers, a model that is more commonly found in the residential building industry, also work according to these exacting standards.

While project managers also have all the legal registrations and are fully insured, they mainly comprise a small experienced core in-house team that sub-contracts a sizeable portion of the total works to competent partners.

In most instances, these include the specialised trades, such as carpentry, painting and roofing, in addition to the foundation and brick works.

CoreSlab, a suspended floor slab specialist, has worked with a number of these builders and project managers on townhouse developments through to both luxurious and affordable housing developments in the larger Limpopo province.

These structures still attest to the high quality of the workmanship of these emerging contractors that have grown and developed on the back of a significant demand for housing in the province.

This includes in-and-around Polokwane, which is a rapidly developing urban hub and home to CoreSlab’s state-of-the-art factory.

The operation is a significant supplier of hollow-core slabs (HCS) to these builders and project managers to help them deliver a high quality final structure on time and within budget.

In some instances, the company’s quality HCS have also even been specified directly by the architect, engineer or client for a home building project.

This is considering the time and cost savings they bring by doing away with the need for support and construction materials associated with traditional cast-in-place or rib-and-block methods of slab construction.

Delivered to site already cut to size and installed directly onto the load-bearing walls that have been constructed strictly to the original design drawings, work can proceed almost immediately at the next level and below.

Building contractors and project managers work closely with CoreSlab throughout to accelerate the installation process and this approach also ensures a high quality installation.

They provide clear access to the site and structure, in addition to a solid working platform around the building to support the company’s mobile crane that is used to lift and place the hollow-core slabs. These building teams also ensure that the load-bearing walls and grout mortar are level to provide for a flush ceiling.

The process ends with the grouting of the slabs to create a single monolithic floor slab.

By providing a comprehensive solution right from the early design stages through to the drilling of the holes for the services, the company, importantly, offers these contractors and home builders “peace of mind”.

Jaco de Bruin, managing director of CoreSlab, says that he is proud of the company’s continued involvement in the housing construction industry.

“We apply the same exacting standards on these projects as we do when servicing large contractors working on retail, leisure and commercial developments. This market has always been our ‘bread and butter’ and we will, therefore, continue to strive to uphold very high standards in the industry,” he concludes.

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