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You must get the right builder to build your home. You need a builder who has experience of building similar types of houses, someone who is honest and does not charge too much.

This section covers:

  • What to look out for in a builder
  • Issues to be discussed with the builder and things to agree on
  • Payments to the builder
  • The building contract

What to look for in a builder

  • When you go and see the houses which the builder has built before take along the list of common construction faults mentioned in the section called “Avoiding common building problems”, and see if you can see any of them in the houses.
  • If someone has recommended a builder, ask if he or she had any problems dealing with the builder. Ask if the builder fixed things that went wrong with the house after they moved in.
  • You should get quotes from a number of different builders. Compare them and see which is the cheapest and which builder does the best quality work.

Issues to be discussed with the builder and things to agree on

  • What will the work include: show the builder your plans and discuss what you want the builder to do, going down to the smallest details such as plastering, painting, putting glass in the windows and so on.
  • Payment: ask the builder how much the whole job will cost and when he will want to be paid.
  • Timeframe: how long will the whole job take and when will it be finished?
  • Problems and faults: if you discover faults after moving into your house,
  • will the builder come and fix them?
  • Contacting the builder: when is the builder available to start and how can you contact him?

Building skills: can the builder do all the jobs you want him to, such as build a wall, plumb a sink or put in electricity connections?

Remember:

You will probably not be able to cover the whole costs with just one loan. What can the builder do with the loan plus your savings?

The plans must be shown to the builder. Agree on exactly how many rooms you want and how big each should be. Written on the plan should be a list of what you would like in each room, such as geysers*, ceilings, electricity points, taps, doors, windows, flooring and so on.

Payments to the builder

Before you pay any money over to your builder, get the following details from him:

  • His ID number
  • His full name (check this with the name in his ID book)
  • His phone number and address

Never pay a large deposit** upfront to a builder. There are many people who have been tricked out of their money by dishonest builders. Many paid a deposit and never saw the builder again. Get a receipt from the builder for any money you pay. The receipt should show your name, the date, the correct amount of money and the name of the person you are paying the money to.

Remember:

Be suspicious of contractors who demand large deposits – many people have lost money because building contractors have stolen their deposit

*Geyser: an electric water-heating tank

**Deposit: the first part of a payment to show that an agreement will be kept, for example, with your builder or material supplier

The building contract

The building contract is an agreement you make with the builder before he starts building. You should have discussed and agreed on the things listed underneath. Always try to write them down so that you are both clear about what you are agreeing on.

Download a Building Contract here: English, Zulu, Tswana