Guidelines for a Successful Building Project

Follow these guidelines to maintain a good relationship with your contractor:


  • Before calling in a contractor for a quotation, draw up a specific detailed plan of what you want done and the amount you can afford.
  • For substantial work obtain a detailed cost estimate and adjust your requirements to suit your budget.
  • Get a qualified person to draw plans, determine specifications and submit them to the local authority for approval.

Choose a Reliable Building Contractor

  • Ensure that your contractor is registered with the necessary legal or statutory bodies such as Workman’s Compensation Insurance, Bargaining Council for the Building Industry and the Receiver of Revenue.
  • Obtain references from all contractors and be aware that contractors are not obliged to be members of the MBA.
  • Current legislation also requires that your contractor be registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) if you are building a new house. Registration with the NHBRC for alteration and additions or renovations is not required. Registration takes about 5 weeks, so don’t be caught out by starting to build and then finding that the bank wants a certificate of registration before making the first payment.
  • Be extremely wary of engaging persons who claim to be project managers and can save you thousands of rands.
  • Ensure that a Project Manager, if not a member of the MBA, is in possession of a professional qualification.

The Price

  • Obtain quotations from at least three reputable contractors.
  • To compare costs, make sure that each contractor is quoting on the same written specifications and conditions and ensure that the quotation is inclusive of VAT.
  • Be cautious of unrealistically low quotations.
  • Do not commence any work whilst the price is still under negotiation.

Accepting the Quotation

  • 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, cleaning up during the work including the disposal of waste or rubble, the order in which the contractor will proceed while on your premises and payment details.
  • Protect all parties by making use of a MBSA approved building contract.


  • Your contractor should be insured for Public Liability and contract works insurance.
  • Appropriate insurance should be agreed to cover damage to your existing building and contents.
  • Inform your own insurance company that you are having building work or renovations done.


  • If you are unable to determine defects and quality workmanship, it is advisable to employ a building consultant or architect to monitor the construction work for the duration of the contract.
  • Ensure that the appointed person has the necessary expertise to undertake construction-related inspections.

Extra work and / or variations

  • Establish the cost of any extra work requested from the contractor in writing before the work is carried out and confirm any changes in writing, both parties signing acceptance


  • You should normally not be required to make a deposit before work commences or payment of workers wages during the contract.
  • With fairly large jobs, interim payments on completion of certain sections may be agreed upon or 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 normally made in one lump sum when the work is satisfactorily completed.
  • Before making final payment, inspect the completed work and put your complaints or defects regarding workmanship or materials used, in writing.
  • Whilst it is acceptable to withhold money for defects or incomplete work, it is extremely unfair to withhold a large sum of money for minor defects.

Disputes with non MBA contractors

  • Clients have little recourse to local authorities, financial institutions or building inspectors for building, electrical or plumbing problems with contractors. The MBA will be unable to assist the client unless a MBSA approved contract has been used and the above steps have been followed. The only recourse available will then be the Consumer Council, Small Claims Court, Legal Resource Centre or litigation through the courts.

Complaints Procedure MBA Contractors

  • In the vent of complaints against a member company who has refused to attend to them within a reasonable period, you may appeal to the MBA, provided the member is a registered member and your complaint has been submitted to the MBA in writing
  • The MBA undertakes to thoroughly investigate your complaint, and in this regard the Association will endeavour to resolve any complaints received in a fair and equitable manner, with due regard to the circumstances and industry norm.
  • It must be noted that the MBA is a voluntary association of contractors, suppliers, manufacturers and consultants. There is no legal requirement that members must belong to the Association and as such, the association does not have the jurisdiction to be prescriptive.
  • The Association thus cannot guarantee that the complaint will be solved to the satisfaction of one or both parties but will endeavour by all means at its disposal to do so.


© Master Builders Association (Used with permission)