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Building? Why you must inform your insurer during alterations

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There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.

How to manage alterationsrenovation

No alteration to your house is easy, hassle free and quick. However, it can be a satisfactory experience if you plan and manage it well. I trust that the advice given in this book will be helpful in order to achieve the goal of a stress-free alteration.

The agreement with the contractor, or with every sub-contractor, is the most important aspect of the project. Mark the walls, doors and window frames which are to be removed or demolished, indicate these also on the plan as confirmation. Download a copy from www.gautenginspect.co.za.

To avoid confusion, the smallest detail must be recorded. I know of a case where a builder knocked down the wrong wall because of a misunderstanding.


Albert says: “Be ready and prepared for surprises and extra costs when walls are demolished and roofs are opened; it is inevitable”


“This was not in the contract, it is an extra” and ”But I thought that it was in the contract”, are typical arguments between the parties.

Decide to work on a tight schedule, get stuck in the work and get finished as soon as possible. In this way there is the least amount of disruption for the household. Do not delay work unnecessarily with slow decision making.

You must also use a construction programme to plan the cash flow – download a copy from www.gautenginspect.co.za.

Minimise liabilitywash hands

Inform the insurance company that you will be doing alterations and that the value of the property will increase proportionately.

You or the contractor should have sufficient public liability insurance during the construction period. The policy must cover all unexpected accidents, like a collapsed wall or roof, and the agreement with the contractor must cover you for consequential damage which you could suffer because of negligence by him or his workers.

The household and pets will be disrupted during the project, and increase the security on the property, because the house could be open at night.

Do not allow any workers to overnight on the property.

wall joining


Albert says: “You have been warned; any alteration and addition project is a minefield of disputes and arguments”


Additions can easily be spotted by the difference in the plaster finish. In some cases, it is better to strip all the old plaster and re-plaster all the walls, or plaster from corner to corner.

The supply of material is just as important. Make sure that everybody knows exactly what to supply, to the last nail and screw and when it should be on site.


Albert says: “Don’t be naïve. Do not assume anything, do not draw any conclusions or take anything for granted or regard anything as obvious. This will cost you extra money and add stress”


Next time: Are those cracks live?


For more, and to order your copy of The Proud Home Owner, click here, or visit Gauteng Home Inspections if you’re building, buying or doing maintenance

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