Friday, February 26, 2010

Association History - A Visual Tour

I have throughout the last year on several occasions, made mention of our historical time-line “soon to feature on”.

When we began the exercise, I had no idea it would take as long as it did and admittedly, had moments when I considered scrapping it. The process required a fair amount of research, lots of scanning from old publications, and because of its time consuming nature, we took the decision not to prioritize it.

The good news is, after a year of chipping away at it, it’s finally been uploaded. Click here to view: Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal: History Time-Line

It encompasses eleven decades of Association history, featuring 5 images per segment with a short commentary on each, which makes an appearance when clicked upon. This particular project did become a labor of love, and I thank Pieter Rautenbach, a font of information, who gave freely of his time.

Ernest Roper



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

HIV Awareness

Taking into account that I am in the employ of the Association, the teenager in the home who is currently writing matric, brought home work she was reasonably certain I would be able to assist her with. It forms part of a project for her social science class and essentially, she needed to ask an organization the following questions regarding their HIV policy:
  1. How does your company inform employees about the causes of AIDS, how to prevent it and how to treat it?
  2. What counseling opportunities do you provide?
  3. What test facilities of HIV do you provide?
  4. How do you encourage workers to learn of their HIV and AIDS status, and how is confidentiality ensured?
  5. What information regarding medical treatment is provided for people suffering from HIV and AIDS?
  6. What is the policy on how to interact with people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS?
  7. Does your company support any corporate social investment programmes in the community to address the issue of HIV and AIDS? If so, please tell me more about these programmes.
A very special thanks to the member (who shall remain nameless) who assisted me with the appropriate answers for her. The thought did cross my mind that if this is what they are teaching youngsters in school today, the future does look somewhat brighter.

Ernest Roper



Monday, February 22, 2010

About Our President

I’ve just finalized the details pertaining to our historical time-line so it should, after many months of talking about it; go live on within the next day or two.

On Friday I did a post regarding the incredible list of accomplishments past President Aubrey Short managed to notch up in his time, this morning I discovered that our current serving President is not that far behind him. I have always known that he is a busy man, his profile on the CIDB website did however put it into proper perspective for me.

“Gavin Strydom, Managing Director of KwaZuluNatal-based Edstan & Sons Group, is an eminent leader in construction. He is President of the Master Builders Association KZN, a Board Member of Master Builders Association South Africa (MBSA) and Board Chairperson of the Construction Education and Training Agency (CETA). He has contributed to the development of the Construction Charter as a representative of the MBSA on the Construction Transformation Charter Group.

He is passionate about education, training and development, leading the Building Industry Standards Generating Body (SGB) as Chairperson and also serving on the SGB for the Quantity Surveying Profession and the NSB12 Inter SGB committees. Gavin is a qualified quantity surveyor, a member of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors, and of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. He is also a registered project manager.”

Ernest Roper

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mr. W.A.H (Aubrey) Short: Legend

Mr. W.A.H Short: top left

Past President Mr. W.A.H (Aubrey) Short, was kind enough to visit our offices this morning to assist with information required for a project I have been working on for some time, soon to feature on the history pages of masterbuilders.

Aubrey is one of those exceedingly interesting characters you meet in life who has enjoyed his successes and given much back to the industry.

As a young man he qualified in Quantity Surveying and saw active service in the Airforce in World War II. With his brother Wallace, the family firm Short and McDonald became pioneers and proponents of Industrialised Building Systems.

Aubrey served as President of the Association during 1970 and 1971 and received an Honorary Membership of the Natal Association. Since his retirement he has been active as an Arbitrator and to this day remains an Association Stalwart.

His many accomplishments include:
  • Past President - Natal Master Builders Association
  • Honorary Member -Natal Master Builders and Allied Industries Association
  • Past Member of the Executive of the S.A. Building Industries Federation
  • Past Chairman of the S.A. Building Industries Recruitment and Training Fund
  • Past President of the S.A. Industrialised Builders and Component Manufacturers Association
  • Past Member of the National Building Research Institute of C.S.I.R.
  • Past Member of the Building Industries National Development Fund
  • Past Regional Director of Natal Building Society
  • Past Chairman - L.C. Johnson Technical College
  • Past Member of the Natal Training College
  • Past Vice Chairman of Pinetown Technical College
  • Associate Member of the S.A. Association of Arbitrators
  • Consultant to the Consumer Council
  • Past Chairman - Highway Aged Council – Pinetown
  • Past Chairman - Pinehaven Society – Pinetown
  • Member of: Morton Hall Board and of Doone Village Board
  • Past Chairman - Durban Round Table No. 2
  • Past Chairman - Rotary Club of Pinetown
  • Past District Governor - District 9270 Rotary International
  • Past Member of 1992 Council on Legislation - Rotary International
  • Past Chairman - National War Memorial Health Foundation
  • Past Chairman - Bellhaven Society
  • Chairman - Rotary in Africa. Magazine for Southern Africa
A Living Legend Indeed !!!

Ernest Roper

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Website Package For Building Contractors

In conjunction with Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal, Black Square Web Solutions have developed a website package tailor made for building contractors. More than just a presence on the internet, this package will get you a striking, easy to use, flexible website that can showcase your construction projects, list your capacities and will enable you to effectively market your business on-line.

Features include:

Your logo and branding:
Striking design based on your logo will ensure that you stand out from the crowd.

Easy to use, flexible navigation:
Clear Navigation allows your customers to find what they want quickly and easily. Add pages and grow your site through a simple content management system. (CMS)

Featured Projects:
Use the CMS to add projects with text as well as a mini photo gallery. You will be able to expand your site by creating full pages for each project with downloadable documents, full job specs and additional images.

The Association has negotiated an excellent price for its members so if you are interested in finding out more, give Clare a call on 031 266 8305.

Ernest Roper


Monday, February 15, 2010

New Pages On Find-a-builder

Hello All

I have been spending time traveling around the Province updating Find-a-builder data hence a whole lot of new pages have been added to the module. With respect to the individual pages, one can only do the best with what one is given, so naturally some are spectacular while others are not quite of the standard we are striving for yet.

Keep in mind that I can always make changes after the fact, so if you feel your page needs a revamp, send through new data and I will happily make the necessary changes.

Listed below are some recently uploaded pages:

FX Contractors
Borwa Development
Anthony & Basson Development
East Coast Kitchens
Creative Kitchens
Bhekaphambili Geo-Contractors
Eagle Formwork & Scaffolding

A friendly reminder that should you wish to move up the queue in terms of your page going live sooner, you are welcome to contact me. Those who are enthusiastic about the project will unashamedly get preferential treatment. :)

Kind Regards

Ernest Roper



Friday, February 12, 2010

Universal Laws for Naive Engineers

Pondering life’s lighter moments and following on from his recent post entitled “The Origins of Murphy’s Law”; Pieter Rautenbach has forwarded us the next installment, “Universal Laws for Naive Engineers”:
  1. In any calculation, any error which can creep in will do so.
  2. Any error in any calculation will be in the direction of most harm.
  3. In any formula, constants ( especially those obtained from engineering handbooks ) are to be treated as variables.
  4. The best approximation of service conditions in the laboratory will not begin to meet those conditions encountered in actual service.
  5. The most vital dimension on any plan or drawing stands the greatest chance of being omitted.
  6. If only one bid can be secured on any project, the price will be unreasonable.
  7. If a test installation functions perfectly, all subsequent production units will malfunction.
  8. All delivery promises must be multiplied by a factor of 2.0 .
  9. Major changes in construction will always be requested after fabrication is nearly completed.
  10. Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.
  11. Interchangeable parts won't.
  12. Manufacturer's specifications of performance must be multiplied by a factor of 0.5.
  13. Salespeople's claims for performance should be multiplied by a factor of 0.25 .
  14. Installation and Operating Instructions shipped with the device will be promptly discarded by the Receiving Department.
  15. Any device requiring service or adjustment will be least accessible.
  16. Service Conditions as given on specifications will be exceeded.
  17. If more than one person is responsible for a miscalculation, no one will be at fault.
  18. Identical units which test in an identical fashion will not behave in an identical fashion in the field.
  19. If, in engineering practice, a safety factor is set through service experience at an ultimate value, an ingenious idiot will promptly calculate a method to exceed said safety factor.
  20. Warranty and guarantee clauses are voided by payment of the invoice.
Ernest Roper

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Member Publicly Praised for Excellent Work

Rina & Thomas of East Coast Kitchens

While working on the Find-a-builder process I came across the following snippet that was originally published in the letter section of one of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast based newspapers.

“Reading the local newspapers letters, columns, on a regular basis it seems to appear that the majority of readers always seem to be caught or swindled when having repairs or services done by local contractors. It is also very difficult to know who you are dealing with as all the con artists and chancers usually fill the different publications with rosy promises and undertakings that defy the imagination. Only once the work is undertaken and usually or always great deposits paid, the unsuspecting person gets caught by these chancers and this almost always ends in great heartache and financial losses being suffered, mostly by people who can ill afford this. Wouldn't it be great if a list could be compiled and made available to prospective customers of defaulty and shady contractors as well as those that come recommended by happy customers?

I, myself have just completed a project for a new residence with all the usual headaches and mistakes made by many before me. Through all of this I at least had the privilege of dealing with one contractor that I can recommend without reservations to any prospective customer with an open heart. Tommy and Rina of EAST COAST KITCHENS have really bucked the trend and got me to the point of writing this letter. Having done my kitchen cupboards, built-in cupboards as well as various wooden self designed interior decorating pieces, they really went the extra proverbial mile and surprised me with their honesty, accommodating nature and quality of service and workmanship. I would like to publicly thank them for their excellent service and hope that their business goes from strength to strength.G. Willemse Sea Park”

It’s always fantastic to see Association members receiving positive publicity, well done to Thomas Rina, and the team at East Coast Kitchens.

Ernest Roper

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Tall (Building) Story

It started in ancient Egypt with the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza which for many centuries was the tallest structure in the world at approximately 150 meters. This was eventually overtaken by the Eiffel Tower in Paris at approximately 300 meters. It is, however, debatable whether these two structures are buildings.

The Empire State Building in New York set the benchmark for design and construction of tall buildings. This building was to change the New York skyline and its famous viewing deck was featured in a number of popular movies such as “An affair to remember” and ‘Sleepless in Seattle’. The latter half of the previous century witnessed the design and construction of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Taipei 101 (Taiwan), the World Trade Centre (New York) and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears building) in Chicago, all ranging from 400 to 600 meters in height. Tall radio and television towers particularly those in Warsaw (Poland) and Toronto (Canada) subsequently topped the 600 meter mark.

When opened on 4 January 2010 the 828 meter and 160 storeys, Burj Dubai (now renamed Burj Khalifa) officially became the tallest building in the world. The building was designed by Architect Adrian Smith, a former partner in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The conically shaped building can be seen at a distance of 95 km. Construction of the building commenced during 2004. A total of 2 300m³ concrete and 31 400 ton of reinforcing steel was used in construction. The aluminium and glass fa├žade totals 24 348 panels on a 132 190m² wall area including 103 000m² double glazed windows sufficient to cover 14 football pitches. Some 15 500m² of stainless steel was used.

The building is serviced by 54 lifts moving at a speed of 10 meters per second. The airconditioning plants can produce 12 750 ton of ice a day. The developers are Emaar Properties, which is 30 percent owned by the Dubai Government. Emaar is the largest property developer in the Middle East and Africa. Due to the recent deadline of the Dubai Property market, the ruler of neighbouring Abu Dhabi came to the rescue – hence the change of name of the building from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed A1 Nahyan has ruled Abu Dhabi since 2004 and is also President of the United Arab Emirates. The Sheikh is highly regarded.

Burj Khalifa is a mixed use building housing retail outlets, 1044 residential apartments, 37 floors of office space and a 160 room luxury Armani Hotel.

It will also boast the worlds highest mosque and swimming pools on the 158 and 76 floors respectively. When operational it is expected that 12 000 people will live or work in the building complex. The Burj Khalifa is surrounded by a man-made lake, where the world’s tallest fountains, at night, gush to the sound of Opera, Arabian and Indian music.

To provide some perspective, the Carlton Centre in downtown Johannesburg is the tallest building in Africa but does not even feature in the 100 tallest buildings in the world as it only reaches 222.51 meters in height above ground level.

Pieter Rautenbach
Projects Facilitator

Friday, February 5, 2010

Motor Industry vs Bill Gates.

No doubt intended as a lighthearted dig at us IT Geeks, Association Financial Manger Greg Beykirch e-mailed me the following snippet. If it is indeed true, which it probably is, Uncle Bill did on this occasion paint a big red target on himself and proceeded to beg for someone to shoot him down. General Motors were happy to oblige.

Motor Industry vs Bill Gates. For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, 'If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.'

In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this part):

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash...Twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3.Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?' before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the 'Start' button to turn the engine off.

PS - I'd like to add that when all else fails, you could call 'customer service' in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!!!!

Please share this with your friends who love - but sometimes hate - their computer!

Ernest Roper

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is ?

Upon my arrival at scheduled meetings pertaining to , I am finding that many of our members are unsure as to what it's all about, so for today’s blog post, I will do my best to clarify. is a Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal online directory, the purpose of which is essentially to promote our members and to steer business in their direction.

We are advertising quite extensively and some may have seen it advertised on the front cover of the 2010 Midlands, Zululand and South Coast Yellow Pages.

How it works:

If somebody is looking for building industry related service, they will connect to the internet and go to From there they will choose from the menu’s provided, they will select a heading e.g. General contractors, choose a service e.g. “House Builders” and select the region they fall into e.g. “South Coast.”

At this stage a list of all the South Coast based members who build houses will appear on the screen, if you click on a contractor from the list, for example “Ingelosi Construction”, you will then go through to the Ingelosi Construction profile page. I have used them as an example as their page is already complete, click link to view: Ingelosi Construction

The purpose of my meeting with members is to get the information I need in order to get their page up and running. At the time of my arrival, please ensure that you have following available.

6 - 7 Jpg photographs
Company Logo (Digital Format jpg)
Company profile
3 Testimonials

If you only have the photographs and the profile, it’s enough to make your page look reasonably complete. It is however important to note that the Logo and testimonials do convey a greater level of professionalism.

Other links to sample pages include: Metric Pools, Progress of Empangeni, and Leocon CC.

I look forward to meeting with all of you and if you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on one of the numbers provided.

Kind Regards

Ernest Roper
Cell: 083 704 0441 | Tel: 031 266 7070


Monday, February 1, 2010

Lightning Strikes in Dubai

The spectacular photo sequence in the above web album was forwarded to me by Neil Enslin of our Health and Safety Department. He informs us that it serves as an excellent example of why buildings need to have a lightning arrester and in this case how it saved the world’s tallest tower from possible disaster.

Apparently it was a horrendous storm with thunder echoing through the neighboring areas. Those who witnessed it say it was nothing short of spectacular and a night that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Ernest Roper