Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Aid Course - Midlands

We are pleased to announce that on 16 - 17 July 2010, (Friday and Saturday) Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal will be hosting “Level One First Aid” at our Midlands regional office in Pietermaritzburg. It is a 2 day course which runs from 8am-4pm and is for members of the Association only.

The fee is R600-00 per head with the Association subsidizing 50% of the cost of 2 representatives per member attending.

Should you wish for any of your staff to participate, please contact Gareth or Shahieda at the Midlands office ASAP as this course is limited to 10 people per sitting. It is on a first come first served basis and in order to ensure that as many members as possible are able to make use of this service; participants are limited to 2 staff members per enterprise.

Please note that first aid training is a requirement of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and you are therefore well advised to make use of this opportunity at 50% of the market price.

Shahieda Adams
Customer Care Facilitator - Midlands


Monday, June 28, 2010

Don’t Mess With Tokyo

Those who have kept abreast of matters relating to Tokyo Sexwale, would have to be impressed by his no nonsense approach and willingness to get the job done.

I refer to three initiatives spearheaded by his department which will no doubt for many, enhance quality of life.
  1. Throwing the weight of his department behind the NHBRC essentially giving them the teeth needed to shut down unregistered home builders.
  2. The announcement of a departmental budget of 16.2 Billion Rand for the current fiscal year, with subsidy housing its number 1 priority. “The target for human settlements ought to be nothing less than an enhanced vision driven by a similar energy and passion to World Cup 2010 – this time round, human settlements 2030.”
  3. The recent launch of a national audit to come to grips with the "substantial" problem of housing beneficiaries informally and illegally, selling properties that were allocated to them.

Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s real name is Mosima Gabriel Sexwale, his nickname Tokyo derived from his passion for Karate as a youth, so don’t mess with him, build properly …. OR ELSE ! :)

Ernest Roper


Friday, June 25, 2010

Corporate Identity Package

Over the last six months I have had several meetings with members of the Association for the purpose of gathering information relating to With many having asked for assistance in creating a professional corporate identity and with the internal resources we have at our disposal, we felt compelled to oblige.

A professionally designed (and consistently applied) corporate identity is a surefire way of building brand equity. The Association is therefore excited to announce a range of corporate identity packages which are tailor made to brand your business for success.

There are currently three packages on offer, all of which include the design/re-design of a professional logo and corporate identity by our graphic designer, as well as a set of business stationery.

2 Initial logo designs (Up to 2 revision rounds)
Designing of business card & Letter heads
100x Business cards (Colour)(Max 1 names)
100x A4 Letterheads (Colour)
R1 955 excl vat (including delivery)

4 Initial logo designs (Up to 4 revision rounds)
Designing of business cards,letterhead, fax cover sheet
250x Business cards (Colour)(Max 2 names)
200x A4 Letterheads (Colour)
50x A4 Fax cover sheets (Black)
R2 760 excl vat (including delivery)

6 Initial logo designs(Up to 4 revision rounds)
Designing of business cards,
letterhead, fax cover sheet,
compliment slips, presentation folder
500x Business cards (Colour)(Max 5 names)
300x A4 Letterheads (Colour)
100x A4 Fax cover sheets (Black)
100x DL Compliment slips (Colour)
R3 450 excl (including delivery

Members of the Association receive a 15% DISCOUNT!

For more information or to place an order, contact Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal on 031 266 7070 and ask for Jhan Rankin.

Download PDF

Ernest Roper


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Update: Renovations To Our Building

We are pleased to announce that the renovations and greening of our Westville premises are on track.

The objective is to make our building energy and water efficient and hence we will be running a renewable parallel electricity supply.

Our greening interventions are to be showcased as a source of information and inspiration, not only furthering and promoting environmentally sustainable building practices, but also enhancing our brand and creating greater awareness of the Association and its members.

In addition……

Our conference facilities are being expanded to meet demand and to also create top notch training venues.

A digital display centre is to be implemented that will allow associate members to display their products and services to the public. There will also be a permanent green building exhibition coupled with a marketing platform for suppliers of green goods and services.

Then lastly something that will please our members immensely, from next month onward, there will be substantially more parking available.

Ernest Roper


Monday, June 21, 2010

Lets Talk NHBRC

The Association receives an immense amount of inquiries relating to the NHBRC.

Having taken cognizance of this, we have added a new page to titled "Lets talk NHBRC," which hopefully provides some of the answers, to the many NHBRC related questions people have.

Topics that are covered include:
  • Registration of Non-Subsidy Projects:
  • Normal enrolment: Plot and Plan
  • Cluster development/ Spec building / cash build
  • Sectional title
  • Calculation of Enrolment Fees
  • Late Enrolment
We have also included a poll down the right hand column of the page wherein we ask readers to vote on whether or not the page encompasses the information they were looking for. It is important to get this kind of feedback as we strive to provide Association members as well as members of the public, with information that is useful and relevant.

Visit “Lets Talk NHBRC” and don’t forget to rate the information.

Ernest Roper


Friday, June 18, 2010

Boy Were They Wrong!

“I think there is a world market for about five computers.”
Thomas Watson, Chairman, IBM, 1943

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons”
Popular Mechanics Magazine forecasting the future during 1949

“There is no reason for anyone to have a computer in their home”
Ken Olson, President, Digital Equipment, 1977

“640K (of memory) ought to be enough for everyone”
Bill Gates, CEO, Microsoft, 1981

The milestone of the first PC in the history of computers belongs to the Altair 8800 which was launched during 1977. With an early Intel processor and 1 kilobyte of RAM, it was sold in kit form.

The popular term "personal computer" and its acronym PC, was introduced by IBM and is now widely applied to describe all desktop or portable computers.

On 12 August 1981, IBM launched an 8-bit Intel 8088 microprocessor running at 4.77 megahertz, 64 kilobytes of random access memory (RAM) with a single-sided 5 1/4- inch floppy disk drive capable of storing 160 kilobytes with a black & white monitor. It did not have a hard drive and application programmes had to be loaded into the computer’s RAM.

Bill Gates established the Microsoft Corporation in 1977. Microsoft designed a disc operating system (MS- DOS) for IBM personal computers and the rest is history. The explosion in the popularity of Personal Computers spawned huge economic activity in software development applications and a myriad of devices used with computers, as well as publication of magazines including reviews of hardware, software and tips for its application.

Despite what the pundits had predicted, personal computers revolusionised the world.

Pieter Rautenbach



Monday, June 14, 2010

A Feat of Construction Engineering

The Construction and Reconstruction of the Temples at Abu Simbel

The temples are situated in the desert region of the upper Nile valley in an area named Nubia by the Romans. They were constructed on the river’s west bank by long reigning Pharaoh Ramses II.

The facades of both temples are decorated with a number of colossal statues cut directly into the rock and in the larger temple; Ramses is portrayed in four seated statues each approximately 20 meters tall. The front of the temple is 38 meters wide with the temple reaching 65 meters high into the rock. One of the huge statues was destroyed in antiquity.

The smaller temple was dedicated to Nefertari the Pharaoh`s wife and is the only known ancient Egyptian temple, deeded to the wife of a Pharaoh. The Queen who lived in thirteen century BC, died long before her husband, shortly after the temples were completed.

The temples were discovered by the Swiss Orientalist J L Burckhardt during 1813. That area of Nubia underwent dramatic change in the twentieth century when in 1898 the first Aswan Dam was built, and the level of the Nile rose. In the 1950s, the start of the construction of the second dam placed the temples at risk of being lost under the rising waters of Lake Nasser.

To save the temples, in 1963 UNESCO organised a rescue operation which became a race against the rising water level of the Aswan High Dam (completed in 1963). Before the work could commence a 360 meter high coffer dam wall, was erected around the temple buildings. Next, the porous sandstone was hardened with injections of synthetic resin.

The temples in the solid rock was cut into more than one thousand 30-ton blocks, and then lifted 65 meters high before shifted 180 meters inland and reassembled. After attracting worldwide attention, the project was completed on 22 September 1968. Five years after the commencement of the project and declared a world heritage site in 1979.

Pieter Rautenbach


Friday, June 11, 2010

A World Cup Legend

Pelè leads Brazil to victory in the FIFA World Cup on 22 June 1970 in Mexico City after a 4-1 defeat of Italy in the final. It was Brazil`s third World Cup in 12 years.

Mel Edson Arantes de Nascimento, better known as Pelè, was born in Brazil in 1940. A passionate football player even as a child he was technically brilliant and a high-scoring forward. Between 1959 and 1968 while playing for FC Santos, they were the Brazilian champions five times.

He played for Brazil when they became South American champions twice and World champions three times. Crowned the King of the Strikers, he scored in just about every international match he ever played in; Pelè is an icon and an idol.

Over an eighteen year period between 1956 and 1974 he was the world’s most outstanding soccer player scoring 1220 goals. In 1970 Pelè was elected Athlete of the Year and helped transform soccer tournaments into emotional events affecting football fans around the world. Following his career as a player he became a television commentator, president of the Brazilian Soccer League and Minister of Sports.

Surrounded by team members, fans and policemen, Brazilian captain Pelè carries the Jules Rimez trophy around the stadium. His enthusiasm and delight is evident from his flashing smile. That photograph taken 40 years ago of Pelè holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft, captured one of the most memorable moments in the history of sports.

2010 ........ FEEL IT, IT IS HERE !

Pieter Rautenbach


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Safety & The Brain

Picture the scene, downtown Johannesburg 1989, 18 floors up ……

Unparalleled urban expansion in Johannesburg throughout the 80’s, gave rise to many of the city’s then modern new buildings. For one particular development project, a building was in-cased in steel framework, the purpose of which was to insert glass for decorative purposes, similar to that of our own Essex Terrace building.

An engineer while inspecting framework on the 18th floor, requested a labourer to stand on a scaffold that was projecting through one of the openings where a glass sheet would later be installed. The labourer essentially served as a counterweight, allowing the engineer to walk out onto the scaffold and check the exterior.

Incredibly, after the engineer had left, the worker felt the need to walk out onto the same scaffold to see what the engineer was looking at... Needless to say he didn’t walk away with just a sprained ankle.

The extraordinarily irresponsible engineer was the first to put himself at risk, betting his life on the labourer not deserting his post at a critical time. What then followed was an act of sublime stupidity.

With respect to modern day construction occupational health and safety legislation, back in the day they obviously did things very differently. What hasn't changed is that the brain still remains the most important safety tool.

Ernest Roper

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Dreaded Secret Killer Disease

Malaria is one of the most dreaded tropical diseases known to mankind. Since 2001, the incidence of malaria in Sub -Sahara Africa and South Africa made a dramatic comeback.

Ronald Ross was born in 1857 and became a Medical Officer in the British Army in India, where he treated patients who contracted tropical diseases. While visiting London during 1894, he became acquainted with Patrick Manson who was regarded as the `father of tropical medicine`.

Manson had demonstrated during 1878 that parasites that cause human disease could infect mosquitoes. Charles Laveran, a French physician, while stationed in Algeria during 1880 discovered that malaria was caused by protozoan, a one-celled microscopic animal. Laveran, could however not establish how the parasite entered the bloodstreams of humans. Ross who had become familiar with the work of Laveran, after his return to India in 1895 became determined to solve the mystery of malaria.

Ross was of the opinion that malaria was caused by mosquitoes, but the connection eluded him until 20 August 1897, when he peered through his microscope to examine the stomach tissue of a dapple-winged mosquito. It had been fed four days previously with the blood of a malaria patient. Ross found `something new.....exactly like the pigment of the parasite of malaria`. After further research Ross proved that malaria was transmitted by the female anopheles mosquito bite. Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for this important discovery.

Ross who died in 1932, was an accomplished individual who played the piano and wrote poetry. On the 60th anniversary of his momentous discovery, the English poet John Masefield wrote;

Once on the august day, an exiled man
Striving to read hieroglyphics spelled

By changing speckles on glass, beheld

A secret hidden since the world began.

To Follow: The potential impact of Malaria, on the Construction industry throughout the African continent.

Pieter Rautenbach


Friday, June 4, 2010

10 People Who Think You're A Moron

I received an e-mail this morning which I initially found quite believable and extremely disturbing. The gist of it is that security officials found a gun disguised as a cell phone which they say has immensely heightened the risk of flying. They further warn that should security officials want to inspect our cellular devices, we should all be extremely cooperative.

I thought it would make good content for today’s blog, I did however feel it necessary to check its authenticity first. There is an excellent website called, they have been around since 2003 and make it there business to debunk email hoaxes and expose internet scams. They are very good at it.

The bane of the internet is that authenticity of content spread cannot be controlled; it is essentially a free for all to convey whatever one chooses, be it rubbish or otherwise.

The advent of email has taken the spread of chain letters to whole new dimension. The good news is I have never suffered the alleged doom and gloom consequence of having never forwarded them onto 10 friends. The only real guarantee is that if you do forward it on, 10 of your friends are going to think you're a moron.

The Bottom Line…..

According to the bullet in the cell phone email is indeed a hoax. So next time you see a dodgy looking character reaching for his phone, RELAX ….you don’t have to dive for cover.

Ernest Roper

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Highest Bridge Piers Ever Constructed

There's something just not right about driving above the clouds!

The Millau Viaduct is part of the new E11 expressway connecting Paris and Barcelona and features the highest bridge piers ever constructed.
The tallest is 240 meters (787 feet) high and the overall height is an impressive 336 meters (1102 feet), making this the highest bridge in the world. It's taller than the Eiffel Tower .

Interestingly, the Millau Viaduct is not straight.


It's because a straight road could induce a floating sensation as you drive across it, a slight curve remedies that feeling. The curve is 20km in range.

Moreover, the road has a slight incline of 3% to improve the visibility and reassure the driver.

An amazing engineering feat!

Images courtesy of

Ernest Roper