Wednesday, September 29, 2010

South Coast Regional Workshop

On Tuesday 21 Sept 2010 we made use of our new training room for the first time by holding a Seminar for a group of members and other built environment professionals. The workshop was initiated by South Coast Regional Chairman Ray Basson of Anthony & Basson developers and the key topic on the agenda was, Rates & tariffs that the Municipalities charge.

Presentations were given by the following individuals:
  • Thys Blom from Plankonsult informed us of changes in the new town planning regulations.
  • Dave Kirby from “Hudson, Naude, Kirby Land surveyors” discussed rates & tariffs for new developments.
  • Marius Greeff from Rocksmart discussed some of the technical changes and the effect it has on property.
  • Pippy la Cock from Environment discussed changes to the environment.
Ray Basson who chaired the meeting handled questions from the floor with the workshop drawing to close at 12 o’clock at which time tea was served.

The presentations were very well received with many guests requesting that we please arrange a follow up session.

Hans Stols
South Coast Regional Manager


Monday, September 27, 2010

Beware of Green Charlatans

Many who drive gas guzzling 4 x 4’s like to believe that they are offsetting it, by buying green friendly soap or energy saving lightbulbs. Green has become a buzz word and pairing it with any product, is likely to give it a competitive edge in the market, especially if it does compare favourably on price.

I have of late encountered several inadvertent green charlatans promoting products they believe qualify. There are a number of different elements that constitute green, and most of these products have at least one, that make its campaigners believe they are on the right track which isn’t necessarily the case.

One should always look at the bigger picture and the pros have to outweigh the cons. In theory, hosepipes made from old motor vehicle tyres may be a fantastic idea, however if manufacturing requires a melting process that spews out toxins into the atmosphere, it cannot rightfully be called a green product.

With the green revolution gaining momentum, we will no doubt see a rise in deliberate green charlatans and unscrupulous operators wanting to make a quick buck. When it comes to any green intervention, especially of an expensive nature, go with the tried and tested or at very least, do your homework properly.

Ernest Roper


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tyre Price Collusion Probe

The building industry is highly reliant on vehicles of various shapes and sizes and something like tyre price collusion, impacts on the bottom line.

Four large tyre manufacturers, which between them have a large slice of the market are being investigated by the Competition Commission for alleged collusive tendering, price fixing, information exchange and market allocation.

The probe was triggered by Bridgestone, SA`s largest tyre manufacturer on 6 September when it applied to the Competition Commission for leniency in exchange for providing information and co-operating with the Commission.

The other tyre manufacturers Apollo (formally Dunlop), Goodyear and Continental, if found guilty, may pay fines up to 10% of their total turnover in fines.

With respect to the tyre manufacturers, it looks like 2010 will not be remembered as a particularly Goodyear. :)

Pieter Rautenbach

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Are These COSAS Anyway ?

Following in the wake of the public sector strike, Congress of South African Students (COSAS) have made a much publicised demand for a 25% matric mark handout. This to compensate for time lost while teachers were out toi toing.

While driving down to our South Coast office earlier in the day, I was listening to an interview on SAFM with a studio guest representing COSAS. He essentially spewed out the same rhetoric we heard all throughout last week so the dialog wasn’t particularly informative. It did however take a far more interesting turn when they opened their lines to callers, many of whom were a tad irate.

Of all the callers that got through prior to me arriving at my destination, not one person was in favour of it. A particular gentleman wanted to know “who are these COSAS anyway”, stating that they are not a democratically elected body and therefore have no legitimate claim to representing the broader public. He further stated that they have no right to lobby for policy implementation, which negatively impacts on the education of his child.

The level of enthusiasm at our Youth in Construction Day was extremely encouraging. There were plenty of young enquiring minds eager to learn with many contributing by way of intelligent observation and enquiries. Learners displayed an immense willingness to do what it takes to achieve, I don’t recall any of the 3500 attendees demanding handouts.

There is every indication that the 25% demand is being driven by students who perpetually fail and therefore sadly have nothing to lose. If Congress of South African Students wants government to take them seriously, perhaps they should rein in on unrealistic and ludicrous demands.

Ernest Roper

Friday, September 17, 2010

KZN Wins 8 Out 10

In 2010 KwaZulu-Natal again came up tops in the National Construction Industry Health and Safety Competition.

In 2008 we won 8 of the 10 categories
In 2009 we won 9 of the 10 categories
…….and in 2010
again, we won 8 of the 10 categories

This years KZN winners are:

Plant and Storage Yard: Grinaker-Lta Building East,
Allied Trades: Form Scaff Durban,
Less then 5mil: Patcon Building and Civil Engineering Contractors
5-20mil: Stefanutti Stocks,
20-50mil: Stedone Mechanicos Building,
50-120mil: Grinaker-Lta Building East,
120-200mil: Grinaker-Lta Building East,
500mil plus: Stefanutti Stocks

The average score achieved in the 2010 competition throughout the country was a staggering 90%. Well done to all who participated for achieving such high standards and also to the occupational health and safety practitioners, who continue to encourage and inspire.

Read Related News Article

Ernest Roper | Webmaster


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Safe-Build Shines at NOSHCON

From 7th to the 10th of September 2010, NOSA hosted their 49th annual occupational risk management conference and exhibition, NOSHCON 2010.

The purpose of the conference is to exhibit the lasted developments in occupational risk management trends and solutions and to allow the opportunity for industry stakeholders, to meet with experts and peers from all over the world.

The Safe-Build DVD series, a comprehensive up-to-date video training resource for the South African Construction Industry produced by Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal, was particularly well received.

Health & Safety Manager Neels Nortjie' who also serves on the Minister of Labour's Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety, and his wife Gill, dutifully manned the Safe-Build stand.

Neels informs us that the exercise was a resounding success with a tremendous amount of interest shown towards the product. To add to the occasion, the prize for best display, a helicopter jaunt in the Drakensberg went to Neels and Gill for their exuberant Safe-Build stand.


Ernest Roper


Monday, September 13, 2010

Tendering Workshop to Focus on New Laws

Taranis Business Solutions is a Cape Town based training provider who often presents courses in both Durban and Pietermaritzburg, they also support the Association by regularly advertising in our monthly newsletter.

Owner operator Gerrit Davids has requested that I convey the following information pertaining to upcoming courses.

Tendering Workshop to focus on new laws.

The Workshop will share with delegates on how to submit compliant tenders, how their bids are evaluated and scored under the current legislation and how it will be done under the new BBBEE Procurement Laws. Companies have a choice of either attending the Pietermaritzburg or Durban workshops, taking place on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 September 2010, respectively.

To book contact: or visit

Ernest Roper


Friday, September 10, 2010

Why a Roof Garden ?

With regard to the greening of our Westville premises, something I haven’t really touched on yet is our roof garden situated on the ledge just above the ground floor. The ledge itself is about 4 meters wide and it runs the full length of the building.

Our green interventions incorporate the use of wind turbines and photovoltaic panels for the purpose of generating our own clean electricity, but why a roof garden, what purpose does it serve?

As a result of the incredible ability of plants and soil to shield a roof surface from absorbing heat, the cooling effect of a well thought out roof garden can considerably reduce energy consumption. For example, a cooler building is far less dependent on air conditioning and in places like sunny Durban, air-conditioning impacts heavily on electricity usage.

Plants and soil also disperse water which not only cools the surrounding air; it also makes it more comfortable to breathe.

When putting it all together, we consulted with experts to determine which plant species would contribute most to biodiversity. It is for this purpose that the Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal roof garden is wholly comprised of indigenous vegetation.

Ernest Roper

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Criminals Resorting To Technology

Jana Botha of the Middelburg Observer reports that a number of incidents occurred at the Ultra City near that town where valuable goods went missing from parked and locked motor vehicles without any evidence of forced entry. Victims were perplexed how valuables went missing from vehicles without windows or doorlocks broken. It was generally believed that somebody was hiding unseen besides the vehicle and lifting the door handles when the doors were locked.

Victims could not comprehend how valuables like mobile phones and cameras could vanish into thin air when there was no sign of criminal activity. Because there was no evidence of forced entry into the vehicles, insurance claims could not be entertained.

The riddle was solved by two readers of the Middelburg Observer who had read about the incidents and who had contacted the newspaper with an offer to give a demonstration of how it was done. Local inhabitants Willie Smit and Herman Pelser arranged a demonstration at the offices of the Obsever.

Smit and Pelser astounded those present at the demonstration by proving that the immobilisers of most vehicles could be neutralised 90% of the time by the use of a remote control for an electronic gate. All that had to be done was to suppress the button on the remote control to neutalise the immobiliser device of the parked vehicle. The driver and passengers of targetted vehicles frequently walk away from the vehicle without realising that the immobiliser mechanism was inoperative.

Drivers and passengers of vehicles parked at places where there are suspicious persons are lurking around are urged to always check that the doors of the vehicle are locked before leaving the vehlcle unattended.

Pieter Rautenbach


Monday, September 6, 2010

The Real Victims of the Strike

While concerned parents of learners are hoping and praying that striking public servants will today accept government’s latest wage increase offer, there is growing concern that educators entrusted to ensure favourable matric results, will not be able to make up lost time and that papers may include work that was never covered in classrooms.

In early August before the strike began, I had the pleasure of attending the Youth in Construction event, which saw over 3500 school learners pass through its doors. Besides introducing them to a range of career options that perhaps they wouldn’t have considered, it also gave them exposure to organisations offering bursaries and learnerships.

I don’t recall any of the young guests inquiring about becoming a bricklayer, a wheelbarrow operator, or the gentleman who waves the flag when it’s safe to pass. Huge interest was shown in the engineering, design and architecture displays with many learners wanting to know what subjects they need to pass, in order to follow those career paths.

While teachers hold out for an extra couple of hundred Rand, I can’t help wondering if they give any consideration at all, to whom the real victims of the strike are.

Ernest Roper

Friday, September 3, 2010

Weather Station Goes Live

Today the weather in Westville is partly cloudy to mild with a likelihood of strong wind in the afternoon. I know this because I felt the stiff breeze and saw plenty of cloud when I was on the roof earlier taking photographs of our new weather station.

Having never purchased dynamite, I really wouldn’t know if it comes in small packages, I can however tell you that weather stations do. When we first discussed implementing a weather feed to our website, I somehow imagined a whole host of meteorological equipment and admittedly was surprised, when it arrived in packaging not much bigger than an A3 ream of paper.

Nonetheless, it is an amazing piece of equipment that’s proving very effective. It wasn’t too difficult to install and we now have a live weather feed from the top of our building in Westville.

The Association exists to represent the interests of members, as well as to provide them with specialist support services to assist them in the successful running of their businesses. Weather can enormously impact on project deadlines and while there are plenty of weather sites one can refer to, ours gives up to the minute information from a specific point in Westville, enabling local contractors to fathom from there.

Our newest web application can be accessed by clicking on the Weather Centre icon located on our home page or, for those who would like the direct link, Have a look and let us know what you think.

Ernest Roper

PS. For those who interested in stats and numbers, particularly big round ones, today’s blog post is our 400th. Happy Birthday Blog :)


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Clean, Silent And Effective

There has been a lot of talk and hype, surrounding the greening of our Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal Westville premises. The alterations to our building are all but complete and our renewable parallel electricity supply system, is already fully operational.

The inspiration for today’s post, is the people I can see standing around looking somewhat frustrated in the office park across the way. The electricity in Westville is at present down, and other than the few who are puffing away, the rest seem somewhat miserable and aggravated.

My understanding is that in the event that there is no wind and no sunlight, there should be enough power in reserve, to last between 12 and 24 hours depending on usage. On a day like today, bright sunny and breezy, our supply of power should continue unhindered.

Besides the fact that we are privileged to have power while others don’t, the beauty of it is, it is clean silent and effective, as apposed to the old school method of a stinky noisy petrol driven generator.

Go Clean, Go Green !!!!

Ernest Roper