Friday, April 29, 2011

Alcohol and Nail Guns

The following is a true account and another great example of how one can so easily, become a victim of one’s own stupidity.

A 33-year-old bricklayer in Victoria Australia, known for being safety minded (believe it or not) used a nail gun to install some wall panelling. Upon completion, (as one does in Australia) he turned off the compressor, removed the nail cartridge and downed a few beers with his mates.

Joking about construction accidents involving nail guns, he for dramatic effect, pointed the nail gun at his head and pulled the trigger. Initially he thought that a remaining charge of compressed air had caused the firing pin to glance off his noggin, when he had in fact fired a 3.2cm long nail straight into his skull.

Upon arrival at hospital wanting to remove it himself, he requested the nurses bring him a pair of pliers.

It took a neurosurgeon and a team of specialists four hours to complete the procedure. "Luckily for him it lodged in the motor area of the brain and not more critical areas," said the doctor. If the nail had been a centimetre deeper, he would likely have suffered permanent brain damage, or paralysis.

Reference: Darwin Awards

Ernest Roper


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Competition Winner | Coffee Shop Name

We would like to personally thank everybody who participated in this competition. To be honest, we were overwhelmed with the response and received over 110 emails.

The competition turned out to be a close contest with both Cafè Mingle and Cafè Indaba in the running right up until the final votes were counted. In the end Cafè Indaba was the winner by a small margin.

The winner of our reader competition was randomly chosen from everybody who entered. Perhaps fittingly, he also voted for Cafè Indaba and we will be contacting him shortly with details on redeeming his prize.

If the suspense is killing you, let us put you out of your misery... The winner is Mr Roy Hurdayal of D&H Flooring.

Thank you again for taking the time to enter the competition. We hope to meet you all soon over a cup of coffee at Cafè Indaba.

Gary Amstutz
Commercial and Marketing Manager


Monday, April 18, 2011

Master Builders Retail Outlet

A reminder to members of the Association, as well as to the public, that Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal has a retail outlet now trading, at our Westville premises on 40 Essex Terrace.

While this facility is open to members of the public with pricing that is already exceedingly reasonable, members of the Association are entitled to a 10% discount on most of the items available.

The following products and services are on offer:
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Business Stationery
  • Member Stationery
  • JBCC and MBSA contractual documents
  • CLM Laser Levelling products
  • The SafeBuild DVD
  • Copy Shop
  • Professional Branding Services
  • Energy Saving Products
For a 360 Degree virtual tour of our retail facility CLICK HERE

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter holidays are synonymous with high rate of road deaths

Jeff Osborne, the CEO of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) announced that the RMI initiated a road-safety campaign aimed at ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy for journeys undertaken over the forthcoming Easter holiday period. The RMI has obtained a commitment from a selection of the country`s private and municipal vehicle- testing stations to conduct free vehicle safety checks between 11 and 21 April 2011.

The checks ------ carried out in support of the RMI - affiliated National Vehicle Testing Association`s (NVTA`s) championing of the United Nations Global Decade of Action for Road Safety, a project backed by the South African Department of Transport. -----will focus on critical safety items, including:
  • tyres
  • brakes, including parking brake
  • steering mechanisms
  • front and rear suspension
  • lights and indicators
  • wind screen wipers
  • seat belts
  • exhaust systems
  • wheel alignment
In a similar campaign ---held prior to the 2010 Easter holiday period--- some 78% of vehicles tested were found to require repairs relating to the above. "The aim is to help to reduce the high levels of road deaths and injuries that occur over this period" said Osborne.

For details of the participating testing stations, contact the RMI`s regional offices at 031 266 7031.

With the Easter holidays in mind, the Automobile Association (AA) cautioned motorists travelling on the roads during this period to take extra care. This year marks the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety in May with the aim of reducing fatalities by 50% during the next 10 years.

December 2010 saw just over 1000 people killed on South African roads, and in 2009 there were 13 500 people killed.

To stay alive and arrive, the golden rules are straightforward. These are simplistic and the basis of ensuring the need to be ingrained in every decision made by responsible motorists on the roads:
  • buckle up;
  • maintain a safe following distance;
  • don`t drink and drive;
  • don`t speed;
  • keep the vehicle lights on; and
  • stay alert.
Remember many South African roads are often potholed, in a poor condition and under construction. I t is therefore better to travel during daylight hours when visibility is better.

Pieter Rautenbach



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Famous Economic Quotations

In his book “Understanding the Economy”, Phillip Mohr who was Professor of Economics at UNISA from 1984 to 2007, used the following famous quotations about economics.

"When you cannot measure what you are speaking about, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." Lord Kelvin

"When you can measure what you are speaking about, when you can express it in numbers, your knowledge is still of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." Frank Knight

"Inflation is a phenomenon which means that you can buy less with your money now than when you had no money at all." Anonymous

When a man says he wants to work, what he means is that he wants wages. Richard Whately

"A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it." Bob Hope

"Money is like muck, not good except it be spread." Francis Bacon

"An economist: the only professional who sees something working in practice and then seriously wonders if it works in theory." Ronald Reagan

"No real English gentleman, in his secret soul, was ever sorry for the death of a political economist." Walter Bagehot

"The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away." John S. Coleman

"The government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away." Barry Goldwater

"South Africans are getting stronger. Thirty years ago it took five people to carry hundreds of rands’ worth of groceries. Today a child can do it." Anonymous

Pieter Rautenbach


Monday, April 11, 2011

Get The Most From Your Builder

One of the most visited pages on our website is an article that essentially provides a guideline, on how to get the most from your builder.

The following points summarise it nicely:
  • Check the question of planning permission and the submission of plans with your Local Authority.
  • Choose a reputable building contractor, preferably a member of Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal
  • Obtain written quotations and read them carefully.
  • The cheapest price isn't necessarily the best one. There could be hidden costs.
  • Don't be tempted by special cash deals to ‘save VAT'. This is illegal.
  • Beware of paying money upfront before any work is carried out.
  • Use a standard contract for substantial work. Protect yourself and your builder beforehand by making sure that the rights and obligations of both contracting parties are clear.
  • Check your insurance liabilities.
  • Avoid impulsive changes of mind and/or extra work. These may be costly.
  • "Caveat Emptor" - Buyer beware.
For detailed information relating to the above points, click through on the following link:

Ernest Roper

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Please don't taint their images unjustly”

India Tower Mumbai

I recently moderated the following comment for public view relating to a blog post titled “Green Building, the Darker Side”.

“The comments placed by Hameed against DB realty are bogus, obviously they were illegal tenants living in a plot that didn't belong to them. 5 generations or not, they lived on land they didn't own. This is very common in Mumbai and only way to evict is forceful eviction. Mumbai has clear land laws, he should pursue the courts and if he is truthful he should win the case. Obviously since he's an illegal, he can't win the case.

DB realty has done a lot for Mumbai in terms in innovation and development. Please don't taint their images unjustly.”

As it turns out the article it refers to was uploaded on 7 December 2009 and admittedly, other than being embarrassed by the lame title which vaguely rang a bell, I had no recollection of what the offending commentary was about.

Needless to say this piqued my curiosity and prompted me to resurrect the old post and once you are able to put it into perspective, it tells a very interesting tale of strong arm tactics, allegedly enforced by the developers of India’s most iconic green building. To access the original piece, click on one of the links provided.

In parting...

Something that never sits well with me are people who post comments or write to publications under the guise of anonymous. What it says is that the author doesn't have the courage of their convictions. Nonetheless whoever you are, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you, for giving my blog an international flavour. :)

Ernest Roper | Webmaster


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2011 Excellence in Construction Entry Forms

In the latest edition of our e-newsletter “Builders News & Views”, Association Executive Director Brandon Abdinor makes it known that entries for the 2011 Excellence in Construction Awards are being invited. He asks that members who have been involved in well built projects in the past three years please give consideration to entering. He further states that the effort and cost is minimal, and that the rewards are potentially huge.

It is important to keep mind that there are a wide variety of categories, so regardless of size or scope of the work you do, if you are a quality builder, you are in with a good chance of receiving recognition.

As Brandon alluded to, there is a tremendous amount of free publicity that goes along with it. Included is double page exposure in the Mercury as well as coverage in other publications and let’s not forget, your project gets given a permanent place among the Excellence in Construction Awards pages on We also publish a winners glossy brochure booklet each year, which gets sent to all members as well as to industry stakeholders.

To view previous winners and to download entry forms, CLICK HERE

Ernest Roper | Webmaster


Monday, April 4, 2011

The Miracle of the Microchip

The first microprocessor called 4004, was a silicon chip barely the size of a fingernail but it matched the computing power of ENIAC, the world`s first working electronic digital computer built during 1946 which filled an entire room.

The concept of 4004 commenced in 1969 when Ted Hoff, born during 1937, worked at Intel. A Japanese calculator manufacturer approached Intel to produce an integrated circuit in the form of a computer chip, needed for its new programmable calculators.

Hoff later recalled, "The calculators required a large number of chips, all of them quite expensive and it looked, quite frankly, as if it would tax all our design capability". Faced with this problem they came up with the ingenious solution of placing all the computing circuitry on one chip, and so the first programmable computer on a tiny chip, was born. Unlike the chips of the time, it was not hardwired for specific tasks. It worked with a set of instructions (software) to do its task.

Hoff and his colleagues at Intel, Frederico Faggin and Stanley Mazor, planned to place 4004 transistors on the chip, and that is why they called it the 4004. The end product had about 2300 transistors, for the technical minded, a speed of 108 kilohertz and a 4-bit data bus. By 1979 Intel produced the 8088 (29 000 transistors, 4.77 mega-hertz, 8 bit data bus) having enough power to run IBM`s first personal computer launched in 1981.

As it is often said ---the rest is history.

Pieter Rautenbach


Friday, April 1, 2011

When Google does it for you!

For a small company starting out, there are a number of very good reasons why, it is wise to use existing Google infrastructure to meet your e-mail requirements.

It is well documented that 70% of all email is now spam/malware? This is an insidious problem and causes damage to hardware, loss of productivity, breaches in information security, fraud and theft.

The problem from an anti-spam management policy is that if you are too aggressive with respect to the measures you put in place, you get too many false positives – i.e. you start blocking legitimate email. The problem will therefore never go away as spammers try to work cleverly around spam protection and technology companies in turn, try and defeat the spam artists.

This is one of the main reasons why I would recommend that you use gmail (Google mail). Although gmail is not infallible, I get far less spam to my personal gmail account, and pay nothing for this service.

Just some food for thought .......

Ernest Roper | Webmaster