Wednesday, December 14, 2011

South Coast Yearend Function

Members of Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal South Coast region each year get together for a yearend function to celebrate the season with fellow colleagues in the Industry. It is a fantastic tradition that builds camaraderie by allowing members to network among each other in a festive and relaxed environment.

This year it was held at the Margate Hotel where as is customary, the floating trophy for South Coast Member of the Year was awarded. With support of the Association the main criteria, the award is given to the member deemed to have been most active in the region throughout the year. The winner is determined by South Coast Regional Manager Hans Stols and Chairmen Thys Blom and in 2011, it went to Mike Bekker of MCB construction.

In the past we have uploaded images from meetings and events as web album slide shows embedded directly into the blog post. This week we launched our facebook page and as will be the way going forward, the images are available for viewing in our facebook photographs menu.

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Ernest Roper
Regional Manager Durban


Monday, December 12, 2011

Some Thoughts on PAIA

For those who perhaps still aren’t aware, Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 (PAIA) requires that all businesses submit a manual to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) by 31 December 2011, in both electronic and hard copy format. They are essentially seeking affirmation on the part of business, as to how their records can be accessed.

There are number of people offering their services looking to make a quick buck out of this, it seems the going rate for outsourcing is R1000. My wife owns a small business and the task has been delegated, I promised her I would work on it and send it off while on leave from the 16th.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely tempted to pay the 1K and get somebody else to do it, however after having done a bit research, I really believe this is something I can do myself so why waste the money.

If you haven’t yet made the effort and also intend doing it yourself, may prove a handy guideline, there is also plenty of useful information on

Interestingly, there may yet be another deadline extension. reports that the Commission has been advised that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is considering it. Private bodies are requested to monitor the website of the South African Human Rights Commission which will carry a notice on the status of the exemption once they have received it.

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


Friday, December 9, 2011

Safety on the Roads

Every year Arrive Alive wishes road users a safe happy festive season and shares some suggestions on how to maintain safety on our roads. We urge all members and readers to please take heed of the following Arrive Alive pointers:
  1. Obey the rules of the road and carry you drivers license with you.
  2. Plan the route to your holiday destination and give your self enough time to reach the destination
  3. Make sure that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition before departure. All lights and indicators, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, exhaust system and tyres should be carefully examined for faults.
  4. Do not overload.
  5. Try to avoid driving after dark if possible.
  6. Have a good rest before you embark on your journey
  7. Take safety breaks every 2 hours or 200km
  8. Do not drink and drive
  9. Try to recognize potentially dangerous drivers on and pedestrians alongside the road and keep well clear of them
  10. Be visible – drive with your lights on
  11. Headlights should be dipped well before an approaching vehicle is within range of the main beam.
  12. Always wear your seat belt and see that everyone in the car is wearing theirs.
  13. Drive defensively
  14. Stay within the speed limit at all times
  15. Only overtake when it is absolutely safe to do so
  16. Maintain at least a 2 second following distance - this distance should be increased at night, in foggy or rainy conditions and when the road is wet.
  17. Expect others not to be as obedient to the law as yourself
  18. Be courteous towards fellow road users - keep your temper and resist the temptation to retaliate
Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tender Notices Online

Had a very interesting conversation today with one of our regional managers who informed me of how much it costs to subscribe to a certain tender notification service. It turns out it isn’t cheap.

The Association appreciates how important it is for those operating within the Construction Industry to source and submit tenders. As a service to our members we do extensive research across the province, and upload tender notices on a daily bases pertaining to Civil, Electrical and Construction. The information is accessed in a password protected section of our website and only members are given passwords.

Information is obtained from the Natal Mercury, The Tribune, The Natal Witness, The Zululand Observer and The South Coast Herald, as well as the Government Gazette. The data is carefully compiled and placed in an easily accessible and easy to read Format.

In addition to this service, there is a whole host of other services we also provide to our members. I do find it fascinating that our annual membership fee is considerably less, than it costs to subscribe to an online tender notification service, our members get so much more for their money though.

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


Monday, December 5, 2011 Update

Uploading of member pages is an ongoing process and I have just completed a batch for Zululand based members. For those who aren’t familiar with our ‘Find a Builder’ module, click here for more information.

You will notice from pages listed below (if you follow their Link) that many of them don’t have images displayed. The reason is that the member either didn’t provide us with images or they were of a poor quality and therefore weren’t used.

A picture paints a thousand words and I would have say from a visual perspective, Phezulu Projects is one of my favourites. Members who don’t have images displayed are welcome to forward some through to me, and I will happily add them in.

Pages recently uploaded:

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Light Bulb Side of Green Building

"Humour is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest natural resources, which must be preserved at all cost." —James Thurber

With Cop 17 not going to well and lack of political will evident, there is perhaps reason for doom and gloom. With environmental matters topping our list of concerns, if we are to follow Thurber's lead, we of course naturally progress to green building light bulb jokes..... Naturally!

Before we proceed, a bit of background information may prove necessary. LEED is the acronym for ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’. It is essentially a rating systems developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighbourhoods.


How many daylighting consultants does it take to change a light bulb?
None—the sun will be back up in exactly 10 hours.

How many LEED Accredited Professionals does it take to change a light bulb?
Four—one to tell you how to earn LEED points by changing it, one to change it, one to document the change, and one to deliver the check to the U.S. Green Building Council for certifying the change.

How many product manufacturers does it take to change a light bulb?
10,001. Ten thousand to resist the change for as long as possible, and then the same 10,000 to tell you how many LEED points you can earn from making the change with their product. Oh, and one to change it.

How many occupants does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They'd rather curse the broken light bulb, the electrician, the landlord, and the architect.

How much actual energy performance data does it take to change a light bulb?
Don't know—we're still waiting for information from the engineer, who's waiting for information from the utility, who won't provide information until a submeter is installed, and the owner decided not to pay for it.

How many salvage contractors does it take to change a light bulb?
Two—one to change it, and one to sell the broken light bulb as aggregate for landscaping around the new light bulb.

How many code officials does it take to change a light bulb?
CHANGE?! I think not.

How many life-cycle assessment experts does it take to change a light bulb?
Two—one to change it, and one to change it back again after more data has come in.

How many LEED credits does it take to change a light bulb?
One—but you need a writer, 18 committee members representing manufacturers, government, the environmental community, the social justice community, and the health and safety community, three draft versions, two public comment periods, one life-cycle analysis, one pilot period with 100 pilot light bulbs, one member ballot, and one competing system with completely different standards.

How many State of California regulations does it take to change a light bulb?
Three—one to require that you change the light bulb, one to warn you that changing it could cause cancer, and one to ban disposal of the old light bulb.

How many inventors of new lighting technology does it take to change a light bulb?
It just looks like it's broken—the color temperature on these is in the Celsius scale.

How many Forest Stewardship Council-certified light bulbs does it take to change a light bulb?
None—the indigenous light bulb population won't allow it. And that new light bulb isn't certified for chain-of-custody, is it?

How much greenwashing does it take to change a light bulb?
Don't change at all. Just fund an "independent" organization, use it to write a "sustainability" standard, and put this cool planet logo on the same old light bulb.

How many advocates for market transformation does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one to write a green light bulb standard, changing the light bulb market forever. Oh, and one to specify a light bulb certified under that standard; one to start a foundation to subsidize purchases of the certified light bulbs; one to search the ends of the Earth for the actual product; one to buy it, and one to change it.

How many William McDonoughs does it take to change a light bulb?
The real question is, how do we love all the light bulbs of all species for all time? Let's eliminate the concept of the broken light bulb.

How many commissioning agents does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to note the problems with the light bulb, the design of the lighting controls, the lightshelves, and the shading system, and one to change the light bulb.

How many owner's representatives does it take to change a light bulb?
Sorry, that item has been value-engineered out!

How many U.S. Green Building Council Cascadia Chapter members does it take to change a light bulb?
You can change the light bulb, but only if there was already a light bulb in that socket before, if you use a light bulb with no PVC, formaldehyde, or halogenated flame retardants, and if the new light bulb is beautiful and inspiring.

How many natural builders does it take to change a light bulb?
Two—one to change it, and one to sculpt a decorative mud-and-straw wall around the old light bulb.

How many lighting designers does it take to change a light bulb?
Uh... "light bulb"? That's a lamp, what you are calling a "socket" is a luminaire, and I think you'd get better efficacy if you changed the ballast instead.

How many Environmental Building News editors does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change it, and one to write, "One billion light bulbs will be changed in 2008, according to U.S. Department of Energy statistics. It's critically important that we use energy-efficiency light bulbs to replace the broken ones, but unfortunately, many light bulbs don't meet our GreenSpec standards, and changing light bulbs entails numerous health and environmental risks that you have never heard of before. In this article, we will examine the history of the light bulb, from its origins with tungsten filament..."

How many LEED AP exam takers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Let's see... EA Credit 1, EA Credit 5, MR Credit 2 if you recycle it, and maybe SS Credit 8, depending on the location. Sorry... what was the question?

Green building humour courtesy of Tristan Roberts and

Ernest Roper
Durban Regional Manager