Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Going out with a bang

As we head into the silly season, members and readers are urged to keep safe and if you have a tendency to indulge in alcohol, remember to drink responsibly. With this in mind, we bring you a true life account of an incident that took place involving the deadliest of combinations, alcohol, fireworks and two morons out celebrating the coming of the New Year.

According to, on New Year's Eve 2002, a South American gentleman named Antonio and a friend, consumed copious amounts of Pinga before coming up with an idea for their own variation of Russian Roulette. (Pinga is a traditional Brazilian liquor high in alcohol content.)

Their adaptation consisted of placing fireworks in their mouths, lighting the fuses and competing to see who would hold out for longest, before spitting it out. The person who discarded the explosive closest to the point of detonation, was to be declared the victor.

As it turned out Antonio was declared all-time champion of Fireworks Russian Roulette, making his courage and bravery the focus of the eulogy, given at his funeral.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A dog of a structure!

If somebody were to show you the above image and tell you that somewhere in the world, there is B&B accommodation shaped like a giant beagle dog, it would probably leave you with more questions than answers.

The beagle-themed B&B is located in Cottonwood, Idaho USA and sleeps up to four guests at a time. The dog's head houses a loft bedroom and an alcove within the muzzle and also boasts a toilet disguised as a fire hydrant. The larger beagle, named Sweet Willy, is 30 foot tall, 34 foot long and 14 foot wide. It's made of wood and painted stucco, with flaps of carpeting for ears.

Taking into consideration all of the above, there are a number of questions that come to mind:
  1. What possessed them? Did they wake one morning after a weird dream about living in a giant dog and say, “YES WE CAN”?
  2. What type of person chooses to build a giant dog? (The owners are apparently chainsaw artists).
  3. Does the sign attached to the hind leg say no dogs allowed? 
  4. Is this where men go to sleep when their wives tell them they’re in the doghouse?
  5. Do you enter via the tail region?  Mmmmm
  6. Is this the big dog that former Springbok rugby coach Peter de Villiers was referring to when he famously said, “if you want to run with the big dogs, then sometimes you have to lift your leg" ?
To me the whole thing seems utterly ridiculous, however to be fair, from what I’ve seen on the internet, those who have actually been there have only good things to say, so who knows, perhaps I’m barking up wrong tree. 

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Rather Unusual Occupational Fatality

In "The Laughing Corpse", a book about a 300-year-old zombie, Laurell K. Hamilton wrote “Stupidity isn't punishable by death. If it was, there would be a hell of a population drop".  While countless people would agree with that statement, when it comes to stupidity, self inflicted death is often the net result. This is another great example of it:

In January 2000, a truck carrying a load of broccoli from Los Angeles to Ohio hadn't reached its destination and its owners opened an inquiry with the police. In the northern hemisphere January is a winter month and the seemingly abandoned truck was located four days later in freezing conditions. Authorities thawed and refueled the vehicle and found that apart from an empty tank, the lorry had no mechanical problems.

Upon discovering seven bricks of marijuana among the driver's belongings, the police became exceedingly interested in his whereabouts and initiated a search. The broccoli was on pallets and it wasn't before too long, that a patrolman noticed a pair of feet sticking out above them.

The cargo was quickly unloaded in the cold Ohio winter and the frozen body of the driver was found standing precisely upside down, attached to the floor of the trailer by his head. With the help of space heaters, the unlucky stiff was eventually pried off the floor, his corpse however had to be turned on its side to be loaded into the rescue squad vehicle, as his frozen arm was sticking out and wouldn't fit through the door.

A stash of cocaine was also found between the pallets and the Cuyahoga County coroner's office determined that the man was most likely trying to retrieve it when he fell and knocked himself unconscious. He soon suffered from a fatal case of hypothermia and died in the icy air.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Henry Ford's Heroic Failure

Henry Ford - 1919

Entrepreneur extraordinaire Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, was prone to ingenious ideas and wasn't shy to drive them forward. Ford had a tremendous ability to think out of the box and to turn his dreams into reality. He's sterling legacy was however marred by his unwavering belief in an absurdly large scale construction project called Fordlândia, which was destined to fail from the outset.

Believing he could transplant American culture and industry into the Brazilian jungle, in 1929 Ford began construction of the town of Fordlândia, located in the Amazon rainforest. The objective was to get closer to the raw materials he required while crippling the rubber barons who controlled these supplies.

Ford had negotiated a deal with the Brazilian government granting his newly formed Companhia Industrial do Brasil a concession of 10,000 km² of land, in exchange for a 9% interest in the profits generated. 

Fordlândia was designed to be a beacon of Prohibition-era American culture, a Disneyland of sorts, with factories shaping the landscape. What Ford did not anticipate was the malaria-carrying mosquitoes, hot weather and hostility, between American and Brazilian workers.
Not employing the services of an expert botanist proved to be the project's biggest failing. The topsoil, exposed by aggressive land clearance quickly disappeared, leaving overcrowded rubber saplings to starve and die in impossibly poor soil. They also became susceptible to fungal infestation.

Ford forbade alcohol, women and tobacco within the town, including inside the workers' own homes. The inhabitants circumvented this prohibition by paddling out to merchant riverboats moored beyond town jurisdiction and a settlement was established five miles upstream on the "Island of Innocence" with bars, nightclubs and brothels.

Ford changed tack and relocated downstream to Belterra, where better weather conditions for the growing of rubber existed. By 1945, after the advent of synthetic rubber, the world demand for natural rubber ceased to exist and Ford's investment opportunity dried up virtually overnight, without ever having produced for Ford motor-vehicle tyres.

Today, Fordlândia is a spooky, American-style mirror world decaying in the jungle.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services manager


Monday, October 7, 2013

America's Secret City of the 40's

The annals of history tell of an extraordinary development which commenced in late 1942 that involved thousands of people who had no inclination as to what it was they were contributing towards.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers purchased 59,000 acres of countryside northwest of Knoxville, Tennessee, for purposes of development. To put it into perspective, it was enough land to build four cities the size of Manhattan on it. 

Three massive facilities were built of which one was deemed to be the largest building in the world at the time.

75,000 people flooded in and began work which brought with it housing developments that facilitated the growth of a town that would later become Oak Ridge. During the war years the mass number of jobs it created must have seemed exceedingly positive, yet nobody knew exactly what the purpose of the facility was, including the bulk of those who worked there.

All designations were on a need to know bases and workers were limited to their specific function. If for example your job was to manufacture washers, you were expected to produce washers and not ask questions beyond that. At the time the town didn't appear on any maps either.

In less than four years, the Army engineers had built nearly 10,000 homes, 90 two-story dormitories, 5,000 trailers, barracks and huts for 16,000 people, a dozen shopping centres, nine schools, two chapels and the nation's ninth-largest bus system.

The manner in which the world eventually learn of its secret was through the mass media in the wake of the atomic bombs, dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The facility was indeed the birth place the atomic bomb (home to the Manhattan Project) and posters that donned the facility at the time read: "What you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here." 

Image: (Wikipedia) Workers leaving the Manhattan Project's Y-12 plant at shift changing time, 1945 (US government photo by Ed Westcott)

Ernest Roper
Membership Services  Manager


Friday, September 13, 2013

When Geological Instability is Ignored

During the 1920s, Italian energy company SADE, embarked upon a project to build a massive dam in the valley of the Vajont River. It took decades to build and during the construction period SADE assured authorities that all the proper studies had been conducted, including past landslides.

At the time there were experts around who were of the opinion that the side of neighbouring Monte Toc Mountain, would collapse into the basin if it were to be dammed it up. SADE however refuted these claims and wrapped up construction in 1959. They began filling the damn in 1960.

A series of minor landslides soon followed and SADE played down all talk of imminent disaster.

A year later, five major earthquakes were reported which SADE also played down citing the accepted scientific fact that earthquakes never strike in the same place twice. They then proceeded to fill the basin to maximum level. Meanwhile, the mountain itself was also shifting downward at a rate of a 1 meter a day.

In 1963 after fate had decided it had been tempted enough, rain joined forces with a massive landslide into the reservoir which created a 750-foot tall wave, that wiped out the villages of Erto and Casso.

The Italian government which owned the dam at the time blamed it on an act of God and after a lengthy trial, SADE was held responsible but never forced to pay damages.

Article reference: 
Image Source: Wikipedia

Ernest Roper
 Membership Service manager


Monday, August 26, 2013

Talisman Hire at UCI MTB World Championships

Association Member Talisman Hire is to play an important part in the UCI World Mountain Biking Championships taking place at the Cascades Mall Mountain Biking Track in Pietermaritzburg this week. 

Mountain biking professionals from all over the world will be showcasing their skills by launching themselves off the back of a Talisman delivery vehicle, onto the top bar of a JCB 1.2 tonne roller. The cyclists then jump half a metre onto a 2M high scaffolding structure provided by Talisman Hire, specifically designed and built for this event.  

The UCI World Championships is expected to attract crowds exceeding 15 000 and offers must see coverage on SuperSport and SABC. This sponsorship has been a welcomed opportunity for the Franchise Group who opened their Talisman Pietermaritzburg Branch in March of this year and has since introduced JCB 900, 1.2 and 1.6 tonne JCB rollers into their fleet.

Ernest Roper
Membership Service Manager


Monday, August 19, 2013

A Tidal Wave of Molasses

Image Source: Wikipedia

Albeit that this happened almost a century ago, it still seems unreal and serves as fantastic example of the potential for enormous disaster, when contractors take short cuts. 
In 1918 a contractor named Aurthur Jell built a molasses storage tank in the North End of Boston. He never bothered to check his tank for leaks leaving the locals to try and plug the many cracks that appeared.

As more leaks appeared, the sight of molasses oozing from the cracks should have served as a warning of the disaster to follow. Perhaps not realising the gravity of it, there answer was to hide the cracks by painting the tank a molasses shade of brown.

January of 1919 was unseasonably warm. As the fermentation process in the tank continued to produce carbon monoxide, the pressure inside continued to build, causing the cracks within the tank to expand. Eventually the rivets shot out of the structure, unleashing a 15-foot tall tidal wave that covered Boston.

The wave travelled through the city at 35 miles an hour, lifting a train off the tracks and crushing buildings in its sweet, sticky fury. The hot air released from the tanks also created a blast wave that reportedly threw vehicles off the road.

The military, police and the Red Cross joined in on the rescue effort, and the final toll would be 21 deaths, countless injuries and 87,000 man hours of the nastiest cleanup outside of an oil tanker spill.

The owners of the tank tried to pin the explosion on anarchists but in the end they were found liable and were forced to pay damages. The tank was never rebuilt, but to this day some Boston residents claim you can still smell the molasses on hot summer days.

Information Source: article By Ben Dennison on

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Be smart with your phone

There are many smartphone users around (including myself), who have moved away from Blackberry in favour of either a Samsung or Apple product. The advantage of having a Blackberry of course was that their BIS/BES packages meant that one didn’t really have to monitor data usage, as bandwidth was unlimited.

The transition to non-Blackberry packages means that one must either monitor data usage or face the possibility of a nasty surprise when the monthly debit order goes off.

Below are some useful tips to help limit your bandwidth usage:
  1. Don’t download/update apps whilst on mobile. Save it for wifi hotspots where it won't affect your bundle.
  2. Don’t use data intensive services like streaming video (youtube) or audio whilst on mobile. Again, save it for wifi hotspots and if you don't have wireless ADSL at home, it may be worth your while getting it.
  3. Make sure (if possible) that when you are in range of a wireless signal you use it – i.e. at work/home/coffee shops with free wifi etc
  4. If you have a Samsung phone, sign up for the 'Always On' 1GB per month free wifi deal – this is a free wifi network to Samsung users and is available in Mugg and Beans, Airports, Hotels etc
Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Friday, July 26, 2013

Paula Leah - Wins Zululand Business Award

Paula Leah (right) with collegue Brenda Ncube

Congratulations to Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal Zululand Area Manager Paula Leah on winning the Zululand Business Woman of the Year Award in the Category of Corporate.

Leading up to the event, in an interview with the Zululand Observer Paula cited the following as the secret to her success:

"There is no manual to achieving success but I have learnt a few things along the way. Having a positive attitude to life and work, being focused passionate and loving what you do does have an impact on the decisions you make. Plan far enough ahead and set achievable goals.

Working together with your staff as a team to reach the company's strategic objectives, and sharing the same vision is key, along with having the support of family and friends."

From all your Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal colleagues:

Well Done Paula !!!!!!

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, July 15, 2013

The rocket hotel that never took off

Image by Taedong Travel  

The Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea was designed to resemble a giant rocket which some believe was intended to serve as a symbol of the countries military ambitions. The world's most bizarre hotel has 105 stories and 3,000 rooms but to date, has never had a guest stay in it.

Construction on the concrete hulk began in 1987 but stalled in 1992 when North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union. The massive structure which looms over the skyline in Pyongyang is impossible to miss and is essentially a giant empty shell.
The halt in construction, rumours of problems and the uncertainty of its future, led media sources to dub it "The Worst Building in the World", "Hotel of Doom" and "Phantom Hotel".

While mocked-up images of the completed hotel had appeared on North Korean stamps during the initial construction period, the North Korean government chose to disregard the building's existence, during the construction hiatus.

Even though it dominates the Pyongyang skyline making it impossible to ignore, the government at the time manipulated it out of official photographs and excluded it from printed maps.

Today it still looms over the city of  Pyongyang amidst rumours that there are plans afoot to resurrect the project.

Sources: Wikipedia &

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Talisman Hire - Important Roll at Mr Price Pro

From 1-7 July 2013, Association Member Talisman Hire Ballito, made their way to the beach at dawn to put up gazebo`s, wind breakers and surf competition gear for the Mr Price Pro 2013, surfing competition.This year the event was won by Australian Julian Wilson with Jordy Smith of Cape Town, taking a narrow second.

Talisman sponsored the sled that was used by Dolphin Coast Water Patrol and provided Gazebo`s as well as wind breakers to them, which helped ensure a safe and successful occasion.

The seven day event included a festival of live bands and entertainment for surfing enthusiasts from around the world. Talisman expressed gratitude to Mr Price for allowing them the opportunity to play a role. "It was a wonderful experience to engage with the general public who got to know our staff and how committed we are to sport development and safety", said Talisman Business Development Manager Jane Foster.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

When Do-it Yourself Gets Totally Out of Hand

If you fully understand how a pesky do-it yourself home improvement job can get totally out of hand and turn your home into the biggest ugliest and tallest wooden monstrosity in all of Russia, your name is probably Nikolai Sutyagin.

Nikolai Sutyagin a resident of Arkhangelsk Russia, was once the proud owner of the world's largest single-family wooden home. What started out as a two storey wooden house, ended up as a 144-foot (43.9-meter) homemade skyscraper, the likes of which had never been seen before. Our intrepid Russian spent 15 years adding layer after layer to the top of his house and eventually, it towered over the neighbourhood and could be seen from far and wide.

While local building code in Arkhangelsk stipulates that no wooden structure can be higher than two floors, Nikolai wasn't to be deterred as he had a cunning plan to thwart authorities. He a built a roof over the second floor and claimed that everything above it was for decorative purposes.  Needless to say, the Russian authorities did not entertain it and in 2008, the city of Arkhangelsk declared the house a fire hazard and had it demolished.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, July 1, 2013

Health Tip - From

Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal runs a mobile clinic which allows us to conduct medicals onsite. The following health tip is brought to you by   

How much coffee should I drink?

Don’t we all like a nice cup of coffee to start the day with?  How much caffeine should be just enough for our health?  There is no conclusive evidence to show that caffeine intake is significantly harmful to our health, but there is still some negative effects associated with it.  Here are some health facts on the positive and the negative of caffeine intake.

  • Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant and can have some positive effects on the human body.
  • An improvement in sporting performance
  • Increased alertness
  • Reduction in fatigue
  • Potentially lifting a person’s mood
  • Coffee and tea also contain some antioxidants which have positive effects on heart health

Increased amounts of caffeine lead to dependency due to increased tolerance and hence the need for greater amounts to gain the same stimulatory benefits.
Heavy users who have to go without can experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and fatigue.
Too much caffeine can produce:
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Upset stomach
  • Increased urine production causing dehydration
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • Also associated with elevated blood pressure in sensitive persons
How much is just the “right” amount of caffeine for a day?
The recommendation for safe drinking levels is 500mg per day, less for those with heart conditions, elevated blood pressure, and pregnant women. The average cup of instant coffee contains between 80 and 100mg/cup. The stronger the coffee the more caffeine it contains. Tea usually has less caffeine than this, except if it is very strongly brewed

Miekie Viljoen 
Occupational Nurse | Mobile Clinic


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

38 Years of Construction to Appease Ghosts

The Winchester Mystery House is a well-known mansion in Northern California. It was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester, inventor of the famous Winchester Rifle. 

The property was continuously under construction for 38 years and is allegedly haunted. Under Winchester's day-to-day guidance, its "from-the-ground-up" construction proceeded around the clock, without interruption, from 1884 until her death on September 5, 1922, at which time work immediately ceased. The cost for such constant building has been estimated at about US $5.5 million which in 1922, would have been the equivalent of $75 million by today's standards.

The Queen Anne Style Victorian mansion is renowned for its size and utter lack of any master building plan. It is popular belief that Ms Winchester considered the house to be possessed by those who had fallen victim to Winchester rifles and that only continuous construction, would appease the ghosts that still supposedly haunt it. 


Ernest Roper
Membership Services


Monday, June 3, 2013

Construction Worker Saved By Bubble Wrap

I was surfing the net looking for some light-hearted industry related news when I came across this gem on the Huffington Post website,

"Just one week after Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, a Boston construction worker was saved from a gruesome fate when his 30-foot fall was broken by the stuff, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department told WCVB.

Footage of the scene indicates the lifesaving "bubble wrap," as the spokesman called it, was not the familiar poppable packing material, but an off-white material used to cover scaffolding at the building where the man was working Monday.

The 38-year-old, whose name has not been released, landed on a pile of the material on the ground.

The fall's impact left him stuck in the bubble wrap, and firefighters had to cut him out. He was checked into a hospital for shoulder and back injuries.

Bubble wrap -- in any form -- does a lot of good for this world. Last week, students in New Jersey set a new Guinness World Record for most people simultaneously popping bubble wrap, and, in doing so, raised money for the Sandy Hook Elementary School fund in Newtown, Conn.

In December, an Italian artist set out to rid Milan of stress by creating "anti-stress" bubble wrap-popping stations at bus stops."

So what thoughts do we take away from this?

Is there really such a thing as Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day and if so WHY?

Are there other arbitrary inanimate items that are celebrated in this manner say paper clips, post it notes, washing up liquid......

Can you really get stuck in bubble wrap and if you were to, regardless of the life saving circumstances, would you tell people? "I got stuck in bubble wrap; the fire-fighters had to cut me out".

"Bubble wrap -- in any form -- does a lot of good for this world", who is the moron being quoted here? Perhaps he/she doesn't know that the stuff is generally made from non degrading plastic which is manufactured from crude oil. It is horrendously bad for the environment, on so many levels. 

”Students in New Jersey set a new Guinness World Record for most people simultaneously popping bubble wrap". That's what students do for fun in New Jersey? Take a leaf from their book UCT!

Stress in Italy - who knew? 

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Department


Friday, May 31, 2013

Our Durban Golf Day

The Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal annual Durban Golf Day is scheduled to take place on Friday 19 July and this year the event will be held at Beachwood Country Club.

Albeit that we haven't yet sent out the invites, people have been making inquiries and we have already confirmed six bookings for it. 

With claim to the coveted Dulux Trophy at stake (see 2012 article), we will no doubt have a full field again this year competing for the honour of holding it up.

We are also pleased to be back at Beachwood as it is one of the top courses in Durban, and they are also exceedingly willing to cater to our requirements.

To avoid disappointment book early by giving Tanya Leeuw a call on 031 266 7070.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager 


Monday, May 20, 2013

What happens in Vegas ....

Highly intelligent people sometimes do astonishingly dumb things, particularly if there is alcohol involved and in extreme cases such as this one, the net result is a bright future never to be realised.

Minutes before midnight on the eve of the millennium, a Stanford graduate climbed to the top of a street light in front of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel in Nevada, and waved to the enthusiastic revellers below. At midnight he slipped and in an effort to break his fall, grabbed the wires that were supplying the electricity to the street light. Suddenly he was conducting more than just the cheering crowd. A camera caught his foolhardy climb and subsequent plunge to the concrete below. Whether he died from electrocution or from the 30-foot fall is unknown, either way, he never got to enjoy his pending wealth.

The young graduate was at the time working at a Silicon Valley start-up company scheduled to go public in the summer. He stood to make a substantial profit with his options, until they were voided by his untimely death.

Evidently, a sterling academic pedigree is no guarantee of common sense.


Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, May 13, 2013

Long Serving Members

The Association was established in 1901 and boasts a proud and interesting history. A lot has occurred over the last 112 years and for those who hold a fascination for what came before, it is worth visiting the "About Us "pages on, where our history is very well documented.

It is interesting to note that of our current membership base, there are those that have been with us a very long time. The list below is of our longest serving members.
  • Massbuild (Pty) Ltd t/s Builders Trade Depot - 1901
  • Smith & Winfield - 1918
  • Fraser & Chalmers S.A Pty Ltd - 1923
  • G. Marnoch & Sons - 1925
  • Otis Pty Ltd - 1930
  • J.T. Ross (Pty) Ltd - 1937
  • Pienaar & Jonson Pty Ltd - 1941
  • Murray & Roberts Construction (Pty) Ltd - 1945
  • Esorfranki Construction - 1947
  • Lionel Madsen Pty Ltd - 1948
  • Haines Construction - 1948
  • Norvo Construction Pty Ltd - 1950
  • Saint-Gobain Construction Products SA (Pty) Ltd - 1951
  • AVENG Grinaker-LTD - 1957
  • Masonite Africa Ltd - 1958
Ernest Roper
membership Services Manager

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Nail Grave

It would appear that in China the strategy to overcome people who refuse to sell property that is required for development purposes is to simply bully them into submission. It does however seem that a small group of people have emerged who are literally standing their ground and in spite of bizarre and noisy happenings going on around them, they remain strong-willed.

These property owners are known as "Nail Householders" referring to a stubborn nail that is difficult to remove from old wood. Rather than allowing this to stand in the way of progress, full blown construction surrounds these properties and they are literally left with a house, on a mound, in the centre of a construction site.

Visually speaking, these nail houses make for a very odd looking spectacle and to further add to the weirdness of it all, in December 2012, reports of a "Nail Grave" began emerging in the media.

The city of Taiyuan is home to more than four million people and is considered one of China's great industrial cities.

Local inhabitants were paid to move the remains of their loved ones from a local cemetery to make way for a development project. One family refused and a sole grave now remains on a mound of earth, 10 meters up in the sky as construction takes place around it.

Asian media outlets reported it to be the latest act of resistance, against land dispossession from Chinese people.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Friday, April 26, 2013

We Welcome Our New Members

We are pleased to welcome and announce the following new members who joined the Association in April 2013:

Ordinary Members
  • Abaphumeleli Trading 457 CC t/a C.V Steel & Aluminium, Durban
  • Centrelink Investments t/a Centrelink Construction, Pietermaritzburg
  • Melmoth Cartage & Cement Projects CC, Zululand
  • Autar Developers and Contractors, Newcastle
  • Siyaya Construction CC t/a Siyaya Construction, Newcastle   
Associate Members
  • Pinetown Casting Suppliers CC, Durban
  • Emedu Consulting CC, Durban
  • Akfix Africa (Pty) Ltd, Durban
  • Duo Max Resolutions (Pty) Ltd t/a D’max, Durban
  • Helega Estates CC t/a Ecosystems, Zululand
  • Peri Formwork Scaffolding Engineering, Zululand
 Shelly Kupferman
Administration Manager


Monday, April 22, 2013

Race Against Impending Disaster

In the early 1970's architect William LeMessurier had a unique obstacle to overcome when planning the construction of New York's Citigroup Center. 

St. Peter's Lutheran Church occupied the northwest corner of the proposed building site and permission was granted to Citicorp, to demolish the old structure and to go ahead with the skyscraper on condition that a new church was built on the same corner, with no physical connection to the building. The church essentially wanted to remain where they were as a standalone structure.

In order to meet this requirement, the skyscraper would somehow have to be suspended in the air. Rather than admitting defeat, LeMessurier opted instead to design an entire building that hung above a quaint little church.

The structure had been built on stilts before Engineer Joel Weinstein, determined that quartering winds (winds that strike the corners of the building, rather than the flat faces) would result in far more loading force than initially thought. LeMessurier himself looked into it and discovered that rather than wind joints being welded on, as he had ordered in the design, the plans were instead switched to bolts during the construction phase.

With the bolts in place instead of welds, experts predicted that on an average of every 55 years, New York City was hit by a storm that could topple it over. To make matters worse, in the event that the tuned mass damper inside it failed, the average dropped to every 16 years.

Amazingly the initial reaction to this discovery was to keep it secret. The area was not evacuated at the onset of storms and people weren't warned of impending disaster. Instead, a press release was sent out stating that the building was in no danger at all. The only action taken which took into account the immediate safety of the public, was a request that the Red Cross create secret emergency procedures in the event of a collapse. 

In a deadly race against the impending hurricane season, construction workers who only operated at night, again to keep it secret, hastily welded the joints every evening. That year, Hurricane Ella headed right toward New York City and the storm most certainly would have created winds fast enough to topple the building however by a huge stroke of luck, Ella changed course and the building was repaired without incident.

Had the building collapsed, due to the domino effect The Red Cross estimated the death toll at a staggering 200,000 people, with 156 city blocks taking further damage.

Source: and

Ernest Roper
membership Services Manager


Monday, April 15, 2013

Inspecting a Building Under Construction

We recently received an email from a member of the public wanting to know who is responsible for inspecting a building that is under construction. Our exceedingly helpful and knowledgeable Building Services Manager Ross Stembridge, was kind enough to provide the following answer.

In KwaZulu-Natal, this is the process for buildings under construction:

Domestic House

When the building plans are approved by the local authority, a building inspector is allocated to the building project. The following items will be inspected:
  • Adherence to the approved plans
  • Ground and founding conditions
  • Foundation inspection
  • Surface bed inspection including soil poisoning for termites
  • External walling
  • Roof structure
  • Plumbing including waste water
  • Electrical inspection including compliance certificate
  • Engineers certificate for any structural elements
  • Glazing compliance and certificate
In addition, the NHBRC will inspect the building on a similar basis to the above however with more emphasis on the structural integrity of the house. This is to ensure that if the Builder is no longer in existence during the latent defect period that an insurance will cover any defects.

Industrial and Commercial Properties

The inspections on all stages of the building are carried out by the professional/design team that the client engaged on the inception of the project. The local authority will approve the plans however they won’t carry out inspection unless requested to do so.
On completion of the building, the local authority will request all the relevant certificates from the professionals and if all is in order will issue the completion certificate.

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Monday, April 8, 2013

A Costly Architectural Oversight


The John Hancock Centre stands as the tallest building in Boston USA however after its completion in 1976, it became the subject of severe media criticism, when it became evident that building liked to drop windows onto the pavement below it.

The windows in question weren't of the small variety, they were as one pundit described it, 5-by-12-foot, 500-pound slabs of aerial death. Sadly it wasn't just a few of them, hundreds and hundreds of windows went hurtling to the streets below. The problem got so bad that whenever winds exceeded 45 miles an hour, police would close off the entire area around the building for public safety.

During one windstorm in January of 1973, over 60 windows were knocked loose from the building's facade. By April of that year, more than an acre of the building's exterior was covered in plywood boards where windows once stood. They initially painted the plywood black, however this effort to hide the severity of the situation proved wholly ineffective.

A team of engineers, architects and builders all got together to work on a solution to the problem, but their findings were initially kept secret. An independent laboratory eventually confirmed that it was due to oscillations and repeated thermal stresses caused by the expansion and contraction of the air between the inner and outer glass panels which formed each window. The bonding between the inner glass, reflective material, and outer glass was so stiff that it was transmitting the force to the outer glass (instead of absorbing it), causing the glass to fail

In the end, the issue was resolved by replacing all 10344 windows of the 60 story skyscraper at a cost of $7 million, an astronomical amount of money, by 1976 standards.

Source: and

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Private Construction Projects Online

Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal, Private Project’s allows YOU to submit details of any private construction projects online. Whether it is to add on that extra room or convert your outbuildings into a granny flat, or maybe you're all set to build your dream home.

Register on the Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal and load the project details, a list of all open projects is regularly emailed and is available online to Association Members only.

This will save you time and money by having the contractors, who are available to work on your project, contact you directly either to quote or request more information. Once you are satisfied with the quotations you have received you can request that the project is closed.

For more information visit our Private Projects Page on

Tanya Leeuw
Marketing Coordinator


Friday, March 22, 2013

Top 10 Energy Saving Tips From Eskom

 Below are the top 10 energy saving tips from Eskom
  • Your dishwasher – Fill your dishwasher completely before operation. Partial loads waste electricity and water.
  • Your refrigerator – Do not overload your fridge, excessive products in your fridge will lower the quality of food and use more electricity-as much as 10-20% more for each extra product.
  • Your electric stove- Bring food to the boil quickly on the “high” setting, then turn the heat down to simmer and finish cooking
  • Your microwave - Defrost your food in the refrigerator overnight instead of the microwave oven: it is more economical.
  • Your small kitchen appliances – using these appliances instead of the stove can save energy. Toasters, electric grills, slow cookers and electric coffee pots usually require less energy than the stove when used correctly. Use an electric kettle to boil water, not a sauce pan or a microwave
  • Your lights – with the correct lighting you will save energy, money and eye strain by lighting your home properly. The wattage of a bulb is not a measure of the amount of light it gives, but rather the energy it uses. For instance, a 100watt bulb gives 50% more light than four 25 watt bulbs. Fluorescent lights give five times the light and last up to 10 times as long as ordinary bulbs.
  • Your Air conditioning – set your air conditioning unit to re-circulate cool air instead of drawing in warmer outside air. Protect the outdoor cooling units from the sun. Place them on the South or shady side of your house.
  • Your Washing machine – the automatic washing machine uses the same amount of electricity for a full load as it consumes for a single item. Save dirty clothes until a full load has accumulated.
  • Your iron consumes as much energy as ten 100 watt light bulbs.  Iron low temperature garments first to reduce warm up time, iron large batches of clothing at one time to avoid wasting energy reheating the iron several times.
  • Your geyser – to optimize electricity efficiency, geysers should be located as close as possible to the points where hot water is being used, insulated hot water pipes maintain their temperature at constant levels and prevent heat loss.
  • By taking a shower a instead of a bath you can save water
  • Do not set your thermostat to high a recommended 50-60 degrees
Read Article on how to further save on electricity.

Leon Hailstones
Green Store (40 Essex Terrace Westville)


Monday, March 18, 2013

Famous Last Words

Due to the circumstances surrounding the bizarre death of the former Toronto based lawyer, the name Garry Hoy has become synonymous with the term "famous last words".

Mr Hoy will always be remembered for his renowned party trick which was launching himself up against the "unbreakable" glass windows in the boardroom of the law firm where in life he was employed.

While attending a reception for new articling students, Hoy plunged 24 stories into the courtyard below confirming a notion most of us have always subscribed to. If an item is supposedly unbreakable, it doesn't mean it won't break, what it suggests is that it may take a bit longer. As a well-educated postgraduate and a former professional engineer you would have expected Hoy to know this.

According to co-workers, he would often do this stunt to impress visitors but would normally bounce harmlessly off the glass. His fatal plunge occurred during his second performance of the day.

Information Source:

Ernest Roper
Membership Services Manager


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Market to a Target Audience

Our area offices in Durban, Midlands, South Coast and Zululand all host a member meeting every second month and members are invited to attend. This is a fantastic opportunity to market the services of your company or your products to a target audience.

Our Health and Safety department provides a fantastic forum meeting every second month where members are informed of new legislation and any other pertinent information regarding OHS.

Every meeting enjoys the benefit of hearing not only from our own Health and Safety professionals but from other people who are also highly respected in the industry. If you have products or services specifically aimed at Health and Safety practitioners and would like an avenue with which to market them, this represents a great opportunity for you.

For more information, contact me on 031 266 7070 and let's chat.


Tanya Leeuw
Market Dept