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