In a buyer’s market, building might still be the answer!


Building has gotten a bad rap. Exponential prices, painful legislature and red tape are the first things we associate with the trade.

SA Bauhaus is a new website created to help first time home builders navigate these waters, within a tight budget and time constraints.

Created by the experienced home builder, Kirstin Lund, SA Bauhaus guides South Africans through the process her seven projects have taught her.

She’s the first to tell you it’s become a lot harder to build in the last 20 years. National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) has been created to protect home builders from unscrupulous building contractors, but enrolling a new property before you start building is a very tricky business, especially if you’re new to the game.

Penalties on non-registration for building contractors are a reality, but the time delays and costs for the homeowner mean they cannot ignore these steps any more. And contrary to popular belief, all new building projects need to be NHBRC registered, whether you need a bond or not.

“There is a lot of bad advice from architects and building contractors with regards to registration of new builds and council process. Everybody hates red tape and don’t want to get involved or take responsibility.

“That’s why it’s best the homeowner takes the initiative and oversees this process. This website is there to provide practical, step-by-step advice on how to navigate a build – from the planning stage to completion.”

Kirstin’s most recent build brought new experience too – a compact, inner-city house.

“Beautiful, older suburbs are starting to allow plot sub-divisions to accommodate the city densification. We managed to build a 400m2 home on what used to be an old tennis court. Because we kept budgets tight, I believe our investment will show a return from day one.

“If you choose the right location and investigate building costs, there is no reason you will spend more on a new build than buying an old house, that likely still needs renovations. Keep in mind the high transfer fees in South Africa too!”.

The site includes a section on design tips for floor plans, kitchens, bathrooms and more. “If you’ve designed six kitchens for yourself, you start to learn what really works!”, says Kirstin.

But really the building budget is the make or break of a project. Decide upfront what you can afford, then use the detailed list on the website to complete your expected spend.

Fortunately, the website includes expected professional and admin fees, often forgotten in budget compilations. An average build can cost anything from R12 000 to R25 000 a square meter for building costs, depending on finishes.

Kirstin believes it’s possible to do it for less if you get your hands dirty and get very involved.

“Ultimately no one cares as much about your money as you do. Don’t expect architects, builders or project managers to stick to a budget if you’re not involved on a daily basis overseeing it.”

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