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Difference between a good building and an expensive one

All sectional title schemes are developed by a developer – that is a person that has the idea to build a certain design of a building on a specific site for a specific market.

So, a developer may design a new building for the rental market or for selling the individual buildings in the sectional title scheme. 

Each market has its own buyers/tenant pool, so a property built for the entry level would be very different from one built for the uppermost market.

Obviously, a developer looking at the affordable market must be very careful about what the building costs, while the one looking at the top market has room to put in better quality buildings and more expensive finishes.

A builder on the other hand is a person who does the physical construction of the property usually supervised by the architect or developer to ensure that they are building to the required standard.

Unfortunately, where buildings are built for sale – either as a whole building or sectional title – the motivation is to get as much profit out of the building as possible and not out of the income from holding the building in the long term.

This is where shortcuts are taken by the builders and tradesmen involved in the building.

Where a mistake is made, a developer who is looking at holding the property in the long term is more likely to fix the problem than the builder who is building to sell.  

So, a building that has a developer and a separate builder and which is intended to be owned or looked after by the developer in the medium to long term is more likely to be well built than one that is built on spec.

One of the aspects of spec buildings is that the developer/builder wants the property to look nice even if it costs a lot to maintain.

For example, there is a very large difference between a building that is painted to one that has a face-brick finish.

Face-bricks are essentially no maintenance over very long periods of time (50 years plus and much longer) while a plaster building has to be repainted every eight to 10 years.

As an example, we have a five-storey building with parking underneath where repainting is likely to cost R600 000 when it is done but there are only 26 flats.

Over a 26-year period this means that it is costing owners R250 per month in their levies just for future painting. 

That is a huge difference.

Add to that a roof, such as Harvey Tile, that requires no maintenance and no paint windows and you can see that you could be saving R500 per month on a normal flat levy.

That is a huge saving.

It will also make your flat more valuable when buyers realise that there is so little maintenance required.

My office roof has cost R0 in 35 years.

In one of the new developments that is going to be started soon in Vista Park, there will be solar panels that will supply electricity to the building.

This will reduce the Centlec bill and provide a substantial income to the body corporate.

All income goes against expenses, so there will be a low to no maintenance building with an income – levies will be near to zero.

Buyers must take this into account when buying a flat or town house.

They have to pay their bond, rates and taxes and levy.

So at least if the levy can be kept as low as possible then it makes them more able to pay for the property that they have bought.

It is a pity that more developers don’t look at using low maintenance finishes.

Buyers would be prepared to pay the small additional cost at the beginning to avoid a life time of high maintenance bills.

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia. 

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