Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group, explains why the Winter months may actually be the best time of year for home renovations.
Builders are more available
“Winter weather, particularly in high-rainfall areas like the Western and Southern Cape, can cause delays in large building projects which require a lot of external and structural work,” said Clarke.
“Because of this, a lot of developers and architects prefer to break ground on new and large constructions during months with more predictable conditions. That means a lot of contractors who are booked up during the summer months become available for smaller projects when the cold weather sets in.”
According to Clarke, this creates a wider-than-usual pool of available contractors over the off-season, which allows homeowners to be more selective in their choice of builder.
The increased builder availability also strengthens homeowners’ ability to negotiate contracts, and incentivises more competitive quotes.
“An idle building team costs a contractor money, since there are staff who need to be paid,” said Clarke. “With the decrease in available work during winter, this puts pressure on builders to stay busy, which makes it easier to convince them to reduce their profit margins in order to win your contract.”
Better quality workmanship
Another benefit of renovating during the off-season is that you don’t have to settle for a small-time “bakkie” builder with a dubious track record.
“In peak seasons, most well-established, top quality builders won’t accept a small domestic project,” said Clarke, “at least not at a price point your average homeowner is willing to pay. That often leaves no option but to use a local “bakkie” builder, whose quality may not be up to scratch. In winter, however, the larger builders often have spare capacity to accept small jobs at more reasonable rates, which gives homeowners the option of using a professional team.”
Clarke warned that, while some bakkie builders offer excellent service, many use artisans of questionable experience and training, to the detriment of the final product. “Larger builders who are registered with the NHBRC, on the other hand, tend to have more reliable quality and better accountability in the event that things go wrong,” he said.
Outdoor areas are not in use
It’s not only appointing a contractor that makes winter the ideal time to renovate – it can also be the most practical choice, especially when renovating outdoor areas.
“Winter is ideal for refurbishing swimming pools, patios and other outdoor entertainment areas,” said Clarke, “since they’ll largely be unused during the cold weather, and you won’t have to sacrifice their enjoyment while you build.”
Gardens can recover in spring
There’s no doubt that gardens take a knock during any kind of construction, no matter how careful your builder is and how little access they have. “The joy of renovating during winter is that any garden damage will recover far faster than usual with the flood of growth that happens at the onset of spring,” said Clarke.
It seems winter really can be the best season for home renovations, with cheaper, more reliable, and better quality building work on offer. Perhaps it’s time to break the hibernation cycle and get stuck into some property upgrades. After all, what could be nicer than looking forward to a brand new summer in a better-than-ever home?