An end to Thatch Disasters! Choosing the Right Thatching Contractor…

When this…
…happens to your thatch lapa, you know you’ve made a bad choice!

But with so many thatching contractors out there claiming to be the bees’ knees and quoting what seems like a GREAT price…how do you know which contractor will not let this…

…happen to you?

We’ve put together a basic guide to choosing the right thatching contractor with a few important points which should be considered and questions which should be asked. We have used the advice of the Thatchers Association of South Africa (TASA) to who provides comprehensive advice on how to choose the right thatching contractor as well as advice on quality thatching and a list of members, on their website. If you aim to follow these basic guidelines there is much less of a chance that you will end up with this…
…in your front yard.

A 10 Step Guide to Choosing the Right Thatching Contractor
As a client you must not be afraid to ask the thatching contractor questions – find out the necessary information, ask to see proof of any claims that the contractor makes, ask them to send or provide any documents that you would like to see.

1. Is the thatching company a member of the Thatchers Association of South Africa? What is their membership number? You can check this yourself by visiting the TASA website and checking their membership list- only current members are a part of the list. TASA lay down a specific code of conduct and practice that each member must do their up-most to adhere to in their work and business dealings.

2. Does the thatching company have knowledge of the SABS building regulations? This might be more difficult to track and/or prove - you should be able to ask the contractor relevant questions about any side of the construction, building or thatching work and receive an informed answer with reference to the regulations illiustrating their knowledge and experience in the industry. However, I'm sure it is entirely possible for a confident rogue contractor to sound fully authoritative on the regulations with no actual concrete knowledge...and without that know-how yourself how will you know? As far as I am aware there is no definate way to safeguard yourself against this issue other than to ensure that their work (your structure) can be certified with an official engineers certificate once completed. Establish with the contractor who will be responsible for arranging the engineers inspection and follow-up to attain the certificate.

3. Is the thatching company registered for VAT? Can they provide a tax clearance certificate? This is an illustration of their creditability with the government and general business standing.

4. Has the contractor got a team of staff with the necessary training and knowledge in place?  Are the staff well trained & informed? Ideally there should be a first aider as well as a safety officer on site at all times to ensure that the site is run safely and prevent any unnecessary problems. For larger jobs or work a heights where scaffolding is necessary there should also be a qualified scaffold erector and inspector available. Ask for a copy of the certificates for these qualifications.

5. How long have the thatchers been in operation? Are they a well-established company with experience and a good reputation? While of course some new companies can offer great products it may be more of a risk to choose a company with less experience and the lack of a host of solid work and happy customers behind them.

6. Are there customer referrals and/or contact numbers available for you to read/get in touch with to ask for a reference? A reputable thatching company should also be able to provide references from architects & engineers whom they have worked with. These references are a kind of safeguard for you – if the contractor did bad work or is not as transparent as they tell you, there will be a lack of customer referrals. If they have not worked well with engineers and architects in the past then it is likely that they are not as capable in building structures to the correct specifications set out by the building industry, are not able to build to written plans or have little experience in projects where these factors are necessary.

7. Can the contactor provide examples of work in the form of photos or a work portfolio, a website or other form of pictures? This is proof that the work claimed to have been done, has actually happened! It can also act as an example to show you the quality of the finished product and what the company is capable of completing. You could even use these pictures as ideas for your own structure.

8. Will the thatching contractor provide a written contract specifying exactly what is involved in the job, what work is being done, the terms of the contract and what the agreed total fee due for payment is? If this document is written well it can be used to prevent future problems or confusuion between contractor and client. Ensure that the written quotation or contact is detailed and that both you and the contractor are clear about what is expected from the job, it is also good practice for both contractor and client to sign the document in agreement.

9. Does the contractor have comprehensive insurance that covers both yourself and the contractor during work on site? Ask for a certificate/ proof of policy.

10. Is the thatching contractor willing to provide a guarantee on the work and is this available in writing? Again – ensure that you have a document with the specifics of the guarantee – what is included, what is excluded and for how long the work is covered. A good thatcher will do their up-most to attend to any problems which arise in their work as an after-service to their client which should mean peace of mind during the earlier years of the roof.

The 10 Steps above are designed to give you, the client, a better understanding of a thatching company as a whole and hopefully ensure that you do not get swindled by an ill-experienced company whose work is not up to standard and who will not be available to help if and when a problem arises.

To see the original artcile by TASA “The Choice of A Thatch Roof Contractor” click here to download an online publication of the SA Roofing Magazine (article on page 6).

A note on the Comparison of Quotes
In comparing quotes from different contractors it is tempting to be led by the final price only but be careful to make sure that the quotes are comparative. There are a lot of new advancements made in the thatching industry which can increase the lifespan of a thatch roof drastically. Fire protection methods, dust reduction and waterproof sealed cappings are all systems which go a long way to making a thatch roof reliable and a pleasure for the customer, especially in the long run as the thatch ages. Most standard quotes will not cover all of these aspects, especially if they are not directly discussed in a meeting or if the quote is from an inexperienced contractor. The inclusion of these aspects in a more experienced thatchers quote then leaves a disparity between the final prices presented in the quotations which could look shocking. However, it is not fair to compare a simple quote for a standard thatch roof with mediocre quality thatch and twine fasteners with a quote from a contractor offering a high quality product using high grade thatch, a fire blanket for fire and dust protection, galvanised or stainless steel wire fasteners and a waterproof sealed capping. Ask for a breakdown of each aspect of the quote specifically if it has not been provided already, so that you can compare prices effectively; make sure that in comparing the quotes you are comparing apples with apples.

Of course, the choice of thatching contractor is totally down to the individual situation – sometimes it really is just about the cheapest quote and quality is not so much a consideration. In that case at least you are in the picture and will know what to expect in a few years’ time…
…and you can always give Cintsa Thatching a call to fix it ;)

Comments

  1. Great post and great picture! I have been looking into different types of roofing. I'm remodeling and could use some new and improved roofing.

    Roof Contractors

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Great - if you're looking for ideas for a thatch roof why not visit our website - it has tons a pictures of past projects and you can pick out your favourite look! http://www.cintsathatching.co.za

      Hope you find a suitable solution!

      Delete
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    1. Hi Edgardo,

      Thanks for your comment and glad we could be of help!

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    1. Hi Edward!

      Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading the blog- glad our advice was helpful!

      Kind regards

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