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  1. Wezo Jama says:

    Hi, Penny

    I gasped and my eyes fogged as I was going back and forth reading your post. Painful as it, your experience is worth a fortune. It is sad that humans do things like these to fellow humans. I appreciate your taking ownership of your part in the mishaps. I ‘ll search for the book because I am still hoping to owner build. I need more awareness on the learnings.
    My mother tried owner building, and it didn’t go very well. The professionals have a mean spirit. The chancers are looking saintly. It ‘s a dog-eat-dog kind of environment. Even municipalities have been infiltrated.

    Thank you for the post.

  2. Contact the local authority and ask.

  3. Virgel Jane says:

    Hi Penny

    Thank you so much for responding.

    I do have a draughtsman, he charges R50 per square meter. It is a decent price. I know the costs of the Water, Electricity and sewerage connection, but I have no idea what I may pay for everything else like municipal costs for the plan, permits for plumbing etc. I have no idea what else I must pay the government.

  4. Virgel my book is still available – but get the most recent version – Owner Building in South Africa (not The Complete Book of). It has red writing on the cover and a sweet timber-frame house with red trim. I honestly can’t even guess what your house will cost to build. There are companies that specialize in Nutec homes and they would probably be able to give you an idea. You are going to need a competent person to help you with plans (at very least a draughtsperson), so that might be a good starting point for advice. Good luck.

  5. Virgel Jane says:

    Hi Penny

    I find your experiences exciting and scary at the same time. First of all, Is your book still available, I would like to buy it if I can afford it. I have been saving up and I am just about ready to build a house in the woods.. I can’t afford the City life anymore, everything is expensive and it is time to scale down. I want to build a 64.8m2 (- 10m2 Stoep), Nutec and Timber cabin with loft and I am really looking forward to DIY the hell out of my home. I don’t have much money, R200k to be precise, do you think that it will be enough? I have an idea how much the Frame, outer walls, etc. will cost me. But I don’t know if it will be enough. With your experience, can it be possible? Please guide me?

  6. Hi Pacman,
    Yes you will be fine with those. Corobrick class those as NFP – Non Facing Plastered Clay bricks that are suitable for general building work which must be plastered or rendered. With a nominal 7 MPa compressive strength. The 14 MPa called NFX – Non Facing Extra
    Bricks suitable for use, plastered or unplastered for general building work below damp proof course or under damp conditions or below ground level where durability rather than aesthetics is the criteria for selection. And it goes without saying that they have to be well laid with the correct mortar mix and finished with a good plaster.

  7. Hi Penny

    Can you please assist with my query? I want to build a standard double story house using clay stock bricks. The hardware next to my place only sells 7mpa bricks not 10mpa. Can I use 7mpa bricks (2 rows) for this type of structure?


  8. Actually Roy we did the book AFTER we had our experiences. Call it part of the University of Life. We were total novices when we plunged in the first time. It’s called a learning curve. Certainly not a case of “experts” getting it wrong!
    Since then we have continued to learn more and more. Also, a lot has changed since our last building adventure which was prior to the establishment of the NHBRC and the “new” building regulations. If we knew then what we know now a lot of heartache would have been avoided.
    As far as looking at the first edition of our book with jaded eyes … it is totally out of date – that is why we redid it (2012).
    What we strive to do is help people who want to build their own homes get it right. Now if I had had a copy of our most recent OWner Building in South Africa, I’d have been a happy person! 🙂

  9. Thank you for your honest retelling of your experiences. I’m afraid to say though that this really doesn’t encourage me to build my own home (if the experts struggle to get it right) and it also discourages me from buying your book (if they struggle to get it right, are they actually experts?).

    I have recently borrowed a copy of the first edition of your book, and I have to say that I now look at it with jaded eyes.

    I really do appreciate your honesty, but maybe this article should be more thoughtfully worded.