What every first time building contractor should know


The very first time that someone does anything that is linked to their skillset, they might feel that they are in control of what they are doing. Which is true in most cases, however, there is more to being a contractor than just building. When you start your own construction company you also need to have a head for business.

Put your vision on paper

List everything you need to get, the people you need to hire, your goals for the company and how you plan to reach them. When you start to put pen to paper you will get a better understanding of where you need to improve and where you need to cut back.  Maintain your level of understanding by doing this. You will possibly need to submit a copy of the proposal to the financial institution that may give you the loan to start your business. Include your equipment finance as well as maintenance finance in your plan.

The necessities that surround your business

Find out about the registration process and the mandatory certificates you need to acquire for starting your own construction company. Preplanning is essential so that there is no back and forth.  If you want to make an impact, then you need to set your business up officially and be acknowledged as a legitimate enterprise.

Stowage of equipment

If you don’t have a storage space as of yet, you are most likely storing all equipment at home, in your backyard. As soon the business grows, you will need to find a property where you can store all your tools and equipment, as well as places to park your construction vehicles.

Insure your assets

One of the necessary requirements is to get insurance for your company goods if you should face any liabilities. Locate an insurance agent and find out what kind of coverage you need and sought the different quotes you will be getting.  Those in the know can give a good amount of tips so get out and ask the other guys how they are doing. Just in case the unfortunate happens, you will be covers for work related accidents or the damage of client property.

Get contacts

Create good working relationships with other contractors, suppliers and business associates in the contractors industry. They are your contacts that could be a hand up in time of crises or when you have a basic question, and they will be sure to answer and give the best advice. You might need the backing of another supplier to complete jobs that you cannot do, don’t have time to do or need assistance in finalising. That’s where your contacts come in handy to bail you out. Or you might be the person that they call.

The age of the dash cam

Some of YouTube’s most popular videos are dash cam fails where cameras mounted on car dashboards (dash cams) have captured some curious and funny circumstances. The irony is that most of the footage captured is from Russia, which institutes dash cams as a necessary ‘evil’ for their insurance brokers.

But can South Africa’s security challenges benefit from dash cam technology? Recently, Garmin have launched an HD dash cam series – and it just might be worth investing in. So let’s review their latest release.

The dash cam is a high-definition camera that mounts to any vehicles’ windscreen and continuously records a 120 degree wide-angle view of the road, while driving (think GoPro footage). Once installed, the camera remains fully automated and it will start recording when the engine is turned on and stop when it is turned off. The dash cam records your drive in Full HD 1080p, with incident detection that saves footage of collisions and incidents automatically. Garmin have released two models – Dash Cam 10 and Dash Cam 20 (includes GPS). The rechargeable battery allows a user to use the snapshot feature to take still images, and even remove the dash cam from the vehicle to capture collision damage.

Facing the driver is a small LCD colour display that previews what the camera. You can play around with the various settings, menu options, and media playback controls via a bank of four physical buttons just below the screen. Once the vehicle is moving, the screen dims and then shuts off, leaving a small blinking red light to let you know that it’s still recording.

The camera records a continuous loop of the action happening outside, overwriting old footage as it loops around with new imagery. While it can capture up to 1080p video and audio, you can set it to record at a lower resolution or without audio to save space. It could be a game-changer for security jobs in Cape Town helping to deter crime in certain city hotspots.

Internally, the Garmin device is equipped with a sensor that detects bumps in the road, an important feature for South African roads. When the sensor is triggered, the camera beeps loudly and protects the video clip leading up to the bump and a few seconds following, saving the footage of a potential accident or security incident from being overwritten. This is a critical function of the device and is certain to improve both insurance claims and security moving forward.

Buying and selling goods

Selling goods has become the way of life for some, and has even made a success from it. But there is an art to it, it takes a certain skill to persuade customers to buy your goods. To some selling goods come naturally and to others it’s a skill they have to learn. Here are a few basic tips you can use to sell your product to customers and even get more customers in turn.

Use the internet to your disposal

The internet provides geographic location access to a global audience of buying consumers, eager sellers, information, and resources on the demographic you sell to. It’s like a book of information on all things clients that you can access at any given time. You can either sell your goods locally or internationally by using sites like Gumtree, OLX, eBay or any other e-commerce websites.

Now that you know about the selling part, what about buying? Buying products can be much cheaper, then store bought products. In-demand products, which can be bought cheaply from domestic and overseas suppliers, can be resold for a handsome profit. Back in the day this kind of business trading was out of the reach of most small businesspeople because of the amount of time and money required to research and often travel to foreign and domestic product suppliers to inspect, negotiate, and then to sign the agreement on paper.

The internet has speeded up the process, now with the simple click of a mouse you can buy products cheaply from thousands of suppliers from across the globe.

The buyer and seller

Anyone can be a seller, no matter they’re selling they can make a profit from it. There are those who go to scrapyards, collect items, revamp it and then sell it for a high end price. The best of it is that no one needs to be qualified to venture into this business. Regardless of age, experience, education and financial resources, anyone can make it happen. You simply need a desire to earn extra money, that has no boundaries.

Buying and selling goods is the best self-employment option for the vast majority of people; it’s cheap, easy, quick and proven to work and generate huge profits. Even when it’s done one a part time basis it can work out for, some people sell part time to pay off debts.

“You can buy and sell full time to replace your current income and in all likelihood earn more. You can buy and sell seasonally, enabling you to pursue other interests like travel. Or you can buy and sell to help supplement your retirement income and stay active in your golden years.” – James Stephenson

How Google can save your car

Owning a car isn’t simply a matter of paying a great deal of money – whether through loans or savings – but also a great deal of maintenance. This becomes a concern when the car is damaged, requires new parts and so on. One of the best things we can do is take pre-emptive steps to prevent damages from occurring – since the worse the damage is, the more we’ll be paying.

Consider the problem of potholes. This might seem a non-issue ot many: simply avoid them. Yet that still requires being aware they exist and experts are constantly warning the public about their potential danger. As Roadcover.co.za notes:

“The Automobile Association (AA) said that if there was proper maintenance of our roads, then there could be an immediate decrease in about 5% of road deaths, costing the economy about R40 billion.”

The government also announced “a R22 billion budget over the next three years on a countrywide pothole repair program.” Live will be saved, hopefully. But for now, there are also other directions.

For example, Google is currently working on technology that could aid drivers in real time. As Forbes notes:

“Google has filed a patent for new technology to identify and track potholes on the streets of the United States. The system would use a variety of sensors and location-tracking info to detect areas where the road surface is compromised and help users avoid potholes and find alternate routes.”

The reason it matters is due to the enormous numbers of people that use Google tech everyday – especially to navigate and drive. This means an enormous number of data points that can help feed information to their systems.

“…Correlating data from thousands or millions of vehicles, and integrating it automatically with Google Maps would give drivers current, real-time information they can use to avoid trouble.”

Of course, nothing is perfect and our cars will be damaged through unforeseen events and general wear-and-tear. This means we can’t avoid taking our vehicles to experts like mechanics and panelbeaters; but hopefully we can lessen how often we do so and the amount we’ll be paying by taking pre-emptive steps.

Other ways we can reduce such expenses is to drive carefully, drive less and try obtain the best car, appropriate to our budget. It’s possible, for example, that we get a cheaper car that costs so much to maintain, it ends up being more expensive than a better car that needed less work. All this should be kept in mind in terms of our driving experience.

Make a good first impression as clients walk through the door

First impressions matter. That doesn’t just go for people but businesses too. A good way to focus on what kind of impression you are making is to think about what you customers or clients would think as soon as they step through the front door. In other words, what does the reception area look like?

Here are some tips to make the most of this crucial area.

Have the right receptionist

The receptionist plays a very important role in the first impression your business make. Everything from his or her appearance to communication skills will influence how others view your business. Think of how you’d feel if you were greeted by someone who was unfriendly, couldn’t be bothered to get your name right, made you wait unnecessarily and dressed sloppily? How your clients and potential associates are made to feel in the waiting room will be a big factor in the impression your business gives them.

A receptionist is the host of your waiting room, and as such should ideally be well-groomed, polite, efficient and professional at all times. A good receptionist will make your clients feel valued and at ease.

Have a comfortable and secure atmosphere

A comfortable atmosphere will not only make your clients feel relaxed and amiable, which is good for business, but also gives the impression that you have everything under control. Some ways to ensure comfort is to provide ample comfortable seating, have your receptionist offer your clients refreshments, and give them something to entertain themselves with while they wait, such as reading material or a television.

It’s also good to show that you think about security. Do you have a  guard at the front door? Is there access control such as speedstiles or even man traps if you’re dealing with expensive goods? Giving thought to your security sends a message that you can be trusted.

Get your brand image across

The waiting area is the perfect opportunity to communicate across what your business is about. Consider what the values, tone and style of your brand are.

For instance, do you define your business as fresh and innovative, hip and modern, refined and elegant, or efficient and dependable?

It’s good to know what your brand stands for, and get that image across in the layout and décor of the reception area. If you’re stuck for how to do this, flip through a magazine, and see what kind of décor you identify with for your business.

Finally, just a few more tips: make sure that your waiting room is neat and clean at all times, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, open the windows if it gets stuffy, and maybe have a vase of fresh cut flowers out. It’s the small details that make all the difference.

Safety at university residence

The life of a student is amazing. You get to meet many different people whom you might end up building lifelong friendships with. The hours are hard and your life is built around studying and paving your way to a bright future. But that future can turn bleak if you don’t take care of yourself. Your safety on campus should be a priority as you look out not only for yourself, but for other students as well. You not only become a student community, but also a family.

The night out

There will come a time where your life won’t only revolve around studying, there will be time to hang out with friends also. Predators strike at night, on your way to your dorm room. This is the time when victims are in search of their keys, not paying attention to their surroundings. If at all possible, have someone to walk you home or ask the security to escort you. Let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to be back. Before you leave the dorm, ensure that your cell phone is full charged and keep your traveling money separate from your wallet. Most universities have steel bollards in place and this is particular method that can also deter a perpetrator from speeding off with your goods.

Contacting security

Make sure that you have campus security numbers posted up on your fridge or stored on your cell phone. Just in case of an emergency you will immediately be able to contact someone for assistance. They are the first people who will be able to arrive to your aid, then after calling them, contact the police.

Better to be safe than sorry

If you want to stay late at the library, but notice that most of the people are leaving, then it’s in your best interest to follow suit. Being left alone in a quiet library puts a target on your back. If you absolutely have no other alternative then carry an alarm on your person when you make your way to your dorm. Also, avoid using your phone in secluded areas, and keep in mind that texting can distract you from what is happening around you. When you are out and about switch your cell phone to vibrate mode rather than a ring tone. So if your cell does go off, you are able to move to a surrounding that has more people, for you to answer your phone.

Always remain vigilant and safe. There are many bad people in this world, our lives go on as normal, but when we are caught in sudden danger, our lives stop in a matter of seconds. Be sure not to intentionally get yourself caught in a situation that could have been prevented.