Pest Control – Don’t Let Your Home Become Their Home

With winter here, it’s not just the cold weather that may invade our homes, pests may also enter seeking warmth and food sources, and unfortunately our warm homes may become their new nests.


“You have invested, as your finances would permit, a very large amount of your life’s savings in protecting your dream home, and don’t want it destroyed by little critters. At some point, virtually every home experiences some type of pest problem, even the cleanest, most well-kept properties can face invasion” comments Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Pest control is important throughout the year, not just in winter. Armed with good advice and information, you are in a much better position to ensure that your chosen pest control company gives you the most value for your money and satisfactorily ridding you of your problem and preventing it from occurring again.


Signs that you need a pest professional:

Property Damage – pests pose a big risk to your home, most will leave their mark in the form of gnawed furniture, fabrics, and wiring. You’re most likely to see this at a low level, so inspect skirting and floor boards for chewed materials.


Droppings and Urine – one of the most obvious signs of pest invasion is waste, particularly in the case of rodents. You’ll notice small, raisin shaped droppings close to food stores. The darker the color, the fresher the dropping, so black waste indicates an active mouse or rat problem.


Nocturnal Noises – it’s common to hear rodents moving about inside the roof, mostly at night. These unusual sounds are most likely to be mice or rats.


Sticky Doors and Windows – stiff door frames are often thought to be a sign of subsidence or other structural problems, but they may be a consequence of termite activity. The moisture termites produce when tunnelling through wood can cause frames to warp. If you notice this, check around the house to see if there are any more warning signs.


Ways to pest proof your home before the invasion

According to Stuart Steele, Business Development Manager, Flick Pest Control there are 4 simple ways to pest proof your home.


Proofing: Seal off entry points such as under doors, holes in walls and gaps between your roof and wall to prevent rodents from squeezing in


Secure food sources to eliminate pest attraction: Pests are not fussy eaters. Once they find a source of food and water, they are notorious for overstaying their welcome and inviting their friends and family. While pests can thrive in even the cleanest of houses, homeowners should remove any temptations by sweeping up spills and crumbs immediately to prevent vermin, roaches or ants from being attracted to the area.


Good housekeeping practices: Clear up clutter in your yard. Ensure you don’t have any clutter such as building rubble; stacks of firewood, old tyres or other debris leaning against your exterior walls around your home or in your garden against perimeter walls. We don’t recommend the use of a compost heap as they provide ideal breeding grounds for rodents and flies. Keep your gutters clean and remove any dead leaves to prevent them being blocked as this will retain stagnant water and can cause fly and mosquito problems.

Know when to call in the professionals: The tips given above are great do-it-yourself methods available to prevent pest control issues in your home, waiting until it’s too late to call in a certified professional can be dangerous and can lead to major damage, costing you time and money.


Procedure when pest control comes to your home

Pre-service: if applicable, prior to the day of service, you should be informed of any preparation you may have to do to enable service to be performed. This could include cleaning, clearing specified areas, removing pets, storing/covering foods, planning to keep children out of the area during service, etc.


Pre-service communication: before beginning service, the technician should discuss the situation with you, it can be beneficial to walk around the home or property with the technician to show them, what was seen and where. The technician should then communicate the treatment to be made, products to be used.


Inspection & Identification: the service professional should then conduct an inspection for the pests and signs of pest presence. He/she should inspect the sites you discussed and other areas where the pest is likely to be and look for any potential contributing or conducive conditions. The inspection should also include positive identification of the pest, in order for correct treatment to be made.


Treatment: based on all the above, the technician will perform the applicable service.


Post-service communication/Recommendations: once treatment has been made, the technician should again communicate with you: telling you what has been done – where, why, and how; noting any precautions you may need to take; answering any further questions you may have; and making recommendations for any action you need to take and/or follow up they will make.


Service Report: the service technician should provide you with a written service report, noting what was done where, when, how and why. It should also include contact information and any recommendations.


Follow up, if needed: for some pests, such as bed bugs, elimination cannot be achieved in a single visit, therefore you should be informed of any further service that will be needed and any other follow-up that is required or recommended.


How to choose a reputable pest control provider

Mario Pluke, Technical Manager at Rentokil South Africa’s says choosing a professional, registered and reputable pest control partner is critical if you want to combat pest infestations in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion.


Rentokil urges the public to ask the following questions when choosing a professional pest control partner:

  1. How many years has the pest control company been in business?
  2. How are employees trained?
  3. Is the company registered with the South African Pest Control Association (SAPCA)
  4. Are the pest control technicians who work for the company registered with the Department of Agriculture?
  5. How does the Company keep its staff informed of changes in regulations, products, techniques and safety?
  6. What is the company’s attitude towards Health and Safety of both employees and customers?
  7. Does the company adhere to the Department of Agriculture’s approved product list?


While do-it-yourself pest control options may seem appealing, one must remember that if administered incorrectly pesticides can be hazardous to the health of humans, as they are designed to kill living organisms. It is therefore essential that the use of pesticides around people, especially small children, is carefully controlled.  When selecting a pest control partner, consumers are urged to choose a reputable, professional pest control company, says Mario.



DIY Green Pest Control Remedies

Cucumber peels: ants are quite turned off by cucumber peels, and sprinkling them around areas of your home that serve as entrance points for ant colonies is a great preventive pest control method.


Mint leaves: plants such as peppermint and spearmint are natural insect deterrents, especially for ants and aphids. Plant a few varieties around your home, and you should see a noticeable drop in ant populations.


All-Natural sprays:  there are a number of great eco-friendly pest control sprays you can make at home. Mixing water with isopropyl alcohol, concentrated garlic oil, salt or boiled elder leaves makes deterrents that you can spray on indoor and outdoor plants to help control infestations.


Baking soda and powdered sugar: if roaches are your problem, try mix baking soda and powdered sugar, and sprinkle it around problem areas. The sugar attracts the pests and the baking soda kills them.


Eucalyptus oil: drop some on cloth and place near areas of infestation of flies and moths.


Soapy water: if you want to instantly kill an insect in your home, mix water and soap into a spray bottle, you can kill all bugs on contact. This is because the soap component breaks down the waxy exoskeleton and lets the water enter the bug and it will drown them quickly.


Cedar oil: very lethal to termites but totally non-toxic, organic, and chemical-free. It is a very effective contact killer and repellent to termites and can be used on any wood structure. The way it works is that the product penetrates the wood and the aromas from the cedar oil disrupt termite pheromone systems in a lethal manner.


Lemon juice as bug spray: simply add lemon juice and water 5/50 in a spray bottle and add essential oils.


Various natural oils are also effective:

  • Lemongrass: fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and flies
  • Lavender: fleas, ticks, flies, lice, nits, silverfish, mosquitoes, moths
  • Tea Tree Oil: centipedes, fleas , flies, & other insects
  • LemonOrange (or other citrus): fleas, ants, roaches, lice, nits, flies

Intern to Rookie of the year to Team Leader – Chwayita Hoyi, proof that hard work pays off

The past two years has definitely been exciting and successful for estate agent, Chwayita Hoyi achievements. Her story begins in 2015, where she started her career in real estate as an Intern Agent when she was introduced to Engel & Völkers through the EAAB’s “One Learner Program”, where she started her internship with Engel & Völkers Broadacres and has just been awarded as the top Engel & Völkers Rookie Agent of the Year in terms of commission turnover achieved for 2017 at the annual rewards function which took place in April.


Before Chwayita established herself in the property industry she was in the PR and Marketing industry as a Public Relations Officer. “I was not intending on pursuing a career in property, the industry literally found me and I could not be more grateful” Chwayita commented.


She says that she had her choice of agencies to join, and had to do some investigation to see which would be the right fit. The Engel & Völkers brand appealed to her because of its reputation, international footprint as well as the professional training that their agents receive, and as she knew she would need the best guidance if she was going to make this work, she decided that it was the best choice as it would offer her the opportunity to grow in the new career she was embarking on.


After finding her feet in the company and industry, she inter-branch transferred to Engel & Völkers Hyde Park in 2015. The reason for the move was purely strategic, as their licence territory covered the area in which ideally wanted to operate in. It did not take her long to show her skills & professionalism off in her new office as she was promoted to the role of Team Leader by the Licence Partner, Scott Pharoah and Operations Manager, Debbie Robertson. “It is seldom that a rookie would reach team leader status in such a short period of time, but Chwayita truly was an exceptional candidate” noted Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. This is a huge accomplishment in both the company and in the industry at large. She is delighted and humbled, and would like to thank all who have played a role in making this journey a remarkable one.


Chwayita said that she will never forget her very first sale. “It was a unit in upmarket Hurlingham which sold for R2 million in a space of 2 months during a challenging time in the industry. After numerous viewings and show days, a buyer got in touch with me, and I took her to view the property. It was love at first sight, and an offer followed almost immediately, and a new listing as a bonus, as she asked me to sell one of her other properties too”.


Chwayita says that although her passion has been more for the residential side of the property industry up to now, she intends on becoming a well-rounded property professional and learning about other areas such as commercial, property leasing and management too.


When asked what she has found to be the most challenging part of the property industry, she shared that “It is advising potential sellers on a market related price for their properties. Although we do have the statistics and data to provide them with an accurate valuation, it is still difficult to convince someone that their property might not be the same value as the emotional value they have estimated it on. To that end, I also have to add that the most enjoyable is hearing that a client is happy. Whether it be a buyer with the properties that have been shown to them, or a seller about the successful sale – both sides are equally rewarding.


Chwayita believes that the characteristic that makes for a great estate agent is a good listener that pays attention to the buyer’s needs, an ethical agent that can be trusted by both the seller and the buyers, they have to be knowledgeable in order to advise clients correctly and passionate about what they are doing. The sales environment comes with a lot of financial reward but with that also comes disappointments and sometimes rejection. And lastly they need to have an entrepreneurial spirit as they are essentially running their own business within the franchise business. She believes that the most vital business tool that estate agents should have at their disposal in today’s market to ensure success is knowledge of this dynamic industry and flexibility to accommodate clients. “This will set them apart from the rest”.


The one thing Chwayita wishes someone had taught or told her when she first started out in property is that it’s a full time job. If you really want to become successful at it, you need to invest a lot of time. She advises rookies to decide whether this is really what they want to pursue long term and if so be prepared to work hard because it is a very competitive industry.


When Chwayita is not working she is spending her free time having fun with her 9 year old daughter. She has recently joined the gym and prior to that, down time was relaxing at home with her daughter, going out to bookshops for a coffee and a read, or going out to watch live performances in the theatre. Ideally when the opportunity arises one day she would love to travel extensively.


Chwayita believes she still has a lot of work to do before she can consider herself as successful, however she is very grateful for the recognition the company has shown her and for what they have done thus far. In saying this, her top 3 secrets to success are: Determination, Education and a Passion for whatever you decide to pursue in life.

Introducing the new Engel & Völkers Southern Africa Powerhub

It has been 15 years since the inception of the Engel & Völkers brand in South Africa. This year they celebrated their birthday with some progressive management changes within the company.

“We are positioning ourselves for exponential growth, both from a footprint perspective as well as with recruitment by attracting the best possible expertise into the Master Licence team” noted Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

They have just announced the latest changes to the executive, and welcome Grant Wheeler, Roger Bray and Gerrit Disbergen to the Engel & Völkers team. All the new members will be actively involved in the daily running of the business.

Grant Wheeler has taken the official position of Director of Business Strategy and will be involved in all aspects of growth in addition to  licence partner implementation strategies to ensure store profitability.

“I joined the company two years ago through the Engel & Völkers Bryanston shop initially as a passive shareholder. Living in the area I always saw the E&V boards and brand and it drew my attention from the start. Taking up the opportunity to get involved in the E&V Southern Suburbs and after familiarising myself with the systems, I wanted to get more hands-on and get involved in the growth potential on a national level. I am passionate about business and I am very excited about our future and know we are paving the way to disrupt the real estate industry”.

Grant has a Bachelor Degree in Architectural Studies and comes from an extensive background on the property development sector having run his own company for over 20 years. During this time, delivering some 5,000 homes, 8,000 serviced sites, and assembling and selling projects containing 18 000 stands. This alone speaks to the power he brings to the E&V brand.

Roger and Gerrit have a longstanding partnership with Grant, and upon seeing the potential, they decided to delegate their managed portfolios of over 6,000 properties worldwide, in order to become hands-on involved in E&V.

Roger Bray will be taking on the role of Regional Liaison for the Western Cape, giving the Cape Town shops support at their doorsteps.

Roger qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse Coopers and has been intimately involved in investment banking, firstly through Merrill Lynch and then later his own listed Financial Services Group. He has been closely involved with both Grant and Gerrit over the past 15 years in property development and has been instrumental in initiating and bringing to market a number of highly successful property developments.

“I’m really excited to be associated with Engel & Völkers and I can’t wait to see the impact of the new team on the business. The brand will really enable us to leverage our offering in financial services and we intend to be first to market on a number of initiatives”.

Gerrit Disbergen recently moved back to South Africa after living abroad in Miami, USA. He will be involved on the EV Finance side alongside Roger. . Gerrit will be located in Cape Town but will frequently be travelling to Johannesburg for one of the new, exciting projects we have secured around EV Finance. Like Roger, Gerrit is also a qualified Chartered Accountant (Ernst & Young) and has operated since the mid 90’s in the investment banking and private equity industries.

“I’m very familiar with the E&V brand and the inroads that it has been making into the international market and in particular the US where I’ve been living for the past 15 years. When the opportunity presented itself to become involved in E&V in a meaningful way, I leaped at the prospect as I’m very confident in the future of the brand and of EVSA. My vision is to aggressively obtain the potential that EVSA has in a market that has been dominated by large family franchises over the last few decades. I have been incredibly impressed with the calibre and professionalism of the EVSA network”.

Wendy Williams needs no introduction. She is one of the longest serving Engel & Volker’s staff members, being with the company for 11 years. With the new growth and projects, Wendy will be now take on the role as the regional contact point for Team Leaders, including their coaching, support and growth as well as ensuring more teams  are able to benefit from her expertise and knowledge.


“I am excited to take on the new challenge. Although it will be hard to hand my current team over to the hands of a new team leader, I know that the growth of us as a group will be of great benefit to them in turn”.

Craig Hutchison in his position as CEO will continue to ensure that all aspects of the business are aligned and running smoothly. His previous experience as CEO of JSE listed property company, Pangbourne Properties, as well as serving on other listed property company boards before joining EVSA, stands him in very good stead. He will work closely with the Executive Management team in realising the full potential of the business.

 “With the changes we have made to the executive, I am confident to say that we are the Real Estate Agency with the most accomplished management team in South Africa. A number of the projects we have been busy with have already been finalised and deals concluded, and we are working on many more. We aim to be the employer of choice in the real estate industry and are actively looking for high calibre individuals to join the sector for a successful career as we roll out phase two of our expansion in South Africa” Craig concluded.

Engel & Völkers join forces with a global private equity investor

Engel & Völkers Southern Africa and International Housing Solutions sign the first Engel & Völkers Developer Driven Projects License in the SADC region.


The partnership brings together the best marketing, control systems, and depth of development knowledge, ensuring the delivery of quality housing stock country wide.


“Combining the complementary strengths of both companies has resulted in a unique delivery approach, guaranteeing that well priced, quality housing is being delivered in the most efficient and cost effective way possible” shares Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


There exists attractive opportunities for both buy-to-let investors where rental track records are in place as well as first time home buyers eager to get into well located suburbs where well priced quality housing has been in short supply. “We are excited to bring to market such affordably priced housing units – all located in popular suburbs. The competitive pricing level ensures the beneficiaries of these units will be the middle income bracket, which as we know, is where massive demand exists and will continue to be our clientele as they climb the property ladder” Craig continued.


For more than ten years International Housing Solutions have been involved in the delivery of over 33 000 quality residential rental units. It’s these housing units which form part of the pipeline to be released into the market over the coming years.


The first phase of the roll-out, beginning July, will see the release of 900 housing units into the market with selling prices starting below R600 000. Over the next three years some 9,000 housing units will be released with a combined value just under R4 billion.


Grant Harris, Director of IHS Property Management explained that the value each company brings to this partnership cannot be understated. The synergies will ensure the success of this endeavour and we are proud to offer our well designed, energy efficient product into the market. In many cases these units form part of already functioning, vibrant communities that have been managed by us over a number of years. We look forward to Engel & Völkers’ approach to service as well as their ongoing care of customer needs”.


For more information on the upcoming developments, contact Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

About International Housing Solutions: IHS is a real estate investment manager, focusing on the development and management of residential projects for the fast growing middle income market. They partner with financial institutions, real estate developers, private capital groups and government authorities to provide equity finance for various residential projects, delivering energy efficient, affordable residential developments. IHS works with developer partners who have the reputation, organizational structure, track record and financial capacity to execute the proposed transactions and property developments.

About Engel & Völkers: Engel & Völkers is one of the world’s leading service companies specialised in the sale and rental of premium residential property, commercial real estate, yachts and aircrafts. Based in over 800 locations in total, Engel & Völkers offers both private and institutional clients a professionally tailored range of services. Leasing, sales, consultancy and valuations form the core competences of the staff of more than 10,000 employees. The company is currently operating in over 34 countries on 4 continents. Intensive training schemes in its in-house real estate Academy and the high level of quality assurance governing its systematically structured service provision are key factors that account for the company’s success.

What happens to a Sale Agreement in the event of death?

Buying or selling real estate isn’t as easy as it is portrayed sometimes, especially if there is a death of a party during the transaction which can make it awkward, tricky and inconvenient. Just because you enter into a contract to either buy or sell does not mean the deal will go through. “We are fortunate enough to have the expertise & knowledge within our group to assist in shedding some light on what would happen in the event of such a case” says Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Karien Hunter, a practising attorney from Engel & Völkers KZN Dolphin Coast have given us her expert guidance:


Sale Agreement remains valid

Agreements concluded prior to the death of either party to a sale agreement in circumstances where transfer has not as yet taken place, remain valid and enforceable.

The death of a party would however cause inevitable delays and in some instances it would no longer be practically possible to proceed with transfer, for example where a Purchaser had bought a property with mortgage finance from a bank as the bank would probably withdraw the bond as there would no longer be an income to support the payment of the bond.

However, on a cash transaction, the estate would be obliged to proceed with transfer and pay the purchase price, alternatively, come to an agreement with the Seller for the consensual cancellation of the sale.


Delays with the transfer of the property

In the event of the death of a Seller, the Power of Attorney signed by the Seller in favour of the conveyancers to effect transfer falls away and the conveyancers now require the signature of the Executor to such Power of Attorney to proceed with transfer. This applies even where documents have already been lodged at the Deeds Office and documents would have to be withdrawn from the Deeds Office in these circumstances. The Power of Attorney must be also endorsed by the Master of the High Court which can cause further delays.


The Master’s office will only endorse the Power of Attorney once it has satisfied itself that all its requirements have been met and that there is no impediment to the transfer of the property – for example, where an estate is insolvent.

What happens upon the sale of a property by an Executor after death?

  • An Executor can only sell and transfer a property with the consent of the heirs to the estate, unless the property is sold to meet the debts of the estate.
  • The Master’s office will likewise have to endorse the Power of Attorney to transfer the property which will be submitted to the Deeds Office.
  • The Master’s office will only do so once it is satisfied that the heirs have consented to the sale of the property and provided that the proposed transfer is in accordance with the liquidation and distribution account which has lain for inspection, with no objection.


With reference to the above it is clear that care should be taken upon the sale and transfer of a property where a deceased estate is involved, and that parties to a sale agreement are advised of the inevitable delays in complying with the provisions of the Administration of Estates Act and the Deeds Registry Act.

Insuring your most valuable assets

Owning a home comes with plenty of other considerations which one might not always be top of mind, one of which is insurance. Homeowners must always ensure that they are correctly covered; knowing what is covered and what isn’t can save you a lot of money and heartache in the future.


“Your home should be a place where you can always relax and being adequately insured will give you peace of mind for when life happens. From the structure itself to the valuables inside, being adequately insured will ensure that you are not burdened with the financial loss whilst going through the emotional stress of unexpected” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


It can be daunting choosing the right cover, whether you’re moving or want to renew your policy; here are some basics that everyone should consider:


Difference between Home Content & Building Insurance

Home contents insurance covers all the items in your house that you would take with you if you were to move.


  • Cover for loss or damage to household goods and personal possessions
  • Cover for loss or damage caused by fire, lightning, power surge, explosion, malicious damage, storms, bursting or over-flowing of geysers, equipment or pipes, break-in and theft
  • Cover for food that deteriorates because of a power failure or if your freezer breaks down
  • Cover for stolen washing and/or garden furniture
  • Cover in the event of you and/or your spouse’s death if caused by fire or break in at your home
  • Cover for your domestic employees’ or guests’ belongings (only if there is proof of damage caused by a break-in)


Building insurance covers you for environmental and accidental damage that might happen to the physical structure of your house and outbuildings.


  • Loss or damage caused by fire, lightning, explosion, earthquakes, the bursting or overflowing of geysers, equipment or pipes and storm or flood
  • Damage caused by animals, vehicles and falling trees
  • Malicious or intentional damage
  • Break-in or theft – if that break-in or theft causes damage to the actual building
  • Rent you lose if your tenant has to vacate the building as a result of damage by anything covered by the policy


The value a home is insured for does not reflect the market value of the property, but represents the amount it will cost to rebuild the entire house following destruction.


Home & Building Insurance options

There are many options available and every policy is different, it all depends on your specific need, property and personal criteria. According to Attie Blaauw, head of Personal Lines Underwriting at Santam these are the most popular options available for both home and building Insurance:


  • Fire
  • Subsidence & Landslip
  • Explosion
  • Lightning
  • Flood
  • Sea surge
  • Water/snow
  • Storm/wind
  • Hail
  • Earthquake
  • Burglary/theft
  • Malicious damage
  • Power surge
  • Accidental damage



What to look for when choosing Home & Building Insurance?

Know what’s covered:  It sounds simple but many people don’t know what is actually covered by their policy.


Beware of the upselling mortgage broker: Many banks and building societies encourage borrowers to take out home insurance that is tied in with their mortgage but you may find you are paying more than if you researched the market and insured through a broker. It is always worth looking for the policy that suits you best and provides the best value.


Estimates: Always ensure that you have accurate estimates for both the re-build cost of your home and the replacement cost of all the contents you had in mind when taking out the policy.


Keep an eye on annual increases: Most home insurance policies will increase every year on the basis that re-build costs are also increasing, always keep an eye on these increases.


True value underestimating: The true value of your home’s contents is a common mistake. Overlooking a few of those recent purchases could mean that some items may not be covered under your current policy. Always keep an up to date valuation of your possessions to ensure you have everything covered.


A list of what is covered must be drawn up and checked: Some policies offer more benefits than others, so it pays to check ‘who pays for what’.


The home must be insured for the full replacement value: This is not the same as the market value. The value of the land on which the house stands is excluded from the calculation of the replacement value of the actual building of the house.


What does Home & Building Insurance NOT cover?

Colin Mchunu, Senior Manager, Alexander Forbes Insurance advises you to check the exclusions as they differ from insurer to insurer. Every insurance company is a little different and what is included or excluded on your policy depends on their rules as well as the type of policy you have. It’s important to be aware of all exclusions on the policy and to prepare yourself by purchasing additional coverage to fill the gaps where needed.


Instances in which a claim may be rejected:

  • Damage caused by pets such as soiling, scratching, tearing, denting or defacing of the property.
  • Should you run a bed and breakfast from home; the appliances in the rooms are excluded from household cover.
  • Not all theft claims are covered unless forcible or violent entry on the property is visible.
  • If there is an indication of poor property maintenance resulting in damage that could have been avoided, namely termites, insect damage, bird or rodent damage, rust, rot, mould, and general wear and tear are not covered.
  • If there is damage to the property caused by roots and weeds.
  • Chipping of sanitary ware, wall or floor tiles or paving is not covered.
  • If there was a lack of sufficient security in place at the time of your claim.
  • If your home was left unoccupied for a significantly long period of time.
  • If your home should suffer a power outage, things like food spoilage are not covered under a standard policy.


Are you required to have Home & Building Insurance if you own a home?

Your mortgage lender would have made it a condition of the mortgage terms that your home has adequate building insurance covering your property’s structure and permanent fixtures. That’s not likely to be the case when it comes to contents insurance.  If you no longer have a mortgage and your property is owned outright, there’s no legal obligation to have either home buildings or home contents insurance.

Factors to consider to determine if you getting best premium

According to Colin, Alexander Forbes Insurance controllable factors that may influence an insurer’s quote are:-

  • previous claims you have made
  • superior security protections in place
  • voluntary additional excess you may choose

What factors can affect Home & Building Insurance premiums?

  • Value at risk
  • Location of risk
  • No claim bonus
  • Excess applicable
  • Security measures
  • Construction of building and extent of cover


“Your home is an extension of you, and considering the investment made on the property purchase, it is important to ensure home and contents are sufficiently covered in order to avoid costly surprises in the event of loss or damage” Craig concluded

Fireplaces making life a bit warmer

Winter is upon us and when considering ways to heat up your home, one obvious thought would be to add or restore an indoor fireplace. In light of the cost of electricity, homeowners are starting to consider the fireplace as a must have piece of heating furniture which provides a cosy ambience, comfortable gathering place for family and friends and adds value to a home.


“As with any home improvement, it is a good idea to take a moment to think about exactly what you are trying to achieve with your indoor fireplace.  Consider the structure that you already have, the amount of heating that you want to achieve and, of course, the design of your home” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


According to Hilly Nachman, owner of The Fire Place Studio there is never a bad time to install a fireplace, whether you are building or renovating, upgrading an existing installation or just installing from scratch. “Most people tend to wait till it gets cold and then are in a hurry to get it installed, so there is a fairly long lead time in mid-winter of 3-5 weeks”.


Choosing the right design and product is key to ensuring your fireplace is a positive component rather than an underutilised element in your home. There are various types of indoor fireplaces you can purchase; we compare the pros and the cons of some.


Wood Burning Fireplace

A traditional wood burning hearth typically made of stone or brick, is what most people think of when they picture a fireplace. There are a number of options in this category, and they can differ in terms of how easy they are to install, how much heat they put out and how cost-efficient they will be for you to operate. If you do not already have a fireplace in your home, it will require a fair amount of construction work to put in both the opening itself and the chimney for proper ventilation.


  • Valued for its aesthetic – you can’t beat the look and sound of a wood fire
  • They create a cosy, rustic atmosphere in any space
  • Most people like the smoky scent they give off


  • Expensive to install and to maintain
  • High maintenance
  • Spit out burning embers, so screens are needed to ensure safe use


Gas Burning Fireplace

A popular alternative to traditional wood burning fireplaces. Opt for a free-standing gas fireplace that utilizes a pipe which enables you to install your fireplace in any room.  Direct-vented models require a chimney for ventilation either a pre-existing chimney or a new chimney can be constructed.


  • Create more heat at a lower cost
  • Require less construction or reconstruction to install
  • Burn natural gas instead of wood and are easy to use


  • Despite burning clear, they still pose the slight risk of emitting contaminants
  • Need a line installed between fireplace and fuel source
  • May not offer the same feel as wood burning versions


Ethanol Burning Fireplace

Fireplaces that burn ethanol have become the current trend for their ease in installation as well as their contemporary design.  Most contain a burner that can be filled with the bioethanol fuel for easy repeated use.


  • They are more environmentally friendly and odourless
  • Require minimal installation
  • Can adjust the temperature and are easy to turn on and off


  • Provide less heat than gas fireplaces, won’t heat your entire home
  • Require refilling


Electric Fireplace

Easy to incorporate into a space and are quickly catching on as the most popular fuel type available. They create warmth by heating interior coils with electricity. Most models come with an internal fan to better distribute heat throughout your home. Given that there is no real flame inside an electric fireplace, they employ a “fake” flame to give them a lifelike look and feel.


  • Most cost effective option to install
  • Enable you to turn the heating function on or off while maintaining a fireplace-like ambiance
  • Low maintenance and safest option for a home with kids and pets


  • Less attractive and does not give that authentic fire feel
  • Energy consumption is high and will increase your electricity bill
  • Are not permanent fixtures so they are not likely to add value to your home


Table top Fireplace

These come in different sizes, enabling you to make use of them in a variety of settings.


  • Easily portable, often usable both indoors and outdoors
  • Simple, easy and safe to use
  • Relatively cost-effective


  • Heat output is lacking so should be used only as supplemental heat sources
  • Last only for a few hours
  • Need to make sure the tin cans are fully intact to prevent a hazard from happening


Wall-Mounted Fireplace

There are two subtypes of wall-mounted fireplaces, those that need to be connected to a chimney and those that don’t. The type you get depends on what type of fuel you use. Many people use a wall-mounted fireplace as the focal point of their room.


  • Saves space, common option for those with small homes or apartments
  • Self-contained wall-mounted fireplaces can even be moved from room to room as needed.
  • Less mess as they run on either gas or electricity


  • Less heat
  • Often looks faux depending on the manufacturer of the unit
  • No added value – is portable, it will not add value to the home


Wood Stove Fireplace

Modern stoves come in steel as well as cast iron. There are many, many different styles of fireplace to choose from, ranging from traditional style stoves all the way to contemporary double sided fireplaces heat radiates from all surfaces of the fireplace rather than large volumes of air escaping the chimney like with an open fireplace.


  • Very safe, have a glass door that traps the flames inside. This ensures a higher level of safety when the fire is in use.
  • Fuel efficient,  extremely eco-friendly as far as efficiency goes
  • There is little to no maintenance or effort required


  • Need a dry place to store wood
  • The upfront, capital cost of building a sizeable wood energy facility can be high
  • When wood burns it releases hazardous gasses (e.g., nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide) and soot.


Trends for fireplaces for 2018

Dave Tunbridge, Sales Manager at Fireplace Warehouse says that Fireplaces have really evolved over the years with the new products now being more environmentally friendly and efficient. Today’s fireplace design allows you to use less fuel for more heat and emit lower emissions into the atmosphere. Another design trend is that one does not need to have a black fireplace anymore as some units are available in different colours. Most clients are looking for modern or retro design units nowadays with the wall mounted type being one of the most popular selling units at the moment.

Andrew Balding, Managing Director at Morso agrees that the trend seems to be that fireplaces have a modern “white” finish.  White is regularly referred to as the most complementary colour that can be added to any room or decor. It’s simple and clean nature ensures cohesion and synergy with the rest of your furnishings, varying from traditional to contemporary.

Engel & Völkers Southern Africa celebrate at their Annual White affair

The team at Engel & Völkers Southern Africa knows how to work hard as well as how to let their hair down and celebrate their success. This year’s Annual Rewards and Recognition (R&R) function was held in the beautiful Stellenbosch Winelands amongst the Vineyards.


On 20 April over 150 Real Estate Agents, Licence Partners and Assistants, came together in Stellenbosch for their rewards function, with this year’s theme depicted the company ethos with elegance and in their corporate colour of white. The R&R is a special evening where the team from the E&V Master Licence recognise the achievements of the most successful employees of the past year. It also creates a platform where guests can enjoy the networking amongst their peers, and teams can come together and strengthen their relationships within their shops.


The eventful day started off with the Licence Partner conference at the Devonvale Wine & Golf Estate, providing a wonderful setting for the 40 participants in attendance. The main topic of the agenda was recruitment. “Visibility and recruitment will be key to unlock success in 2018, with the help of EV Training Academy, the focus will be shifted from quantity to absolute quality in recruits” stated Lara Machado, Head of SA Academy & Operations Manager of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


Simone Soltau, Head of International Franchise & Business Performance, representing the Hamburg Engel & Völkers headquarters also attended and shared her knowledge on the topic. Real estate property brokerage is often overlooked as a credible and lucrative career, which is changing rapidly as Engel & Völkers is at the forefront of driving this change through their international system and training programme.


As the sun started to set over the vineyards the time came for all the Licence Partners, Agents and Assistants to be recognized, acknowledged and celebrated at the Rewards & Recognition Function at the beautiful Landtscap venue, a modern location set amid the Cape Winelands.


As the guests made their way along the red carpet, they were welcomed by the AffodizzyActs violinist who set the mood for the evening. Guests gathered on the deck where they were able to enjoy the not only delicious, but stunningly bottled Carol Boyes wines and Craft beer sponsored by SARRPS IT Services, while mingling and admiring the panoramic views. While waiting for the main festivities to begin the MC van der Berg Attorney Oyster King and Sushi Queen kept guests entrained, serving bites of pure delight.


As soon as everybody arrived, it was time to settle down as starters were served whilst guests were welcomed and given a run through of the evening’s proceedings, after which everyone could roam and network at their leisure with some more surprises underway with a cigar tray from Private Property and a chocolatier from MacRobert Attorneys doing the rounds.


Once dinner services completed, it was time to start the formalities of the evening.  Awards were given in the categories such as “Money Maker of the Year”, “Team Leader of the Year”, “Brand Ambassador”, “CI Shop of the Year” and “Agent of the Year” for each region. Greg Crowder from Private Property also presented the Private Property Individual Online Excellence award to Jürgen Schreck from Potchefstroom, and the Centurion Office walked away as the Top Supporting Office.


“We congratulate all the winners, and know that their successes are a great inspiration to the rest of the agents, I am extremely proud of the achievements of everyone within the Engel & Völkers Southern Africa family,” proudly noted Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.


As the awards section drew to a close, it was time for the celebrations and party to begin. It got off to a spectacular start with a fibre optic whip dance act, followed by DJ Nic made possible by Mortgage Max, who created the perfect atmosphere for all those wishing to have some fun on the dance floor, which proceeded till the early hours of the morning.


Engel & Völkers Southern Africa wishes to thank you to all their partners who formed part of the event for their kind contributions, making an evening such as this possible.

From paperclip to howeowner

Did you know that one man managed to trade his way from a paperclip to a homeowner – here is how:

1. On July 14, 2005, he went to Vancouver and traded the paperclip for a fish-shaped pen.
2. He then traded the pen the same day for a hand-sculpted doorknob from Seattle, Washington.
3. On July 25, 2005, he traveled to Amherst, Massachusetts, with a friend to trade the doorknob for a Coleman camp stove (with fuel).
4. On September 24, 2005, he went to California, and traded the camp stove for a Honda generator.
5. On November 16, 2005, he made a second (and successful) attempt (after having the generator confiscated by the New York City Fire Department) in Maspeth, Queens, to trade the generator for an “instant party”: an empty keg, an IOU for filling the keg with the beer of the holder’s choice, and a neon Budweiser sign.
6. On December 8, 2005, he traded the “instant party” to Quebec comedian and radio personality Michel Barrette for one Ski-doo snowmobile.
7. Within a week of that, he traded the snowmobile for a two-person trip to Yahk, British Columbia, in February 2006.
8. On or about January 7, 2006, he traded the second spot on the Yahk trip for a box truck.
9. On or about February 22, 2006, he traded the cube van for a recording contract with Metalworks in Mississauga, Ontario.
10. On or about April 11, 2006, he traded the recording contract to Jody Gnant for a year’s rent in Phoenix, Arizona.
11. On or about April 26, 2006, he traded the one year’s rent in Phoenix, Arizona, for one afternoon with Alice Cooper.
12. On or about May 26, 2006, he traded the one afternoon with Alice Cooper for a KISS motorized snow globe.
13. On or about June 2, 2006, he traded the KISS motorized snow globe to Corbin Bernsen for a role in the film Donna on Demand.

Solar Power in your home

Solar energy has exploded over the last decade with the cost of solar panels decreasing, making solar more affordable than ever.  Many homeowners have already invested in this to make their homes more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but if you are still investigating the options available to you, this article could assist you in taking that final step towards sustainable living.


“Whether you go completely off-grid or simply supplement your household energy intake with a smaller system it will already be the start to increasing your property value. The primary investment of solar power is often enough to scare one off, however the payback period of your investment, and  future rewards, make solar power affordable to most homeowners” comments Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.



What is solar power?

Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaic (PV), indirectly using concentrated solar power, or a combination of both. It’s renewable, and can be used in a variety of ways to sustainably fuel homes, producing hot water and electricity.


Why consider solar power?

Solar systems require very little maintenance and you could end up saving up to 60% -80% on your electricity bill, depending on the size of your home and what kind of solar energy system you install. Whether you build a new energy efficient house or upgrade your existing one, solar technology will definitely add to the value of your property.


How solar works?

  • Solar panels collect sunlight and channel it to an inverter, where it’s converted to electricity to power your home.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight to direct current (DC) electricity.
  • The electrical panel sends power to your lights and appliances.
  • The meter tracks how much electricity is generated and measures the energy you draw and feed back to the grid.


Some solar electric systems will use batteries to store the unused electricity.


Cost involved?

Solar energy systems can be quite expensive when it comes to installation. The size of your home as well as the amount of work that is involved for installation will determine the cost. The costs are decreasing as new technology is introduced for more efficient solar energy generation.


Cala van der Westhuizen, Head of Marketing and Sales, Energy Partners Home Solutions highlights the main pricing categories as follows:


  • The complete heating solution costs around R35 000 for the average home.
  • The complete Solar photovoltaic (PV) system costs upward of R80 000 and should be viewed as a long term investment solution.
  • The cost of the ICON Home Energy Hub ranges between R100 000 – R180 000.


Some suppliers are approved credit providers and offer financing options for homeowners. Energy Partners has also developed a long term lease model, where the client can simply lease the system    instead of having to pay for it upfront.


Where should one start?

Installing a solar system is not just a matter of putting up a few panels and adding a few batteries, there is no standard system, each system has to be correctly sized to suit the requirements of each home. Make sure the company you are dealing with is an established company with a good reputation and can provide the correct advice and service backup.


 When investing in solar technology, it is important to prioritise, reducing your heaviest loads first, as this will deliver the greatest savings:

  • Start by replacing the home’s light bulbs with energy efficient lighting.
  • Replace your home’s geyser with a heat pump, or solar geyser. A highly insulated hot water storage system can also cut the homes electricity costs by an estimated 50%.
  • A solar photovoltaic (PV) system can provide up to 30% of an average home’s energy. It is hugely beneficial in the long-term and must be viewed as an investment. However, before embarking on this, it is important to understand whether the home’s rooftop has been designed to accommodate the optimal number of panels.
  • Lastly, homeowners can choose a complete integrated system. A hybrid inverter and battery, such as Energy Partners’ own ICON Home Energy Hub, enables property owners to integrate power from their solar PV panels, the national grid and batteries. It also incorporates a mobile app to track energy usage and savings in real time.


Latest technology

Until a few years ago solar panels were a scarce sight and largely limited to the roofs of affluent households. This has changed rapidly in the last ten years; the specific development in solar energy has seen the sharp drop in prices and an increase in technological advances in solar technologies and in power storage.


According to Cala van der Westhuizen from Energy Partners Home Solutions, solar panels are currently at the top of their game. Storage is improving constantly and lithium ion batteries are currently the preferred technology with many other technologies in battery storage being developed. Another exciting product that has been introduced is a DC element and solar PV conversion that can be applied to your current geyser.


As technology improves, the cost of the technology will decrease and investment recovery periods for the solar equipment and devices will become much shorter.



  • Saves money – after the initial setup costs have been taken care of, you will start to benefit from having solar energy by reducing your electricity bills and see it is indeed a return on investment.
  • Increase property value – buyers are increasingly interested in eco-friendly homes and the increased efficiency with a pre-installed solar panel system is an added bonus.
  • Reduces your carbon footprint – solar power is environmentally friendly and doesn’t produce any carbon emissions, it’s clean and renewable, which allows you to do your bit to alleviate global warming.
  • Low maintenance – once you have your solar energy system installed, you don’t need to maintain it, once you’re equipped you’re set to enjoy years of trouble free energy.
  • Multi-functional – solar power can be used in many ways namely to generate electricity, charge batteries, power lights and heat water.



  • High initial cost – to install solar power in your home will require a substantial initial investment.
  • Weather dependent – solar panels need direct sunlight to gather solar energy effectively. A period of cloudy, rainy days can have a noticeable effect on the energy system. Unless you include a system of batteries with enough capacity to store up energy to last your home through the night, as well as days/weeks when it may be raining or overcast.
  • Positioning is important – household and other structures do not always allow for the ideal positioning of solar panels on your property.  If you install them in an area that doesn’t get much sunlight, you will still get some energy but you won’t get the full benefits.
  • Solar energy storage is expensive – solar energy must either be used immediately or stored in deep cycle solar batteries with PV inverters. The batteries can often be large and heavy, taking up space and needing to be replaced from time to time.
  • Space required – extensive space is needed to house enough solar panels for significant electricity production.


The sun is an unbeatable source of renewable energy, providing us with more energy in a single hour than the world’s population uses in one year, if you are looking for ways to boost sustainability in your home, having solar power is key. As electricity prices soar and the cost of solar power installation decline, a renewable energy investment is increasingly looking like a smart choice for all homeowners.