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The dangers of using bakkie builders PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 November 2008

…pay a little more, but ensure safety and quality

A major building supplies company has warned the public against going for cheap, underqualified builders or installers.

Underfloor heating“It’s going to add costs every time,” Claus Jakobsen marketing manager for the world’s biggest underfloor heating supplier, Danfoss said. “Because the economy is in a downturn people are trying to cut back on costs, but what it has meant is that we are developing an ever lengthening list of clients who have been ripped off, had ‘builders’ or ‘installers’ disappear with deposits, install dangerously inadequate items especially those of an electrical nature, uneven tiling, the list goes on and on.

“If people are uncertain of who to use they should ask organisation like the Master Builders Association, major manufacturers such as our company – we have a dedicated email address to help contractors and the public at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , or big retailers to the building community.  Word of mouth, for example, asking a friend or neighbour is not always reliable we’ve had instances where the neighbour was happy but the second time around at the new client the job was botched badly – often it has to do with how knowledgeable a customer is about building and how well they monitor the work that impacts on whether or not they can expect shoddy workmanship and short cuts.”

He gave some recent examples:  

A client we meet at a recent Homemakers Expo was quoted on our product and unfortunately did not accept it. He claimed we were too expensive and that it was not rocket science to install underfloor heating. He asked a local builder who did renovations on his house to also see to the underfloor heating – here there is an important lesson, a person who is expert in one field eg building is not necessarily competent in another such as underfloor heating. You wouldn’t go to a chiropractor and ask him to deliver your baby and the same stands true in the building industry. Ready for a quick buck, the builder installed some floor heating, laid some tiles and got his fee.

Two days later the client phoned us to apologise, completely unnecessarily, but he said he was very sorry he had not chosen us. His floor heating only worked in half of his living room and the builder could not be reached. The client was distraught and ended up paying a considerable amount to new, proper underfloor heating laid - but at least now it works.

A couple in Parktown North decided to put floor heating in their bathrooms and trusted an elderly builder in the neighbourhood to do the installation. According to him you needed no certificate to connect electrical underfloor heating systems. The installation was done in a bathroom and besides the skew tiles and poor workmanship – every time they turned on the heating the electricity system in the house tripped. Not able to get hold of the builder a Danfoss specialist was called in and the system now works and is protected by a 10 year fully comprehensive warranty.

At a recent site visit, where a number of houses were being built I saw that floor heating was being installed in the house next door. It was in a bathroom and by law you have to have an earth connected cable. An earth connected cable is a safety precaution for the client when installing in wet rooms. In a wet room the client can get killed if there is no earth connection on the cable - it is as simple as that.

When I raised this very serious issue with the installer I was told - in no uncertain terms - where I could stick my concerns. I naturally informed the builder and the electrician, but I am not sure if anyone took this vital precaution.

Danfoss Underfloor Heating which celebrates its 75th birthday this month has been in South Africa for 15 years and is the market leader.

Danfoss gives a 10 year guarantee on its product when installed correctly. It cuts 25% off heating bills for those consumers who install it and if linked to solar energy with water based underfloor heating the cost drops to almost zero. Underfloor heating makes use of water at with temperature ranges of 45 deg C which is considerably lower than the 80 deg C used in water or oil based radiators. 

As heat is radiated, less air movement means no cold draughts and with less dust being circulated with warm floor temperatures bacteria and dust mites are reduced by up to 80% which lowers the risk of allergies and respiratory problems including asthma in humans. A constant climate also aids healing and Danfoss underfloor heating is used in burn units in Europe and England because of this.

Room temperatures using underfloor heating can be reduced by up to 2 deg C yet still provide the same level of comfort – each 1 deg C reduction in temperature reduces fuel consumption by six percent.  Reduced energy use obviously places less pressure on national electricity grids and the amount of carbon emissions generated.  This underfloor heating method can also be linked to solar technologies.

Danfoss ensures that no electro-magnetic fields are issued from its products which lower the risk of carcinogens (cancer producing agents) in the environment, which is particularly important for reducing cancer risks in children. Danfoss has been producing energy-friendly products since 1933.

For more information contact:

Claus Jakobsen, Marketing Manager, Danfoss 082 564 0868 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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