As exciting as it can be to run a building project, regardless of whether it is started from scratch, or is something on a smaller scale, like a renovation, more often than not there is going to be some or other challenge present. These differ from unreliable contractors who can delay deadlines and unnecessarily ramp up overall costs through to project managers who, at no real fault of their own, suffer from a lack of information on how best to tackle unique or unusual situations.

These challenges can be overcome – or even better – never occur in the first place, with the direction of the right building industry professional. Their advice and guidance can see a development from start to finish with minimal challenges. Their presence is even more important when it comes to high-end projects, on the scale of upmarket developments, hotels and other commercial spaces.

“We have years of experience and a good technical understanding of building projects,” says Belinda Barrington, an Architectural Specifier from Tile Africa who focuses almost exclusively on large developments. Her job is to be a trusted technical consultant that joins and advises the project team from beginning to end. “Our skill and knowledge allow us to provide invaluable insight to our clients. We guide them and offer solutions that are specifically tailored to their unique requirements and ensure that their wall, floor and other needs are met to the best of our ability.”

It may be easy to brush that off as simple sales talk, but Belinda elaborates by detailing the unique skills she is able to deliver to her clients, over and above the typical industry offering. “I have years of experience from the fashion trade under my belt. This allows me to recommend products and décor that I know will match the look and feel my customers are aspiring towards.”

“I do all of this, constantly aware of a client’s concerns,” she adds. “Their specified budget, technical requirements and desired aesthetic, for example, are always top of mind, even more so because I’m often working on something much bigger than a standard home renovation.”

Working with a professional specifier comes with a whole lot of other perks and benefits, some of which may not be immediately apparent. When it comes to sourcing specific floor or wall finishes at a good price, for instance, relationships with suppliers are very important.

Tile Africa’s Specifiers, particularly those who have been around for a number of years, will have these relationships in place. This, combined with sales insight and tact, allows them to source products not only at an attractive price, but in a speedy manner too. “My buying knowledge from the fashion world certainly has proved to be handy,” says Belinda. “It has allowed me to coordinate my import lead time with project deadlines even more effectively.”

Though a professional specifier is capable of providing clients additional value in the way of saving them time and money, and helping them overcome all manner of challenges, there are unfortunately some variables that lie far out of their realm of control. The exchange rate is one such instance. Prices on building materials can swing up and down because of these rates and this can prove to be frustrating for a client who has a specific budget in mind.

A good building industry professional can manage these unexpected occurrences and others, at least to some extent. They cannot adjust the exchange rate, but their understanding of the industry allows them to plan ahead for any shortfalls. Not only that, their relationship with suppliers for example, can help offset fluctuating prices to some degree.

At the very least, a building industry professional will be able to suggest a suitable alternative to a client in the event that the product they need is too expensive, or in short supply. “Managing expectations is crucial,” says Belinda. “We’re always honest with our clients, keeping them updated with what’s going on with the materials we’re sourcing for them. Some are on very tight deadlines and we want to ensure that we hit them.”

When time isn’t an issue, building industry professionals can really flex their capabilities, demonstrating just how they can go above and beyond what is expected of them. Tile Africa recently had the opportunity to guide and advise a family on the flooring and bathroom ware products that suit their lifestyle from start to finish. The Habig family were building their house from scratch after their old one, sadly, burnt to the ground. They were lucky to be alive.

“It took one and a half years to construct the brand new Habig home,” recounts Belinda. “I spent hours putting ideas together for them, for everything from the laminate flooring to the mosaics. The project was so important to me that I became involved in other aspects of it too, helping with the paint, carpentry and more.”

Whatever project you are working on, bringing a building industry professional into the fold is definitely a consideration you might want to make. After all, the process of building a dream home, or the perfect commercial space should never be a nightmare.

For more information, contact Tile Africa on +27 (800) 002 783 or via