By: Luzuko Pongoma

A faster and affordable form of housing technology is forging ahead as the construction industry is revolutionising.

To date, in the country, there’s about 177 Agrèment South Africa (SA), approved Building and Walling Systems. Agrément SA is a Technical Assessment Organisation which is mandated to provide assurance by carrying out testing, evaluation, confirmation and certification of fitness for purpose of non-standard construction products and systems through, quality products and services and improve speed of service delivery.

Of the 177 Agrément SA, approved building and walling systems, about 77 are registered on the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) dynamic Database. The government has entrusted the NHBRC to protect the interest of the consumers and ensure that builders comply with the prescribed building industry standards as contained in the Home Building Manual. The NHBRC, as a statutory body, is also mandated to enforce compliance to approved building standards including all IBTs approved by Agrèment SA. These two organisations work closely to ensure developers follow the rules.

One of the players in the field certified by both Agrèment SA and the NHBRC is Green Build SA which was developed over several years starting with accreditation of the Alternative building concept in 2013.

Cade Parton, Director of Green Build SA, says the advantages of their system is the that it is affordable in terms of costs, faster in terms of construction and consistent quality and has an efficient labour force.

“The Greenbuild Technology uses its materials more efficiently, reducing cost by approximately 30% from conventional methods and 50% from other alternative building technologies,” he says.
Parton says their system allow contractors to build at a faster rate, with one full set of equipment being able to build over 1000 units per year at full capacity.

“The technology allows for perfectly mixed materials. Ensuring the consistent quality of foundations and walls. Wastage is limited and data is collected on every house built,” he says. 

Parton says the Greenbuild technology uses its labour force more efficiently, with training and skill transfer taking up to one week.”On our  site at full capacity, 170 local unskilled labours and 32 artisan labours are employed,” he says.

He said the organisation identifying the  need for quality, solid, low cost and affordable housing that is not prefabricated yet can provide fast track mass rollout of housing at an affordable price

Parton said the construction industry in the country has faced challenges especially the alternative building technology.”Many external factors hampered the systems progress such as: acceptance of ABT’s by residents of specific areas, many projects being specified as conventional builds, not being able to tender on the “same playing field” as conventional building companies, access to funding etc. But we are facing the challenges head on and have started to conquer them,” he says.

Parton says another challenge is that their building system is developed for the mass housing market and this requires a large capital investment for contractors to get started on projects. 

He said the organisation has built units in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal with many projects in the pipeline throughout South Africa

“Having studies various systems in the world and assisting in the development of similar systems in other countries, we believe that our building system and equipment compares well with the best the rest of the world can offer and is in many respects far superior. The construction “climate” in South Africa is very different to the rest of the world & this needs to be considered when developing building systems.”

He said the public had little to no exposure to the IBT in South Africa and abroad but the help of the Department of Human Settlements and Housing Development Agency, they were trying to change this.
Parton says their current clients were predominantly the private sector for various different types of housing projects but they were also seeing an interest from government also. 

Their system included the use of batching machine, light-weight re-usable formwork and foam concrete.

He says the systems only disadvantage was the high capital layout for the start-up process, this fact becomes negligible when the cost of equipment is spread over 5 years delivering 5 000 units

“The system is ideal for “average citizens” but it can also be used for upmarket clients as the wall method and quality stays the same. The only change is that the finishes used are of a higher quality such as  paint and cornicing,” he says.
Recently the organisation built a house for a child headed household of four from Winterveldt in the North of Gauteng using their system as a donation.

“The family has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations, but when meeting the family they do not wear this on their sleeve. Tumelo and his 3 younger siblings are intelligent, young adults who showed huge promise if they were given the opportunity to kick start their lives in the right way. After the huge effect the COVID–19 pandemic had on South Africa and the world, Greenbuild SA wanted to give back in the best way they knew how – constructing quality affordable housing. After viewing the living arrangements, the Mashitisho family was living in towards the middle of 2020, Greenbuild SA had the honour of donating a 40m2 affordable house to the struggling family,” he says.

Parton said that the donating the house also went a long way in educating people about ABT
“Hundreds of individuals have come into the house expressing their delight in the process and the quality of the unit. The fact that the Greenbuild Building System produces a “solid feel” wall is a big factor in this. We hope to educate people in this manner around South Africa in the years to come,” he says.

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