Moladi solves key low-cost challenges

Moladi solves key low-cost challenges
By Roux van Zyl Business Reporter
WHO would have guessed that houses could be exported from Nelson Mandela Bay?
Local entrepreneur Hennie Botes, designer and owner of Moladi, has been doing just this for the last two decades, of which five years were spent in Port Elizabeth.
Technically speaking he does not export a whole house, rather the means to build a house within one day.
The concept is based on casting technology. First a mould is built from plastic shutter panels in the form of the planned house and is then filled up with a light-weight mortar.
The mortar takes only one day to dry and is then ready to receive a roof and other finishes like window frames and plumbing.
Botes, a tool-maker by trade, started designing the system in 1986. While building a wall at his house he wondered if it might not be possible to cast a whole wall.
Botes developed a plastic injection moulded shutter system that was strong enough to handle the pressure of concrete.
“However, you can‘t live in concrete – it is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. So I had to develop an alternative material. “This material is like Kentucky Fried Chicken, it has secret ingredients,” he laughed. His cementitious material consists of river sand, cement, water and the “secret” chemical admixture.
He subsequently patented and received SABS approval for the entire concept.
Botes felt Moladi addressed the three key challenges in the low- cost housing market, namely lack of funds, skills and time.
The wall forms are removed in sections and can immediately be re-erected on an adjoining site thus speeding up the construction process.
He said Moladi brings the cost of low- cost housing down to about R680/m². A Port Elizabeth building contractor contacted by the Weekend Post this week estimated the building cost of a typical RDP house using cement building blocks at between R1 250 and R1 600/m².
Despite Moladi‘s potential benefits, Botes said it took him a number of years to sell the concept because of a reluctance in the building industry to embrace new building methods, with “outdated building methods, like bricks” still the order of the day .
He markets Moladi mainly to third world countries like Panama where he plans to set up a factory, Mexico, Angola, Botswana and Kenya and negotiations are being finalised with Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Sudan, Algeria, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador and Venezuela.
He sells the concept as a licence to building contractors and provides support in the form of a business plan while assisting the new licensee to build their first show house as part of a skills transfer process.
Because most of his customers are outside South Africa he moved down to Port Elizabeth to be close to a harbour.
“Although most of my customers are currently outside South Africa, local interest is growing,” he said.
To confirm this belief, Botes recently won a subsidy housing merit award at the Innovation Housing Competition sponsored by the National Homebuilders Registration Council (NHBRC) and Absa Bank.
Looking at the future Botes remains confident.
His vision is to establish an assembly line for constructing houses. This could even see the cost of building lower even more, he said.

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