Cheaper solutions needed to housing backlog

By Anel Powell - Alternative building materials could alleviate many of the structural problems at the N2 Gateway development, says Richard Dyantyi, MEC for local government and housing.Speaking at the opening of a two-day conference on innovative building methods on Monday, Dyantyi said: "The conventional system of brick and mortar has proved to be costly and in relation to the rate at which the backlog is increasing, to no longer be a viable option." At a weekend public meeting, Dyantyi admitted to residents of the N2 Gateway development that work on some of the houses was sub-standard. He said work on the second phase would continue once the problems in the first phase had been solved.

Dyantyi said on Monday that the N2 Gateway could be one of the sites identified for a pilot project of alternative building methods.He said structural problems, such as those at the N2 Gateway, were caused by incompetent contractors and inferior building materials. Dyantyi said the government had to work with the private sector to find cost-effective solutions to the housing backlog, estimated at more than 400 000.He said the biggest challenge would be to convince home owners that structures made of steel and other materials were as reliable as conventional brick or timber houses.Alternatives discussed at the workshop included using light-weight steel frame structures, which cost less and can be erected more quickly.John Barnard, of the SA Light Steel Frame Building Association, said these structures could be used for multi-storey complexes, were fireproof, provided insulation and acoustic protection, and could be built in less than a month using unskilled labour.

Hennie Botes, of Moladi Construction Technology, said using alternative building methods would allow for the rapid delivery of quality houses, while empowering the local community. "With housing, we can stimulate job creation."

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