SA Affordable Housing January / February 2017 // Issue: 62 - Page 19

FEATURES Cement and concrete: affordable, durable building The jury is out - when it comes to affordable building material, the cement and concrete industries have a lot to offer. But building affordably should never mean compromising quality. By Ntsako Khosa Precast concrete is the most versatile building material and can be engineered for any application. Image: Cement is the tried and trusted building material that is versatile and the backbone of buildings and infrastructure worldwide. Image: H As a rule most building materials will average out with regards to cost when bought from reputable suppliers. “A project becomes costly when it is not managed well. Well managed projects save money,” says Minnaar. aving a quality structure or building doesn’t just start with having the necessary materials for construction, it’s also about finding ways of working against the natural elements. “The earth’s surface is in constant flux, expanding and contracting with the seasons in response to changes in temperature, humidity and moisture. Paving is also subject to expansion and contraction,” says Remi Anderson of Anston Architectural. “Every pavement needs to be carefully planned to accommodate movement.” Incorrectly-specified materials may lead to immediate or future building failures as a result of increased loads or owing to the corrosion of foundations from surrounding soil conditions. Stone and slate specialists, Bellstone, says that the use of concrete pavers require less maintenance and they are also much stronger so they will stand the test of time in terms of environmental degradation. Quality products should be used and considered when building or paving with cement or concrete. Frans Minnaar of Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA) points out that using quality products saves money. “This reduces the need to redo work that is of an unsatisfactory standard because quality products weren’t used,” he says. However using quality products for building or paving isn’t enough to keep costs as low as possible. A reputable contractor is necessary to complete the job to your satisfaction. “They complete projects faster, saving on project duration and costs. You are also assured that there will be no returns on completed jobs,” he says. MAJOR MISTAKES AND THEIR RISKS Common mistakes that industry experts have seen surface from poor planning or the use of substandard materials to save money. “The use of below par material compromises project quality and increases costs to implement repairs,” says Minnaar. Anderson says that it is unprofessional and risky not to adhere to simple building or paving guidelines. “Not sticking to the steps can unexpectedly cripple a business through rectification costs, long after the pavement is installed,” she says. Material failures may not only cost the company money, but also cost them their reputation. “Unskilled contractors equal substandard results and this compromises project quality,” warns Minnaar. He also mentions that using substandard cement is another mistake. This cement is mostly imported at a cheap price and compromises quality. Instead he recommends the use of reputable South African cement producers. “In instances where one supplier is cheaper than another, it is probably because the company is using inferior, non-SABS approved cement, illegal aggregates, unqualified labour and/or non-purpose built equipment,” says Johan van Wyk from the Southern Africa Readymix Association (Sarma). AFFORDABLE SA HOUSING JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2017 17