FEATURES Cement, mixed and ready for use. No communication between the contractor and the client – and vice versa – can cause conflict. It’s important that the contractor understands what is required of him. Van Wyk says, “Communication is critical with all parties on site to ensure that everything goes according to plan.” USING CONCRETE Concrete’s durability, strength and relatively low cost make it the backbone of buildings and infrastructure worldwide. Materials such as wood, steel, plastic and aluminium can replace concrete in terms of effectiveness, price and performance for most purposes. The use of cement and concrete as a building material has been tried and tested for years. “It has been proved over and over as the ultimate in construction,” says Minnaar. According to Minnaar, equating a price on affordability is tricky because there are many factors at play such as different brands, durability, quality standards, as well as maintenance on the construction. The CMA promotes the use of precast concrete. Concrete can be used in many applications where clay is insufficient. Clay has a specific aesthetic value and is perfect in certain applications. Concrete, especially precast concrete, is diverse and can be engineered for any application such as schools, hospitals, apartment blocks, bridges, tunnels, dams, sewerage systems, pavements, runways, roads and more. Concrete pavers are less expensive than brick, due to the lower cost of raw materials. It offers far more design and colour options. Concrete pavers are precisely uniform and easier to cut. “The size of the aggregates used in concrete, or the composition of sand used, plays an important role in the future strength of a structure,” says Van Wyk. The benefits of concrete include its durability, fireresistance, low maintenance, energy efficiency plus it is 18 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2017 AFFORDABLE SA HOUSING Quality products should be used and considered when building or paving with cement or concrete because they save money in the long run. environmentally friendly. In fact, concrete is the most widely used man-made material on earth. Minnaar says that the best way to save money when building or paving with cement and concrete – and without compromising on quality – is to consult industry experts for guidance in best practice principles when using the materials. Also make use of precast producers, which will guarantee quality and speed of delivery and lastly use only skilled contractors. Using affordable building materials, especially cement or concrete, improves project delivery time, guarantees quality, is durable and the end result provides pleasing aesthetics. While it is important to stay within budget, affordability shouldn’t take priority over quality. As this can end up costing the project and inhabitants more than the initial project’s budget. The use of reputable suppliers and industry experts go a long way to minimise costs. Affordable housing is after all about the long-term investment and not the short term. With the right products and proper planning, the use of cement or concrete offers the rigidity and strength it’s supposed to. Additionally, concrete has impressive weather proof properties and superior strength.