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The Low Cost Housing Pandemic Construction Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 5350 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This research report has been compiled for the purpose of providing an efficient and effective solution to the glaring housing pandemic currently prevalent in South Africa.

The South African government has to some extent, through the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), realised their obligation as mentioned above; however, the desired results have not yet been achieved. It has been a daunting task for the government to provide housing to the large population of indigenous people, so young into a democracy.

The aim of this research is essentially, to provide a solution to the perplexing problem of providing adequate housing as it is a fundamental human right, and it must be noted that the lack of success over the years in providing the said housing has caused an insurmountable amount of distress to affected communities and has put an enormous amount of pressure on the South African Government in terms of their obligations toward service delivery.

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Consequently, this compilation presents undoubted findings which imply that the government is being pressurized by the housing backlog within the KwaZulu- Natal Region, more especially on the area known as the Kennedy Road informal settlement which is part of the Suburb of Clare Estate and also includes the Umlazi B10 Housing Project and in turn they require suggestions on a more concrete approach to sustainably meet the demands placed upon them by the ever growing populous.

One such suggestion that must be viewed with a keen eye is the relatively new and exciting initiative introduced by Moladi, which has already been used in countries such as India, Mexico and Nigeria with tremendous success.

South Africa has been plagued by an almost unsolvable housing crisis. It must be noted that the specific goal of this research is to assist in exploring new alternatives to the conventional building methods employed by the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which will subsequently be proven, has fallen apart.

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Background-History of research

According to Sayed Ally (2009:3), despite the fact that South Africa is 18 years into the great democracy of 1994, a large percentage of the indigenous population in this country have been subjected to deplorable and in actual fact, completely inexcusable living conditions.

Sayed Ally (2009:3) further highlights that promises of improved housing conditions, better education and lower unemployment levels have not materialized to date, however, we cannot say that the struggle has been in vain as South Africa has progressed from being labelled as an apartheid state, to becoming one of the most developed countries on the African continent.

Part of the stepping stones to this achievement have been through strategies based on the improvement of education facilities, black empowerment policies to level the plain fields of the previously disadvantaged, and housing initiatives such as the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP). However, as mentioned by Sayed Ally (2009:4), we have not tasted the fruits of success, as implementation of some of these policies has failed to lift off the ground. This is blatantly evident as the presence of slums or shacks as it is referred to colloquially, have become the popular means of shelter for those underprivileged individuals who had trusted in the promises made by their ideal government.

Although there have been attempts made by the government to replace the informal settlements with low cost housing, this process has been slow indeed.

According to Majavu (2011:2) the department of performance monitoring and evaluation in the Presidency has warned parliament s human settlements portfolio committee that the Human Settlements Department is making slow progress on 2014 targets.

The primary concern to the government should be to solve the housing problem by providing suitable shelter to all citizens in need of it. This is because people with homes to go to, have a sense of belonging. (Wikipedia, 2012) A roof over the head of an individual grants him the opportunity of maintaining his/ her human dignity! It is a fundamental right of any human being to have a house, and duly stated in Section 26 of the South African Bill of Rights. Sayed Ally (2009:4).

If successful, the alternative provided by this research will provide assistance in resolving the ongoing housing problem in Kwazulu-Natal through the initiative discussed below, and hopes to provide not only shelter, but also employment as well as ease the burden of the government in providing adequate service delivery, thus making South Africa a better place for all those who live in it.

1.2 Problem Statement

The problem to be investigated may be stated as:-

Moladi (the concept of shell housing), an alternative to South Africa s conventional construction methods, once incorporated into the Government’s low cost housing policy, may assist in overcoming the failures prevalent in providing low cost housing which are associated with the conventional construction methods, thereby providing permanent shelter to displaced South Africans.

1.3 Objectives

The objectives of this study are:

i. Comparing and identifying the traditional building methods in the construction of low cost housing, design-and-build and the provision of an excellent end product.

ii. Identifying factors such as: innovative designs, workmanship, selection of inappropriate material, approval of defective products and the quality of staff.

iii. To identify and propose appropriate alternative solutions to challenges regarding the lack of sufficient funds, the shortage of skilled labourers, a lack of resources, work flow control, time constraints and wastage.

1.4 Significance of this research study

The above averments have one goal and that is to assist in the process of repairing the problems created by poorly constructed conventional method houses in the affected areas of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Sayed Ally (2009:13) points out that over the past 15 years, many companies were contracted to build low cost houses for the previously disadvantaged, however, till today we find homeless people living on the side of the road, or if they are lucky, to live in an informal settlement. The numerous cases of poorly constructed houses, corrupt contractors, and misuse of government funding has done little to help the man on the street. The government has even gone to the extent of hiring foreign companies such as Golden Nets International to complete the job, but even they produced inefficient homes which subsequently collapsed in bad weather.

The research that follows herein below examines the impact that shoddy building techniques has had upon low-cost housing in South Africa, more so in Kwa-Zulu Natal. This would be done through the examination of factors such as design and workmanship. In addition, the anticipated outcome of this research is to see a change in the quality of low-cost housing projects as well as an improved product for house occupants.

1.5 Design

According to Wentzel L (2010:3), most of the blame for inadequate building performance and low quality work is placed on the designer. This however puts a lot of pressure on the designer, pressure such as a lack of awareness of the building processes; or for failing to understand the latest technology and the performance of innovative materials; or the reluctance to delegate authority to project-based supervisors; or simply for not spending more time on these building sites. However, Barrie and Paulson (1984) mention that designers generally recognize that no human undertaken task produces absolutely perfect results. Therefore designers often specify not only the desired standard for the characteristics that define a product, such as dimensions or strength, but tolerance or ranges for acceptable variations from the standard. These standards therefore need to be maintained and quality of conformance monitored by the construction manager, who will also be held liable if quality standards drop. Wentzel L (2010:3).

A proudly South African initiative otherwise known as Moladi, takes construction to an entirely new dimension. The speed and minimal costs involved, allow for the development of building a house a day Moladi.net (2012).

The multi award winning Moladi construction system was founded in South Africa in 1986 as a method of building cast in place reinforced monolithic structures Moladi.net (2012). The Moladi technology was developed as a means to alleviate many of the cumbersome and costly aspects associated with conventional construction methods without compromising on the quality or integrity of the structure Moladi.net (2012).

Managing director Mr Hennie Botes states that the Moladi system involves the use of a removable, reusable, recyclable and lightweight plastic formwork mould to produce a durable and permanent structure, which has been subject to numerous tests and independent reports. As the system is not pre-fabricated off the building site or dependant on skilled labour, the use of the Moladi system allows for local, unskilled labour to be employed, he stated Moladi.net (2012).

Women, who have traditionally been either reluctant or discouraged from working within the male-dominated sector, are encouraged to participate in the non-labour intensive building process, Mr Botes added Moladi.net (2012).

He explained further that the process involves assembling a mould the size of the designed house, with all the electrical services, plumbing and steel reinforcing located within the wall structure, which is filled with a South African Bureau of Standards approved lightweight mortar to form all the walls of the house simultaneously Moladi.net (2012).

The method, he noted, eliminates the time and labour intensive work of chasing, beam filling, plastering and generates no waste.

1.6 Workmanship

According to Wentzel L (2010:3), when human error occurs at the setting-out stage of the construction process (which is the first physical activity in the chain of activities), the result might be very costly and the ripple effect down the chain of activities maybe disastrous in terms of time constraints. Swain and Guttmann (1983), found four types of errors in the construction industry. They are: time, qualitative, sequence and quantitative errors, which can take place. Time errors occur when a task must be performed within a specific time. Qualitative errors are such errors which include right action on wrong object, wrong action on right object, wrong action on wrong object, information not obtained/ transmitted or substitution/ intrusion error. Sequence errors however occur when an activity is done or performed out of sequence. Quantitative errors are errors which are made in rates, prices, and mathematical errors. Wentzel L (2010:3)

Wentzel L (2010:4) stated further that, when focusing on the issues such as the housing backlog, design faults, lack of skilled shortages and client manipulation, it is made clear that all these factors influence low-cost housing in South Africa currently.

As mentioned above the Moladi Shell Housing concept, has been designed and manufactured to address the six key challenges that determine the successful implementation of low cost housing projects in developing countries. These challenges would be the lack of sufficient funds, the shortage of skilled labourers, a lack of resources, work flow control, time constraints and wastage Moladi.net (2012). Chasing, beam filling, plastering and wastage are eliminated, producing a fast track, cost effective, transferable construction technology Moladi.net (2012).

(Moladi.net 2012:3) (Moladi.net 2012:3)

(Moladi.net 2012:3) (Moladi.net 2012:3)

1.7 Limitations

i. The research is conducted specifically on the construction processes of low cost housing units.

ii. Research is angled at mass housing initiatives providing an alternative to the normal building techniques (using brick and block).

iii. The research area is confined to the Kwa Zulu Natal (Clarestate and Umlazi) region.

iv. The research was completed in a time frame of six months.

Some of the limitations regarding Moladi are:

v. Moladi systems cannot be used or are undesirable for use in boundary walls. They are primarily used for housing.

vi. Moladi systems cannot be used to build cavity walls. However, it provides good thermal and water proofing properties.

vii. Moladi systems cannot be used to do extensions to homes. Moulds for once of applications would not be cost effective.

1.8 Conclusion

In conclusion, alternate building techniques form an integral component to the building industry; however, it is inflated significantly when examining low-cost housing. By analyzing objectives stated in this chapter, we can consequently draw conclusions about the building techniques that are currently used in the construction of low-cost housing in South Africa, in comparison to newer innovations and techniques that may better address the issue.

Chapter 2

Literature review

2.1 Introduction

Objectives were presented in the preceding chapter in order for the identification of possible problems that are related to workmanship qualities and poor design methods in the construction process in terms of the provision for low cost housing.

Quality standards were also raised alongside time and cost factors, which affected design as well as workmanship at the same time.

In order to place these submissions in proper perspective, this chapter will review the relevant literature that is currently available, particularly on shoddy building techniques and its impact on the low-cost housing sector.

2.2 Building techniques

Building may refer to, any human-made structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or continuous occupancy, or an act of construction (i. e. the activity of building. (Wikipedia, 2012).

Building Techniques refer to different methods adopted in construction processes and phases which provide alternate options to conventional or traditional building methods. It also plays a substantial role in the low-cost housing sector because of the high demand for mass housing that has to be constructed over short contract periods. Low income housing refers to residences for persons or families with low annual household earnings. Its purpose is to provide places for people to live within their range of affordability. Quality is being severely compromised as more focus is being placed on quantity.

2.3 Poor construction techniques and the R.D.P

According to Mbonambi (2012:4), an article that appeared in the Mercury Newspaper, soil and mud tumbled down into the back walls of people s homes and water seeped through the walls and floors, this is what residents of Umlazi have experienced in their new RDP homes since moving in early in 2011. The article states further that some residents were afraid that their houses, in the Umlazi B10 housing project, would collapse and they would be injured or even killed.

Some of the problems that contribute to the impending failure of the RDP programme are the use of inefficient labourers. In 2005, the Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel was taken on a tour to observe the good progress of RDP houses in Port Elizabeth, he was shocked when he saw that the millions of rands being spent by government were producing incomplete walls and door frames that were not according to size. (Sayed Ally: 2009:5)

(Sayed Ally:2009:5) mentions further that this is one of many examples of the lack in competence of the labourers tasked with the responsibility of ensuring quality but efficient housing skills in the RDP programme. In contrast, the Moladi housing initiative does not require skilled labourers to build houses, in fact, it is mostly unskilled workers that are utilised, and more predominantly females are encouraged to be involved because of the simplicity and repetitive nature of the process

Natasha Odendaal (2012:3) reported in the Engineering News’s print magazine that Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale stated that the rectification of substandard construction work on many of the low-cost housing projects throughout South Africa has left the State with a bill of about R50-billion. As a result of this, he again posed the question of whether it was time to establish a State-owned construction company to undertake the many housing projects in the country engineeringnews.co.za (2012).

Having considered the above it can be deduced that, current building techniques are failing dismally.

The minister was exasperated when he stated that inexperienced, less-than-credible shovel, wheelbarrow and bakkie brigade construction groups involved in the tenders for government’s housing programmes were delivering shoddy workmanship and many of their constructions were falling apart. Black economic-empowerment was not a licence to deliver substandard or poor-quality work, he said engineeringnews.co.za (2012) Odendaal (2012:3).

Sayed Ally (2009:5) avers that in addition to the higher costs and incompetent nature associated with RDP housing, the programme has been riddled with numerous counts of corruption on the part of project managers and other stakeholders involved. The development in the Mpumalanga region has reported that as many as 8000 houses were left incomplete after project managers filled their pockets and quietly exited the scene (SamaYenda, 2005). It is due to these factors that public perception has embraced a negative attitude to the process of low cost housing. As a mandatory requirement, the institution of a project of this magnitude would require efficient labourers, who have been trained on the job to produce the most efficient results.

According to Tabane (2002:1), Gauteng pays 41 million rand for 8 RDP houses, the city of Gauteng paid 41 million rand (forty one million Rand) for 8 RDP houses this means that the eight RDP houses cost the Gauteng housing department a whopping R5-million each. It is just one of the startling findings uncovered by an investigation team appointed by Housing MEC Paul Mashatile.

It is evident that various electronic as well as print media associations are publishing their discoveries regarding the ineffectiveness of the RDP, but still, it seems that rampant corruption and inefficiency on the path of government is ever present and in fact stalling the rate of success needed for the completion of the incumbent housing projects.

Streek (2001;5) confirms that 7.5-million people are still without shelter, and between two and three million houses still had to be built to meet this need. Many of these people are living in informal settlements in urban areas, where 53.6% of the population live, whereas others share accommodation. The pace of housing delivery annually has declined – from 300 000 in 1997 to about 200 000 the following year richardknight.homestead.com (2012)

Streek (2001;5) states that the housing shortage is still desperate, he further states that, Minister of Housing Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele says, we will be slowing down further – we have to look at the quality issue and at tenure alternatives richardknight.homestead.com (2012).

2.4 Traditional and Alternate Building Techniques

South Africa is a third world country that is in its crawling stages of development. Emphasis has been placed on the drastic changes that need to occur in order for South Africa to move forward. The government has not been able to provide any suggestions to enhance the condition of housing thereby elevating the plight of those poor South Africans who have no roofs over their heads.

2.4.1 Traditional Building Techniques

Traditional bricks or blocks are moulded in a small mould and then laboriously stacked by an artisan and sandwiched with mortar to form a wall structure. The electrical and water pipes are positioned by grinding and chasing into the brick wall. The wall is then plastered to cover the pipes and services, as well as the brickwork, to create a level and smooth surface Moladi.net (2012).

2.4.2 Alternate Building Techniques

Supplemented by evidence that appears throughout this dissertation, Moladi comes forth as the most suitable alternative to repair the in-competencies of traditional building techniques currently used for low-cost housing.

Moladi follows an optimised and sequential process. This allows for the number of unskilled labourers, which are utilised effectively, to be predetermined according to the size of the house, area of formwork for the intended unit and volume of the mortar Moladi.net (2012). The speed of the construction is also taken into consideration to calculate the number of unskilled labourers on site, with larger units having additional unskilled labour to optimise construction time Moladi.net (2012).

Table 2.4.2.1 as shown below outlines the model of operation of the two day building process in a summarised step by step format adopted by Moladi Moladi.net(2012).

Table 2.4.2.1

OUTLINE OF THE MODEL OPERATION

DAY ONE- START 11HOO FINISH 17H00 DAY TWO- START 07H00 FINISH 17H00

STEP 1:

Moladi Formwork is delivered to site.

Area= 74m

Mass= 550kg

Volume= 3m?

Moladi Formwork panels are assembled by unskilled labourers to form the mould panels of the desired house plan.

STEP 1:

Moladi formwork panels are removed

Moladi formwork panels are completely removed in 2 hours with 4 unskilled labourers

STEP 2:

Internal Formwork panels are erected

Window frames and block-outs are positioned within the wall cavity

Reinforcing bars are positioned within the cavity to engineer specifications

STEP 2:

Immediately after the formwork panels are removed, the walls are painted with a water based paint

Oil or acrylic based paint can be applied after the walls can be cured or within 28 days.

STEP 3:

Door frames and black-outs are positioned within the wall cavity

External formwork panels are erected to close off the wall cavity

Erection is completed in 4 hours with 4 unskilled labourers

STEP 3:

The engineer certified roof is installed

The windows and doors are installed

Final finishing s such as sanitary ware and lighting are completed

The structure is now ready for occupation

STEP 4:

The wall cavity is filled with Moladi aerated mortar by unskilled labourers

The pour is completed in 2 hours with 4 unskilled labourers

Moladi.net(2012)

To evaluate the viability of Moladi s housing techniques against conventional building techniques, some of the salient features are listed below:

I. Moladi provides cheaper housing in a faster time period than any other form of housing.

II. Efficiency of production is maximized as each foreman will be educated to minimize costs by Moladi project managers themselves and thus transferring their skills.

III. Reusable nature of Moladi framework system makes it ideal in reducing costs as well as meeting environmental standards.

IV. The process is not dependant on skilled labour.

V. Experience, expertise and track record of our contractors will come into valuable use as a large operation of this magnitude will require diversification of skills.

VI. A fast, simple, adaptable and a low construction cost technological building system.

VII. Highly suited for use in mass housing markets, without compromising quality.

VIII. Utilizes indigenous materials to produce high standard permanent structures that are earthquake, cyclone and tsunami resistant Moladi.net (2012).

2.5 Conclusion

The creation of Moladi houses are very simple and differs from the normal lengthy building process commonly associated with construction. Once the foundation has been laid, a lightweight plastic shutter framework system (Moladi) is erected and mortar is used to cast the house resulting in a one piece reinforced walling system. (Moladi.com 2012:3) In a matter of 10 days, a Moladi house can be completed. Such an inference may ease government s pressure and allow them to focus on other avenues that need their attention such as poverty, health care and education.

Chapter 3

Research methodology

3.1 Introduction

Chapter 2 presented an overview of existing literature. It was determined that there are various factors leading to problems concerning poor building techniques in housing construction more so, affecting the low-cost housing sector. These factors however, do not only reflect pessimism but in actual fact they bring about a sense of prosperity for the simple reason that South Africa itself, is undergoing substantial development and growth which takes time and will invariably lead to an upliftment of the lives of those who are inadequately accommodated.

In order to test the quality of Building Techniques two research methodological approaches were employed namely Qualitative and Quantitative methods which will be presented and analyzed to substantiate the validity of this research.

3.2 Qualitative Research Methodology

Qualitative research is a type of scientific research. In general terms, scientific research consists of an investigation that:

I. Seeks answers to a question.

II. Systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question.

III. Collects evidence.

IV. Produces findings that were not determined in advance.

V. Produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study.

Qualitative research shares these characteristics. Additionally, it seeks to understand a given research problem or topic from the perspectives of the local population it involves. Qualitative research is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviours, and social contexts of particular populations. (Qualitative research methods: A data Collector s field Guide 2012:1).

3.2.1 What are some qualitative research methods?

The three most common qualitative methods, explained in detail in their respective modules, are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Each method is particularly suited for obtaining a specific type of data.

I. Participant observation is appropriate for collecting data on naturally occurring behaviours in their usual contexts.

II. In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals personal histories, perspectives, and experiences, particularly when sensitive topics are being explored.

III. Focus groups are effective in eliciting data on the cultural norms of a group and in generating broad overviews of issues of concern to the cultural groups or subgroups represented.

(Qualitative research methods: A data Collector s field Guide 2012:2)

The qualitative method as used in this research incorporates both questionnaires delivered by hand in association with standardised open ended interviews that were conducted.

In order to gather theoretical and honest responses from the respondents emphasis is given to the method above.

3.3 Quantitative Research Methodology

Quantitative research is a formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data are used to obtain information about the world. (Burns & Grove 2005:23)

This research method is used:

I. To describe variables;

II. To examine relationships among variables;

III. To determine cause-and-effect interactions between variables.

(Burns & Grove 2005:23)

Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include:

I. The generation of models, theories and hypotheses.

II. The development of instruments and methods for measurement.

III. Experimental control and manipulation of variables.

IV. Collection of empirical data.

V. Modelling and analysis of data. Wikipedia.org (2012)

This method has also been incorporated into this research. Quantitative research is utilized in order to achieve appropriate statistical outcomes, which would assist in ascertaining supplementary theoretical recommendations and subsequent conclusions.

3.4 Questionnaires

A questionnaire is a series of questions asked to individuals to obtain statistically useful information about a given topic. When properly constructed and responsibly administered, questionnaires become a vital instrument by which statements can be made about specific groups or people or entire populations. Wikipedia.org (2012)

Questionnaires are frequently used in quantitative marketing research and social research. They are a valuable method of collecting a wide range of information from a large number of individuals, often referred to as respondents. Wikipedia.org (2012) Adequate questionnaire construction is critical to the success of a survey. Inappropriate questions, incorrect ordering of questions, incorrect scaling, or bad questionnaire format can make the survey valueless, as it may not accurately reflect the views and opinions of the participants. Wikipedia.org (2012)

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According to Wentzel L (2010:31) the data which is collected by questionnaires may be qualitative or quantitative. Wentzel L (2010: 31) further mentions that questionnaires do however lend themselves more to quantitative forms of analysis. This is partly because they are designed to collect mainly very discrete items or packages of information, with either numbers or words which can be coded and represented as numbers. Wentzel L (2010:31) in addition mentions that this emphasis is also partly due to the larger scale of many questionnaire surveys, and their common focus is on representation, which encourages a numerical or quasi-numerical summary of results.

3.4.1 Types of Questionnaires

a. Contingency questions – A question that is answered only if the respondent gives a particular response to a previous question. This avoids asking questions of people that do not apply to them (for example, asking men if they have ever been pregnant) Wikipedia.org (2012).

b. Matrix questions – Identical response categories are assigned to multiple questions. The questions are placed one under the other, forming a matrix with response categories along the top and a list of questions down the side. This is an efficient use of page space and respondents time Wikipedia.org (2012).

c. Closed ended questions – Respondents answers are limited to a fixed set of responses. Most scales are closed ended. Other types of closed ended questions include:

I. Yes/no questions – The respondent answers with a “yes” or a “no”.

II. Multiple choice – The respondent has several option from which to choose.

III. Scaled questions – Responses are graded on a continuum (example: rate the appearance of the product on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most preferred appearance). Examples of types of scales include the Likert scale, semantic differential scale, and rank-order scale (See scale for a complete list of scaling techniques Wikipedia.org (2012).

d. Open ended questions – No options or predefined categories

 

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