Home rev­o­lu­tion takes off

Bay man sells unique con­cept to coun­tries across the globe – and maybe also PE, writes Guy Rogers

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS -

ANELSON Man­dela Bay con­struc­tion com­pany has just signed off a deal to build more than 1 000 homes on the other side of the world. The re­cip­i­ent, the tiny Pa­cific is­land na­tion of Kiri­bati, is south­west of Hawaii in the mid­dle of the Pa­cific Ocean.

It’s an un­likely desti­na­tion for a South African prod­uct, but the rep­u­ta­tion of Port El­iz­a­beth’s Mo­ladi, and the rev­o­lu­tion­ary plas­tic mould they use to build houses, is open­ing doors around the world.

They’ve al­ready built hun­dreds of thou­sands of homes in coun­tries from In­dia to Mex­ico and next week Mo­ladi founder Hen­nie Botes is due to fly to Saudi Ara­bia at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Saudi hous­ing min­is­ter to dis­cuss a pos­si­ble project to build one mil­lion houses.

Back home, Mo­ladi has been strug­gling to get in­volved in tack­ling South Africa’s af­ford­able hous­ing de­mand.

How­ever, the rea­son Botes did not leave for the Mid­dle East this week was an ap­point­ment with Nel­son Man­dela Bay ex­ec­u­tive mayor Athol Trol­lip and metro hu­man set­tle­ments chief Nqaba Bhanga.

“This is the first proac­tive visit we have had from any South African gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials so we were im­pressed,” Botes said.

She­vaughn Botes, Hen­nie’s older daugh­ter and one of three women in­clud­ing her younger sis­ter Ca­ma­lynne who run the com­pany, said 1 156 houses would be build in Kiri­bati.

“The client is the Kiri­bati Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion and three form­works of dif­fer­ent sizes will be shipped over with one trainer,” She­vaughn said.

“It’s very ex­cit­ing and we’re work­ing out who’s go­ing to go.”

This form­work, a light­weight, re­mov­able and re­us­able plas­tic mould, is Mo­ladi’s cor­ner­stone, Botes’ in­ven­tion that made the rest of the Mo­ladi de­sign possi- ble. The form­work pan­els, con­nect­ing rods and spac­ers are man­u­fac­tured at a fac­tory in Uiten­hage, li­censed out usu­ally to a hous­ing de­part­ment and then put to­gether on site by the ben­e­fi­cia­ries, with the guid­ance of a Mo­ladi trainer.

With the form­work clipped to­gether and erected like a child would build a Lego model, the pipes, doors and win­dows in­serted, a mix of con­crete and a spe­cial Mo­ladi ad­di­tive are poured into the wall, floor and foundation moulds.

The next day the form­work is un­clipped and the house is ready. No plas­ter­ing was needed and only the roof needed to be fit­ted, Botes said.

“The re­duced build­ing time, sim­ple trans­fer of skills and easy trans­porta­bil­ity and reusabil­ity of the form­work mean we can de­liver a home that’s not only six times stronger but also half the price of a bricks and mor­tar house.”

Ac­co­lades and at­ten­tion from a raft of in­ter­na­tional agen­cies, in­clud­ing the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum, United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme, Rock­er­feller

“I want to be the Henry Ford of sus­tain­able mass hous­ing”

Foundation and Smith­so­nian In­sti­tute have en­dorsed this pledge.

Botes, a large af­fa­ble man who started out as an ap­pren­tice tool and die maker with the rail­ways af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing in Dur­ban, said he was still over­awed – but now sure of his calling.

“The house is the base from which many of our other so­cial prob­lems can be solved,” he said.

“Here in South Africa, if we em­power ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to build their own homes, for in­stance, we can stop the ur­ban­i­sa­tion that’s drain­ing our re­sources in the cities.

“In­stead these ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties can be en­cour­aged to stay on the land, grow food and mar­ket it to the cities.

“I want to be the Henry Ford of sus­tain­able mass hous­ing.”

BREAK­ING THE MOULD: Mo­ladi founder Hen­nie Botes has solved the hous­ing dilemma

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