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When Sarel and Liza­mariè du Plessis de­cided to build a cot­tage on their 1ha small­hold­ing in Ri­et­valleirand, Pre­to­ria, they chose a com­bi­na­tion of steel gird­ers and roof sheet­ing. The rea­son? The process is rel­a­tively sim­ple, their gar­den­ers were able to do most of the con­struc­tion, and it’s quick and in­ex­pen­sive. And be­cause this type of con­struc­tion re­quires no bricks and mortar work, and very lit­tle con­crete, they were able to keep their car­bon foot­print low.

Sarel and Liza­mariè are both ar­chi­tects, with Pulse Ar­chi­tects and Pro­ject­works re­spec­tively, and have been liv­ing on the prop­erty for 20 years. They were de­ter­mined that the con­struc­tion of their new cot­tage would be ‘greener’.

“Over time, we plan to build about 20 sim­i­lar cot­tages and rent them out so we have an in­fla­tion-linked in­come once we re­tire,” ex­plains Liza­mariè.

“Steel can be eas­ily re­cy­cled and it’s a more ecofriendly way of build­ing.” Yes. The quick­est and cheap­est way is to cut open­ings in your walls, in­sert the steel gird­ers and then plaster. Get an ar­chi­tect or en­gi­neer to check whether the struc­ture has the nec­es­sary load-bear­ing ca­pac­ity. Steel gird­ers can also be bolted to a brick struc­ture, pro­vided the bricks are strong enough. There are two de­sign op­tions: ei­ther let the steel con­trast with your

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