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