Building homes in two days

Cindy Preller

READY to enjoy the fruits of his labour, Hennie Botes has grounded his business with a solid root system – stretching back 27 years. He built his first brick-free house in 1986 by using a technology he invented himself – using a plastic cast to build walls consisting of reinforced steel and a mix of cement, sand and a special additive.

“That first home is still in perfect condition. People are always initially skeptical of new technology but the social acceptance of the product has grown over the years,” Botes said.

He started Moladi Construction to solve the problem of cumbersome and costly conventional methods of building.

“I read a book about solving problems and selling the solutions. After the birth of my daughter, I invented a baby bath and sold 20000 baths. That inspired me to begin Moladi.

“As humans, one of our most basic needs are housing and at the moment in our country it is costing billions to fix faulty RDP homes.

“It is important to build quality homes the first time,” Botes said.

Last Thursday Moladi’s first big social housing contract was launched at the eThekwini Municipality (Durban) where 20000 Moladi homes will be built.

“The homes have been valuated by the bank at R250000. We build the Moladi homes at a cost of R87000 for a 40m² home,” Botes said.

One of the big advantages of the Moladi method of construction is the speed at which an entire home can be built.

It takes about five days to make a mould for the homes, which can be re-used 50 times. It takes just one day to complete the foundation and another day to build the home.

“Moladi means giving birth and the company brings forth new homes. It is a low-cost method of building but not low quality.

“In fact, some homes that were built in the Western Cape using this method sell for about R600000. It is the finishes that determine the value of a home, not the technique used to build the walls,” Botes said.

Botes said the Moladi walls had a density of 15 MPa, compared to the 4 MPa of an average cement block.

Constantly looking for new inventions, Botes is in the process of getting Moladi roof tiles approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

“The product is now starting to get the wow-factor – people find it unbelievable that it takes only two days to complete a house. In 2006 we won an Absa housing innovation award and we were also invited to exhibit at a housing solutions exhibition in New York,” Botes said.

Already well-established as a building method elsewhere in Africa, up until recently, Botes mainly concentrated on exporting the Moladi product to other countries from his Uitenhage factory, which employs 25 people.

The plastic mould is exported while building contractors use their own sand, cement and local unskilled labour to construct the homes.

“This adds to keeping the cost of building the homes so low.

“We have been a technology supplier and promoter of entrepreneurship for years. “Our motto has been to train the unemployed to build for the homeless. However, we have recently felt the need to enter the construction industry and the demand for our product and services throughout the rest of South Africa has just been amazing,” Botes said.

Botes was also invited as speaker to present at the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI) next week.

Moladi has also been involved in building classrooms for the national department of education.

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