Housing solutions for lower-income groups have been taken to a new height with the introduction by a Port Elizabeth company of what it says is a world-first modular home system that can be built above existing homes.
Direct Group Africa is behind the homegrown Eezi thermal modular building system, developed in Port Elizabeth and referred to as “flyover” housing units.
It has taken 10 years to refine and be approved by the SA Bureau of Standards, National Home Builders Registration Council and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
It had also been approved in terms of home loans by most of the major banks, the company said.
Direct Group executive Johann Dreyer said the modular housing system had been launched in New Brighton last month and would soon be rolled out to the rest of the country.
Comprising either two- or threebedroom units which rest above the ground on a super structure, the housing system – which has a wide range of other applications – is aimed mainly at the extensive backlogs in housing provision for the poor.
More specifically, Direct Africa is marketing the system in areas which have relatively well-established neighbourhoods and a scarcity of unoccupied land for housing.
“We are targeting the forgotten housing market – those who earn between R3 500 and R15 000 a month,” Dreyer said.
“Importantly, this system is also geared towards helping families to retain their traditional support systems by providing extra living space for extended families.
“The unit can be constructed above an existing dwelling, meaning that it will help to eradicate backyard living, and help families to acquire more space.”
The system can also be applied to properties where the owner and potential new occupant are complete strangers, Dreyer said.
A mechanism had also been introduced whereby a property owner’s municipal debt could be offset by the introduction of a flyover unit above the property.
“As an example, an existing property owner may have a significant outstanding debt with the municipality. The owner can consent to have the unit erected above his or her home and their debt or a significant portion of the debt to the authority can be paid [in this way],” he said.
“The municipality can also charge rates for both dwellings – which will use the same water, sewerage and electrical infrastructure – and thereby increase revenue.”
When applied to a property with an existing dwelling, the new dwelling will legally be treated as a sectional title unit.
Dreyer said an additional benefit to municipalities was that the population densities on existing land could be increased.
Another advantage was that the housing system was designed to be 45% cooler in summer and 45% warmer in winter in comparison to normal houses.