Adding value to affordable housing market

Adding value to affordable housing market

A home in Christiana, North West, constructed from Corobrik’s CoroJem face brick which was specifically designed for the affordable housing market.

A home is more than just a place to sleep and store personal belongings – it’s a representation of who the occupants are, an extension of what they represent in this world and a tangible example of their place in society.

And because of this, a home must be created with a level of care and consideration that acknowledges the dignity that is owed to every individual, says Corobrik’s commercial director, Musa Shangase.

“The successful construction of affordable housing developments across the country has really cemented Corobrik’s relationship with government as a supplier of high-quality material that comes with a number of associated economic, environmental and social benefits,” says Shangase.

“Looking purely at the aesthetic aspect, the clay face brick range, which comes in attractive earth tones, is universally acknowledged as an aspirational product, evoking inspired feelings of comfort and satisfaction for homeowners.”

And anyone who has been a recipient of one of Corobrik’s generously donated affordable homes can attest to this, says Shangase. Working closely with government departments and leaders within rural communities, Corobrik is committed to fulfilling the Constitutional mandate that outlines that every citizen has a right to adequate housing.

Being a leading supplier of face bricks for affordable housing developments, Corobrik is further meeting government requirements of dependable, attractive structures for all projects by delivering the highest quality product every time. In the past year alone, Corobrik has supplied millions of bricks to affordable housing developments countrywide.

These include:

  • 37 million Corobrik Moroccan Red Travertine face bricks for Platinum Manor, a Central Development Projects affordable housing scheme in Pretoria.
  • A range of Corobrik products – 3.8m Burnt Apricot face bricks, 200 000 Montana Travertine face bricks, 3.9m plaster bricks, 10 000 geolok 400, 10 000 geolok 300 and 2 000m2 of pavers – were used in the construction of one of South Africa’s biggest social housing developments, Aloe Ridge in Pietermaritzburg, developed by non-profit organisation, Msunduzi Housing Association.
  • 2m Moroccan Red Travertine face bricks and 1.8m of Corobrik’s Nebraska Travertine face bricks were used in the construction of The Junction @ Forest Hill, Pretoria, a 440-unit affordable housing development by Central Developments.
  • In another Central Developments project 3.3m Nebraska Travertine face bricks and 1.7m Classic Satin face bricks were used in the construction of Eldoraigne Retirement Village, Pretoria.

Shangase says the organisation is committed to consistently adding value to the affordable housing and entry-level housing markets where there is little disposable income for maintenance.

“Corobrik specifically designed the CoroJem face brick for the affordable development’s market,” explained Shangase. “It filled the need for a product that was visually appealing, economical and long-lasting with all the other associated benefits of face brick. It also, most importantly, fits the criteria of creating a finished product where people would aspire to live.”

The CoroJem is twice the width of a standard brick and is laid as a single skin. This means it offers a solution that is applicable across a wide spectrum, from low-cost subsidised housing (at 40m2) to gap housing (80m2) and the affordable housing (80m2) arenas.

“Corobrik’s CoroJem face bricks were a response to government’s call for quality, inexpensive and maintenance-free houses,” says Shangase. “Double skin walling is about 20% more expensive in the wall than CoroJem’s through the wall format. This means savings on mortar and labour, reducing the overall costs of CoroJem construction. In a relatively short period of time, we have seen the CoroJem emerge as a frontrunner for the holistic solution it affords.”

CoroJem, along with all Corobrik’s face bricks, is associated with many beneficial qualities that are perfectly suited to the affordable housing market, the first of which is the cost-saving attributes.

CoroJem and other face bricks save costs as they don’t need to be plastered or painted. This also saves on future maintenance costs, which is particularly important in the affordable housing market.

Face brick also has remarkable thermal efficiency which enables the building to store heat and remain cooler for longer than many lightweight structures. It deals efficiently with extremes of temperature in summer and winter so that, regardless of how hot it becomes outside in the daytime or how much cooler it gets inside the house at night, the interior remains comfortable. In a country like South Africa, with such extreme climates, this insulation is beneficial to occupants who can’t necessarily afford artificial heating or cooling systems.

The nature of affordable housing developments often necessitates the construction of homes in relatively close proximity. Under these conditions, face brick’s material density provides a natural sound barrier which facilitates quiet indoor environments, offering a form of sound insulation. Secondly, face brick also has excellent fire-resistant properties which help prevent the spread of fires and minimise damage as a result.

The mineral properties of the clay prevent the release of volatile organic compounds which are known to impinge on indoor air quality. They also facilitate the absorption and release of moisture from the air to help keep humidity within a 40 to 60 percent level – essential for healthy living. This, again, promotes comfort and also serves to protect household valuables.

The durable nature of face bricks allows for the construction of solid homes that promise homeowners longevity. This, once again, saves on costs associated with maintenance or re-building of homes, pertinent in a sector where savings are very meaningful.

Because of these qualities, clay brick construction is increasingly being recognised as a vital component of green building in the quest to find solutions that eliminate or meaningfully reduce the adverse impact of development on the environment and its occupants.

“Comparative studies undertaken by WSP Green by Design show face brick building as the most viable way forward for house construction in South Africa,” says Shangase. “This is directly related to its competitive built cost, thermal comfort, life-cycle energy costs and overall life-cycle costs. The attractive, earthy tones that come from creating bricks from clay result in an attractive finished product and it’s this aesthetic quality that really makes a house feel like a home.”

Corobrik continues to uplift the lives of those in disadvantaged communities by empowering individuals through its extensive training programmes. The organisation has three training centres – Lawley Centre in Gauteng, Avoca Factory in KwaZulu-Natal and Lansdowne Centre in the Western Cape.

The three not-for-profit centres focus on upgrading the skills of SA citizens through an extensive training programme. The instructors – all of whom are qualified artisans and assessors accredited with the Construction SETA (CETA) – provide theoretical training in class, with participants then given real-world experience with some on-site practical experience. On successful completion of the training programme, candidates receive a certificate, and have the skills to secure employment in the construction field or even start their own businesses.

“Skills development remains a key priority in SA and Corobrik is committed to playing a meaningful role in this process,” says Shangase. “Our three training centres are designed to provide unskilled workers in the public and private sectors with recognised qualifications in bricklaying, blocklaying and segmental paving disciplines.”

Some recent training programmes included:

  • The four-day intensive training of 21 SANparks employees at Lansdowne Centre in paving, grouting and the construction of flower boxes and benches.
  • A nine-week bricklayer course for 12 Swellendam community members, sponsored by the Swellendam Tourism Economic Empowerment Partnership.
  • A 10-month bricklayer training course for 30 Western Cape residents sponsored by the Department of Public Works.
  • On-site assistance on various construction projects in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
  • A three-week course for the members of the communities in Glencoe and Dundee areas in KZN.

“Corobrik will continue to play an important role in the building of the South African nation, offering high quality products for the creation of sustainable, appealing buildings that citizens are proud to call ‘home’,” says Shangase.