Building method enhances speed, costs  © 2009 APC HOMES -. All rights reserved 29 Sep 2009 Aspiring home-builders can now build homes faster and  cheaper. A new, innovative building method makes it possible to erect a  new 80sqm home within three weeks - for just R280k and  without compromising on quality. The stand is not included in the price. It sounds like a fairy tale, but this is exactly what APC Homes are managing to  do after three years of refining their method and obtaining the necessary certification and approval.  This amounts to building costs of between R2,800 and R3,500/sqm, depending on the finishes, when compared  with the conventional bricks-and-mortar method, whereby a house costs between R4,200sqm and R5k/sqm to  erect. These savings filter directly through to the buyer.  By using APC Homes' building method, there is a sharp break with the conventional building method. Pre-  manufactures pillars and concrete panels with strengthened steel frames are being used, instead of bricks and  cement. The method could bring about a recovery in the struggling SA building industry  and will specifically be a lifebuoy for manufacturers of concrete walls, says Nico  Monteiro, director of APC Homes.  The concrete wall industry is suffering due to these walls becoming less sought-  after over the years. He says the idea is to involve this industry and to make use  of the existing infrastructure of the more than 500 cement factories across the  country to produce the concrete wall frames.  This can breathe new life into the industry and prevent further job losses.  It is also suitable for any type of house, ranging from luxury houses to RDP houses.  The reason why it is so much cheaper is because an 80sqm house can be completed within three weeks. There  are huge savings on the costs of bricks because one concrete panel is the equivalent of 38 bricks, he says. "This  method enables you to build 300 houses in the same time that 100 houses are being built according to the  conventional method - with the same amount of labour." At this stage only single-storey structures can be erected with this method, but he says there is no reason why  double-storey houses can't be built in future.  The method complies with requirements set by the National Home Builders  Registration Council, the CSIR's Agrément South Africa and all the banks  have given it the green light for financing. Agrément is a government  institution which regulates the investigation and improvement of new building  methods. The building method is available to the whole construction industry as the  Agrément certification enables the company to make manufacturing and  building licences available to all role players, and more specifically  entrepreneurs. The building licences cost R46k plus VAT and includes the  training. APC Homes have already erected homes in Brackenfell in the Western Cape, in Centurion in Gauteng, in  Amanzimtoti in KwaZulu-Natal and in Polokwane in Limpopo. Monteiro says active marketing of the building method hasn't started yet, but the news has spread like a wildfire  and the company is inundated by enquiries. He says the world is ready and APC Homes will now venture into  Africa. The firm is already involved in negotiations with Sudan, Angola, Mozambique and Malawi.  Erwin Rode, property valuer and economist at Rode & Associates, says houses are unaffordable to most people  given the high prices of conventional houses in real terms. "This method could be a solution to entrants to the  market, pensioners as well as to the low-cost market." He says the big challenge facing the company is the psychological hurdle of resistance to houses that aren't built  with bricks and mortar. Monteiro says in order to determine the method's acceptance level, the company did a survey amongst members  of the public and building contractors. The survey, conducted by Thirion Interventions, has found that 96% of all  respondents would want to live in such a house, while the remaining 4% said they'll consider it. Elma Kloppers, Sake24
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