What if we told you the solution to the 25% national unemployment statistic (36% youth unemployment) and the million-plus housing backlog was already in our back yard? And what if we told you jobless, unskilled South Africans could become entrepreneurs in the house building sector and be able to build homes in their communities at a fraction of the cost and in less than a week?
What would you say if we told you there is a company that is not only prepared to certify you, but to empower you too and give you a market, technology and the opportunity to grow personally and professionally?
Back to the future
Hennie Botes cast his first home in 1987 using plastic moulds filled with Moladi mortar – up to three times stronger than the load-bearing ability of clay brick and mortar, requiring no plastering and leaving no loose bricks lying around.
“I cast a house in a mould, not a brick in a mould,” he says on the phone from his Port Elizabeth-based office. “I can plan where the windows will be, the trusses and the cast eliminates trades that come with brick construction.”
The Moladi construction system is as much about filling the basic need of housing as it is about creating sustainable entrepreneurs.
“In 2016 it is expensive to produce a house,” he says. “We need new technology to mass produce this product so consumers can afford to have their own homes.”
Botes explains that many of the systems in South Africa are outdated and that new, out-the-box thinking is required to solve the country’s challenges.
“The gap market – those who earn too much to qualify for free housing and too little to access a bank loan – is renting from unemployed, non-taxpaying RDP owners,” he says, noting that this market comprises of police officers and nurses. “We need to get affordable housing to our taxpayers.
“The problem is our banks’ criteria for funding is not up to date; it has checks and balances developed over 200 years that benefits the bank and not the consumer. If a house is built for R300,000 it will be sold for R500,000. The banks make 300% to 500% off of buyers, meaning the value is not in the building, but in funding.”
Changing the guard
Botes intends on changing this by setting up a Moladi bank which he says will sell a house for the same price it is built.
“Bank criteria states that 1% of the loan amount is the monthly bond repayment and potential homeowners should not spend more than one third of their income on their monthly bond repayment. So, on a R500,000 bond, the buyer needs a minimum of R15,000 salary.
“If we take Moladi’s homes to market at R300,000, the minimum salary is then R9,000.”
He says investors from across the globe have put up their hands to help fund the gap market as housing is not only seen as a bankable investment, but one that has the ability to improve ordinary people’s lives.
“The Moladi advantage is its social acceptance; a knock on the home’s wall reveals it’s got the same acoustic benefits as brick, is incredibly stable and strong, and the speed of construction enables it to be sold for a much lower price,” says Botes, noting that the construction method is Agrement SA-compliant, the homes are formalised through the same registration process as traditionally built homes, and the houses have a resale market. “We built units in Khayelitsha in Cape Town which cost between R180,000 and R220,000 each, and one year later some sold for R440,000!”
Though Moladi’s business is not construction, but rather formwork moulding, the company’s biggest request is to build single homes. And while this is possible, Botes says the Moladi moulds work best for mass production – making it perfect for the entrepreneurial-minded.
“Each mould can produce 50 homes,” he says, noting that sustainable factors are central to the business. “Things like the aspect of the homes, ceiling height, ventilation in the house and in the roof as well as thermal mass are all ‘built in’. We incorporate water tanks and solar panels powering bulkhead lights where one light is able to be used for adjoining rooms.”
Botes’ enthusiasm for Moladi and what it is capable of doing for ordinary South Africans is palpable; he firmly believes the system can seriously dent unemployment and the housing shortage in South Africa, and indeed the world.
So why is the Moladi brand and its homes not a household name despite being 30 years in business?
“Henry Ford said if he asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” says Botes. “Technology takes time to be adopted.”
Let’s hope this technology is fast adopted.
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