Cape Town – Shoddy construction of government-subsidised houses in the province could delay projects indefinitely, adding to the housing crisis.
Already construction on one housing project in The Conifers, Blue Downs, was halted after residents alerted the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) to several defects in the construction of the infill houses.
The government is using smaller construction companies after larger companies lost their appetite for the government housing programme. Because of this the NHBRC has been mandated to crack down on inferior housing developments in the country.
On Tuesday the NHBRC’s registration committee was out in full force inspecting several building sites. Also monitoring work was a committee from the City of Cape Town and provincial government officials.
“This was an opportunity to show the council members what we are doing; the council oversees the work that we do,” said NHBRC chief executive Mziwonke Dlabantu.
The council committee visited two subsidised in Fisantekraal, Durbanville, and in Forest Village, Eerste Rivier, that are being developed by the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape department of human settlements.
The first site visited by the NHBRC was the Greenville Housing Project by Garden Cities, a City-owned project. The development is expected to eventually accommodate over 16 000 homes, schools, community facilities, public spaces and transport infrastructure. The second site was the R1.1 billion Forest Village Housing Project, in the Eerste Rivier area, in which 4 820 units will be built.
“Of course there will be one or two things that have to be rectified but the NHBRC has the ability to make sure that things are rectified. The projects that we have seen are very different because the challenge of housing in the country is very big, especially in the Western Cape,” said Dlabantu.
According to the NHBRC, in the 2016/2017 and 2018/2019 financial years the council has suspended 482 home builders and prosecuted 1 482 home builders for various contraventions including shoddy workmanship, failure to enrol new homes and contravening the code of conduct for home builders.
The Council had also deregistered 17 contractors and builders from its database of approved home builders following the outcome of the disciplinary hearing processes.
According to the NHBRC, it had has also opened 357 criminal cases against home builders.
The NHBRC was working closely with the National Prosecuting Authority and police in order to ensure that all the criminal cases opened were prosecuted.
“The NHBRC will continue to ensure that building standards are upheld and consumers are protected from poorly constructed buildings through its stringent requirements and regular inspections of all NHBRC-registered home building projects,” said Dlabantu.
He said that the number of projects stopped in the Western Cape that were non-compliant changed frequently.
The most recent development that made headlines after construction was halted by the NHBRC was a FLISP housing project in Conifers, Blue Downs. Over 30 non-compliance notices against the home builder were issued by the NHBRC.
“We don’t necessarily just stop a project; only when there are units that need to be built, that is the project we stop,” he said.
Provincial Human Settlements spokesperson Muneera Allie said: “All human settlements projects are required to meet specific standards as set out by the National department.
“All developments can only proceed for handover once they meet the necessary compliance standards. Should any development not be compliant, issues are attended to to ensure compliance before handover.”
On Conifers, Allie said the development had not started again after being stopped by the NHBRC.
“The department is in the process of investigating and consulting with stakeholders to attend to challenges. Construction will re-commence as soon as all issues have been attended to,” she said.