Tough cement homes with steel re-enforced walls for South Africa
A SOLUTION has been found for South Africa ’s housing and skills shortage problem, by training unskilled people to build durable and affordable structures that don’t crack. A method to build with-out using bricks is being used to construct a double storey community centre on St Mark’s church grounds in Lavender Hill in Cape Town .
The community centre is built using the SONMAR Construction methodology. This means that a steel frame is built to exact specifications and a special cement mix is sprayed onto the structure using a gunite low pressure machine.
The walls are then plastered with this special cement mix to transform it into a monolithic structure.
Zingile Dingani, the Secretary of Parliament, took time out of his busy schedule to visit the site earlier this month.
Dingani was amazed at the strength of the structure after he could not manage to crack the walls using a hammer. “The walls are very strong because they build with steel and cement,” he says.
American developer Jeffrey Lawrence (JL) Davenport from Inter Africa Action Global Builders & Developers says what makes this methodology of construction so special is that the high standard of construction that is used in the development of luxury apartments can also be used in low cost and affordable housing projects.
“This construction process is 60% faster and more reliable than traditional building methods,” says Davenport .
The SONMAR Construction methodology, which has been SABS approved, is also very cost competitive.
Father Mark Vandayar from St Mark Church in Lavender Hill says he was originally quoted over R3 million to build his centre using traditional methods but now the building costs have been reduced to less than R2 million.
The project took an exciting new turn when Father Mark recruited a group of 13 unemployed and unskilled men from Lavender Hill and introduced them to Victor Winn the site engineer and trainer of the SONMAR methodology.
Winn was a technical educator and campus manager for 21 years in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges and the SETA’s before he teamed up with Davenport three years ago to develop the training programme for SONMAR.
The trainees first undergo a six-week classroom and workshop based training course at the privately owned AFRITECH SKILLS TRAINING ACADEMY AND ASSESSMENT CENTRE, before continuing their on-the-job training on various construction sites for 24 months. After this they will qualify for a license to build houses using the SONMAR methodology of construction.
Winn says that the trainees will follow a career path from construction worker, to site manager, to finally receiving entrepreneurial training, after which they will be able to go out and run their own businesses building houses using the Sonmar Methodology of construction.
Davenport believes that this building method would help President Jacob Zuma find a solution to the housing crisis and job creation in South Africa .
“We are not training labourers, we are training entrepreneurs. The SONMAR methodology will open doors for the unskilled men and women in South Africa who would want to start working in construction,”
Dingani agrees, “I found the entire project to be very creative; how they picked up people from the street, managed to train them and give them a project to run with”.
Davenport says the SONMAR methodology of construction is not new to South Africa ; and this method has been used to build several up-market developments and some affordable structures in Gauteng and Durban .
“The method has also been successfully used in the construction of retaining walls and warehouses throughout South Africa . Outside our borders, the methodology has been used to build, 45 show houses in Florida USA, 290 units in Zambia and military barracks in Angola ,” says Davenport .
For more information about training or construction contact Victor Winn on 073 5688 914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or J L Davenport on 021 704 4644 or email jldavenport@
Caption One: Zingile Dingani, the Secretary to Parliament, wields a hammer in an attempt to damage the structure.
Caption Two: Trainee construction workers erect the steel construction at building site at St Mark Church in Lavender Hill.
Caption Three: JL Davenport from Inter Africa Action Global Builders & Developers in front of one of the completed developments in Durban .