EC contractor ordered to rebuild sub-standard houses

Pretoria - The Eastern Cape Human Settlements Department has ordered a contractor to demolish and rebuild 89 sub-standard houses in two villages.

The houses were found to be non-compliant with the country’s building regulations. The shoddy workmanship was discovered by inspectors from the department and National Home Builders’ Registration Council (NHBRC) during an inspection of sites at Mqangqweni and Lujizweni in Ngqeleni.

The department said the contractor started casting slabs but upon inspection of platforms and the slabs that were casted, it was discovered that they were not done according to the required department and NHBRC standards.

“Prior to the certification of the slabs, the contractor proceeded to constructing walls which were also sub-standard. In some houses there was no brick force used on the designated courses of the wall as it progresses up. In the houses where brick force was used, it was of inferior quality (rusting) and is less than the required diameter of 2.8mm.

“The types of windows and door frames used were not SABS approved and this was compromising the bearing load above the windows and doors level. The window frames used required that the contractor use lintels above window openings to endure the load of the roof, but the lintels were bending already before the roof was put up,” said Human Settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August.

She said there was also the problem of the internal wall that was dividing the kitchen from the lounge area and this was posing a danger to the occupants after the house was completed.

“As the department and NHBRC do not certify sub-standard work, the contractor was issued with non-compliance certificates on the dissatisfactory work. The contractor’s engineer was asked to submit remedial action for the work that could not be certified.”

The department said it pays on value created and the value created must be certified by a quality assurance inspector in order for the contractor to proceed to the next milestone of the house.

All the work which has not been certified by the quality assurance inspectorate is not paid by the department and the contractor bears liability.

MEC Sauls-August has warned all contractors working in the province to adhere to building regulations or face wrath of the department.

“There is no way contractors will be allowed to build shoddy houses. We will not compromise on the quality of houses because of the rush to complete a project. This should serve as an indication to all contractors that the department will not pay and accept poor quality houses,” she said.