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Categories: COMPANY NEWS , Housing & Living Conditions
Vela Building Solutions launches centenarian shack dweller into formal home ownership.

It took no more than 20 paces for 100-year-old Jacob Mokhatjhane to step up from lifelong shack living to full-blown formal home ownership after alternative building specialist Brent Harris handed him the keys to a brand new house in the Free State town of Theunissen.

That’s how far he walked from the remnants of the shack he previously lived in to the front door of his new home to cut the symbolic ribbon and take occupation.

The event was the result of a decision by community leaders of Theunissen’s Masilo Township that Jacob and his wife Maphello should take ownership of a modern modular-constructed home, and matching utility outbuilding, erected and donated to the community by Vela Building Solutions, of which Brent is the founder and CEO.

Vela is a leading national producer and supplier of home-grown alternative building technologies (ABT).

The Mokhatjhane’s 50m² new home, and “Vela’ekhaya” outbuilding, were manufactured at Vela’s Alberton (Gauteng) factory, transported flat-packed to Masilo, and erected on site by Vela-trained local labour. The home meets the specifications of the Free State government’s House Plan 9.

Fully electrified, the ceiling-fitted and carpet-tiled house consists of two bedrooms; a bathroom; open-plan lounge/dining room; kitchen facilities; and a front porch. The adjacent detached Vel’ekhaya outbuilding can be used either as a secure storage facility or as a source of rental income for the couple.

A Vela-developed and factory-produced housing unit, Vel’ekhaya is attracting widespread support in South Africa’s informal settlement communities as an affordable, secure, thermally-efficient, fireproof, and relocatable alternative to shack dwelling.

It’s all about ABT
Brent says ABT is being increasingly applied throughout South Africa, and the rest of the sub-continent, as a rapid, cost-effective, and sustainable alternative to traditional bricks and mortar in the construction of housing and other community infrastructure (such as schools, crèches, clinics, offices and trading outlets).

“The donation of the new house reinforces our commitment to, and involvement in, helping to put a roof over the heads of local communities everywhere – particularly in the high-need arenas of accommodation, healthcare and education,” Brent concludes.

The core of the company’s success is the seamless application of the efficiencies of factory production to on-site construction that uses low skills.

This not only results in competitive pricing and fast-track construction, but also counteracts the effects of the shortage of skilled trades people, non-availability of building materials in remote areas, and the need for maintaining construction quality.

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