Housing: Costs of Construction

Housing Report

Costs of Construction


This is a proposal to better estimate the cost of using the ecoBEAM building system for the redevelopment seeds that may eventually populate Monwabisi Park. There are many components that will add to the cost of housing, including both materials and labour. Currently in Monwabisi Park, there are three broad levels of unskilled labour employed to construct ecoBEAM buildings along with a skilled supervisor. According to Robert Taylor, the ecoBEAM construction manager of the Monwabisi Park project, there are different kinds of unskilled labour and one skilled builder necessary for the construction of an ecoBEAM structure.  A person’s daily wage will depend on their skill level.

  1. Unskilled (starting wages) – A labourer will earn R60/day until it is clear that the person is capable of doing the job well. Generally, while at this level of skill the person will be assigned tasks and helped through the process whenever problems arise. In order to move beyond , the person must be able to complete all general tasks around the construction site without outside help.
  2. Moderately skilled – A labourer will earn R90/day when able to complete any task without help from a mentor. Taylor says that this will take approximately one month for most people, but will vary from person to person.
  3. Skilled – A skilled labourer will earn R120/day. In order to be at this level, the person must be able to complete all tasks on the construction site with no outside help and be able to teach an unskilled labourer how to do specific tasks. Also, at this level the person will act as an under-foreman where decisions can be made without consultation with the construction manager.

Currently, no one has reached the third skill level at the Indlovu Project, but several have reached the second. With this composition of workers, the job site is still capable of operating efficiently. It is important to remember that one skilled builder must be present to oversee any work that an unskilled labourer has completed. These unskilled labourers are constructing buildings that people depend on. The system must have a redundant check in order to preserve the safety of the building. The building system is simple enough that it can use unskilled labour, but the proper supervision must be in place. All jobs required to construct an ecoBEAM building must be learned by each member of the building crew. The jobs include:

  1. Sandbag Sewing
  2. Sandbag Filling
  3. Laying Foundation Sandbags
  4. Framing Walls
  5. Sandbag Placement
  6. Applying Chicken Wire
  7. Roofing
  8. Plastering
  9. Flooring
  10. Electrical service (skilled)
  11. Finishing

Wages will not be gauged by the task that is completed, but rather by the skills shown on the job.

As part of the larger redevelopment effort it is necessary to determine the cost of housing and of implementing the redevelopment seed. The team took a step towards creating a model for determining the costs of both a single housing unit and the redevelopment seed. This model allows for a variety of different housing shapes and sizes. A CAD model of an ecoBEAM house was used to determine the materials necessary to build the entire structure. This information was then used to create a spreadsheet that is able to compute the cost of a redevelopment seed. It is the team’s hope that this will provide valuable information to redevelopment planners and the City of Cape Town when making decisions about money allocation. The following table shows an example pricing output for the proposed redevelopment seed which will be located behind the community centre in Section C of Monwabisi Park.



Next Section: The Indlovu Project Redevelopment Seed

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Author: WPI CT09 Buildings