HOMEBUILDING IN SOUTH AFRICA: See How They Do It in Durban

UPDATED 8May2020: Most things in South Africa are different than in North America, and this goes for the way contractors build houses, too.我和我的妻子在2008年在德班(Durban)度过了将近一个月(该国第三大城市),这是我的第一手,我呆了7个月大的养女。我希望房屋建筑场景与回家不同,而David Scates的一个人向我展示了这些差异的样子。

Several houses under construction in Durban, South Africa. Old-time, European construction methods are the norm in this city.

At the time of our visit, Scates had been a contractor in Durban for 22 years.我遇到了他的一天早上,窥探由于d one of his residential building sites in a posh section of town. Five minutes later he was happily driving me to see three other projects he had on the go — two involving major additions and another home he’d bought on spec, with plans to resell after very major renovations.

The business sign of the contractor I visited with in Durban, South Africa

Scates has about 50 people on payroll and hires sub-contractors for most of the usual things.他也喜欢他的工作。“如果我是个男孩,他们会用多动症诊断我。我不能坐着。”他告诉我。“我从来没有学会正确地拼写,我需要在外面做事,”成功的50岁左右的年龄。“建造房屋让我创造。”

Scates was raised in the upscale neighbourhood where he now lives and builds, and most of his projects are within a scant 5 km radius of his house.To understand this enviable situation, you need to forget notions about South Africans living in mud huts with animal skin doors. Durban boasts many amazing homes – some of the most luxurious in the world – and plenty of them are concentrated in neighbourhoods like the one that keeps Scates and his crews working year round.

Solid, multi-brick wall construction is the way they do it in Durban. A moderate climate means the need for economical energy performance is less than in North America.

But before you can understand the Durban housing scene, you’ve got to grasp two fundamentals.首先,在南非这一地区,英国传统的影响力有多强大。房屋的建造就像他们在英格兰以砌体繁重的方式(数千英里外)做到的那样。其次,即使在种族隔离世界的世界中,种族问题仍然在南非的承包商以及该国生活的所有其他地方都起着重要作用。种族,是的,但可能不是您想象的方式。

Durban is hot, humid and populated with wood eating bugs.这就是为什么英国用砖块,砂浆和很少的木材建造风格的原因。当然,弗罗斯特不是一个问题,(在德班,它从来没有比48ºF或9ºC冷的霜冻),因此,基金会只需要足够深就可以扎根,尽管有时比典型的加拿大地下室更深。我访问的第一个项目建于一个倾斜的站点,上面覆盖着非常柔软的沙子。必须在所有建筑物的角落和压力点上钻10英尺的孔孔,然后充满钢筋和混凝土,以创建基础码头,以支撑所有墙壁下方的现场铸造混凝土梁。在南非,使用这样的机械来建造基础是非常不寻常的。大多数基金会按加拿大标准浅薄 - 如果土壤条件稳固,也许只有18英寸 - 几乎总是手动挖掘,因为劳动是如此便宜。我经常看到一百个人手工挖沟,并在德班附近及其周围的现代超级高速公路旁边。这是一个奇怪的景象。

Bricks like these are structural only. Most homes in Durban are made of bricks like these but they’re almost always hidden under coats of plaster.

Instead of stud frame walls, the meat-and-potatoes of South African residential and light commercial construction is a multi thickness of clay bricks, plastered inside and out with mortar.This technique is used everywhere in the country and has been for a long time. It’s fairly rare to see exposed brickwork with tooled joints. As you’d expect, brickwork that’s destined to be covered doesn’t need to look good on its own, and so it doesn’t. Although the brickwork doesn’t look great, what does look impressive is the way the black African tradespeople lay on plaster. It’s hard work, especially using the heavy 3-parts sand, 1-part Portland mixtures that are used exclusively. But the results are remarkably smooth wall and ceiling surfaces. Especially impressive are the caps you’ll find on short walls used everywhere around balconies and staircases. Using nothing more than a level, 12” trowel and a good eye, South African masons create smooth, straight caps that look as precise as precast. I never saw a mason who was not a member of one of the indigenous tribes in the area – typically Zulu or Xhosa.

典型的窗户lintel结构。多层砖块放在支持负载的预先形成的,钢筋的混凝土lintel的顶部。

Brickwork spanning openings up to about 18 feet are laid over top of ready-made, pre-stressed concrete lintels that look too small for the job.您可以看到我在左边的意思。lintel的每个长度都有四根镀锌电线,其中一个lintel放置在砖的每个内部和外层下方。用电砂锯将lintels切到现场,并像一块砖一样厚。

坚固是我最喜欢南非家庭的东西。We visited half a dozen different ones while we were there, and it’s like living inside a rock. Interior walls are built with the same double bricks plastered with smooth mortar, and even ceilings are solid masonry, too. These are typically built with a series of precast lintels that support precast cross pieces molded to interlock with the lintels. Everything fits together dry, then a 2” layer of concrete is poured on top to create the floor above, with mortar troweled on underneath to create the ceiling surface below. Like I said, it’s living in a rock,

Roof trusses instead of traditional rafters are one of the only innovations you’ll find on a modern South African homebuilding site.These support lengths of 2×2 strapping spaced horizontally to hold up the ends of concrete roof tiles – the nearly-ubiquitous roofing choice in South Africa. Traditionally, these tiles were held in place exclusively by gravity, and older homes are still like this today. These days new homes have the tiles around the eaves secured with plastic tethers screwed to the 2x2s — called storm ties – while the tiles above are still held down by nothing but gravity. You’d think they’d blow off during storms, but they don’t. Since wood is used so sparingly in South African homes, construction of roof frames is usually subbed out to specialists and not handled by Scates’ main crews.

这里没有石膏板。这座南非房屋的内部是石膏涂在形成墙壁的结构砖上。

During the three weeks I spent in and around Durban, I never saw a white person building a house.Not once. With the exception of supervision, plumbing, electrical work, all homebuilding in South Africa is done exclusively by black people, though this is a relatively new development. Until the late 1980s, it was actually illegal for anyone other than a white man to pick up a trowel and get paid for it. This kept the labour pool small, holding wages high enough to make it worthwhile for European brick layers and plasterers to travel all the way down from continental Europe to work in South Africa. These days, things are more different than anyone could have predicted.

当立法变更向任何想要的人(无论颜色如何)时,它增加了成千上万的人到劳动池中,导致工资暴跌并停下来。在过去的情况下,瓦工可以赚到足够的赚钱来支持我们在北美享受的生活,如今,您的孩子比南非的最高工资贸易工作者建筑房屋赚钱更多。

When we were in Durban, general labourers earned about 100 Rand per day (less than $15).The highest paid bricklayer gets about 300 Rand per day (just under $50). “It used to be possible to earn a living as a bricklayer,” explains Scates. “Now you can’t. You need to manage 20 bricklayers to make money. That’s really what I do. I manage people and make sure they keep doing a good job.”

德班有许多美丽的房屋。承包商Dave Scates正在对该房屋进行翻新,他向我展示了他的项目。

Even though South African housing prices had shot up hundreds of percent over the last few years before we visited, the cost of houses in this country is unbelievably low when converted to dollars.One stunning mansion I visited during my homebuilding tour with Scates was originally built 50 years ago for the Danish ambassador, and was recently sold to a private owner for the same price you’d pay for a basic starter bungalow in Canada. It’s common to see astonishing properties available for several hundred thousand dollars.

Watching Warren Miller, a supervisor on one of Scates’ sites, I saw just how hands-on the management of the labour force has to be in South Africa.他解释说:“我必须不断观看一切。”即使在我在那儿的短时间内,米勒也在监视大满贯和次要细节,并坚持要求校长通常永远不必在北美项目上处理。更彻底地擦拭瓷砖灌浆,在窗帘旁边更整齐地抹灰,对材料进行基本的测量 - 监督工作比我们在北美所用的更多的微型管理。

在几乎所有方面,南非比北美更复杂和动荡的社会。In many ways it’s a country that’s poised to explode socially in destructive ways. The racial prejudice that exists today is almost as extreme as it was during the years of apartheid that ended in 1994, except that the tables are turned. Nowadays the most oppressed group is the white male, at least as far as government jobs and the public sector is concerned.

I’m told that until the 1980s, neighbourhoods in Durban looked like anything you’d find in nice, North American communities – lawns, backyards, children playing outdoors.When we were there every house (and I mean every house) was surrounded by walls and razor wire. Precautions like these were necessary, too. Murderous day-time home invasions were not uncommon. I even heard from more than one person that Nelson Mandela, the man behind the dismantling of apartheid in 1994, died very sad about the state of his country. There’s also just as much distrust among the 11 official language and cultural groups of South Africa as there is across color lines. It’s a strange mix of tensions that makes society here in North America seem so simple.

南非的房屋建筑方法是一种持久的质量传统的例子,这种质量传统已有100年的变化并没有太大变化,这一切都在其他一切都发生了变化。Socially speaking, this country may be more confusing and complicated than I expected, but the houses there are impressive, traditional and rock solid.

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