The first house made of adobe brick (unfired clay brick made of clay and straw measuring 300 mm wide) will be completed next week. This historic moment marks the start of a large-scale housing construction process that will result in ten more houses completed by July/September 2005. The houses are being built under the supervision of Luke Boshier, a builder who made his name building clay houses in the small Karoo town of McGregor. He is now based at Lynedoch.
The construction process has been set up as a training programme which means all the labourers and artisans involved will be learning about sustainable construction and they will all get certificates accredited via the Construction SETA to prove their competencies. The training programme generates funds that reduce the labour cost. Government subsidies have been secured for those who qualify for government subsidies. The Provincial Government and the local Municipality have been very supportive of the clay construction approach mainly because it demonstrates that it is possible to build large decent houses at affordable prices. Whereas the average house being built by government using conventional technologies is between 30 and 45 square metres at over R1000 per sq metre, the Lynedoch project demonstrates that it is possible to build 70 sq m houses for R1000 per sq m including roof insulation, internal and external plastering, internal water and sanitation, solar water heater, and an internal electricity connection. Whereas the average cost of the cheapest building material (cement hollow block) is around R100 per sq m of wall, the average cost of an adobe built house is R40 per sq m of wall. However, the longer term operating costs are much lower because it will be cool in summer and warm in winter.
The owner of the first adobe house and first permanent resident of the Lynedoch EcoVillage is Stephen Forder, formerly an IT Project Manager. He is also completing his Mphil in Sustainable Development Planning and Management.