Working closely with local and provincial government, and with project implementation contractors, SRK Consulting has contributed its scientific and engineering expertise to numerous housing projects in KwaZulu-Natal since 2010.
According to SRK civil engineering technologist Denzel van de Weg, the company’s work in the province has been instrumental in the successful completion of about 3,400 houses over the past eight years. Its input has been across a range of engineering disciplines, as well as ensuring that all contractors deliver to the required standards – thereby ensuring that public funds are well invested in quality outcomes.
SRK’s Durban office has been involved in housing projects of various sizes – from peri-urban developments comprising over 1,000 stands to small rural projects of 20-70 houses. Its work has included being part of Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) – in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The SRK team, with its broad range of expertise, is making an important contribution in terms of services ranging from environmental engineering to quality assurance,” said James Morris, SRK partner and lead engineer of the housing projects. “In town planning management, for example, we make use of a spatial planning tool which provides geographic information systems (GIS) overlays of development suitability criteria such as geotechnics, slope, road corridors, floodlines, wetlands, servitudes and endangered species in the area of the development.”
This approach, he says, proves particularly useful as multiple criteria can be overlaid to clearly show the developable portions of the site as a whole and the developable zones within each individual stand.
“This allows us to optimise the project outputs to cater to the client’s requirements and modify these as conditions or criteria change,” he says.
With its depth of technical expertise, SRK is able to play a vital role in certifying all construction and building work at various stages of development – before the payment tranches to contractors are finalised. This ensures that no payment is made for sub-standard work.
“There are various standards that must be applied so we are required to coordinate with a range of stakeholders, including organisations like the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC),” says van de Weg.
SRK’s close collaboration with all partners also gives it the opportunity to share skills and insights with contractors and their staff; this involves extensive de-facto technical training on site, through informal skills transfer that continually raises the capacity of the housing contractors and the project team as a whole.
Housing development requires a range of services, and SRK has the capacity to be involved in geotechnical investigations, water and sanitation, determination of flood-lines and quality assurance on house construction. Its technical review and oversight expertise is applied to aspects of the housing-related design provided by other parties as well, such as roof design, architects drawings, town planning and electrical design.
“We are involved in the design of house foundations, ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilet systems, rainwater tanks, apron slabs, ‘blacktop’ and gravel roads and water services,” he said.
SRK currently have over 15 housing projects in KZN, with about half of them either in construction stage or having been completed already. The remainder are in various stages of pre-implementation.
Among the earliest projects were the Kwa-Jali Rural Housing project which ran from 2010 to 2014, in which 889 houses were completed, and the 445-home Bashaweni Rural Housing project which ran from 2012 to 2015. One of the largest projects has been Khula Housing integrated residential development project, which began in 2012 and is currently ongoing; by the end of 2018 some 1,145 houses will have been constructed in a very challenging and environmentally sensitive area.
A number of the housing projects in which SRK is engaged are at approval stage – including urban housing in integrated residential developments, rural housing and OSS housing initiatives. The impact of these will be significant, as they involve the delivery of over 6,000 houses.
“We are pleased that the quality of our contribution has also been recognised,” he said. “In one of our most significant projects, the multidisciplinary team of which we were a part was recently second runner-up in the KZN section of the Govan Mbeki Housing Awards – in the Integrated Residential Development Programme (IRDP) category.”
The Govan Mbeki Awards recognise outstanding performance in the delivery of housing projects, to encourage a culture of excellence in the human settlements sector.
SRK’s roles on this project included technical project management, design and review, and the quality control of 1,145 houses, as well as water reticulation and roads. The reticulation and house connection design involved 2,9 km of pipework, while the roadwork comprised a 3,5 km Cape Seal taxi route and 2,9 km of gravel access roads.
The SRK office in Durban is part of the group’s global network of practices on five continents.
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SRK is an independent, global network of consulting practices in over 45 countries on six continents. Its experienced engineers and scientists work with clients in multi-disciplinary teams to deliver integrated, sustainable solutions across a range of sectors – mining, water, environment, infrastructure and energy.