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Alternative Building Technology
company in the developing world.
Since 1988.

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Hydraform News Room

Hydraform featured in Skills on Site magazine

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Hydraform machinery donated by the MTN Foundation to the Ratlou community

[Johannesburg, 06February 2017]: There was huge excitement in Logagane Village on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 for community members of the Ratlou Municipality, as Social Development Deputy Minister, HendriettaBogopane-Zulu, handed over Hydraform International interlocking brick and blockmaking machinery, dona... Read more

Hydraform Technology helps displaced Ugandan's

[Johannesburg, 26 January 2017]: In 2010, a landslide in rural Bududa in eastern Uganda resulted in some 2000 people being displaced, after which the government resolved to relocate survivors to areas where access to relief supplies, health services and education facilities would be easy.

In respons...
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Build your dream home

Bricks have been the building material of choice for centuries. Today, with the introduction of new laws relating to better insulation for electricity saving and a move towards greener, more environmentally conscious choices, builders and architects are looking for innovative construction methods. Not only are many of the alternative building methods better for our planet, they’re also substantially cheaper than brick and mortar construction, but buildings can be erected far quicker.

Traditional brick building

The history of traditional brick building is an ancient one. Along with wood, bricks are probably one of the oldest building materials, dating back 6 000 years. The very first bricks were made from thick mud and sun dried. The Egyptians made bricks using Nile mud and mixed them with straw and sand for extra strength. The Romans introduced the idea of firing bricks in a kiln. Brick making quickly spread through Europe and continued to develop. Both the Chinese and Aztec civilisations had their own brick making methods.

Although bricks are made from natural materials that are abundant on our planet, older brick yards still use coal fired or wood burning kilns to bake bricks, both of which have a negative impact on our environment. Modern brick making processes are more streamlined and use less energy and water, but many still feel that our building future lies in finding alternative building methods.

Alternative building solutions

While more sustainable methods of building are at the forefront of new building technology, lower cost and less construction time are two important reasons why people are looking for alternative building materials. While the idea of a cordwood, bamboo house or an earth ship (a home built from used car tyres) may not appeal to you, homes built using a light steel frame structure or an interlocking block system look outwardly the same as those built with bricks and mortar. Let’s take a look at some of the alternative building methods now available in South Africa.

Sandbag building

The Eco-Beam Sandbag Building System was developed as a solution to low-cost housing. There are three main elements to the sandbag building process. First a framework of timber and metal beams is erected, then geo-fabric sandbags are filled with sand and stacked between the beams. Beams are clad with wire mesh and either plaster, timber or plasterboard. Once complete, the home is waterproof, fire resistant and sound proof. Homes are cool in summer and warm in winter.

Sandbag building provides a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly building solution. Building materials are also lighter and therefore cheaper to transport to the site. Construction uses minimal amounts of water and cement and no electricity is needed at the building site.

Timber frame homes

Timber homes are an attractive option for home buyers. While not always cheaper than conventional building, wood is a natural insulator and can help reduce high electricity costs. The timber frame is constructed after the suspended floor is complete. This is followed by the installation of the roof trusses. The roofing material and waterproofing is installed before external wall cladding and waterproofing is completed. After electrical and plumbing first fixes are complete, the house is ready for internal cavity batt insulation and internal cladding. Doors and windows will be installed before final finishes such as ceiling installation, skirtings and cornices. Kitchen and bathroom fixtures and final plumbing and electrical fixes are last to be completed. The homeowner has different options for internal and external cladding. Timber construction has a low impact on the surrounding environment and construction time is reduced. Homeowners considering this type of construction should look for companies that are environmentally conscious and use timber products from sustainable forests.

Interlocking blocks

Interlocking blocks replace conventional bricks. They can be made using a concrete mix poured into plastic moulds and left to dry, or manufactured on site using a soil and cement mix passed through a block-making machine. The blocks are usually dry stacked and, depending on the product used, require little or no mortar during construction. Blocks can be stacked using semi- or unskilled labour and this helps to reduce building costs. Houses built using this method are durable and resistant to insects and fire. Depending on the interlocking block system used, site waste, energy and water usage are reduced. Homes can be built in far less time than brick and mortar structures.

Light steel frame construction

Internationally, light steel frame (LSF) construction is not a new concept, but it has only recently taken off in South Africa, especially for residential homes. Wall frames and roof trusses are manufactured from cold-form light gauge galvanised steel and erected on a concrete foundation or a concrete slab. Cavities are filled with insulating cavity batting. Conduits for plumbing and electrical are installed inside the wall cavity. Various interior and exterior cladding systems may be used and fixed to the frame, including a single-skin brick wall or fibre cement board.

One of the main advantages of light steel frame construction is the reduced construction time. LSF buildings are energy efficient and resistant to termites and other boring insects. Galvanised steel also resists rust and corrosion. Walls are square, so finishings within the home (such as cupboard installation and tiling) are likely to be faster and more cost-effective. Site waste is also greatly reduced.

SIPS kit homes

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) provide a modern, cost-effective building solution for residential homes. SIPS have been used successfully for over 40 years. Panels consist of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two facings. The core may be expanded or extruded polystyrene or polyurethane foam (PUR), while facings are 12mm oriented strand board (OSB) or magnesium-oxide sheets. Panels can be used for roofs, floors and exterior and interior walls.

A SIPS building is erected on a foundation designed and certified by a structural engineer. After the foundations are complete, the kit will be developed and a professional team will erect your home. The kit includes SIPS wall panels, a complete roof structure, ceiling, insulation, pre-glazed aluminium windows, doors and first fix electrical conduits that are cast into the panels. Panels are heavily insulated and this eliminates the need for additional insulation. Additional electrical fitting and wiring must be completed by an electrician and plumbing completed by a registered plumber. SIPS building systems are durable, strong and cost-effective as construction time is reduced, saving the homeowner money on labour costs. Panels are also treated to provide protection against termites and SIPS panels are protected against fire by the use of thermal barriers like plasterboard. SIPS buildings are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Using drywall

Drywall can be used to construct walls or install ceilings in homes. Drywall has a foam gypsum core that is sandwiched between paper liners. Gypsum is a coloured, grey or white sulphate mineral that is found close to the earth’s surface. It is mined underground or in quarries throughout the world. Drywall is easy to work with. Even those with average DIY skills should be able to hang drywall. You need to be able to measure accurately and know how to use an electrical drill and spirit level. Once the steel framing is in place and the drywall installed, joints should be sealed with tape and drywall filler. Using drywall for alterations within your home is far less messy, more cost effective and saves time. You don’t need municipal approved plans to make an alteration using drywall in the interior of your home.

Source: SA Homes

Hydraform’s Radway Green project wins at the 9th SACA Awards

[Johannesburg, 5 October 2016]: Hydraform, leaders in alternative building technology since 1988, won ‘Best Public Sector Excellence of the Year’ category of the 9th South African Construction Awards for their work on the Radway Green Farm project.

The awards took place on the 7th of October 2016, i... Read more

Hydraform signs MOU with NBRRI

Nigerian Building & Road Research Institute (NBRRI) and Hydraform are pleased to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

This MOU was signed at the ABUJA Housing Conference which was held from the 18th to the 20th of July 2016. The MOU was signed by the Director-General/ Chief Executive Officer of NBRRI Prof. Danladi S. Matawal and Hydraform’s Managing Director Mr. Robert Plattner.

Both organisations share the same vision and mission of improving the quality of life of the people of Nigeria by building local capacity. This is done by using local materials and resources which not only helps to stimulate local economic activity but also has far reaching social impact, including access to affordable homes through innovative technology.

By the implementation of Hydraform as the leading alternative building technology this collaboration will lead to the creation of thousands of employment opportunities in the provision of affordable houses for Nigerians in line with the government’s objective and manifesto.

NBRRI was established in 1978 by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the National Science and Technology Development Agency Bill. The organisation is based in the City of Abuja in Nigeria. The function of NBRRI is to conduct integrated research and development activities into different aspects of building, road construction and engineering materials related to the construction industry.

Hydraform has established itself as leaders in alternative building technology for economic empowerment. The company has been in existence since 1988. Its head office is in South Africa but the company has other regional offices across Africa including the city of Abuja in Nigeria. Through innovative and effective building systems the company has been able to offer initiatives that empower different communities by transferring valuable skills to create employment opportunities. Such initiatives assist in creating wealth in communities and to alleviate poverty.

Watch this space for more information about this great partnership between NBRRI AND Hydraform.

Peter Rich Architects - Kwazulu Natal Society of Arts

Peter Rich, a world renowned architect, recently exhibited his work at the Kwazulu Natal Society of Arts. Peter Rich is dedicated to the creation of contemporary African architecture. He creates places and spaces that are meaningful, moving and uplifting for all who occupy them. He has been a student, practitioner and teacher of architecture for the past four-and-a-half decades, and during this time he has carried out extensive first-hand research into African vernacular architecture.

He has been a pioneer of an architecture that translates the lessons learnt from this research into practice, and as a result is truly African in its essence. Peter Rich architects have had a long standing relationship with Hydraform, and have made use of Hydraform technology in the construction of award winning buildings such as the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre.

The Learnt in Translation took place from the 14 – 30 September in the Main, Mezzanine, Multi-media Gallery. Peter's work has won a host of national and international awards. Most recently the Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre was awarded the World Building of the Year Award 2009, at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona and the David Alsop Sustainability Award, both in 2009. Peter Rich was elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2010.

Two main themes of Peter's work are reflected in the layout of the exhibition itself: ‘the house is not a home, unless it is a village' and the use of diagonal extensions. The exhibition is conceived as a series of ‘courtyards', defined by a number of ‘boxes', which are created by suspending fabric banners from a ceiling-mounted grid of dowel sticks, with canvas drapes forming their ‘roofs'. In plan, the ‘boxes' are arranged in a tartan grid, creating diagonal visual connections between the courtyards. Each courtyard deals with a project or with a group of projects that are linked by a common theme.

The eight courtyards had the following themes:

  • + Early works and influences, including the architecture of the Southern Ndebele.
  • + Westridge House, Elim Shopping Cente, Tembisa Sports Centre and Clinic
  • + Houses
  • + Community Projects (Places of Reconciliation)
  • + Alexandra Interpretation Centre
  • + Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre
  • + Works in Rwanda
  • + Works in Ethiopia and current African work

Beware of Fake Chinese Imitations

It has come to our attention that there are low quality Chinese copies of Hydraform machines in the market. These Chinese companies claim to, either be Hydraform or a Hydraform machine manufacturer. Please note that Shandong Geethy Machinery Manufacture CO LTD is NOT a Hydraform machine manufacturer OR distributor.

We have had many complaints lodged by individuals that have bought these inferior copies of Hydraform machines. Hydraform International (PTY) LTD cannot take responsibility for problematic machines bought and manufactured in China. If it was not manufactured in AND shipped from South Africa, it is not a genuine Hydraform machine. The quality of these machines is inferior and as a result WILL cause downtime in block production.

The low quality blocks could also be dangerous to those using it to construct housing and other buildings.Please be aware of these low quality machine copies from China listed on their website as well as Alibaba.

Hydraform Mobile App

Hydraform has launched its first mobile App. The Hydraform App aims to assist current and prospective Hydraform machine owners on important points of Hydraform machines and building.

Online Payment Gateway

Hydraform is proud to launch another payment option for our valued customers making it more convenient and simple to make payments for training, spares and machines. The Online payment facility allows customers to bypass the tedious banking process of getting foreign funds by paying online using their debit or credit card. Payment can be made through our website or via a secure payment link sent by Hydraform. Hydraform uses one of the safest payment facilities in South Africa.

Hydraform Offering In-Country Training

Hydraform is proud to announce that as of the year 2014, we are going to start offering in-country training academy.

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