Better Living Challenge


BLC trails small scale builders to gather key information

Jun 15, 2017

The BLC recently undertook an initiative to gather key information which involved trailing small scale builders to gain an understanding of the local ecosystem of shack building.

The BLC team collaborated with builders of low cost dwellings in Phillipi, and with Kaospilots, an international school for creative business design and social innovation. One of the key participants was local small scale builder Mama Princess, who has been building shacks for the past 23 years.

Trailing 1

To understand the different opportunities and challenges that exist, the BLC team firstly focussed on understanding the broader landscape in terms of materials used, how they are accessed, from where and for how much. They also looked at the supply chain, the customer journey of the upgrading process, and the micro finance options available.

Furthermore, the team looked at the methods of construction employed, and the existing and potential innovative ways in which improvements are made to structures.

Trailing 2

“The undertaking was premised on the idea that if we are to acknowledge the role of the small scale builder in the design and development of ‘low cost’ settlements, it would go a long way in terms of understanding, contributing, assisting and supporting settlement development in the city and better ways of living,” says Kelly Arendse, the BLC Project Manager.

The outcomes, she adds, saw the development of an in-depth understanding of:

  • What goes into building a shack in terms of time, cost, materials, skills, tools and design
  • The business of ‘shacking’ and the entrepreneurial network that it exists in
  • And, the complex social network, risks and security attached to development in under-resourced communities.

“What we have learned will feed into our BLC content being developed for a knowledge exchange platform, and into the development of toolkits for people to access as a free resource.”