Problem houses in Mountain View

Johann Kikillus, Social Transformation Forum, Ocean View

Every single week over the past year, I get a visit from between two and 10 people who received houses at Mountain View. All of these visitors come to see me in various states of frustration and anger.

Most of the complaints are about poorly built dwellings with cracked walls, cracked baths, leaking roofs and holes in the floor. Other complaints include being left off the housing list or receiving a house that does not resemble the plans they were shown.

I cannot comment about the latter complaints, but I have seen with my own eyes the utterly shocking attempt made to build the houses.

I understand the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille will be officially announcing the opening of the Dido Valley development where 600 houses will be built to accommodate the people of Red Hill. Might I suggest that the mayor make a stop en route at Mountain View and address the occupants of those houses herself.

They claim that no one takes the time to listen to their problems. It will sure mean a lot if the most senior City official spent an hour or two in Mountain View reassuring the people that everything would be done to correct the problems.

* Benedicta van Minnen, City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, responds:

The homes at the Mountain View Housing Project were constructed in accordance with building regulations, minimum standards and specifications and signed off by the Provincial Chief Works Inspector, the City’s building technician, as well as the community construction controller.

Throughout the Ocean View development, the individual plot sizes are, on average, 100m² and the top structures are all 42m². The standard building agreement stated 100 m² for all of the sites, however, the actual plot sizes range from 80m² to 130m². The actual size of all the properties will be indicated on the individual building plans which will be issued to all of the beneficiaries.

There is a three-month maintenance period after the houses have been handed over and all outstanding snags are handled within this period. Outstanding snags will only be attended to if residents report them to the contractor’s office and the community liaison officer.

In response to the complaints about the Mountain View houses:

* During consumer education given to each of the households, residents were informed that they first need to fill the bath with some cold water before adding boiling water to avoid any damage; however, this was not adhered to. The contractor, however, has indicated that they will be replacing 21 baths that have been damaged.

* All of the leaking roofs that have been reported, as per the agreement, have been repaired. The contractors have indicated that at least 70% of all leaking roofs can be ascribed to people throwing stones on the roofs. The contractor has been fixing these leaks to help the homeowners.

* All the houses have been installed with ceilings and insulation. Internal paint and internal plaster does not form part of the minimum specifications applicable to this project. The outside walls, excluding the stone walls, were plastered/painted, which is in line with the minimum specification and was approved by the National Home Builder’s Registration Council (NHBRC).

* No reports have been submitted regarding floor problems, however, the contractor, will be investigating this matter.

* All residents may carry out additions to their property as long as the statutory processes take place by means of building plan submission and approval.

Residents are reminded that there is a formal process for complaints. This process requires the complaints to be recorded at the site office so that the contractor can deal with any latent defects. Reporting complaints to a forum in Ocean View will not solve the problem.

Any issues regarding beneficiary allocations should be referred to the City’s housing facilitator.

Once all snags on the houses have been attended to and signed off by the contractor, the City and the provincial government, a final unit report is issued by the NHBRC on completion of the house for the individual properties.