English: A number of low-income houses recently built in South Africa are reportedly defective. The sheer number of low-income houses that failed to conform to quality expectations, especially in certain provinces, has become a source of concern for the national Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and other construction industry stakeholders.
This article assesses issues related to non-conformance to quality requirements in low-income houses from the perspective of both owners and contractors. A quantitative survey was conducted among housing beneficiaries in a post-1994 township in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The initial findings were further complemented with the perceptions of contractors registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).
Selected findings suggest that the principal causes of defects in low-income houses is perceived to be related to the use of emerging contractors who are presumably not experienced enough, and to the use of unskilled labour by the contractors. By implication, the respondents were of the opinion that poor workmanship could be the primary cause of defects in low-income houses. It can, therefore, be argued that, apart from adequate monitoring and inspection of projects, stakeholders in the form of emerging contractors and their labour should endeavour to improve their competencies pertaining to quality.