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This section covers:

  • Areas where problems could arise
  • Brickwork
  • Mixing the cement
  • Doors and windows
  • Roofing
  • Plumbing and electricity
  • Alternatives to asbestos

Areas where problems could arise

Digging foundations

  • The foundations of your house should be big enough and strong enough to support your house. There are two types of foundations you could have to support your house: strip foundations or raft foundations.

Laying the floor slab

  • This is the layer of concrete that will form the floor of your house. It is important that the floor slab is above the ground; otherwise when it rains water will flow into your house.
  • Your floor slab should be at least 7,5cm thick and can either be built into the wall or can lie directly on the ground. The ground under the slab must be very firm and level.
  • You should put a layer of plastic sheeting called “waterproof sheeting” or “damp proof membrane” on the ground before you pour the concrete to stop water from soaking into your house.

If you live on a slope you should build a 1m wide and 20cm thick layer of concrete around your house to keep water from running onto the walls of your house. This should slope away from your house.


You must be careful in looking out for these problems. Once your builder makes a mistake and the cement dries up, it may be too late to correct the problem.


  • You should have a layer of plastic called a “damp proof course” built into your walls at the level of your floor. This will stop water from seeping into your walls.
  • “Brick force” is a layer of wire that is built into the walls to make them strong and stop them from cracking. Your builder should build brick force into the walls horizontally every four rows. You should also put two layers of brick force above windows.
  • It is important that bricks are laid in even, level rows. Brickwork should not look uneven and skew.
  • In each room of your house you should have airbricks leading to the outside. This ensures that there will be enough air in your house even if the doors are closed. You should have airbricks over every door and window in your house.

The way you scrape the cement between bricks is important to make sure that water does not seep into your house. There are many different ways of scraping the cement. The right and wrong ways of doing this are shown below.

Mixing the cement

If cement is mixed in wrong proportions with sand, it may be too weak and will not hold the bricks together properly. Do not try to save money by using a weak cement mix. Cement should be mixed differently for different uses, such as foundations, mortar or plaster. Follow directions on the bag.

Doors and windows

  • You should have lintels (long pieces of concrete with wire in) above every door and window in your house to ensure that the bricks above do not collapse. This is especially important if you are using old window or door frames as they are not as strong as new frames.
  • Windows must open outwards.
  • You should not have large gaps left around windows and under doors as this will let water, cold wind and dust in.
  • Door and window frames should be painted when you are finished building. If you don’t paint them, metal frames might rust.
  • Buy the strongest frames you can afford


  • Roof beams should not be too far apart and the timber should not be too thin or else they will not be able to support the weight of the roof. Ask your building supplier for the correct type of timber for your roof.
  • Your roof should overhang the walls of your house by 60cm.
  • The roofing material must be properly secured to your house. If it is not secured, there is a danger that it will be blown away.
  • Your roof must slope enough to keep it from leaking.

Plumbing and electricity

  • When you put an electricity board into your house, you should be sure that the board will suit your needs both now and in the future. Some boards do not allow you to use many appliances.
  • You can collect the rainwater that falls on the roof of your house into a barrel by directing a pipe from a gutter built onto your roof into a tank such as a Jojo tank. This water can be used for washing and watering your garden.

Alternatives to asbestos

  • Asbestos is a mineral fibre used in many building materials, such as roof sheeting, ceilings, pipes and tanks. Even though these may look solid, when products made of asbestos wear or break, they release tiny asbestos fibres into the air. If you breathe in this air, you may get lung diseases or cancer. Many people die from these diseases.
  • Everyone who uses asbestos products in their home or who builds with materials containing asbestos is at a health risk.

Asbestos has been outlawed in South Africa. However, there are new products, that even though they look like asbestos, are alternatives to asbestos. Always confirm with the supplier that these are not asbestos products.

Please note: To protect families who benefit from its loans, Lendcor does not allow any of its loan funds to be used to buy asbestos products.

Asbestos Product Alternative
Roofing materials Bigsix and Profile B sheeting Nutec sheeting by Everite – costs the same, does not rust, is lighter and more flexible.

Corrugated iron sheeting – easy to build with and is strong.

Facias and bargeboards Nutec facias – costs the same, does not rust

Galvanised steel – very strong

Window sills Bricks on edge – easy and cheap

Concrete – easy to clean

Timber – looks nice and is not expensive

Ceilings – “cladit” ceiling boards Nutec ceiling boards – costs the same, versatile

Gypsum – easy to put in and will insulate your home

Gutters and downpipes Galvanised steel – easy to put in and doesn’t break easily

Marley plastic – easy to put in and easy to maintain

Asbestos water pipes and sewer pipes UPVC (plastic) pipes – easy to put in but not very strong

Steel and concrete pipes – very strong, do not break easily

Septic tanks and water tanks Plastic water tanks – easy to handle

Galvanised steel tanks – easy to handle and strong

Brick and mortar septic tanks

Asbestos wash troughs Concrete wash troughs – very strong

Plastic wash troughs – easy to handle, but not very strong

Galvanised steel troughs – very strong and easy to install