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How to set up a construction company in Caldas

There may be good business opportunities in building housing or creating construction materials. Everybody needs a roof over their heads and most people actually have one and paid for it.

Photo of Koos Looijesteijn
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The award-winning Design Indaba 10x10 Low-Cost Housing Project has gifted 10 homes to families in Freedom Park, a township near Cape Town, with the aim of exploring innovative low-cost housing solutions.

Unfortunately, I didn't see this going beyond offering 10 families a free architecturally sound house. This is a lovable charity project, that -thank heavens- even got executed, but I believe we can do even better than this. By putting a social business in place offering housing solutions, we can create something much  longer lasting and it doesn't invoke semi-randomly choosing benificiaries.

There are some issues need more Inspiration: (updates in bold)
  1. What are currently popular building materials?
      What I've seen so far in the pictures and videos here and elsewhere, is nothing special: makeshift homes are created out of scavanged sticks and plastic tarps, more permanent structures out of brick with currogated metal roofs.
  2. What types of housing do poor Caldas people dwell in?
      Informal settlements have different stages. This talk by Neuwirth: http://bit.ly/jVHUju (thanks James McBennett) gives a great insight into slum development.
  3. Do people own or rent? In many other countries, even shacks often have a landlord that rents them out.
      This turns out to be essential (together with #4): with the fear of being evicted from the place they put their houses on, people are not willing to invest much in it. It is however common to sell or rent out the rights to build upon one's roof. I'm under the impression that in Caldas, like in the rest of the world, many informal settlements are a rented out. On a related note: it's common in India for people who are evicted from their shacks and offered an apartment by the government, to rent out the apartment and live in another slum themselves.
  4. Legal issues: many shack dwellers don't own the land they build upon. What laws are there in Colombia regarding squatting? I've heard in South Africa, you can not be evicted after having lived in a self-built structure after living in it for 72 hours. Similar rules may be there in Caldas.
      I couldn't find anything on this yet.
  5. What businesses are already in place? Should we compete with them, employ them, etc?
    I believe we should set up an organisation that brings local skills and knowledge together (that I feel is more based upon experience than formal education) and provide the locals with the opportunity to explore new ways of building.




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Photo of David

Good idea Koos. Any movement on this ?

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