When The Economics Just Make Sense

South African businessman Gavin Stanton had a prime piece of land and a dream: he wanted to start a storage business…

Project Details

When The Economics Just Make Sense

South African businessman Gavin Stanton had a prime piece of land and a dream: he wanted to start a storage business

The opportunity lay in the location of the land – near Lonehill, north of Johannesburg. Because of the premium attached to land in the affluent northern suburbs, there is currently a shortage of storage facilities in the area. However, there was a massive challenge too – cost. To build the number and size of storage units Stanton envisaged was going to break the bank. “The cost of transporting the raw materials or even bulk purchases always killed the project,” he explains.

But then, after much frustration and disappointment, Stanton came across the perfect solution: the Hydraform Building System. By purchasing a single Hydraform blockmaking machine, along with a few bags of cement to help with binding, he could use the soil at his building site and a little water to create his own dry-stacking, interlocking building blocks.

All he’d have to ship in to complete the job was the doors and windows, plus roofing material. And even that could be mitigated because Hydraform also has a machine for making roof tiles. Suddenly the project was up and running with some real impetus.

In Stanton’s own words: “We looked at several options for sourcing material and equipment to reduce costs. The Hydraform system, however, made total sense: it gives economy of scale by using the soil on my property, offers full control of the quality of the bricks, avoids excessive transport costs, uses unskilled labour, and the speed of construction using dry-stacking blocks is truly impressive.”

He is also favourably impressed with the speed and low cost of construction. The first unit was completed after only 18 months – including training his unskilled labour in optimal use of the equipment and establishing a “brickyard” for curing blocks and having the blocks close to the construction site.

When completed, the complex will comprise four double-storey buildings, each 16m by 36m and containing 57 individual storage units. For additional security the roof is a concrete waterproofed slab, and solar panels have been installed to provide up to 17.5 kW hours of electricity for the site.

Also in the plan is a boundary wall around the property and a guardhouse, which are virtually completed. Interestingly, the site also incorporates a cellphone base station tower, the control room of which is also built using the Hydraform Building System to ensure a consistent aesthetic in the complex.

At the current speed of construction, Stanton expects the three remaining units to be finished in about two years. Thereafter, he says the Hydraform equipment will be put to work on other projects he has in mind.