Property 24/10 - 52

Higher-density residential building up
Johannesburg - Levels of building activity regarding new housing in SA continued to show strain in the first month of this year, according to the latest Absa Home Loans building statistics.

It will take some time before the new housing market improves, but higher-density residential developments look to be the future of housing in South AFrica.

On the planning side, the year-on-year decline in the volume of plans approved was down by only 4.6% in January, with the number of plans approved in respect of the higher-density category of flats and townhouses up by a substantial 17.1% year on year.

"Based on the fact that higher-density residential developments are believed to be the future of housing in SA, especially in the major metropolitan areas, this faster growth with regard to the planning phase will support the supply of new housing in this category, for which there is a strong demand," said Absa senior property analyst Jacques Du Toit.

Property awards with a twist
Property group Fine & Country South Africa recently hosted an industry awards ceremony in recognition of its top performers.

According to Linda Erasmus, CEO of Fine & Country SA, the event was unique in that while other South African property groups typically award estate agents according to sales figures only, Fine & Country has identified a number of award worthy categories pertaining to South Africa's 'property verse'.

Moreover, the awards weren't restricted to Fine & Country's 55 South African branches. Indeed, members from across Africa participated, thus broadening the base of the assessments while emphasising the multinational referrals strength of the group within the Fine & Country global network.

The event took place in the evening of the first day of the group's international four day property convention in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront.

Land reform fails again
So South Africa's land claims commissioners are so upset by the fact that the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti cut their annual salaries that they walked out en masse.

Paddy Hartdegen writes a regular column for
Instead of earning R1-million a year they will now be earning just R840k (R70k a month). What these senior government employees are probably saying is: "How does the government expect us to live on that, let alone meet all our expenses?"

After all, they will probably claim, they were battling to make ends meet before the pay cuts when they were getting R1-million a year (R83k a month) and, if anything, they should have got at least an inflation-related increase, not a decrease.

And the acting chief commissioner, Sibusiso Gamede - who was earning about R1,4-million a year or almost R117k a month - led the mass walk out citing "personal reasons" for leaving and promptly accepted another job (presumably even better paid) in the private sector.

Water price to almost double?
The pretty gardens, lush green lawns and exotic plants may all be a thing of the past for most homeowners as water experts warn not only that South Africa may run out of water in the next 10 years but that Eskom-style increases in water tariffs are on the way.

Many cities and towns are unable to account for significant water losses.
It also follows reports that the costs of municipal services have increased by 46% year on year.

Water Affairs acting director-general Trevor Baltzer says that cheap water is a thing of the past and that government is looking at ways to fund new developments that will provide security of supply in the coming years.

Indigent households will continue to receive free water from government but a new scale for water tariffs has will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval before the end of the year. Once approved, the new tariff structure will be released for general comment.

Own a castle on the bay
Have you ever dreamed of owning a castle? This stone castle on the West Coast in the picturesque coastal village of Saldanha is on the market for R7,6m.

The three-storey castle was built by its current owner after a visit to the famed Noetzie castles on the Garden Route.

"It is a solid stone and mortar building and all the décor inside helps to give it the authentic medieval castle feeling, although the amenities are decidedly modern," says Elma Steyn of Seeff Saldanha/Jacobs Bay.

The three-storey castle was built by its current owner after a visit to the famed Noetzie castles on the Garden Route. It has nine bedrooms, all en suite, with views of the bay and the price includes linen and furniture. Other features include a huge dining room that can seat around 50 guests, a solid redwood staircase and a top terrace with a view of the bay.

The castle has been run as a guest house and has double tandem garages, a well stocked library for guests, two kitchens, huge fireplace/indoor braai, and a patio on the top floor with a raised wooden deck that gives a 360 degree view.

Clay bricks offer many benefits
The clay brick is one of the oldest and most enduring building materials in the world. Clay bricks have a long history dating as far back as 3000BC, and today they continue to offer a durable and classically timeless appeal to either traditional or contemporary architecture.

There are a number of practical benefits of choosing clay brick as your main building material. They are widely available and a comparatively forgiving medium for fairly unskilled labour to work with. Rain will not necessarily halt the building process if you are building with clay bricks, as it rarely becomes too wet to work with - merely using a dryer mortar is frequently sufficient to guarantee acceptable adhesion.

Versatility is another benefit of clay bricks - they can be used as a structural element on their own or in conjunction with reinforced concrete, as a thermal or acoustic insulator, as an aesthetically pleasing cladding or as highly practical filler between concrete and steel.

Table View - waste of valuable coast
Cape Town wants to transform its largely neglected area of Table View into another prime suburb that will attract local and international tourists. The project is still in the planning phase but much research has been done to allow the new plan to take shape.

The council proposes that the Table View area be redesigned, the road be downscaled to stop it being used by so many vehicles and a new walkway built to make it more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists and connect the beach area with buildings and restaurants.

According to Blaauwberg sub-council chairman, Heather Brenner the area needs a complete change of face, as it doesn't serve the needs of the community or those of the tourist markets either.

She says that the busy road running alongside the Table View walkway, coupled with the fact that there was a large parking lot and a bare piece of council land meant that Table View was not attracting anyone - local or foreign.

The council proposes that the Table View area be redesigned, the road be downscaled to stop it being used by so many vehicles and a new walkway built to make it more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists and connect the beach area with buildings and restaurants.

'Switch off' this Earth Hour
In 2010, millions of people in over 128 countries across the planet switched their electricity off at 8:30pm local time - making it the biggest Earth Hour ever!

People across the globe united in their stand against climate change by switching lights off in houses, towns and cities, as Earth Hour continued its way across the timeline. Iconic buildings and landmarks in London, Sydney and across the Asia Pacific and Americas all switched off.

This year, Earth Hour organiser the World Wildlife Fund is hoping to break that record - but they need your help!

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