A LITANY of building defects, identified by the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) and contained in the Manase report released this year, are still evident at the Burbreeze Housing project. It is a far cry from the middle- to high-income housing project it was meant to be. In 2011, the NHBRC identified, among other problems, sub-standard block work, unstable internal walls, suspect slab construction, no water proofing considered in showers and widespread cracking. The civil engineering contractor for the project was Gralio Precast, which is owned by Shireen Annamalay. The NHBRC found that Gralio was not registered with them when the company started work on the Burbreeze project, near Tongaat. Gralio had subsequently registered with the council, but the registration was only valid until next month. Gralio has denied that they built sub-standard houses (see page 1). Consulting civil engineering company Nelson Allopi and Associates also performed work at the Burbreeze project. The company’s director Nelson Allopi yesterday blamed homeowners for the defects, saying they had made alterations without permission. “People interfered with the storm water system while trying to extend their homes. We have been monitoring houses with huge cracks since 2010. One owner removed the storm-water control system. We had advised the municipality to stop people from carrying out these alterations.” A tour of the Burbreeze project by The Witness last week revealed that very few, if any, of these defects had been addressed by the municipality. The Burbreeze project had been beset by problems from the beginning. Only 311 of the 550 units were built. The Manase report revealed that the remainder of the homes could not be built because of the unsuitability of the terrain, which is something the feasibility study should have identified. When the project was completed, the average cost per dwelling of R162 270 was 395,83% greater than the budgeted average cost of R32 727 per unit. Consultants scored R8,6 million, while the initial budget was R18 million for 550 units. In the end, the project cost R50,5 million — a whopping R32,5 million more than had originally been budgeted for. The eThekwini municipality has promised to deal with the issues at Burbreeze. Spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said the city has embarked on a rectifications programme. “The issues are being addressed. We have the commitment to deliver services to our people. At the moment, we are still looking at these issues.” Residents living in the project have described it as a ticking time bomb.A week ago, two families were relocated from their homes, local ward councillor Nompumelelo Mabaso said. “Their lives were in danger. But the issues in the area are being addressed,” she said. Mabaso said the two families were moved to the Hammonds Farm housing development in Verulum. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that people are safe,” she said. Residents living in houses with defects said they felt unsafe. The majority of the houses have hairline cracks on the walls. Homeowner Thozame Madike said it was clear to her that the contractors had not paid attention to structural issues when they were building: “We are living in danger here. Water seeps in under slabs.” Madike’s said her furniture had been damaged as a result of the water. She said some people were very frustrated with their living conditions. Member of a local community development organisation, Philiswe Cele said there was a growing feeling among residents to return to their shacks. “People prefer to be back in their shacks. These houses are unsafe, anything can happen. All these houses have huge defects. The water gets in underneath and makes the whole house damp,” she said. Burbreeze is one of three municipal housing projects featured in a controversial forensic audit report. The Hammonds Farm project has been partially completed. Westrich housing development in Newlands, which was constructed by a different developer, is the third project. The development has been completed.