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INNOVATION: Township mansion is the talk of the town

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An Ikageng, Potch resident is in the news for constructing a double-storey home with limited funds and donated materials after giving up on the promise of an RDP house

Despair brought on by a promise for an RDP house that failed to materialise, restrictive residential premises and a dream were the components that “collided” and piqued a Potchefstroom man’s sense of improvisation, and resulted in a township mansion that is the talk of the town.

Thabo Kolodi strikes one as a man who knows exactly what he wants. This was one of the primary takeaways from an interview given to the Property360 team. He’s also a man who knows how to make the best out of nothing or little, having been brought up by a single mother in tight circumstances.

Kolodi’s unwillingness to be dependent was born of a resourcefulness he acquired when growing up. His parents separated when he was 16, he says. Survival meant menial jobs to help his domestic worker mom make ends meet and help feed five siblings.

“I matriculated in 2009 when I was 23. I had to bunk school to do part-time jobs. My brothers and sisters were small. I had to help my mother so she wouldn’t collapse.”

Thabo Kolodi Picture: Thabo Kolodi

When the RDP house took too long to materialise, Kolodi put shoulder to the wheel and built his double-storey marvel of a house from scratch in Ikageng township, outside Potchefstroom. The delay in being assigned a government house, in a way, proved a mixed blessing.

Kolodi saw an opportunity to execute his vision of a home and chose to build to make his house more spacious. “The stands in the township are only 30m x 20m. I didn’t have a choice,” says Kolodi, explaining how he had to circumvent the limited square metres to erect his dream home. The template for the property was based on a dream Kolodi had in 2014, prior to starting work on his home the next year.

Kolodi has been collecting material for the interior when limited funds permit purchases. Picture: Thabo Kolodi

“I had a dream about a double-storey zinc house.That collided with my ability. It collided with what I was trying to make people aware of. Some people in the township think you have to have a lot of money to build a double-storey house.”

Head of the architecture department at University of Pretoria, Professor Chrisna du Plessis, says she has witnessed excellent examples of people building their own houses.

“With good professional advice, there is no reason why these houses cannot outperform RDP houses. I have long advocated for young environment professionals carrying out a community service year (as do doctors) to assist owner-builders.”

Kolodi’s mostly corrugated sheet and steel edifice has also drawn praise from engineers at North-West University. He estimates the cost of work completed so far on the home at about R13 000.

Much remains to be done, particularly at the rear, which is nowhere near as complete as the front porch area. The interiors also are in need of improvements and a ceiling must be installed, Kolodi says.

His immediate plans are to install two bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor, to be followed by a sitting room and a bathroom below. Kolodi also intends to turn his birthday on April 19 next year into a fund-raising event.

“I hope to complete this house by next August. A second building phase is set for after mid-April. “It’s been a long-term process. I do need finishing materials, such as hardboard, a steel door and wooden plank material used to make roof tiles. I need six of them.”

It takes between R250 and R300 to have a single load of building material delivered, well above his estimated daily earnings of about R150 from odd jobs. This presents an additional financial challenge to completing his project.

Kolodi says he is grateful for the donations and pledges for material so far received since his impressive creation became a national news item.

“Although I’m in need of many things, I’m also trying to save a little money so I can buy stuff myself. I don’t want to be a burden.” Anyone who is willing to make a material donation (pun intended) should call Kolodi on 074 644 2629.


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