Source: We cannot substitute bricks with timber: Moyo | The Herald March 27, 2018
ZIMBABWE will not consider using timber as substitute for bricks in the construction of houses to address housing shortages and lower the cost of building homes because there is little timber in the country, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said this in Parliament last week while responding to Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai’s question on why Zimbabwe would not consider timber as an alternative to bricks.
This comes as the country continues to battle the challenges of housing shortage, partly due to the high cost of access to serviced residential land as well as construction.
Zimbabwe has a housing backlog of 1,25 million people.
With growing rural to urban migration in search of employment; the deficit of decent accommodation continues to grow despite Government efforts to address the issue through housing schemes and incentives to investors.
But while access to residential land is a major problem on its own, the cost of building is another stumbling block affecting access to decent housing with many low income earners taking several years or their entire life to complete a single unit.
“We have very little in the form of timber. We have very few trees in Zimbabwe. In America and Canada, they have plenty of trees as compared to the ones that we have in Zimbabwe,” Minister Moyo said.
According to State owned Allied Timbers, Zimbabwe’s biggest timber producer, the country could run out of timber in the next nine years if little is done to replenish plantations.
He also said in Zimbabwe’s case, it was a fact that one can build structures that are cheaper from bricks as opposed to timber.
“We use timber mostly for roofing trusses but if you look at the amount that goes into the construction of the building, you will observe that the roof costs a third of the entire building in terms of costs because timber is very expensive when compared to bricks.
“I am in agreement that they may take a shorter period if construction was going to be done using wood, but in America, if you are a builder, you are also taught to do carpentry. In Zimbabwe, we (only) teach people to lay bricks,” he said.