The number of low quality bricks flooding the market in Harare is on the increase. There are many industries involved in the trade, however, self-proclaimed brick makers are making poor quality bricks that do not match the standards of those made professionally. Their cheap prices are encouraging buyers to stint on quality at the expense of safety. Check the piles of bricks delivered to home-owners along many roads in the city and it’s clear that low quality bricks are proving to be the brick of choice among many Harare residents.
Common bricks, farm bricks and block bricks are some of those being made by uncertified dealers. Often these bricks lack the right materials or have an excess of sand which makes them unsuitable for building housing structures. According to architectural technican Anesu Chikono, it is hard to discern whether these bricks are fake as they have the same features as industrially made bricks. They look alike but have different properties. The prices of these below standard bricks are currently pegged at 13c per common brick and 60c per block brick, a slightly lower price compared to the professionally made bricks which cost 18c and 90c respectively.
Of course many residents trying to cut costs end up buying low quality bricks, easily falling prey to the dubious dealers who sell them. Delay Jecha, a bricklayer from Glen Norah acknowledged that while it is cheap to purchase bricks made by the roadside in the suburbs, residents are tempted to buy low quality bricks because of a lack of knowledge and the low, inadequate budgets they have for building. According to an anonymous foreman from a local construction company, these bricks are cheaper but they are not cost effective as they will compromise the quality of the finished structure. Low quality bricks succumb much quicker to environmental and architectural stresses.
Chikono says that these stresses usually manifest themselves as cracks and fissures in building corners and along the walls. These, in turn, reduce the durability of a building. He highlighted that even though there are many kinds of bricks that can be utilised, there is need for the building populace to approach qualified engineers so that they avoid the expense of continually renovating their homes. According to engineer Lionel Chaza, it is always wise to buy bricks from certified dealers as this guarantees durability and cushions residents from having to renovate or rebuild houses periodically.
One Maposa, a brick maker from Rockview, stresses that brick making is a trade that needs expertise to ensure customers are guaranteed of strong and durable bricks.
Archford Dzakatira, a builder in the Borrowdale area, added his voice against the proliferation of low quality bricks on the market and urged that these need to be curbed in order to bring conformity to the construction industry and to guarantee the safety of home owners.
Dzakatira also concurred with the fact that residents should seek the expertise of engineers and architects to consult on the types and amounts of bricks that they should use when building houses, as uncertified builders often lack the necessary expertise. He also recommended that residents carefully inspect the building materials they buy. Residents building houses must buy bricks from certified dealers said Dzakatira, otherwise they are encouraging the growth of false economy bricks on the market.