Civil Designer Showcase

Unconventional Vision Delivers More Than Just Boxes

Nevil Tyler is an unconventional and caring visionary, but also a man of compelling action. He doesn't take no for an answer - he is rather inclined to make it work. He puts his money where his mouth is as well. "If I take on a project, I will deliver. Some problems in South Africa need bold and unconventional solutions, if that's what's required, that's what I will do," says Nevil.

Earlier this year Nevil and his team were awarded the "Developer of the Year" by the Institute of Housing for a development in Cedarville between Matatiele and Kokstad in southern KwaZulu-Natal. Steven McGregor, the regional manager for the Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Program (CMIP) was full of praise for Nevil and his team.

"Several factors made this project a benchmark, the developers completed the project on time and on budget. Despite cost savings in a number of areas, quality of service was not compromised," says McGregor. "In fact the developers went further than was required and added quality and services, some of which they paid for out of their own pocket!"

"The project consisted of 382 fully serviced houses with a water service, water-borne sewage, a bulk water service that entailed upgrading the reservoirs, a water drainage system for the main road, maturation ponds for sanitation, storm water drains, connecting roads and even streetlights," explains Nevil. "I don't believe that engineering entails only designing and planning, so we involved the local community in the whole process." "In the end we didn't just walk off the site leaving 38m2 box houses; we left behind skills that enable the community to maintain the services effectively. The infrastructure was designed and built to be sustained over the long term, so that the community can thrive and prosper."

"The area was not the easiest I have worked on. The site was an old uplifted lake infested with gums, and was partially waterlogged. This meant we had to keep a sharp eye on the earthworks, and we had to "raft" all the foundations to ensure stability. The gradients were very flat as well. This is where Civil Designer starts to really shine. In order to achieve our objectives, we had to play with the design, trying a wide range of options before we succeeded. Civil Designer makes this so easy and just saved us so much time."

"Once the design was finished, we couldn't find a builder that could deliver the quality in the price range. So we got proactive, and formed a joint venture with S'Dumo Trust, BPB Construction, and ourselves Net Projects. This way we were able to deliver within the budget and use the experience of the enlarged management team to train the community," says Nevil determinedly.

That Nevil and his team succeeded is borne out by the admiring comments from members of the community since the project was completed. "Our lives have improved a lot," says Cedarville resident Berlina Ludidi. "My family's health has improved, because there is now enough money over to buy vegetables, and that is due to the fact that we have our houses for free and access to clean water.
  "There has been a rise in subsistence farming with many gardens flourishing with mielies and other produce, which in turn, has lead to the establishment of a community garden. Other joint initiatives such as community policing and self-employment drives have also begun. "Out of the homeless we have made citizens," says Matatiele mayor, Cedric Canham.

Despite this achievement, the visionary in Nevil Tyler is not satisfied. "There is a lot more we can and should be doing," he says forcefully. "We should be working with development nodes for sustained development. I believe that township developments like Cedarville should also include shopping complexes, business centres and light industry factories."

"Maybe the Department of Trade and Industry needs to be part of the equation to a greater extent. We trained the Cedarville community and left a range of skills, but where is the market for those skills? I believe they should be using those skills to not only maintain the infrastructure that they now have, but earn a living from them as well."

"We came up with some innovative alternative solutions for problems we encountered at Cedarville. Because of the cold winter weather, we increased the roof thickness to 5mm sheeting and designed a pitched roof. We supplied waterproof paint for the exterior walls of the houses. There was no extra charge for these additions to the project - in fact we paid for the paint ourselves.

"The water reservoirs also came under the entrepreneurial scrutiny of Nevil. "We could import and erect galvanised steel reservoirs from Australia cheaper than we could build or upgrade the traditional concrete ones."

The advantage of using Civil Designer lies not in the features, but in the benefits that the functionality brings, such as ease of use and time and cost savings generated. The community of Cedarville are similarly reaping the benefits of the strong-minded, tenacious and caring skills of Nevil Tyler.

Mayor Cedric Canham sums up the legacy, "We are not only servicing people, but restoring dignity. These people now feel they are part of the country."

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