A leading provider of innovative green building systems used in a wide range of industries including residential, education, medical, farming and commercial facilities is taking on the affordable sector.

By Intastor | All photos by Intastor

Intastor manufactures and installs insulated panel roofs and modular building systems as immediate solutions that are cost-effective, while being simple and quick to erect. All products are energy efficient maintaining cool in summer and warmth in winter which contributes dramatically in reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint. Their solutions include temporary houses, permanent houses, creches, schools, clinics and early childhood development centres and have accreditation with Agrément SA, NHBRC and CIDB (6GB).

A dignified home for a Kayamandi family. Image: Intastor

A dignified home for a Kayamandi family. Image: Intastor

Company background

In 1969 and 1974 respectively there were two major players in the insulated panel sector that were from the Netherlands and Britain. Over this period insulated panels were a new technology in South Africa and manufactured products were imported from Europe.

In 2006 iMvula, a holding company, amalgamated these companies and started the Intastor brand as it is known today. Having also acquired the knowledge and skillset of the employees, Intastor collectively holds over 50 years’ experience in insulated panel production, and currently can produce 50 000m² of panels monthly.

Intastor only started focusing on the affordable housing market over the past two to three years, after having dabbled in various aspects of the industry as many as 10 years ago – mainly in the temporary housing space. But as the demand grew for quick, efficient and sustainable houses, the company has sought to bring solutions through a product that has already earned its weight in many sectors over the years.

The Sunlands Primary School where the Intastor product was installed. Image: Intastor

The Sunlands Primary School where the Intastor product was installed. Image: Intastor

The product

The variety of profiles (50mm to 200mm) are made from two outer faces, generally Chromadek steel, and the inner layer of Isolite-15 density fire retardant polystyrene, which gives the necessary insulation properties. It is based on an interlocking tongue and groove system with panel widths of 1.1m. The systems can also be produced in various colours and profiles to suit customers’ requirements.

Intastor offers customised solutions and boasts the only continuous panel manufacturing machine of its kind in the Western Cape, which means quality control is significantly better that the typical manual process also used in South Africa. Their automated production line allows the capability to manufacture any length of panel where the only limitation is the transport mechanisms, so typically between two to 15m. The company is also the only manufacturer of insulated panels in South Africa that has Agrément certification for buildings systems (single storey) as well as NHBRC certification for its roof panel system.

No matter what the application, up to a 50m² room requires no steel supports or framework. This is due to the nature of the panels and the manufacturing process, which creates high rigidity. With the roofing system as an example – a 100mm thick panel – you can span eight to nine metres and there is no need for trusses. The system can be used on conventional or ABT new buildings or retrofitted to existing structures. For solutions in housing there are no beams, additional insulation, ceilings or painting required.

Benefits of the system

Insulated panel structures have been around for five decades and have proven to be a sustainable and efficient system that has been used in multiple industries over its lifespan. As a modular system as many as 36 houses a week can be erected, which is unheard of in conventional building.

The installation process is fast, simple and typically involves a project manager and couple of skilled employees on site. With the systems simplicity, training and upskilling local community members is easily achieved – from inception to completion. This process also facilitates the transfer of skills, sustainable employment opportunities and community pride through participation in the building process.

“All panels are fire-rated and Intastor is collaborating with various industry players in the alternate building sector, taking the best of all technologies and putting them into something that works because alternative technology cannot work on its own. It needs to be a combination of alternative and conventional technologies using each solutions’ strengths. This enables us to produce an end result faster, more economically and more efficiently, especially with the housing backlog we are currently experiencing,” says Desmond Alie, managing director of Intastor and sister company Isolite.

All materials used are 100% recyclable and all manufacturing waste is processed through a hammer mill, ground up and then put back into the system to be used as re-grind in the manufacturing process (10%+).

When building with alternative technology, you have zero dependence on water on site, everything is pre-manufactured, arrives and is installed on site. “It’s a cleaner way of building when you compare conventional building sites – it is a completely different situation,” says Alie.

Complete low-cost housing solutions have been installed by Intastor at the Lulu Project in Khayamandi. Image: Intastor

Complete low-cost housing solutions have been installed by Intastor at the Lulu Project in Khayamandi. Image: Intastor

The modular housing solution horizon

Currently with thousands of installations under the belt as well as thousands planned, the future of Intastor is set to exceed expectations.

It is able to build as a trusted, quality roofing and temporary housing producer and has gone through a lot of work, research and time to develop its permanent housing solution, which received Agrément approval late in 2018.

Intastor can take on permanent structure buildings in the affordable housing market, while empowering local communities around the country with the skills to work with and install their products.

“The road so far has been a resistant one because we still sit with a mental block in the housing market where people want a brick and mortar house, so although in European and other countries, alternative buildings are highly acceptable and desirable because of the energy efficiency, we have to change our mindset to be more receptive to these types of solutions because alternative building solutions are better. – It’s a better technology that can be delivered faster with more efficiency. Industry and stakeholders need to accept this. We have to get acceptance of these types of solutions to get ahead,” Alie stresses.