19 Sep 2012
Construction of the SA Home Loans Umhlanga HQ at a total cost of R150 million is underway and is scheduled for completion in late 2013.
The cost of the project including purchase of the land is R150 million.
SA Home Loans has helped more than 150 000 individuals and families buy their own homes.
Now, after more than a decade of renting its business premises, the Durban-based national mortgage provider has announced plans for a home of its own.
SA Home Loans started negotiating the purchase of the landmark site several years ago and the deal was concluded last year.
And while the new SA Home Loans HQ will undoubtedly be a signature building in one of Durban's most sought after business precincts and boast spectacular views of the ocean and city, chief executive Kevin Penwarden says prestige was the last consideration for the company in taking the decision to switch from renting to buying.
“Everything we do at SA Home Loans is geared towards one goal - providing our customers with the best possible service.
“As South Africa’s largest non-bank specialist home loan provider, we've always been at pains to ensure that no other interests distract us from that goal and until now that goal has been best served by renting our business premises,” says Penwarden.
Thanks to the growth of SA Home Loans over the past few years, despite the tough economic conditions, it became increasingly apparent that the company would soon outgrow its current rented office space in Armstrong Avenue, La Lucia.
He says after exploring all the options, they realised that the build route was really the only way they could ensure they would get the offices that exactly suited their needs.
“At present we're split between five buildings and getting all our staff under one roof will not only boost efficiency and productivity but drive down costs to the benefit of our customers.”
It also promises to be a savvy investment, he says.
The company estimates that it will settle the loan on the development within 11 years paying exactly the same amount as the rent to a landlord, leaving the company the sole owner of Durban’s most substantial Financial Services Head Office and one of the largest of all offices on the ridge.
He says thanks to a host of clever ’green building’ features incorporated into the design, it will also be among the most environmentally friendly and provide the company with significant savings on its energy bills.
The two-storey, open-plan building has a south facing orientation which vastly reduces heat gain.
Maximum use will be made of natural light with floor to ceiling windows on the south and north facades. High performance glazing on 80 percent of the windows will help reduce glare and cut down on radiant heat.
External sun control on key exposed windows on north, east and west facades will prevent heat load.
A highly energy efficient chilled water air-conditioning system will be installed and the basement will be entirely naturally ventilated with no mechanical assistance required.
A high-tech building management system will optimise power usage and equipment control with motion sensors automatically switching lights on and off in zones outside of core office hours, depending on activity.
No escalators and few lifts will be required due to the low rise design.
The company is investigating the use of solar panels and the Eskom rebate scheme.
Rainwater will be harvested from the building and stored in tanks to irrigate the landscaped gardens which will comprise almost entirely of indigenous plants.
“We're excited at the prospect of moving into such a cutting edge, environmentally friendly new headquarters, purpose built with one primary aim in mind - to provide the optimal working conditions to serve our customers,” says Penwarden.
He says at SA Home Loans, they pride themselves in being totally open and transparent with their customers.
There are no hidden charges, no fine print to hide behind in the future, no unpleasant surprises –it’s an approach that's perfectly reflected in the open-plan, no barriers design of our new offices, he adds.
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