Bridging the GAP between demand and supply

in the affordable housing market in Africa


Africa is confronted with an enormous backlog in affordable housing for the masses. The problem is both quantity and quality: a great challenge, but also a great business opportunity. This inspired us to develop Butterfly Housing as a product to enter this mostly untapped market. We are established in the 2 largest economies: Nigeria and South Africa.



To deliver large numbers of comfortable homes sustainably for an affordable price. Within the coming 5 years we aim to have established ourselves as a discerning (social) housing company in Africa, delivering both quantity and quality, thus contributing to a humane and thriving urban environment.


The GAP market is the large group of the “emerging middle classes” a group of educated young people with modern aspirations, but with a modest salary. The GAP market targets households with incomes between USD 300,- and 1500,- per month. Butterfly Housing targets the lower bracket of this GAP market (USD 300,- to 900,-) which is as yet hardly served. We believe that the time is ripe to target this housing market because of demographical and socio-economical trends, which we will dwell upon hereafter. The company’s vision is to build together To contribute to a growth oriented and socially sustainable economy in Africa together with the stakeholders. By combining a generic model of advanced design with a locally established and specifi c method of fi nishing, it provides an aspirational model for the emerging middle classes in sub Saharan Africa.


The product is a starter house based on a modular system and passive climate control. It consists of a building kit of steel parts that are assembled into a load bearing skeleton to finish the houses with different infill materials, such as earth blocks and insulated panels. We distinguish three systems that we keep separate in order to organise the delivery process affordably and efficiently.

The USP’s of this product are:
- comfortable and affordable
- climate responsive (no need for AC)
- high quality but low required skills on site
- easy adjustment over time
- adjustable to local market
- local job creation
- designed to bridge the GAP


Butterfly Housing BV is a Netherlands Limited company aiming at contributing to the production of appropriate and affordable houses for this emergent housing market in Africa. Butterfly Housing seeks local African cooperating partners with whom it wants to form a franchise network based on a benchmark of quality and modes of delivery. Butterfly Housing is established in South Africa as a Pty Limited company and listed as Elemental Housing Systems Pty Ltd. Butterfly Housing is established in Nigeria as a Limited company and listed as Butterfly Housing Developers Ltd.


The Company’s founders are Frederik Groos and Robert van Kats, both architects with a strong interest for Africa, its history and people. Both have a vast working experience in the African condition in Africa. Thom Wolf has entered the team to add his expertise as a seasoned real estate developer and manages the company's organization. The team is supported by their local cooperative partners in South Africa and Nigeria. Butterfly Housing in Nigeria is represented by its director Michel Nadorp.


We employ the method of systems separation in order to bring down the traditional complexity of building houses. BH combines high end industrial production of load bearing construction with locally available construction capacity. That way we deliver high quality houses for a low cost, whilst at the same time training and employing individuals from the stakeholder communities. In other words: the houses are produced within and by the stakeholder communities, easing our way into the target market.


BH’s discerning quality is the fact that it is a sustainable alternative to cheap shelter and quickly produced mass housing. To sum it up: - Financing can be done in smaller steps as part of a growth scenario. - Contribution to job creation and the transfer of basic skills and knowhow. - Contributes to cooperating networks in the housing environment. - Rapid construction yet high and reliable quality.



Butterfly House is designed as a brand. In housing this is exceptional and it is one of the innovations in our proposition. Butterfly Housing stands for a range of discerning qualities and distinctive features connected to the green economy and progressive social values. The product is very tangible through its specific form and modular repetition. At the same time it’s easily adaptable to individual needs. We aim at creating a benchmark for affordable quality and social values which we want to be associated with the product. Hence the specific name that corresponds to the image and respect for nature: Butterfly Housing is a house that threads the earth lightly. It’s a growth approach to housing.




A house is an organic entity, composed of different parts. These parts have different life spans. In traditional houses these systems are overlapping and therefore difficult to change without also demolishing another part. In Butterfly House the systems are kept separate and can be adapted independently. We distinguish 3 main systems

The Skeleton

The load bearing system

The skeleton is the load bearing system of Butterfly House. It consists of an industrially produced, thus highly reliable, steel framework and corrugated steel roof and floor. The skeleton is easy and fast to assemble. Because it stands slightly above ground the structure is independent of soil conditions, and unharmed by heavy rains and occasional flooding. The form of the roof allows for proper ventilation, creating self cooling capacity which is one of the discerning qualities of Butterfly Housing.


The Butterfly Housing Company will provide a manual for assembling the steel skeleton and will use preferred contractors to do the job.

The Skin

The protective system

The skin is the protective system of the house. It envelops the interior and protects the inhabitants from the climate, insects and intruders. It includes strong insulating walls made of stone (compact earth blocks for example) or strong insulated fibre cement.  Windows are steel or wood window frames, depending on local availability. The windows can be fitted out with burglar bars or burglar proof glass. The ventilation grille is fitted out with a specific anti-malarial mosquito mesh.


The skin is locally produced and can be removed and altered easily without changing the structure of the house. That way the house is adaptable to changing needs without large costs.

The Organs

The energy system

The organs define the health of a house. Every house has its energy system for breathing, heating and cooling, as well as waste disposal and water provision for drinking and cleaning. These “organs” are mostly technical and easily replaced when necessary. This system is managed by plumbers and electricians. A Butterfly House is standard fitted out with prefabricated bathrooms and kitchens and with state of the art PV solar lighting. Hot water can be generated with an additional solar boiler. Waste water management depends on local standards of sewage, but could be managed individually or in small groups of houses with the sustainable waste management technology that Butterfly Housing can provide through its partners.


The Butterfly House does not have a need for electrical air conditioning, because of its self cooling capacity through the butterfly roof and special ventilation device. In short: it is a healthy house.




Our services depend on the project specifics. They comprise a range of design, consultancy and (green) engineering services that depend on the site, the client, the available budget and the scope of the project. An important additional service is training of local construction workers to assemble and finish the houses. The design of the houses enables easy plug in into a mini-grid that connects the houses to waste water treatment, potable water, energy generation etc. Many project locations do not have generic infrastructural services. The organisation will assist with council drawings to submit for building permits to local authorities.

A typical project would be divided in 4 stages:

  1. Market analysis and pre-feasibility study – budget estimation
  2. Concept design lay-out – pre-engineering phase – provisional cost estimate
  3. Final lay-out and typology – contracting the construction partners
  4. Foundations and infrastructure – assembly and delivery of the houses

Through our many partners in the DASUDA network and our own Africa-wide partner network, we can also assist in matters of governance, water management, mobility, environmental assessment, accreditation, legal support, real estate management etc. Our main focus however is on delivering houses within the existing (and rapidly evolving) frameworks.




Butterfly Housing Netherlands
Thom Wolf
Lijnbaansgracht 57
1015 GS Amsterdam, The Netherlands
+31 (0)6 3120 5000

Butterfly Housing Nigeria
Is represented by
Butterfly Housing Developers Ltd.
Michel Nadorp
21, Haman Maiduguri Crescent,
Off 3rd Avenue (Pa Michael Imodu Ave.)
Gwarinpa, Abuja, Nigeria
+234 (0)803 785 0585

Butterfly Housing South Africa
Is represented by
Elemental Housing Systems
Frederik Groos
4 Argon street, Hermanus Business Centre
Hermanus 7200, Western Cape Province RSA
+27 (0)7 6667 9475   |   +31 (0)6 2901 5069