How Kenyans can lower house prices

Houses under construction. Photo/Courtesy

Houses under construction. Photo/Courtesy

High cost of land in urban areas, high interest rates as well as the rising cost of construction have been cited as the main challenges facing potential home-owners in Kenya.

According to the Kenya National Housing Survey 2012/13 report which was released in March, only 18 per cent of urban households own homes, compared with 81.5 per cent in the rural areas.

The survey pointed out that the high cost of building materials, which account for about 40 per cent of the construction expenses, is increasingly pushing up the cost of housing beyond the reach of most Kenyans.

Fortunately, many Kenyans are now finding innovative ways to beat the high costs of housing. These include the adoption of low cost construction technologies, pooling resources to buy land cheaply, among others.

The use of alternative building materials such as stabilised soil blocks, reinforced concrete panels and prefabs – which can lower costs by up to 50 per cent – is slowly gaining acceptability among home-owners.

The government is also banking on the Appropriate Building Materials and Technologies (ABMT) to bring down the cost of housing while improving the quality and speed of construction.

READ: How to lower cost of building a home

ABMT refers to construction processes that make use of materials and tools that are safe, cost-effective, innovative and eco-friendly, and are acceptable to the climatic and social-economic conditions of an area.

The Ministry of Lands and Housing has already embarked on an initiative to promote ABMT across the country by setting up the national ABMT centre at Mavoko in Machakos County, 9 provincial ABMT centres and 52 constituency ABMT centres.

The centres will be used to train developers on new technologies and to educate the communities on the benefits of ABMT. They will also provide technical assistance, hiring out of equipment to builders, quality control and maintenance among other services.

The government is planning to capitalise on hydraform technology to lower building costs by half. The technology uses interlocking, hardened earthen blocks to minimise the use of sand and cement.

Other low cost technologies that are currently being used by local developers include Tevi roofing tile vibrator from Ecuador that creates micro-concrete roofing tiles, Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) from India/Kenya that provides cement fibre/polyurethane walling panels, prefab concrete panels, among others.

Players in the local housing sector have urged home-owners to embrace the new technologies as a means to slashing house prices while addressing the current housing deficit.

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