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CONTENTS ► Build a home for less than Sh1 million 40

Sh1.7m
Cost of a 3 bedroomed house built according to standards that minimise cost and protect the environment
Aesthetically, the assembled wall is appealing, which saves on finishing costs. The interlocking blocks are produced either by diesel powered or manual hydraform machines, and each machine can create between 1,500 to 2,000 blocks a day. Depending on the type of input used, different coloured blocks can also be created - and used to create a pattern on the perimeter fence, for instance. Red soil creates earth coloured blocks while quarry or crusher dust make grey blocks. The third step in this economically friendly and cost efficient but highly safety conscious construction approach is the use of a combination of steel and timber in the roofing, and the use of waffles (pre cast concrete structures) to absorb weight and noise between floors. The waffles are made in moulds (Mineco’s yard is located in Ruiru near the Thika bypass) and approximately 300 can be made in a day, with each covering one square metre. The KCB headquarters at Upper Hill, for instance, uses waffles. With the application of these three steps, construction costs can be reduced by between 30% to 40% without compromising on safety or quality, and Mineco has completed numerous private housing projects in and outside Nairobi in areas as diverse as Syokimau, Ruai, Utawala, Ruiri, Bomet, Nanyuki, Nakuru and Meru over the last year. A 3 bedroomed house costs around Sh1.7 million. The property developer has recently embarked on its first large scale housing project at Kitengela, and is constructing forty 3 bedroom units on a 1/8 acre plot at a cost of Sh3.95 million. The show house was completed at the end of last month, and is being marketed by The Mortgage Company. By mid this month, Mineco will embark on its second development project at Juja, on the

LOW-COST HOUSING

Build a home for less than Sh1 million
Modern approach offers hope for aspiring owners
BY AAMERA JIWAJI

D

id you know that you could build a two bed roomed house anywhere in Kenya for under Sh1 million? It doesn’t seem feasible, especially in a country where property prices are sky rocketing. But it is an innovative approach to housing - a combination of local materials with internationally approved designs - that could radically alter the future of Kenya’s housing market, and be the solution to the country’s perennial housing shortages. It is a technique that Mineco House, a Kenyan company that was founded on the principles of minimum cost, minimum time and eco friendly practices, follows. Licensed in 2009 by seven directors who are professionals in fields such as Civil Engineering, Architecture, Project management, Quantity Surveying and FInance, the company carries out construction projects across the country which are targeted at low and middle income earners. “In Kenya we are used to the conventional method of housing which is expensive,” said the 32-year-old Mr Njiru, managing director of Mineco House who is a CIvil Engineer by profession. But the three pronged approach that Mineco adopts is simple. First, a suspended foundation, which requires less excavation and no foundation walling. This poses less disturbance to the natural soil and reduced interference with natural underground seepage. The elevated foundation “assists with air circulation because when you suspend the foundation, you create an air void” said Mr Njiru and this means that the temperature in
| Nairobi Business Monthly March

Mate Njiru, managing director of Mineco House

A home owner could be living in their own home (and not paying rent in another house) before the first mortgage payment is even due
the house is better maintained. Second, the use of locally made interlocking blocks which do not use cement and require minimal labour (one mason can stack a full wall in one day, said Mr Njiru). These blocks keep the home three times warmer than concrete, and because they are not baked reduce environmental impact. They also allow easy reconfiguration and correction since the wall can be dismantled and recreated without destroying the bricks.

outskirts of Nairobi, where it is putting up twenty six units of 2 and 3 bedroom houses at a cost of Sh2 million and Sh3 million respectively. The added benefit of a house constructed through such an approach is that it can be built in 45 days, which means a home owner could be living in their own home (and not paying rent in another house) before the first mortgage payment is even due. “When you take a mortgage in Kenya, the developer will take up to six months to develop the property so you start repaying the mortgage in the second month before the project is complete. With us we make sure that before you make your first payment for the mortgage you have started using your house so you are not paying rent; you are already saving,” said Mr Njiru. The innovations that Mineco has introduced to the Kenyan property market do not end with the construction process however, and Mr Njiru who has worked with international telecommunication companies Alcatel Lucent and Nokia Siemens before venturing out on his own, has ambitious plans. Mineco’s relatively quiet entry into the market with this model - which combines convention (interlocking blocks) with modern practices (use of MDF boards in the interior) - has been designed to ease Kenyans into the idea of a fully prefabricated house, such that a house can be requested one day and is delivered the next with the construction team literally assembling it in front of your eyes. “if you request a house, we will deliver the house. And the model, which fabricates the entire house, can be assembled in 30 days at most and it will cut the cost of construction by more than the model which uses interlocking blocks,” said Mr Njiru. In addition, Mineco is soon to launch a web based platform which allows a client to develop their house online, from design to planning to licensing and even costing the various steps involved. It is an approach that Mr Njiru is confident will appeal to the local market since it will make the process of home construction

Paying attention to wardrobe choice, and its finish, will help create a more elegant, finished look in your bedroom.

Construction costs can be reduced by between 30% to 40% without compromising on safety or quality of the building

more transparent and reduce hidden costs. He is also confident that it will appeal to

the diaspora market who are interested in investing in Kenya. For them Mineco has already set up an escrow account, where an independent third party receives and disburses money depending on the fulfillment of contractually-agreed conditions. This, he believes, will engender trust in the diaspora and allow the offshore client to monitor the funds that are released to the property developer.
March Nairobi Business Monthly |