How technology from Malaysia is enabling families afford homes

A house built using interlocking blocks made of ballast, sand and cement, which cuts building costs by nearly half. [Ishaq Jumbe, Standard]

When Pauline Wakaya saw a promotion on social media offering budget rates for a two-bedroom bungalow in Bamburi, Mombasa County, she dismissed it as a scam.

Most two-bedroom houses in suburbs across the country cost between Sh3 million and Sh5 million. The mother of six discussed the issue with her husband, visited the site for due diligence and approved the deal.

They moved into their two-bedroom bungalow last week, which cost them Sh999,000. They are among the many Kenyans who have bought houses under the scheme.

And despite many dismissing the offer as another scheme to con Kenyans of their hard-earned cash, a few others are cashing in on it.

Kenya Project Budget Homes Chief Executive David Kanyi says they have housed 920 families since they started the project 10 years ago.

“We established in 2010 and our objective was to sell a thousand units in 10 years,” he says. “We conducted our research and adopted Malaysian home building technology, which is quite cheap.”

They use interlocking blocks made of ballast, sand and cement, which cuts building costs by nearly half.

The company also gets cheap land away from town, but with social amenities to minimise costs.

However, the houses are not as big as one would expect with the bedrooms measuring 6.7 feet by 12 feet, just enough to wiggle in after fitting in a standard bed. The living room, which has been constructed in the style of a servant quarter with a kitchen extension measures 13 feet by 12 feet.

A single house measures 26 by 14 feet. The firm, which is constructing the second phase of the bungalows, says they fit 30 houses in an acre.

The houses don’t require plastering with only basic furnishing, fitted before it is handed over to the owner.

The fittings include wooden doors, louvres for windows, and lower cabinets for the kitchen.

There is also a PVC plastic ceiling and fascia boards to complete the roofing. The firm provides a borehole, which connects water to the taps in the house, and common parking for all the residents of the estate.

They are also connected to the power grid with new homeowners provided with token meters. Mr Kanyi says the houses can be an investment for single parents and bachelors.

“If you buy this house, it becomes a sort of pension scheme for you,” he noted, explaining that at the cost of nearly Sh1 million, you can rent it out for Sh13,000. “In six years, it will recoup your money,” he says.

For families that require a bigger unit, they can tailor-make three or four-bedroom units according to one’s specifications as long as they pay more. Ms Wakaya, who was financed by Tower Sacco under the Kenya Mortgage Finance, says she only deposited a down-payment of Sh200,000.

“Instead of paying rent, I am paying my mortgage at the rate of Sh13,000,” she says. Building the house requires only two masons.

It invests close to established centres, according to Grace Gatimu, a marketing executive of the project.

The firm also has two and three-bedroom maisonettes in Mtwapa, Bamburi, Nyali and Ruiru, which cost between Sh1.5 million to Sh4 million.