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‘Starter homes are still unpopular among many’

By Mkala Mwaghesha | May 12th 2016
Aaron Gitonga, quantity surveyor and Director at Getso Consultant Limited. PHOTO| COURTESY

How Rogam Investment’s First Homes project is progressing?

Phase One comprising 120 units is ready for occupation. The uptake of these units has been good.

Is the original goal of First Homes — offering starter homes to first-time buyers — being achieved?

Our idea was to provide affordable houses for young people that have just started working to buy and avoid paying rent. However, most of our customers have been investors buying to let out the units and not the youth buying to live in them

You had earlier intimated that the two-bedroom houses, which were selling for about Sh3 million, were in high demand compared to the bedsitters. Why is that so?

This could have been because people want to keep to what they are used to. Many are used to living in one and two-bedroom houses. The concept of studio apartments is relatively new in Kenya. However, this has since changed and the uptake of studio apartments is now better.

With the experience and knowledge Rogam as a developer has got from First Homes, are you thinking of putting up other starter homes in a different location?

Yes. But we shall target investors that would buy and to let. I guess it will take some time before “starters” understand and embrace the concept of early home ownership.

Why do we have varying figures for housing deficit in the country?

The figures on the deficit vary mainly due to definition of housing by those conducting the study. However, one dimension that most of these studies agree on is that the demand is growing at more than 200,000 houses per annum.

Where are we going wrong in regard to housing and finding a solution to shortage of affordable housing?

I believe housing should not be left to the private sector as is happening now. The Government should support housing provision, not by building houses but by putting in place required infrastructure to support provision of affordable housing.

In regard to the recent Huruma house tragedy, who is to blame for recurrent building collapses?

All stakeholders involved are to blame, including the county government and other government institutions such as the National Construction Authority. Developers for their greed, building environment professionals for allowing quacks to design and supervise buildings and tenants for occupying buildings that are obviously not well constructed or certified for occupation.

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