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Cheaper homes are possible - Ngilu

Dining etiquette

Housing Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu says it is possible to have fairly-priced housing in the country. Speaking during the groundbreaking of a housing project by Karibu Homes last week, Ngilu said such a move would enable more Kenyans to own homes.

The project will see a total of 1,074 low-cost and middle-income houses built in Machakos County.

The houses, to be built on 20 acres, will be a mixed development of one, two and three-bedroom units being built in various stages, with prices ranging from Sh1.6 million to Sh5 million. Buyers will be allowed to choose between basic structures and fully-fitted structures, depending on their purchasing power. For instance, basic two and three-bedroom homes will retail sell at Sh2.57 million and Sh3.48 million respectively, while fully-fitted ones will retail for Sh3.23 million and Sh5.02 million, respectively.

DIFFERENT PRICES

“A basic structure does not have floor tiles or wardrobes, though in the kitchen we have floor-level cabinets. A fully-fitted one has all those facilities, hence the different prices,” said the project’s lead architect, Lati Felixys.

Shelter Afrique has fully funded the project, for the estimated construction period of six years, to the tune of Sh750 million.

The piece of land in Machakos County was bought through investors from the United Kingdom, United States and India, who have injected a total of Sh250 million (the total cost of the land including the installation of required amenities and infrastructure, excluding the sewer line, which was already present as a result of EPZ being in the area) to secure the land for the project.

Karibu Homes Executive Director Irfan Kehsavjee said poor perception is still a hindrance to adaptation of alternative building technologies in the country. He said research revealed that most of their target buyers held the perception that brick and mortar building is what constitutes a good house.

GOOD QUALITY

“Our target clientele dream of owning a house, and to them a good quality house is that which is made of stone or blocks. Many think that a house made using an alternative material is not as strong...

That is why we are building using the normal technology,” said Irfan.

He said alternative building technologies (ABT) are not necessarily cheaper than brick and mortar houses – rather, they are cheaper in terms of the amount of time spent building.

The design helps reduce costs by reducing the fittings (as mentioned above) as well as reducing items like toilets and bathrooms.

The two and three-bedroom houses that are basic have only one water closet unit to share among all the occupants. Only the two-bedroom going for Sh5.02 million has a master ensuite, in addition to a separate bathroom.

James Mugerwa, the MD of Shelter Afrique said they are committed to supporting the construction of low-cost housing.

Whether this construction will respond to demand is yet to be fully tested. Machakos County already has a housing shortage with 3,000 employees working for the county government alone.

The design is such that like any other gated community being built today, there will be a health facility, community centre and a nursery school, recreational centre and shops, in addition to other traditional amenities like cabro-paved roads, streetlights and maintenance of common areas.

The whole idea is to create a community that also generates income within itself – hence the mixed development. Ngilu said during the ceremony that the Government is targeting to build 300,000 housing units by 2017 and is looking at working with the private sector in achieving this.

“The private sector is very key in achieving this, and the Government is committed to creating an enabling environment, including the much-needed infrastructure to support initiatives like this,” said Ngilu.

She added that some of the issues that the stakeholders in the housing sector will have to look into are the high mortgage rates, high cost of land, high cost of building materials as well as the cost of money.

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