Why don’t more Kenyans own homes?
There are a mixture of reasons. Cost of land in areas with high infrastructural development, unaffordable cost of financing - that is high interest rates for mortgages - and the technology or method of building houses.
Many Kenyans still want brick and mortar hence some houses end up taking years and years and the cost of construction becomes high due to appreciation of building materials.
How do you define affordable?
That is a tough question. The word affordable is relative. Homes will be affordable the day we will be able to match our rent and mortgage repayments.
To us (Koto Housing), if you have your own land, a Sh2 million, two-bedroom house with basic finishes is affordable.
What are your achievements so far?
We were able to build a sample house within 21 days in March last year at the company’s factory at Mlolongo.
We also signed an agreement license with Koto Corporation Malaysia to allow us use their technology in Kenya and in December 2014, we constructed a factory.
Which technology is this and what is your production capacity?
We provide foundations, roofing and walling using expanded polystyrene panels (EPS) with the capacity to construct 300 houses per month.
What is unique about your expanded polystyrene panels compared to those already on the market?
Ours is a column and beam structure, which is closer to traditional building. The other is that our EPSes are pre-plastered, which means the come to site complete, unlike some that have to be finished on site.
Recently you partnered with Optiven Ltd and Jamii Bora Bank; what is the expected results of these partnerships?
We are trying to make it easier for our clients to own a house within 30 to 60 days. Optiven clients with idle plots will be able to get quickly-built, durable and more affordable houses using Koto Housing technology as they will get 100 per cent financing from Jamii Bora Bank at an 18 per cent interest rate.
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What has been the response to the Koto Housing technology?
Many people are coming or calling to inquire about the technology although there is a wait and see attitude, which is quite common.
However, our first individual client will be in Kisumu.
There is slow adoption of these alternative-building technologies, what is the reason for this?
Lack of experience by those who want to own houses. The fact that you haven’t seen people using the technology does not mean its not being used, it is just that you haven’t seen it.
There is also failure by building professionals to educate those who want to own houses on the advantages of these alternative technologies.
What are the steps one needs to go through to build a house with Koto Housing?
One has to come and select or identify the plan he or she wants or do it online. If you already have your own plan, submit it physically or online so that we can cost it and do any rationalising if necessary.
Then we ask the client to pay Sh100,000 as a commitment fee, which will also allow us to give you an architectural plan, visit the site and give you documents that will help you seek approval from your respective county.
And if you don’t have money after approval, we will introduce you to our financing partner.