NHC goes hi-tech with Sh700m prefabs factory in Machakos

National Housing Corporation engineers construct a sample EPS panels house in Nairobi. PHOTO/FILE
National Housing Corporation engineers construct a sample EPS panels house in Nairobi. PHOTO/FILE
The National Housing Corporation (NHC) has established a Sh700 million prefabricated materials factory in Mavoko, Machakos County, in a move geared towards filling the huge housing deficit in Kenya.

The NHC factory in Mavoko, which began operations in 2012, has a capacity to produce 126,720 expanded polystyrene panels (EPS) panels a year.

The EPS panels are manufactured using polystyrene, the white material used in packaging of electronic goods, and are considered favourable as building materials both in terms of safety and costs.

A single panel measuring 1.5m x 3.0m costs Sh5,000 at the factory – translating to a cost of Sh1,111 per square metre + transport charges + cost of concrete plasterwork.

The factory’s general manager Andrew Saisi says that the panels deliver stronger structures compared to those made of stones and timber while reducing cost of construction by up to 30 per cent.

“In a traditional house, steel columns provide support at the corners only. But with EPS, the mesh of steel and concrete provide reinforcement around the building,” he said.

Using EPS panels a home-owner can put up a standard two-bedroom house at a cost of Sh700,000 before finishing, which is almost half of the cost when using conventional stones and timber.

READ: Big boost for affordable housing in Kenya

Prefabrication also reduces construction time-lines since the structures of a building are normally manufactured in a plant in standard sizes that are then transported and put together on-site.

NHC has embarked on a spirited campaign promoting the use of EPS technology as it seeks to counter the current housing shortage.

The state-owned company has developed a Partnership Policy which it intends to use to seek funding and technological know-how to fast track housing development in the country.

In 2010, the firm signed a MoU with Mahan Industries of Iran to provide funding for the first phase of construction of 4,000 houses in Mlolongo.

Statistics show that the housing supply in the country stands at 40,000 units a year against an annual demand of at least 200,000 units – leaving an annual deficit of 160,000 housing units.

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