Prefabricated housing is now taking Kenya by storm

 A steel framed house by Zenith Steel Fabricators.

A steel framed house by Zenith Steel Fabricators Limited. PHOTO/COURTESY
Prefabricated homes, commonly referred to as prefabs, are slowly becoming the norm in Kenya as builders embrace technology in a bid to dodge the rising construction costs.

The prefab housing technology sees skeletons of houses manufactured in a factory before being transported to a construction site where an entire frame can be assembled in just a few hours.

Not only does the prefabricated technology lower costs and prevent wastage of materials, it also allows faster build times throughout the year -regardless of the weather – as much of the construction takes place indoors.

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Although the use of prefabs has been widely accepted in the US and other developed countries, the major problem faced by prefab houses suppliers locally is the Kenyans’ lack of appreciation for and understanding of these components.

As such, there is a need to inform the general public that prefab houses are indeed the future of housing both in Kenya and the rest of the world.

The construction process
First, prospective home owners should be educated on the procedure followed when putting up a modular house. They should be informed that all they need to do is provide the particulars for the house to be constructed after which a list of prefab walling panels is prepared.

Once the panels are ready the homeowner prepares the house foundation and a technical team puts up the house according to the specifications.

Second, home owners should also be assured that the prefab houses are durable and secure. Due to frequent issues of burglary especially in the urban areas, most people would not like to take chances with prefabs.

Thankfully, the National Housing Corporation has started a spirited campaign encouraging the use expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels in construction, in a bid to boost the supply of affordable housing in Kenya.

EPS panels are made of polystyrene (the white material used in the packaging of electronic goods) and are considered favourable as building materials in terms of safety and affordability.

The state-owned company says that EPS can deliver stronger structures compared to conventional stones while slashing construction costs by up to 30 per cent.

READ: Big boost for affordable housing in Kenya

The company manufactures EPS panels at its factory in Mavoko, near Nairobi.

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