The soaring costs of construction are pushing property developers toward prefabricated building technology in effort to address housing shortage in a cost-effective mode.
This technology involves manufacturing modular houses (prefabs) in a factory, usually in standard sections that can be easily transported and assembled on-site.
This technology greatly lowers the overall cost of construction while reducing the time taken to build a house, thus opening doors for more affordable housing.
According to property analysts, prefabricated housing could potentially be adopted on a large scale in the counties, particularly once home owners are certain that prefabs are impressive and more affordable alternative to conventional brick and mortar.
Several companies have already shown interest in the technology by supplying prefab houses to low and middle income Kenyans. One such company which seems keen on revolutionizing the Kenyan housing market is Elsek Construction of Turkey. Through its local subsidiary, Elsek & Elsek (K) Ltd., the company has brought fiber cement and galvanizing steel construction into the Kenyan market.
The new technology uses walls made of fibre cement boards which are bullet proof up to 9 mm and fire proof up to 800 degrees Celsius. The walls are made of cement, stone and glue chemical for strength and windows are double glass or glazing for high insulation.
Mabati Rolling Mills (MRM) has also entered into the low-cost housing market by supplying prefab houses to low and middle income citizens. The roofing materials maker is looking to cash in on the profitable property market by supplying ready-made steel houses that will retail at ‘significantly low prices’.
The prefabricated housing revolution is also being buoyed by a growing appetite by banks and mortgage providers to provide mortgages.
Equity Bank has, for example, ventured into financing prefabricated technology with the launch of its new micro mortgages product in partnership with MRM. The bank will finance the cost of purchasing pre-fabricated structures from MRM.
The Kenya Commercial Bank is also keen on tapping the benefits of the new building technology. The bank’s mortgage division is seeking to establish a stake in prefabricated technology, which it believes will ‘inevitably increase mortgage uptake countrywide as houses will become cheaper’.
The bank has entered into a partnership with a group called Zen House to provide prefab houses to Kenyans, and it has already approved some facilities for a developer to begin putting up houses in Kitengela.
The acceptance of the new building technology by banks and mortgage providers is a clear indication that prefab homes will soon revolutionize the Kenyan housing market. This is good news for a country whose whose annual demand for housing stands at over 200,000 units annually against a supply of 40,000 units.