The expanded polystyrene (EPS) technology involves construction of houses by assembling ready-made EPS foam, sandwiched between a galvanised steel wire mesh that is plastered on both sides with concrete.
A standard two-bedroom house measuring about 100 square metres requires about 70 panels each weighing 15 kilogrammes – meaning an entire house can be carried in a single lorry load.
Despite the low weight, modular houses are strong enough to withstand natural calamities better than houses build using the conventional building materials. EPS panels can be used to build up to 20 storeys.
According to Andrew Saisi, the general manager of the National Housing Corporation’s (NHC) EPS factory, the technology will lower construction cost by 30 per cent while reducing the time taken to build a house by half.
“Cost benefits accrued from using EPS panels include reduced costs as construction time is reduced by 50 per cent; lower transport costs and lower cost of wastage of materials since leftover panels can be recycled,” said Mr Saisi.
The new technology, according to Mr Saisi, will benefit mainly those who want to do mass production of houses.
EPS comes at a time when the demand for housing in Kenya far exceed the supply, thanks to rapid urbanization and a burgeoning middle class.
Statistics show that the housing supply in the country is 40,000 units a year against an annual demand of at least 200,000 units – leaving an annual deficit of 160,000 housing units.