Italian building technology that promises to lower the cost of putting up a new house by 30 per cent has made its way to Kenya.
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.
Mass production of factory houses using the EPS panels is expected to drastically reduce the cost and time taken to put up a house.
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 50 per cent.
“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 EPS factory, which has been put up by NHC at a cost of Sh1 billion, will be inaugurated officially next month to enable mass factory production of modular houses.
A show house built with EPS panels is ready and open to the public for viewing.
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 30,000 units a year against an annual demand of at least 150,000 units – leaving an annual deficit of 120,000 housing units.