According to Eco-Steel Africa, a steel construction firm that deals with prefabs, steel prefabricated houses have become a popular choice among individuals looking to lower the cost and time taken to build homes.
The Magadi-based company, which exhibited at the Ideal Interiors Expo last year, uses light gauge steel structures to make panels which are then assembled together at a factory to make the structure of a house.
“The light gauge structures save developers up to 20 per cent of the construction cost as compared to conventional building,” says Eco-Steel Africa managing director Gary McIntyre.
The structure of the house is made using light gauge steel panels which are assembled using bolts at the factory. This leaves no room for errors in terms of measurement as every panel must fit correctly with the other panels. It also minimizes on equipment, manpower and space required on the site.
Depending on the purpose of the structure, the prefabs can be permanent or temporary. The permanent prefab house starts with a concrete foundation while the temporary ones use steel columns raised above the ground. The houses can be easily dismantled and set up in another location.
After the structure has been assembled on site, gypsum board panels are drilled on the walls and an adhesive is used to seal the joints. Water proof gypsum boards are used for the kitchen, bathroom and the exterior of the house. This ensures the house can withstand all weather patterns including rain.
Pergo flooring is most suitable for the houses as it is durable, easy to install, absorbs sound and blends well with the gypsum boards. The roofing depends on personal preference therefore any material can be used with iron sheets and tiles being the most common.
When complete, the interiors of the prefab houses look just like those of regular homes due to the various finishing touches done on the walls such as cladding using canvas, fiber cement boards and gypsum boards.
A low cost prefab steel house costs between Sh30,000 to Sh35,000 per square metre while the up market ones cost about Sh60,000 per square metre. This translates to Sh600,000 onward depending on the size of the house.
Prefab steel homes are popular worldwide with Sweden, Japan and Turkey being the largest consumers. This is due to steel’s durability and strength (it has the highest strength to weight ratio of any building material), which makes it resistant to extreme weather and earthquakes.