New technology to deliver mass low-cost housing
5 months ago, 12 July 04:40
In February this year, Arcoverde Kenya Ltd broke ground for construction of Iguta Paradise Homes, a 62 four-bedroom town-houses project along Kiambu Road that overlooks Runda.
Five months later, much to the surprise of many, the first phase of the project comprising 32 houses is now complete and the houses are currently being painted in readiness for the market.
The project director, Mr Patrick Kamau, told DN2 all the 62 houses will be ready for occupation by December.
“If I was building on a flat ground, I would have handed over the houses even much earlier. The sloppy ground is derailing me because I have to erect gabions to hold the soil, but by December I will be handing over the keys to buyers,” he said.
A woman at the gate vending food to builders on the site says she thinks a miracle is happening there.
"One day there is no house on the site, the following day you wake up to find houses,” she says.
Unknown to her is that the developer for Iguta Paradise has taken a paradigm shift from conventional building techniques that would otherwise consume a lot of time to a more efficient reinforced concrete technology imported from Korea and the United States.
He is using aluminium panels, steel, ballast, sand and cement. On the site, there are no building stones or wood. The houses are built using aluminium panels from Korea while the perimeter walls separating different units are being put up with patterned aluminium formwork from Wall-Ties and Forms Inc. (WTF) technology, a Kansas City-based global giant in aluminium forming systems.
According to Mr Thomas Muturi, an architect and a representative of WTF Kenya branch, this cast-in-place steel reinforced concrete is basically a construction technology where aluminium formwork are fabricated to take the shape of the entire building, then assembled on site, leaving a hollow space in between where ready-mix concrete is poured. This eliminates the need for brick and mortar.
Developed in the mid 1970s, the technology of using aluminium forms has been used in the construction of thousands of residential units for both low- and high-rise buildings.
It has proved successful in the construction of low-cost mass housing projects in various parts of the world.
In Ghana for instance, a leading homes developer in collaboration with the country’s Social Security and National Insurance Trust built 1,680 apartment units and sold almost all of them in less than two years.
In Kenya, no one understands the magic of this technology better than Epco Builders Ltd. Epco’s 315 low-cost homes for Ministry of Housing employees along Jogoo Road is a case in point. They started using traditional post-and-beam construction methods in early 2010, the project was taking too long to deliver each block of flats; one 600 square-metre level of seven flats was taking a month to complete.
But when the contractor used the aluminium post-and-beam concrete forming, the delivery speed was cranked up so much so that an entire block of 35 flats was done in 10 weeks.
But it is Epco’s ...
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