Light steel frames to boost affordability
A new investor in the Kenyan housing sector says new building technologies will boost the supply side through fast delivery and cost effectiveness. The investor, Inesa Ltd, says the light steel frame construction technology is key to providing affordable housing.
With the technology, homeowners can save several months on rents while landlords can start reaping returns on their investment within a few months.“It only takes about three months to put up a house. This includes conceptualization, designing and obtaining approvals. The actual construction of the house on site takes only a few weeks, since most of the work is done in the factory,” says the firm’s MD Mr Stefan Adriaensens.“Developers save at least 15 per cent in terms of labour, wastes and time compared to conventional brick and mortar construction technology. Owners also move in immediately, without the usual delay of weeks or months spent treating block houses.”
Though relatively new in East Africa, the light steel frame construction technology has been in use in countries like South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Australia, Indonesia and new Zealand for decades.
Inesa set up shop in the country in 2009 to sell the technology besides providing a raft of other innovative solutions in the construction sector. Players in the construction industry anticipate far-reaching reforms in the sector with the implementation of the proposed Building Code. The existing code limits this technology through archaic requirements such as that the wall of a building must be at least 150-200mm thick, only qualifying the brick and mortar method. But the new code is focused on performance.“Under the current building code, one is only allowed to construct up to a double storey with this technology – and it can only be approved as a temporary structure,” says Mr Adriaensens.
Besides being relatively affordable and with zero maintenance costs, the technology is gaining popularity due to a number of factors: the structures are resistant to earthquakes (apparently upto 7-8 magnitude), the technology is economical as there are no wastes and the materials are recyclable, it is non-combustible, and is superior to traditional framing materials such as wood.“One unique thing about this technology is that it allows us to work within the budget and design desires of a buyer. Once we settle on the cost, we manufacture the materials according to specifications at no additional cost,” says Ms Catherine Mwikali, a landscape architect with the firm.
A major hurdle to fast uptake in kenya is the lack of structural engineers with knowhow to implement new technologies.