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Why substandard buildings will soon be part of history

An artist’s impression of the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort villas. Photo/Courtesy
An artist’s impression of the Aberdare Hills Golf Resort villas. Photo/Courtesy 

Collapsed buildings will be a thing of the past after some realtors recently decided to adopt efficient building technologies to ensure safety and durability of their developments.

The action by developers to have on-site test labs for quality control of materials used in construction, will help reverse the damage caused by collapsed buildings, according to the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (Boraqs).

According to Boraqs, the real estate sector is losing 10 per cent of its earning annually as a result of collapsed buildings. The loss is estimated to be worth Sh1.4 billion a year.

The main reason attributed to buildings collapsing is rogue developers who take advantage of relaxed implementation of building laws.

“Rogue developers have, over time, taken advantage of the inefficiencies in law enforcement to cheat the system, thereby leading to increased substandard buildings in the market,” says Pritam Singh, Managing Director of Panda Development Company (PDC).

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National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) and Local authorities are among agencies that take up quality assurance control in the sector. 
Statistics show that 24 buildings collapsed killing 41 people and injuring 47 others between 1996 and 2011.

Panda Development Company is overseeing the construction of Aberdare Hills Golf Resort in Naivasha - high end luxury development on 1,700 acre of land. The project  hosts a golf course, residential villas and town houses, clubhouse and a 120-room five star hotel with conference rooms, ballroom and spa facilities.

Durability

The product is worth Sh120 billion. The units range from Sh18 million to Sh40 million. PDC last week unveiled an on-site test laboratory for the concrete being used on the project.

According to the developer, they wanted to ensure that the concrete is perfectly mixed to ensure the durability and safety of the homes.

“The test laboratory consists of block compressive testing equipment, concrete moulds, slump cone test apparatus, weighing scale and soil sieve. All these help to determine the compressive strength of the concrete and blocks,” said Pritam.

The rigorous testing on concrete and moulded slabs according to Pritam is used to achieve strength and ensures consistency of the quality of mixed concrete.

“The test lab also helps save resources as only the right proportions are used,” Pritam added. The developer is confident that developments that take the same approach will have a much longer lease of life and stories of collapsed buildings will be a thing of the past.

“The resort’s move to achieve outstanding quality come as the newly-formed National Construction Authority started a fresh registration of contractors in a bid to weed out cowboys who have invaded the sector with poor workmanship and bending of rules that end up causing an unprecedented number of collapsed buildings, bridges and incomplete projects,” said Rod Taylor, chief development officer, Aberdare Hills Golf Resort.

Aberdares Hills Golf Resort is located outside Naivasha town, 80 km north-west of Nairobi. The town is the centre of Kenya’s important horticultural and floricultural industries and overlooks Lake Naivasha, one of the largest of the Great Rift Valley lakes.

The construction sector has experienced a boom in the last four years, but the growth has of late stagnated due to high cost of land and interest rates.

This year, the Wealth Report 2013 by global property consultancy Knight Frank revealed that Nairobi had dropped 10 places in a ranking of the world’s hottest high-end property markets as the high cost of loans and political uncertainty slowed the appreciation of house prices placing Kenya’s capital in position 11 out of 80 cities surveyed.

Knight Frank attributed Nairobi’s drop to the increased lending rates, and political noise that heightened in the months prior to the March 4 General Election.

The real estate sector had moved up from Sh38 billion in 2001 to Sh190 billion in the last two years leading Nairobi to be quoted among the best real estate hubs. Definitely with tightened law enforcements, the future is bright for both builders and buyers of real estate.

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