How does a house costing over Sh100 million in Nairobi look like? At that price, it stops being more about the size of the bathrooms or the location of the dining area or even if the kitchen has an island in the middle or not. Because this is obvious.
It is about the feeling that the homeowner gets to sit at his porch overlooking a mini-forest with monkeys playing tap-and-jump on electric fences or just someone walking barefoot on Arabica grass.
It is also about timeless architecture and grand interior furnishings such as crystal raindrop chandeliers and mahogany hardwood floors that would cost Sh7,000 per square metre.
As well-heeled buyers seek houses in gated upmarket areas that are near international schools, home that promise an attractive lifestyle, guaranteed security and still offer the essence of community, developers and architects are pushing the design envelope.
At Amara Ridge in Nairobi's Karen area, there are 10 houses, some with Greek classical design and others built as modern English town houses.
The houses may not have the biggest of kitchens or bathrooms, but they have been snapped up, with only one unit yet to be sold.
Some buyers bought the units, developed by Cytonn Investments, off-plan before the construction started four years ago. Others bought the houses and are renting them out for Sh350,000 per month. There is an additional monthly service charge of Sh40,000. “The price is more about location and the essence of living with a secure community,” said Marvin Ally Otieno, the Cytonn Investment’s project management analyst.
Fancy, imported interior furnishings may not necessarily entice all buyers who spend Sh100 million on a four or five-bedroom house. Some buy the completed homes that have chandeliers or water fountains in the foyers but they demolish them.
“In some cases, we handed over incomplete houses to buyers so that the owners do fittings and furnishings to suit their tastes,” said Mr Otieno.
Rip off chandeliers
In these trophy homes, additional amenities like swimming pools and gazebos attract an extra charge.
At Amara Ridge, buyers of the four-bedroom houses sitting on a quarter an acre had the option of having a swimming pool which cost an additional Sh4.6 million per house and those who paid off-plan had a choice of having the fluffy Arabica grass in their gardens which is pricier, or Kikuyu grass as the less costly alternative.
Another development in Karen priced at Sh100 million is Entim Sidai. This property has a spa where the weary are pampered in the wild, surrounded by very old trees.
Tina Tuja, the manager at the wellness sanctuary where the 12 homes are built says the two storied flat-roofed bungalows are forts where families live next to century-old trees and a historical 94-year-old bungalow built by a Scottish missionary, Dr Albert Patterson.
“Owners of this property deliberately preserved the pristine forest that gives this development its current name, Entim Sidai, a Maasai name meaning beautiful forest,” she said.
Dr Patterson’s Victorian bungalow is a spa and restaurant with rooms to let. There is one room for honeymooners that goes for Sh43,000 a night. The property has preserved the doctor’s furniture, wall clock, gramophone, wall clock and a 60-year-old fridge among other items.
“Buyers have unlimited access to the private forest within the 20 acre property,” Ms Tuja said.
The Entim Sidai development has five bedroom homes. They have two jacuzzi in two master bedrooms with a translucent roof that lets in natural light.
“It’s a living space that’s away from clutter and noisy-filled Nairobi, a quiet environment with various bird species and a nature trail for residents’ only use,” she said.
Off plan purchase
Most of these homes are in prime locations that are sparsely located. Some are located on Kigwa Road near Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club, while others are in Mua Park Close in Muthaiga, Marist Lane in Karen, Kikenni Road in Lang’ata, Thigiri Farm Road in Thigiri, Spring Valley and Kileleshwa among other upmarket addresses.
These houses have lap-pools, spas, saunas and steam-baths within each mansion. Others have water parks, jogging tracks, round-the-clock security with patrol teams armed with the worst-tempered Rottweiler guard dogs.
Daisy Mutebi, a property consultant at Pam Holdings, said their Karen Homes, for instance, which are two-storied villas sitting on an acre each, have been sold for Sh150 million. There are five units and two have already been bought.
“The units are under construction but the show house is ready. Each unit has five bedrooms, three lounges, an attic, family and study room. There is also a breakfast area that is directly connected to the kitchen,” she said.