AIHS 2021-Expectations as stakeholders build support for affordable housing

    In apparent concern for the near-absence of houses that are affordable by a broad spectrum of Nigerians, especially those in the low to medium income group, stakeholders have committed to building support for the building industry.

    It is expected that the ongoing efforts, cutting across relevant stakeholders, including the government which should provide good policies to enable investment, will lead to increased supply and narrow the existing gap.

    The existing demand-supply gap is estimated at 20 million units and it finds explanation in the supply shortage. This, in turn, finds explanation in high cost of building materials which, experts say, is over 60 percent of the cost of construction. Other costs are found in labour, funding and infrastructure.

    Besides suggestions for collaboration among products suppliers and adoption of models that could increase supply, building materials manufacturers say they are committed to reducing the high cost of construction through creative and innovation solutions.

    This revelation came from a session discussion on ‘Pragmatic Strategies for Increasing Affordable Housing Stock Post-Covid-19’ at the Abuja International Housing Show (AIHS).

    The annual gathering of housing industry stakeholders, already in its 15th edition, is organized by the international Housing and construction show ltd. The theme of this year’s edition was ‘Sustainable and Resilient Housing Solutions for a Post-Pandemic World’.

    BusinessDay gathered from the session discussion that the housing market already has a very attractive and affordable solution known as “N1 million Expandable Core House.” This is one million naira house being promoted by Millard Fuller Foundation (MFF).

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    Sam Odia, MFF’s CEO, explained that the solution is a 25sqm core house expandable in two phases to 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom. “The One Million Naira House is a ‘Tiny House’ solution that prioritizes the need of ordinary people,” Odia explained further.

    On the building materials solution supply-side aimed to reduce construction cost, Lafarge Africa is leading the pack. Others are Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), and West African Ceramics Limited (WACL), a producer of the Royal brand of tiles, marbles and accessories.

    Lafarge notes that with a growing population, housing needs have increased, meaning that there is need to produce houses in millions per annum. “But the current way of building cannot offer the desired solution; there is lack of innovation and speed and cost of materials and labour is rising,” Gbenga Onimowo, Commercial Director at Lafarge Africa, noted.

    “We need to disrupt the way houses are built–we need to build better, affordable and eco-friendly buildings while maintaining cost-efficient budgets; we need to reduce construction timelines,” Onimowo advised.

    He disclosed that Lafarge has come up with a Construction 3D Printing solution which is a new technology that involves moulding of a structure by placing volumes of material in sequential layers on top of one another from ground up.

    It ensures up to 60 percent of savings in terms of material cost. It also increases construction speed and productivity up to twice as fast. With this, Onimowo assured, Lafarge could reduce construction time by up to 70 percent.

    On its part, NBRRI, a federal government institute responsible for researching and developing road and building materials for the Nigerian building industry, is innovating and creating alternative building materials with local content.

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    Samson Duna, NBRRI’s Acting DG/CEO, listed some of the innovations NBRRI has made as a contributor to the provision of alternative building materials. One of them is the Manual Brick making Machine which has been successfully used in construction of houses and can be commercialized.

    Laterite Grinding Machine is another. “This machine grinds laterite to required mesh size for brick/block production; it eliminates materials wastes or laterite rejects, guarantees high productivity and high quality of bricks/blocks produced; it is electrically operated, has grinding and sieving mechanism; it is ideal for use in mass housing delivery,” Duna explained.

    West Africa Royal Ceramics ltd believes that there is need for every participant in the housing supply chain to rethink the approach to meeting housing needs which have largely favored the high and middle-income earners to a point of oversupply of housing units in those segments.

    “When you consider the huge number of unoccupied finished houses across major cities in Nigeria, it becomes apparent that deficit in housing units is not as much a problem as lack of affordable housing units,” P Bhaskar Rao, WACL’s managing director, said.

    He disclosed that the company has invested in technologies, distribution network and manpower requirements to produce quality and modern tiles that match the taste for foreign products yet obtainable in the local market at very affordable prices.