Housing shortage in Nigeria has been widely discussed and documented, with many researchers putting the figure for housing shortage at about 17million units. But in truth, no one is sure of the exact numbers. Others speculate it to be up to 20 – 22 million.
The inability to reach a consensus on the amount of housing deficit in Nigeria is one of the many consequences of not having reliable data.
There have been several housing sector interventions in Nigeria, but there is little knowledge about their impact in terms of data. For example, one can hardly determine the number of mortgages that are being provided by the public institutions, or number of homes.
Availability of and accessibility to accurate, reliable and timely data is germane to the operation of the property market, in the field of estate surveying and valuation either for valuation/appraisal, management and agency purposes.
The import of using some of these data in planning and designing the housing estates is that it allows for the houses to meet the needs of the users and ensure the sustainability of the schemes as the houses would be taken up because the data would be gathered from the prospective house occupiers. Studies have shown that the issues which the house owners consider important might not necessarily be the same with the architect undertaking the design.
Sustainability is a topical issue globally as it affects the different facets of human life of which shelter is a major concern. The need for appropriate housing in urban areas of Nigeria is of great importance, hence the level of attention it should get from both the Government and the private sector.
The current method adopted in housing estate provision is considered as one that is not sustainable considering the fact that there is no record to show that the data of the prospective house occupier were ever factored. It implies that the houses developed are based purely on speculations and assumed data, which runs contrary to the concept of sustainability.
The assumptions made by the architects and the developers of housing estates do not meet the expectation of the house owners which implies that if this approach is not checked the method will continue to give rise to houses that are not acceptable to the occupiers, thereby eliciting continuous modification of the houses which would increase the overall cost of the houses.
One of the key elements of sustainability is planning and every form of planning requires data which would help serve as basis for measurement. In the case of housing estate development in Nigeria, this has been overlooked, hence the need for a drastic change in approach. The assumptions of architects in design for these category of people was not in tandem with those of the house owners going by the features they considered important in housing provision.
It is therefore recommended that for future housing estate developments, opinion or choice of prospective house occupiers should be sought first so that the relevant data could be obtained and infused in the design. A constant Post Occupancy Evaluation of the housing estates should be carried out so as to determine the issues that affect the houses and the house owners with the view of ensuring sustainability. This should improve the quality of shelter being built and it would ensure that the needs of the house owners are properly taken care of at the design stage.
Generally, government interventions in the housing sector should be data driven. Better results can be expected when things are done from an informed point of view. This is must do if Nigeria must get on the part towards fixing its enormous housing deficit.