Jacaranda Estate in Kahawa West, Nairobi. Real-estate company Home Afrika is promising Kenyans  low-cost houses to be built in Athi  River. File

Jacaranda Estate in Kahawa West, Nairobi. Real-estate company Home Afrika is promising Kenyans low-cost houses to be built in Athi River. File 

 

Real estate firm Home Afrika is promising Kenyans a New Year present in the form of affordable homes costing Sh1 million for a two-bedroom unit.

The low-cost housing units are the result of a design competition run by the company in July this year that saw a prototype by University of Nairobi’s architecture students win the Sh1 million prize.

Home Afrika said 5,000 units will be built on a piece of land in Athi River with 200 houses earmarked in the first phase. “For a long time, the lower end of the market who cannot afford to buy land for construction or spend millions to purchase homes have not been viewed as profitable,” said Dr Mbira Gikonyo, the director of the Home Afrika.

The winning project has proposed to use of bricks, compacted earth and sand as part of the building material to keep the cost of each unit as low as possible.

Dr Gikonyo said the design would be tweaked to conform to local authority building code requirements. “Even with any changes included into the designs and fluctuating price of materials, the cost per unit will still be kept as close as possible to the Sh1 million value,” Dr Gikonyo said.

The amount takes into consideration cost factors such as land, design costs, legal fees as well as a portion for the developer’s profit margins—a feat real estate analyst says is possible to achieve.

“With appropriate use of technology, such a budget is quite achievable,” said Mwendwa Makathimo, the manager of Vidmerck Limited, a property management firm. He said the site where the houses are built and flexibility of local authorities would have a bearing on the overall cost.

A renewed vibrancy in real estate over the past five years has raised demand for houses and doubled the cost of construction, reducing the dream of owning homes to just that —a dream.

Real estate firm HassConsult survey covering July until September showed that the average selling prices on all types of residential property in Nairobi’s middle and upper income neighbourhoods was Sh21.38 million.

This high cost has led to a cumulative housing deficit in Kenya’s urban centres estimated to be standing at two million units as a result of under-investment in the sector against rapid urbanisation and high population growth. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that growth in the real estate sector slowed down in the nine months ending September 2011 as the high cost of building materials and the weak shilling took a toll on the economy.

Home Afrika is behind the Morningside Office Park on Ngong Road and it is also in the process of constructing Migaa in Kiambu— a live-in golf community.

pmutegi@ke.nationmedia.com

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