WHY BUILDINGS COLLAPSE IN KENYA !

Greedy investors coupled up with the swelling population in urban towns give way to collapsing buildings.

I feel you are a bit confused, but here are my two cents on collapsing buildings in Kenya.

For the past few decades, Africans have been moving from rural areas into cities, seeking work and schooling so the continent’s urban population has skyrocketed. Nairobi is a prime example of that migration, with its population pushing upward and its boundaries pushing outward. Kisii, Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret depict the same global trend in high relief.

While such migration often mirrors economic advancement, it also presents socioeconomic and environmental challenges. Rapid urban growth strains existing infrastructure, as a result, the construction industry is greatly affected.

Investors pump in money in high-rise apartments to accommodate students and job seekers. This means developers are maximally using land as they seek to reap big from their investments.

Because of the high housing demand, contractors routinely flout building codes to either build more houses and earn quick cash or they quote so low in their Bill of quantities and end up building substandard houses.

So I thought we should zero in the main reasons why buildings are collapsing and how to address the issue.

The residential building that collapsed in Kware, Embakasi early this year, photo by Ouma wanzala

1. Weak Foundation 

The foundations of the building transfer the weight of the building to the ground, they are the footholds of buildings and therefore need to be strong enough to support the subsequent load. While ‘foundation’ is a general word, normally, every building has a number of individual foundations.  Most buildings have some kind of foundation structure directly below every major column, so as to transfer the column loads directly to the ground.

Adequate foundations are usually costly and depending on the strength of the soil and the expected load of the building, they can contribute up to half of the entire cost of the building. It is for this reason that contractors take shortcuts and build apartments on swampy areas.

Some developers, however, want to save money when building on weak grounds by cutting on concrete and reinforcements resulting in the collapse of buildings.

A six-storey building that collapsed in Huruma, Nairobi, on April 29 last year is a good example of this kind of negligence.

The building, which was put up next to a river, collapsed after a heavy downpour killing 51 occupants and injuring more than 100 people.

Although the building may have had a sound design and structure, the ground beneath it was incapable of carrying its load and it had to collapse.

It is evident that pre-construction surveys were not carried out, the soil mechanics was neglected!


2. Counterfeit Building Materials  

We all know Kenya is ranked among the largest markets for fake products in Africa, with the construction boom in Kenya it has created a huge market for building materials, and rogue traders are taking advantage of this demand to introduce fakes into the local market.

From non-certified steel to pipes and low-quality fittings, the market is now flooded with fake “cheap” products

Most of these materials are weak therefore unable to support a building.

While some contractors might be duped by counterfeiters with fake authentication certificates into buying substandard materials, some individuals use these goods knowingly to cut costs.

The products are mainly sourced from China, Dubai, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India. To be on the safe side insist on locally manufactured products.

By the way, KRA has unveiled a smart phone application which can be used to verify authentic products in the war against counterfeits. Advise your builders to embrace this technology to avoid being a victim of collapsed buildings.


3. Poor Structural Design 

There is an aspect of engineering known as Structural integrity and failure which deals with the ability of a structure to support a designed load without breaking and includes the study of past structural failures in order to prevent failures in future designs.

The structural integrity of a building component is the ability of the same component to carry the designed load without breaking or deforming excessively, whereas the structural failure is initiated when a building component loses its integrity.

A structural engineer can make errors in computation and fail to take into account the weight that a structure will be expected to withstand.

The engineer may also follow inaccurate theories and use inaccurate data and make wrong choices of materials during construction of a building. Such an engineer will be responsible for the future collapse of the building.

In a well-designed building,  a localized failure should not cause immediate or even progressive collapse of the entire structure.


4 Unprofessionalism 

Construction management might be challenging and a demanding. In order to successfully complete a project, from the perspective of a Client, the contractor will need the assistance of many construction professionals ( architects, surveyors, soil, electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineers ) to help them realize their objective, particularly from the feasibility to completion of a project.

These construction professionals have different specialties, for example, an architect will generally manage the design and construction of the project, whereas the structural engineer will ensure that the project is structurally stable, and the quantity surveyor will generally look after the financial aspects of a project.

The services of such professionals come at a cost and in a bid to cut on costs, some developers prefer to hire uncertified jua kali artisans – most of whom are nothing but quacks – which has led to the rising building collapse cases.

Such unskilled labor lacks the technical know-how on building construction requirements such as the ideal standards of structural steel as well as the correct concrete mixing ratios and curing procedures for optimum strength in relation to the expected load of the complete building.

Although the cowboy developers initially think they are saving a lot of money, in the long run when such buildings collapse, it becomes a perfect example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.


5 Greed for wealth 

In a bid to cash in on the ever-growing demand for housing in urban towns, rogue developers flout building code and regulations to hurriedly put up substandard residential apartments

Some are adding extra floors originally not planned for resulting in heavier load than was planned for in the foundation. This is especially common in the less affluent residential estates where the population is swelling.

The understaffed national construction authority cant inspect all the buildings that are rapidly mushrooming every day across the country, and before you know it

BREAKING NEWS ….A building has collapsed in town A “


6 Corruption 

The delivery of a construction project involves many professional disciplines and tradespeople and numerous contractual relationships that make control measures difficult to implement, The complex transaction chains make it easier for corrupt developers.

The Numerous approvals required from the government in the form of licenses and permits at various stages of the delivery cycle, each one provides an opportunity for bribery.

The government agencies mandated with inspection of buildings to ensure they are safe for human habitation are riddled with corruption and inefficiencies.

For a few thousand shillings, corrupt inspectors are willing to turn a blind eye on malpractices resulting in fatalities and financial loss.

Although there are many reasons as to why a building may collapse, most of the incidents in Kenya seem to be driven by greed for wealth and corruption. In fact, it would be accurate to cite the two as the main real reasons as to why why buildings collapse in Kenya. 


MORE STORIES BELOW

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  • Top 5 Construction Trends in 2018.
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  • TYPES OF COLUMNS
  • Roofing Systems and solutions
  • Tips on exterior designing
  • Tips of A perfect kitchen
  • The state of the Real Estates
  • Floating city of Tahiti
  • Tower of the Arabs
  • TESTS ON QUALITY CEMENT
  • Most famous buildings in the world [ part 2]
  • Fire safety and protection systems
  • Most Famous Buildings [ Part 1]

 

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Tips of A perfect kitchen

Hi, guys welcome back to our blog, today we I serve up my top tips and considerations to help you create the perfect kitchen design. Keep reading get familiar 

COLOURED CABINETS 

Don’t be afraid to go for bold colour on your kitchen cabinets – mid- to deep greys, blue tones and even shades of peppermint or sage green make great alternatives. If your walls are white, don’t go for white cupboards too; it’s a missed opportunity to inject a little more personality into your space. Of course, a dark hue is also a lot more forgiving where sticky fingers are concerned! I recommend asking your carpenter to have cabinet doors coated with a satin two-pack painted finish in your favourite shade (they’ll be able to match any colour). This is a very hardy paint finish, ensuring a sleek look which is robust and super easy to wipe clean. 

Colour blocking in the kitchen is great way to bring in colour without being overwhelming. Adding a feature row of contrasting cabinetry in colour or timber grain instantly transforms a plain kitchen into a dual-toned space with depth and unique visual appeal

THE KITCHEN TRIANGLE

The Kitchen Triangle refers to the positioning of the three most important features in any kitchen – the fridge, cooktop and sink.Make sure you have the ‘triangle of efficiency’ in place. Your journey from the countertop workspace, to the stove, and to the sink should not be too big or have obstacles in the way.

The Kitchen Triangle In this U-shaped kitchen, the amount of traffic is minimised and the main w ork zones are kept handy. Other kitchen layouts will always benefit from well-considered placements of fridge, cooker and sink.

You also need to consider things like the placement of windows and doors, ceiling heights, high-traffic areas, as well as making the most of natural light.

 STORAGE AND ACCESSIBILITY 

Storage will usually be a combination of under-bench cabinets, overhead wall cabinets and tall cabinets, with either drawers or doors

items can be put away or stored out of sight, the kitchen will be a much better place to work. Go through all the things you have in your cupboards and then work out where they would best be placed in the new kitchen: oils and spices near the cooktop, baking trays near the oven, platters and chopping boards near the workspace, and access to dinnerware and cutlery away from the work zone so others can assist in setting the table or dishing up.

For difficult corners, there are some amazing pull-out and slide-out options, and tall slide-out pantries work a treat for narrow spaces.

Don’t forget to use the height of your room. Tall cabinets may be hard to get to on a daily basis, but they offer great storage

 BENCHTOPS: 

Benchtops come in a range of looks, from price-conscious laminate to hardwearing man-made stone surfaces in a wide range of colours, textures and widths; from natural stones such as marble and granite, to synthetic surfaces that can offer the look of no joins. Think which one works best for your needs, your overall design and your budget.

KITCHEN APPLIANCES 

Coloured appliances are an ideal way to make a strong design statement, adding contrast, interest and style to the kitchen. I’m a fan of putting my appliances on show and love the appearance of stainless steel, but there are also many options for integrated appliances. Whatever look you go for, spending wisely on quality appliances will make even the smallest and most budget-conscious of kitchens sparkle.

THE SINK 

Sinks come in many forms and differing qualities, so be careful when buying that cheap sink-and-tap deal, as the stainless steel will scratch and tarnish quickly. The double-bowl undermount is the sink of choice, providing two deep bowls with a clean, under-benchtop look. The downside is they have no drain board, but some come with drop-in cutting boards and separate drain boards.

Avoid placing your sink on the island bench, especially if you are a drip-dryer, because a messy island bench makes for a messy looking house. Alternatively, build up the bench around the sink to hide the mess.”

THE KITCHEN SPACE 

When planning a kitchen, it’s important to give careful consideration to how the space will be used. Some questions need to be answered, like ‘Do you want people in the kitchen with you while you are cooking?’ and ‘Do you want people sitting on the other side of the bar talking to you while you cook?’ How a kitchen should function is a personal matter, and your kitchen design should reflect that

 

Those are just few kitchen tips to consider when building or buying a house.  For any queries drop us an email

info@constructionweb.co.ke 

 

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The state of the Real Estates

There has been an unending debate this year about mushrooming malls all over Kenya, Nairobi to be specific. Today, there are more than 15 malls under construction, Others are undergoing renovations in a struggle to attract footfall.

Currently, there are 57 malls and the number will increase to over 70 malls in 2018. In the recent past, Nairobi has seen malls such as Garden City, TRM, The Hub, and new ones are lined up. The new ones are Two Rivers and Riviera Malls on Limuru Road, Capital Centre, Greenspan, T-Mall and Kiambu Mall.  

The retail market in Kenya has experienced increased supply and is currently estimated to be in surplus. Also, the office market is adversely affected, a significant number of office buildings in key office nodes of Upper Hill and Westlands have very low occupancy rates.

Although land in Upper Hill area remained the most highly valued with an acre going for Kshs.521 million and Ruaka the most expensive satellite town at Kshs.68.3 million an acre, the sector experienced a marginal decline in prices as demand in some suburbs fell due to oversupply.

The demand for offices spaces is usually driven by the growth of the services sector. The major players in the services sector include Government, Financial institutions, Professionals firms and NGO’s. Kenya’s real estate market operates in a weird cycle, It starts and ends after every general election.

Over the last decade, Kenya has experienced a real estate boom with prices rising rapidly amid high demand from both long-term investors and speculators, a 1-3 bedroomed apartment skyrocketed from Kshs. 5 million to Ksh 13 million. Interestingly, most of the houses are not standalone units with own compounds but high-rise apartments.This means developers are maximally using land as they seek to reap big from their investments.

The Onset of the current condition in the industry dates back in 2006 when then President Mwai Kibaki commissioned the expansion major roads across Nairobi in an effort to ease traffic congestion in the city. Thika road for instance.

But news of a property doubling or tripling in price always attracts speculators. So, within no time people hurriedly pumped money into acres of land hoping to sell them at higher prices. By 2010, everyone in Nairobi was a real estate investor.

Infrastructure developments, specifical improvements on the road network around the city, have also helped in opening up satellite towns and raising the values of land and homes, which could diffuse the rapid price increments in Nairobi. The most recent case being syokimau, where the newly Nairobi Standard gauge railway terminus was launched. Investors are advertising their land “four hours to the beach”. The pricing is ridiculous as we speak 

Fast forward 2017  land and apartment prices have gone overboard, Affordable housing is long forgotten. Prices are rapidly rising across Kenya as more developers join the sector, it is in the capital that prices have increased sharply ensuring that houses remain out of reach of the average working Kenyan

An acre of land in Karen, which was selling at Sh3.5 million had by then topped Sh20 million and a similar piece of land in Runda had hit the Sh40 million markup from Sh4.5 million in 2005. Today an acre of land in Karen has risen to Sh 70 million and an acre in Runda is now selling at Sh 100 million.The pricing disconnect could be evidence that home prices are overly inflated, a situation made worse by the swelling land prices.

Lack of affordable housing has led overpopulation  in Slums. With about 2.5 million people living in 200 settlements in Nairobi, the slums contain 60 percent of the city’s population, anybody good at maths will tell you over 1.5 million people live in slums.

Slum houses are built with wood, tin, galvanized iron sheets, and latticed wood strips. With limited space, tenants often sleep on the floors. The large population and little space make the cramped feeling of the Kenyan slums unimaginable, but I won’t deviate anymore it is a story for another day, back to The state of the real estate, I think that  Kenyan property prices have exceeded their elastic limits and this can only result in one consequence; recession. An  Economic recession is oncoming.

Current property owners will certainly not realize full returns on their investments. Let me break it down how, The rapid increase in value and prices of property to levels that are unaffordable by the population results to lower demand for property, then prices declining tremendously. This is by far the most I can remember from my business education in high school.

The real estate bubble has bursted!

So what? I hear you ask.

People borrowed heavily at high interests from banks to buy homes. Most investors ditched other economic activities and invested in real estate which promised high returns. Oversupply and loans default eventually brought these investments tumbling down.When the property bubble bursts, it usually affects a country’s economy particularly banks, mortgage firms and insurance companies.

Companies are downsizing and closing down some branches, this coupled up with the capping interest rates by the government has forced banks to retrench some of its workers.

This condition of overplus office spaces,  malls and ridiculous pricing of apartments is not permanent, of course, there has to be a market price correction and a law to cushion the ever inflated prices.

Investors need to be advised to venture into other sectors like manufacturing and agriculture to diversify,   Build factories and not malls and lots of office space.

On a lighter note, how comes speculators haven’t pulled out of the real estate business like the quail busine

 

 

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World Bank values Dar es Salaam’s real estate $2.7 billion more than Nairobi

World bank has ranked Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam’s real estate ahead of Nairobi and Addis Ababa in its latest report. According to the report, the economic value of the real estate industry in Dar es Salaam is approximately US$12 billion above Nairobi’s ($9 billion. According to the report, Nairobi lags behind as a result of weak property rights and land fragmentation. Addis Ababa is ranked third at $6 billion, Kigali fourth at $2billion. The report does not include Uganda and Burundi.

The report describes Dar, Addis and Nairobi as having low economic values in comparison to similar cities.

“The low economic value comes from the way land is organised – in small fragments – reducing the scope to scale up investment in housing and commercial complexes. Small scale urban development increases cost of construction and makes it costly to lay down supporting services and infrastructure,” Somik Lall of the World Bank said, adding that there is need to clarify property rights – “because in many parts of Nairobi, land is not utilised to its full potential.”

The report also urges Nairobi and Dar to co-ordinate land and transport development in order to create value.

“As you will see in cities such as Nairobi, the share of land allocated for mobility – is limited. This further reduces the extent to which the city can support economically dense structures.”

In Nairobi, for instance, commercial and industrial structures account for 55 per cent of the total value of building stock — even though these structures occupy just four percent of the city’s area.”

“Residential development is urgently lacking,” it says, adding to a growing chorus on Kenya’s housing deficit of about 200,000 units annually.

Property development has more recently been seen as a safe investment bet in Kenya, making it a popular cash-generating option for investors.

This is evidenced by the numerous giant cranes on the city’s commercial districts such as Upper Hill and Westlands.

Property experts yesterday acknowledged that office space charges are higher in Dar at an average of $22 per square metre compared to Nairobi’s $12 – $14.

They, however, said that rents have been falling in Dar even as growth remains steady in Nairobi, making the Kenyan capital more lucrative in terms of return on investment.

“Honestly, we are struggling to sell space in Dar. So based on a long-term view, Nairobi’s capital value will be higher,” said Ben Woodhams, the managing director of Knight Frank – a property firm with a footprint in Kenya and Tanzania.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much it costs to construct a building but how much returns it generates,” he added.

The World Bank report, however, says Nairobi has the highest replacement value for its built-up area and built-floor area ahead of Dar, Addis Ababa and Kigali, even as it lags the global standards.

“Our analysis of imagery from satellites and geographic information systems (GIS) confirms that in African cities, capital investment not only appears low near the urban core, but rapidly declines outside it.”

Mr Woodhams said property markets in Dar and Nairobi tell of different stories since the majority of new buildings in Tanzania are government-funded while Kenya’s is private sector-driven.

He said that the swanky public buildings in Dar are likely to generate near zero-returns in the near term since they are occupied by parastatals and government departments, meaning Dar is expected to record a drop in capital value should the lull in the private sector activity persist.

The shine on Kenya’s property market has in recent years pulled in multinationals in droves, especially Chinese firms that now dominate the construction sector.

Chinese investment firm Avic International is, for instance, constructing a Sh9.6 billion complex in Westlands, comprising a 35-floor five-star hotel, apartments and 43-floor office blocks.

Besides, Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani has a big presence in Kenya through his local company Delta Corporation East Africa.

The firm has recently developed the Iconic Delta Corner twin towers in Westlands and another tower in Upper Hill that it sold to the World Bank.

“The urbanisation of people has not been accompanied by the urbanisation of capital. This manifests itself into cities not being able to fully tap into their economic potential. We use various metrics to make this point, including some new analysis based on calculating the replacement value of building stock in the city,” the study says.

The World Bank purchased Delta Centre from Mr Ambani to host its Kenyan offices at a cost of $22.8 million (Sh2.3 billion) while consultancy firm PwC bought one part of the Westlands towers.

Multi-billion shilling Garden City Mall, which opened its doors in 2015 on Nairobi’s Thika Road, is owned by British investment firm Actis.

Investment firm Centum opened Two Rivers Development on February 14, a multi-billion shilling real estate project in Kiambu that is designed to host the largest shopping mall in the region.

Two Rivers, which comprises a shopping mall, hotel, office blocks and apartments, sits on a 102-acre piece of land on Limuru Road in Kenya’s capital city.

Also in the top end of commercial real estate market is Dubai-based real estate company Abcon International LLC, which plans to build a Sh5.52 billion towering complex in Nairobi comprising a shopping mall, office block and a hotel modelled on Singapore’s Iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

The 35-storey skyscraper will be located in Nairobi’s commercial district of Upper Hill. The mixed-use development will also feature luxury apartments and an amphitheatre.

Kenya’s property market has boomed in recent years, catching the eye of deep-pocketed foreign developers from China, India, Britain and United Arab Emirates.

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