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Architects take to design-and-build as lull in real estate persists

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This is Lagos before urban renewal projects came to the rescue in Oshodi

More evidence that architectural companies are embracing design and build concepts are emerging, following the lull in the construction activity.

The move is triggered by declining new projects coupled with escalating construction cost that has forced individual builders to vacate sites.

Design–build is a project delivery system used in the construction industry.

It is a method to deliver a project in which the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity known as the design–builder or design–build contractor.

Design and build can be seen as giving a single point of responsibility for delivering the entire project.

The concept though not new in Nigeria, but has started gaining more ground and prominence in housing construction in which one entity – the design-build team – works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services.

Facts have shown that real estate sector had poor performance last year and recovery is still been awaited. The government’s piece meal implementation of the budgets and selective war against corruption has put real estate business into stagnation.

For instance, the real estate industry, which contributed 6.79 per cent to real Gross Domestic Product, dropped to 4.12 per cent in the third quarter of 2017; with interest rates currently steady within the lower double-digits.

The president, Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria (ACANigeria), Mansur Kurfi who confirmed the development in the sector, said it came about due to clog in the real estate market.

Explaining further, Kurfi, an astute architect said although the model is not new, but it is now at on the increase than, it was few years ago because of the clot in getting new jobs.

According to him, the reason for diversification is that if you stay in your small cocoon, there is not enough business.

He stressed that architects are not just going into partnership; they are doing design and build themselves because of the main reason that if you stay in consultancy itself, there are not many jobs going around.

Describing it as a good thing, the ACANigeria president said many architects felt that since they have knowledge of designing the house, why don’t they invest in building themselves.

“ It is like architects that have decided to become contractors and design the building themselves. It even help the profession because as a designer you know what should be done but it also requires somebody that has a firm to go into construction or you partner with estate developers.

Also a past president of the association, Mr. Kitoyi Ibare-Akinsan, told The Guardian that a lot of professionals are now on design and build so as to generate cash flow to survive.

He stressed that there now are more collaborations between contractors and consultants forming partnership to develop either from the consultant side going to look for contractors to collaborate or from the contractor side going to look for consultant to collaborate.

According to him, it is too risky now for any consultant to stand alone because the first to suffer in this situation is the consultant.

He said: ‘obviously there is a drop in prices and we have some constructions going on but they are not in the speed they used to go on.

“ I am not sure that the few going on if you go behind the veil the projects are going on because of very special arrangement, they are probably done at lower prices than they would have gone before.

“People felt that there are many consultants around and they put less value on consultant work and put more value on construction works.

It is the basic view of human instincts that in construction you can see the bags of cements, the re-enforcement, sand and gravel but on the construction side, it does not matter, if you did 1000 drawings, they need to see in concrete terms and not what you are saying.

“But the implication is that people are going to take more risks by either under quoting jobs to collect mobilisations and risking abandonment of project and use of substandard materials”, he said.

For the second vice President of Nigerian Institute of Architect (NIA), Mr. Enyi Ben Eboh, design and build was not new but is now more prevalent because of paucity of jobs and because clients are unwilling to involve many people in their projects.

He stressed that clients may want to involve one person, who then look for others like the architects and structural engineers as consultants.

Eboh said since every contractor must have an architect that will design before the building, he must have them as well as project managers to over see.

He also affirmed that many architects, who have flair for construction, have their firms and therefore own their own construction companies, where they also work as consultants.

“ People now wear different caps. I can be a consultant and contractor with even an interior design firm. People are diversifying because of the economic situation, if they see that one side is not working, they go to others that can work”, he added.


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