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‘Why new building technics are not prevalent in Nigeria’

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Container house built in Nigeria

Housing professionals have attributed the dearth of latest trends in building technology and construction technics in Nigeria to the poor economic situation, which doesn’t create the needed funds to import the devices.

The experts also blamed the development on the fear of local artisans loosing their relevance in the industry.

With changing times, there have been global advancement in building technics that could help in the construction of mass housing, reduce the sector’s deficits through timely delivery, quality provision and affordability in cost.

The Guardian’s investigation revealed that the common building construction technics that come with about 60 per cent in cost reduction include; the prefabricated building technics and the container housing. The technics are designed for construction of mass housing in advanced countries and could help in reducing the existing over 17million housing shortfalls in the country.

In Nigeria, the use of glass and steel and clay bricks is trending in most locations including rural and urban centres especially towards the luxury end of the housing market.

For instance, the prefabricated building construction involves the practice of assembling a variety of components of a structure at a manufacturing site and transporting those sub-assemblies to the location of the construction jobsite. It is a mass produced mode of construction and takes less than half the time when compared to traditional construction

The technic is becoming the norm, improving in quality of building, sidesteps the possibility of unreliable contractor, unproductive staff and has become available with numerous benefits which also include; eco-friendly, energy efficiency, shorter construction time and sustainable construction. Whereas, in existing traditional construction methods require extra materials that lead to increased waste.

In the case of container homes, they are made from the steel shipping containers that carry goods on trains, trucks, and ships. The smallest container makes a tiny box of a home at about 100 square feet of floor space. Experts say homes are built with containers because they are seen as more eco-friendly than traditional building materials such like bricks and cement. Tempo-housing, Nigerian housing interior and exterior firm has leveraged on this technology and expertise to create a Nigerian tailored solutions to the housing problem that is quick to build, easy to maintain, portable and most importantly affordable.

Speaking on the development, the Managing Director of Tetramanor, a Lagos-based building Development Company, John Beecroft told The Guardian that the two technics very common at the moment are the use of glass and steel.

“In most of the buildings around, you see a lot of usage of glass and steel. This is more common in expensive locations like, Lekki, Ikoyi, Banana Island and Victoria Island in Lagos. Glass and steel are very expensive materials to build home. The use of glass and steel give you very beautiful buildings.”

According to him, Nigerians are also adopting the uses of clay bricks in building their homes as the practice provides low cost maintenance in building.

“Clay bricks are actually very expensive to build, however, now that they are been mass-produced, they have become cheaper. People are beginning to use them. The unique thing about clay bricks is that maintenance is lower. Once you fixed it, there are no needs to paint every year like the normal blockhouse nor plaster it or clean it. Of course, it has its own challenges too like you canít put the piping/wiring inside clay bricks rather everything must be exposed. Building cracks is limited also in the use of clay bricks. Developers in the country have been adopting this technology en masse.”

For him, developers in Nigeria are looking forward to the adoption of prefabricated buildings where the technology involves construction of buildings in the factory for onward assembly at the building site, only if there are enough funds to import the technics to the country.

“This technology is common in the United States of America (USA) and other countries because it is much cheaper and more used for mass housing. The technology is in the form of mole wall build and everything including the roofing done in the factory, only to be installed on the site. Nigeria doesnít have the technology. Until Nigeria makes use of prefabricated building, solving the problem of affordable housing will remain a challenge. The buildings are lighter in weight, tested and are certified to be durable.

“In the US, developers are using woods to build so that if the wood collapsed on the occupants, he or she could still survive whereas if a block house collapse on occupants, survival rate is not visible. We need to find the cost of importing this technology to Nigeria to solve the challenge of mass housing,” he said.

On container housing, he emphasized that some developers have claimed that the technology could be used for a two-bedroom/three room apartment as low as N6 million and the container housing can be arranged up to three or four storeys high. According to him, experts have attested that it could reduce the cost of the normal house down by 60 per cent reduction, which is very affordable.

He said; “We know that two or more developers are trying to bring it onboard but we are watching to see whether its something that we could explore. Most of the oil companies use them off-site for accommodation. The containers that are lying in waste in shipping houses could be converted for that purpose. We need the technology to be imported, the skill for workers and the buyers to have confidence in the technology. We must produce it in Nigeria, workers and those who will adopt it.

The Second Vice President of Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Kunle Awobodu said new technics in building construction have made rendering, laying of blocks and plastering in building to be very easy to achieve at a faster rate.

“Some new machines that molds blocks at high speed are now available in the market. 3D printings are now used for making the mechanical components of building prototypes. The process is been introduced to construction to encourage mass construction. We also have construction robots that could do a lot of activities within the construction industry like erection of steels and lying of bricks but our fear is that when you start to engage the use of robots, it might lead to unemployment for the building artisans.”

He explained that the use of mail-gun with the capacity to join 50nails within a minute has become an improved way for joining timbers together, making the process faster instead of the use of hammer.

“Modular construction has been part of the technics helping in mass construction of buildings especially prefabricated buildings. This is more of dry construction. Latest roofing system and covering has helped to eradicate the rusting looks of the usual Iron Sheets that get rust easily. Instead of timbers, we have started using steels of light gauges trusses for residential buildings.”

“The doors are now made of steels, which are easier to maintain. The window systems are now made of steels, aluminium products and slide in nature with glosses. Ceilings can now last for ten years and still look neat with the use of PVC roofing artillery and it has saved us from the problem of asbestos. In terms of electrical, there has been improvement in the area of conduit. We just need funds to import the technology,” he said.

Awobodu lamented that Nigeria is yet to really incorporate most of the available technics in construction because of the initial cost involved and the skills involved.

On his part, the President of NIOB, Kenneth Nduka said the applicability of the modern building construction technics must depend on the need requirements of the people and the environmental condition.

He said: “We have a challenge in our economy right now, let every community look at what is peculiar in their locality and adopt it. Any approach to local material, will enjoy government patronage and would create more jobs. For example the use of mud housing in Nigeria, if the technology is improved, it will solve the housing problem and create thousands of jobs.”


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