Given the important role that knowledge plays in the development of any society, it is not surprising that housing developers are looking in the direction of modern technology to accelerate mass housing delivery.
Eggheads in the housing and construction sub-sector of the nation’s economy are of the view that a recourse to knowledge based housing delivery when embraced by the government and housing developers could bridge the huge housing deficit in the country.
One modern construction method experts feel housing developers and government should experiment with is dry construction, which is simply building construction without moisture retaining materials such as plaster or mortar while using materials such as galvanised steel, fiber cement, precast concrete and gypsum board.
Throwing light on the essence of exploring alternative building materials to fast track mass housing delivery Mr. Toyin Gbede of Nigerite Nigeria Limited said the company had since discovered a cheap, affordable, efficient, maintenance-free and durable housing model in dry housing construction
The Director in Nigerite has no doubt in his mind that dry construction could be used to bridge the housing gap in the country.
He explained that dry construction is the use of materials, such as gypsum board, plywood, or wallboard in construction, without the application of plaster or mortar.
According to him, since it is cheaper it makes home ownership affordable to a larger percentage of the population.
He noted that Nigerite has always been at the forefront of innovations, building solutions and processes in the sector, affirming that what the nation needs to bridge the widening housing gap is an innovative construction method with efficient process and technology.
Gbede revealed that the firm is leveraging on its multinational structure and has been researching on how emerging economies have successfully used materials, process and technology to resolve housing problem.
“We developed Integrated Building Solution using panelised dry construction systems as a viable and modern construction worth considering in our quest to solving housing deficit problem.
“In addition we have evolved into offering roofing, ceiling, and vertical walling solutions for efficient and cost effective building components.
“The conventional wet construction process is highly labour intensive and slow in housing delivery. It depletes the environment through extensive use of water, sand, granite and wood. Obviously, there is, therefore, a need to look at the way we build by using alternative processes and technologies that will substantially improve the way we do things.
“For instance, it takes about one year to build a three-bedroom house but the new technology takes just about two months or less. The technology is about assembling the various components of a building and bringing it to site to put it together into a house.”
Gbede added that it creates substantial gain in construction time, creating new skills and retooling skilled labour for improved efficiency.
The idea according to him is to encourage Nigerians into accepting a non-conventional building process that will help in solving the question of efficient and international best practice in modern building construction.
He pointed out that,” It is not so much of price differentials, which is however, evident but what is convenient, affordable and able to withstand the vagaries of nature especially in these days of climate change issues.
“With conventional wet construction process for example, if you go to the bank to borrow money to build three-bedroom house, it will take an average of six months to one-and-half years to build and occupy even though the bank begins to charge interest on the principal from the day the loan is approved.
“You are also at the mercy of different workmen who do not feel the pressure from the bank so, for the duration of the construction period, you are not gaining anything, but paying bank interest in addition to rent if you are still a tenant.
“In contrast with dry construction method the same three bedroom takes an average of one or two months to erect while the investor stops paying rent with enough time to repay the bank loan.
“There is nowhere people think of new ways of doing things and allow initial higher cost as major distractions to resolving an endemic problem. Ultimately, from experience in other leading economies where this method is being extensively used the cost comes down by 30 per cent.
To make impact the company in collaboration with the Lagos State Vocational Educational Board (LASVEB) and the Government (Trade) Training College, Ikorodu to build The ‘Nigerite Centre for Building Solution Excellency ‘.
The center equipped with modern equipment is to aid learning of modern construction method, with special emphasis on dry construction.
The immediate past President of Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Chucks A. Omeife, agreed that dry construction technology can reduce the number of site workers involved in building operations as well as increase the industry productivity.
Omeife reasoned that the need and desire to bridge the gap in the housing has made it imperative for policy makers to look beyond the traditional methods of construction and its attendant challenges to a new and more convenient way.