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Appraising Dry Construction Method For Increased Housing Delivery

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In this report, CHIKA OKEKE examines the issues bordering on dry construction method and the likely chances to expedite housing supply in the country.

Access to liveable, safe and secured shelter is a fundamental human right as enshrined in the Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Also, the Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria also recognised the right of every citizen in Nigeria to acquire property especially land and its resources. Irrespective of the existing right, Nigeria is challenged in the provision of affordable housing for the low income earners, which consists over 80 per cent of the workforce.
Despite the formulation of different housing policies by previous and successive governments, the housing shortfall continued to hit the roof.
One of the major housing policies that were initiated during Shehu Shagari administration in 1979 failed to meet the housing needs of Nigerians due to absence of designs that captured diverse cultural delineation. Investigation by LEADERSHIP revealed that in 2000, the then federal government promised to provide housing for all Nigerians, with the acronym, Housing for All by Year 2000 which also failed to yield positive result.  The 2012 national housing policy, aimed at providing affordable housing for Nigerians also failed woefully as the current housing deficit still stands at between 17 to 20 million units.
Currently, the APC- led federal government has commenced the pilot phase of National Housing Programme (NHP) in 34 states including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with the exemption of Lagos and Rivers States whose governors failed to donate land for the project.

The project is still moving at a snail speed due to non-release of funds to contractors and payment of compensation to natives, though the monies spent so far on the project is still shrouded in secrecy.
Given the lapses, the shortage of affordable and mass housing is a crisis that required sustainable solution using new technology and innovation that is capable of accelerating housing delivery.
Due to unstable price of crude oil in the international market and high cost of funding capital projects, the construction and building sector is in a tight spot to evolve new and cost-efficient system of building affordable housing, away from the traditional method in use since the advent of the colonialists.  Further findings by LEADERSHIP showed that dry construction system may likely expedite the building of affordable and mass housing. Dry construction is a type of construction in which major components of a building like the walls are already-made in a factory and applied in a dry condition without the use of mortar. It contrasts with the use of plaster, and the consequent drying out period. The finished products are assembled at the building site, though the quality of products, are guaranteed by a factory – controlled production processes. A peep at different types of dry construction highlighted that the use of plaster boards is an alternative to a week-long plaster application in the traditional method of building.
An entire house could be drywalled in one or two days by two experienced drywallers even as drywall could be installed by many amateur carpenters.
Another type of dry construction is the use of fiber cement which is manufactured from cement, quartz sand, cellulose, natural calcium and water, while being processed under high pressure and temperature for durability and dimensional stability.

Also, the metal method is a process where metals are formed into frame including galvanised steel that are installed onto a previously completed foundation.The glass mat sheathing and curtain wall cladding method is gradually accepted nationwide, though capital- intensive are rarely used as wall materials in affordable housing. In the EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) type of dry construction, the panels are sandwiched between aluminum sheets to produce ready finished composite panels, which are applied as both internal and external walls.  It was also  discovered that the ready finished panels saves about 25 percent of construction time. To this end, stakeholders in the sector have enjoined governments at all levels to embrace dry construction method as a panacea to increased housing supply.
The managing director of CITEC international estates,Oludare Bello, said that dry construction system presented an excellent opportunity to government at all levels and the Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs) to guarantee speedy provision of mass and affordable housing by reducing the construction time to 30 per cent.The expert listed the challenges militating against housing supply as finance, government regulations and fees, adding that apart from the availability of land, that there were many hurdles before commencing physical construction.He said, “Before the development of 30 hectares of mass housing land in the FCT, a developer will spend over N300 million through associated payments like development control scheme approval, development lease agreement, consultancy fees for engineering drawings, architecture, land surveyors, quantity surveyors, environmental impact analysis as well as compensation to the natives for unexhausted improvement. ”Bello stated that in most cases, the villagers had refused government valuation and insisted on their own figures. He however pointed out that the combination of existing methods and EPS system would provide practical solution to accelerate housing delivery in the country.
Supporting the new construction method, the president of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Rowland Abonta, asserted that the adoption of suitable techniques and technology for mass housing development would definitely reduce high cost of housing and improve access to housing for all Nigerians.
He pleaded with federal government to enforce the provisions of the National Housing Fund (NHF) act of 1992 which has the capacity to attract funds from various sectors of the economy into the mortgage market.

This, he believed , would make housing affordable particularly for the low income group, saying that the conventional building methods would not produce the needed housing units to bridge the deficit.
Abonta said that there was the need to make systematic land titling programme of the presidential committee on land reforms mandatory in all states of the federation, adding that the programme has a target of ensuring that all parcels of land in Nigeria receives a befitting title under the Land Use Act.  He however enjoined federal government to establish a reliable housing database in Nigeria and periodically update such data for effective housing development planning, to be achieved through a professionally conducted national housing survey. The federal government has joined forces with stakeholders in the construction, research, standardisation and building materials sector to harmonise the quality of materials in order to avert incidences of building collapse.  The minister of power, works & housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola , hinted that the ministry was currently reviewing the curriculum of centres for the training of artisans, which he described as a sure strategy towards the delivery of quality and durable houses.
Fashola noted that the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) now grants up to N5 million loan with zero equity , while N15 million loan would attract a personal equity contribution of 10 per cent as against the initial 30 per cent.  The director of lands in the ministry, Temitope Olayinka, who spoke on behalf of the minister stated that the initiative would enable more people to access mortgages, deepen the market, support housing production and grow the economy.


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