Rising demand for housing in Kenya’s major cities has attracted multiple investors to the real estate sector, leaving the regulators with a Herculean task of quality assurance and supervision of workmanship to weed the sector of rogue contractors.
Ian Henderson, the managing director of Superior Homes Kenya, the company that built the award winning Sh15 billion Greenpark Lifestyle estate in Athi River, says developers should invest in quality infrastructure that is durable and environmentally sound to sustain sector growth.
Greenpark, which is located on the busy Nairobi Mombasa Highway, sits on 163 acres overlooking Lukenya Hills.
The developer Superior Homes has built more than 500 out of the planned 700 units, two schools, a convenient shop and Sundowner Club House, which houses a sports bar, fine dining restaurant, a gym, sauna, steam, swimming pool, tennis court and accommodation.
There are future plans to build a shopping centre for the growing community. Mr Henderson says rapid
economic growth, coupled with the promise of higher returns in a fast moving sector such as real estate, has traditionally attracted investors driven by short-term gains, ultimately resulting in structures that are dangerous to human lives and the environment.
“People come into such business for different reasons. Very few will look at the business in the long term and invest in trust and brand building so there will always be danger lurking in the periphery,” he said.
Mr Henderson commends the building and construction authorities for efforts they have made to regulate the sector and implement laws in the face of increasing invasion by rogue developers even as he urges them to tighten the noose further.
“I think the regulations and the laws are well considered, well-intentioned and well-informed and policing of them is improving all the time,” Mr Henderson said.
One of the agencies with the responsibility of ensuring that developers stick to quality and safety standards is the National Buildings Inspectorate (NBI).
Established in 2015 by a presidential order to enforce building standards and ensure environmental safety, the agency is also charged with the task of demolishing sub-standard buildings to ensure security of inhabitants.
The NBI report further says that only 51 out of the 640 buildings that were asked to take remedial action have complied with the notices. Part of the industry’s challenge, according to the report is to regulate the sector so as to minimize damages and injuries.
Mr Henderson said urgent corrective measures should be taken in the event of emergencies to limit the damage.
He gives the example of an event that happened at Greenpark Lifestyle last month, when the seasonal Stony Athi River burst its banks and flooded a small section of the vast estate.
Though no structural damages occurred, occupants of the 10 affected houses were temporarily relocated to safer grounds until the situation was contained.
“We helped the homeowners mitigate the problem, offered clean-up services and erected flood water barriers,” he said.