EPS Panel technology or Expanded Polystyrene Styrofoam is a pre-fabricated building technology that is an insulating layer of concrete or a precast concrete where the boards used to insulate are of steel metal. The technicalities of this technology outweigh the benefits and timeliness in the Kenyan economy.
According to The Report: Kenya 2016, an annual publication of the Oxford Business Group, Kenya’s housing deficit is estimated at 200,000 housing units per year.
Now to meet this number, traditional methods will be far too exhausted and consume much money and time to make commercial sense since brick and motor expenses keep rising especially once you get a budget, you will find out that at some point prices will fluctuate and go up. This inflates house expenses which are carried down to the common mwananchi (citizen).
A factory to manufacture expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels, an Italian technology that Kenya has been testing in the country’s search for a long-term solution to the biting housing shortage, is ready and is expected to be inaugurated officially next month.
These factories including others factories like, Boleyn Magic Wall Panel Limited (BMWP) in 2015 and KOTO Housing Kenya in 2016 have spanned a huge success in the Kenyan market to reach the raising demand of housing here in Kenya. Although it has taken a while for developers to come aboard, National Housing Corporation (NHC) spearheaded this initiative when it decided to unveil a KES 700M prefab factory in Mavoko back in 2014..
In 2015, the National Housing Survey 2012/13 reported that a good number of professionals – architects, engineers (structural, civil etc), and quantity surveyors – advocated for the use of EPS technology (about 80%). However, a small portion of the same professionals (about 2.9%) still does not advise their clients on its usage.
The big question is who it targets. Do you actually save as a personal home developer or does it only benefit the commercial developers? KOTO’s Head of Administration Ms Beth Kimani in a segment video shared that it benefits both in terms of time for and cost although it makes more commercial sense to commercial developers. For the home developer, she says it will take a maximum of one month, ready with keys on your hand which is quite remarkable.
Costing all depends on the size and other variables like finishes and the detail in your design so when you want, say, a three-bedroom house, it could cost around 2.7M and can even go as high as 4M depending on your preference. Now, it’s the time that you should really consider as a saving factor.
Commercially we have seen very successful apartments that have come up in Kenya’s Ongata Rongai under La Casa Luxury Apartments.
La Casa is a private development in Rongai, has leveraged on NHC’s EPS technology to bring luxurious living to Rongai. “We have made 25 per cent savings, that we have ploughed back to enhance the standard of finishes,” says David Miako, the CEO of Exquisite Homes and director of the project.
Finally, we have the biggest player in it all; the government where it announced that those who will benefit most are the Kenya Police and other government employees.
Low-cost building technologies to bridge the housing deficit
The government has come out in support of building technologies as it struggles to house its own. The recent being the Kenya Police and other government employees in various ministries and parastatals. The government is in the process of implementing an ambitious plan ofbuilding 100, 000 police houses using cheap but ideal technologies that will cost the taxpayer Sh20 billion. Initially, the project was to cost Sh32 billion if it used ‘traditional’ building technologies, according to LandsPrincipal Secretary Aidah Munano
In conclusion, we see that material used is light meaning the cost of foundation reduced, manpower used is reduced, the material used reduced and a saving of between 20-25% of the total capital. The technology has been embraced in countries like China, Malaysia, Italy and much more so it is the time we bypass what we are used to and embrace this technology for better housing now and in the future.