Barry Silah @obel_barry
Real estate development is an expensive venture. The sector keeps witnessing innovations and transitions as new construction trends pop up.
Launched in Nairobi recently, Building In Kenya is a book that seeks to contextualise the local building and construction sector through information gathered from interviews conducted with professionals. We spoke to the authors Emma Miloyo (Architect) and Robyn Emerson (Urban Planner).
Tell us the idea behind this book.
The book seeks to be the developer’s one- stop informational resource, an invaluable guide through the real estate development process.
It assists with identification and evaluation of risks involved in the different stages of a project and offers strategies with checklists and worksheets for developers to minimise risks.
We are targeting all building and construction professionals as well as the workforce that executes the guidelines so that our buildings are safe.
How did you get together to write?
As colleagues in the industry, we are connected by what we do. We have known each other for a while; we share ideals and passion for a clean and safe environment. We have a combined 22 years experience in the industry. So, we just sat and discussed the whole idea and we are proud of the outcome.
As experts, over time we have witnessed certain practices that contradict our training and we thought it fit to come up with a basic toolkit to act as a guideline. It has been 18 months of tireless work but we think we can help shape the industry for the better.
What challenges did you face?
Collating information was quite tasking. Research was a big component, which meant taking lots of time on consultations with both the private and public sector players.The biggest challenge was idealising the product so that it could work across board for all involved in the sector.
Do you believe the State is doing enough as an agent of information?
The government is a facilitator because it comes up with policies, rules and regulations to govern the sector. The State Department of public works & Housing and other State agencies such as the National Construction Authority (NCA) work round the clock regulates the sector.
Of course, there are challenges in terms of reach and monitoring, which is where professional bodies come in. For instance, the book deals with land acquisitions and application for planning and building approvals so that all would be buyers or leaseholders of property are well informed.
What does the book say on effective construction procedures?
As a real estate developer reaching the construction stage of your project is a great milestone. Construction is the most time, cost and labour-intensive stage of the building process.
If not well managed, anything can go wrong. Construction takes around 30-60 per cent of the whole process while the feasibility study and marketing stages are allotted the least time (20 and 15 per cent respectively).
The matrix of project stages vis-a-vis percentage on time allocation is what most developers need to put emphasis on.
Finally, how do you intend to address corruption going forward?
The developers who use unskilled manpower to cause death and destruction are giving the industry a bad name. Unfortunately, we all seem to be inviting and encouraging poor workmanship then create a stir.
If one is not comfortable with a building, then it is better to seek an expert opinio, otherwise we will continue having challenges.
As professionals we must translate information to the citizens; the regulations and by-laws must be known by investors so that they can understand its effects.
The next frontier is empowerment so that everyone is on board. Hopefully, the book can help change mind-set, help save lives and cushion investors from unwarranted losses.