Rules lower construction costs

Sunday August 11 2019


The Housing regulator in Rwanda,recently approved the use of relatively cheaper mud bricks as construction materials across the country. Photo | Cyril NDEGEYA 

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Low income earners are optimistic that they will now afford to construct homes after the housing regulator approved the use of relatively cheaper mud bricks.

The use of the materials popularly known as Rukarakara had been banned under the existing zoning regulations of urban master plans.

The new guidelines issued by Rwanda Housing Authority now allow the use of mud bricks with specific instructions on how they should be made.

The guidelines that came into force on August 1 indicate that the use of mud bricks is only limited to the construction of free-standing residential dwelling units without basements, and with the size not exceeding 200 square meters.

Besides, the housing regulator also indicated that mud bricks cannot be used for construction of commercial buildings.

Eric Serubibi, Rwanda Housing Authority director general said the government expected the move to boost the supply of affordable homes to a section of the low-income Rwandans who find the current cost of housing beyond their reach.

He indicated that the use of the mud bricks whose raw material, labour and technology requirements are widely available locally and at cheap cost, would considerably lower the cost of housing by a huge margin. For instance, while mud bricks cost Rwf60 per piece, cement blocks cost between Rwf600 and Rwf900 per piece on average,” he told Rwanda Today.

People familiar with the construction sector argue that the use of mud bricks could almost halve the current market estimations of what it cost to put up a standard family home.

Data available indicate that the cost of the cheapest formal house unit with modern materials would cost over Rwf15 million in Kigali— a sum about 60 percent of its dwellers would hardly afford.

The houses that were supplied under a number of housing initiatives in the past have been dubbed high-end meant for those in the middle and higher income bracket.

Officials figures estimate that more than 59 per cent of Kigali residents earn less than Rwf100,000 a month, therefore cannot afford building a house in Kigali unless offered with subsidies.

This is largely because of the strict housing typologies required by the zoning regulations which have insisted on the use of expensive materials, labour and technology that are not locally available, in addition to high cost of land.

The new regulations imply that policymakers ought to make changes in the respective urban master plans to relax zoning regulations to accommodate the use of the construction material deemed affordable.