Developer offers 20 per cent cost reduction at Gloryland Estate

Published by The punch, Monday, 14 Jul 2008

A Lagos-based estate development firm, Builders Trust Nigeria Limited, has unveiled a N3bn estate project at Magboro community along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in Ogun State, which would enable interested individuals to build their houses at 20 per cent reduced cost.

The project, Gloryland Estate, is a five-year development project that will incorporate site and service scheme as well as developed houses for sale to people.

At least 180 plots will be offered for individual deployment under the site and service section, while the developer plans to build about 1,000 housing units in the second phase of the project.

The Coordinator of the project, Pastor Ikay Obazee, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Builders Trust, said, “Apart from giving people easy way to own the land, we also offer building materials at affordable rate with credit facilities.

“We adopted a corporative system anchored on common goal and integrity. These strategies guarantee speedy construction.”

As a way to ease payment, he said, buyers were allowed to space over a period spanning six months to one year.

Even as he stressed that buyers under the site and service scheme would be adequately protected from the hostility of traditional landowners, popularly called Omo-Onile.

He said they could choose any of four house types prepared by the firm for the purpose of uniformity.

He also said that the firm was working with a team of construction experts including architects, surveyors
and builders that could offer professional advice as well as guide individuals on their building projects before and during the construction.

Already, Ikay said that clearing had started on the 30- acre land, adding that the firm had also secured more land for extension to cater for high demand and social facilities.

According to him, “The project is designed to fill the gap created by the government scheme. It may not be as fast as government’s programme, but we shall get there and everybody will be happy home owners.”

For the second phase of the project, he said that the company planned to develop 1,000 housing units, comprising terrace apartments and two to three bedroom flats.

He recalled that the project was conceived in 2006 after moving into his personal home, which he described as a personal challenge to help graduates build their own houses without much stress.

He explained the project’s five-year concept, saying the first year was to make people complete the payment for the site and service plots, with the site preparation; the second year would be devoted to construction of infrastructure facilities; in the fourth and fifth years, the firm was expected to develop 1,000 houses in the estate and offer them immediately to interested buyers.

He also commented on the choice of Magboro for the project, “It is a community in Ogun State, but it is an outskirt of Lagos. Its proximity to Lagos is an advantage. The congestion of Lagos is affecting everybody.

“We see Magboro as a conducive atmosphere that has a future with its accessibility to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the heart of Lagos.



LASG Insists On Tax Payment For All Land Transactions

Information emanating from the Ministry of Lands indicates that henceforth, all applications relating to land transactions with the State Government are to be accompanied with evidence of Tax Payment of applicants.

In a public notice, the Lands Bureau affirmed that tax defaulters would not have the opportunity to enter into any land transaction with the Lands Bureau unless such persons show evidence of payment of all tax dues.

Signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Lands Bureau, Mr Gbenga Ashafa, the notice stipulates that the documents that should accompany all applications made to the Bureau are: Evidence of payment of personal income tax (which shall include original receipt and tellers), Assessment Notice from the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) and Electronic Tax Clearance Card (if ready).

Prospective applicants are advised not to forward any application that does not include any of the afore-mentioned documents as such applications shall not be entertained by the Ministry.

Megamound raises home prices on materials' cost

 April  2008   

DEVELOPERS of Lekki County Homes Estate and Carlton Gate Estate in Lagos - Megamound Investment Limited - have announced a re-evaluation of prices for housing units in the estates, under efforts to meet delivery targets of homes to their buyers.

General Manager of the company, Abiodun Sofowora, an architect, recently blamed the increase in the firm's home prices on recent increases in the prices of construction materials, which in turn he blamed on recent government policies.

"These policies, such as shutting down of all sand dredging sites have made procurement of sand for construction purposes more difficult," said Sofowora.

Besides, the ban on the importation of cement, which has just been recently lifted, had more than doubled the budgeted price for the purchase of the product.

Sofowora noted in a statement that the cost of cement had risen at one time to N1, 800 per bag, as against the N800 budgeted. "Owing to the shutting down of all sand-dredging sites in Lagos State, sharp sand which hitherto we were getting at N15, 000 for 20 tons is now N28, 000.

The same goes for iron rods which are now sold between N180, 000 and N200, 000 as against the initial budgeted price of N80, 000. Granite and filling sand are not left out in the spiraling rise in prices.

"Thus, 30 tons of granite which was budgeted for N100, 000 is now N160, 000 while the price of 15 tons of filling sand rose from N12, 000 to N24, 000."

The general manager further explained that beyond the 100 per cent increase in cost of core construction materials, other materials like tiles, ceiling, roofing sheets and so on all have had an average price increase of 40 per cent. "Even labour cost has also increased to about 30 per cent," said Sofowora.

WEMABOD plans N3b Gateway estate, redesigns Banuso House

April 2008              

FRONTLINE property development and management firm, Wemabod Estates Limited, a subsidiary of Odua Investment Company Limited, has disclosed plans to commence the development of a 300 housing units for low and medium income earners along the Ogun State corridor.

The project located on a 10 hectares of land acquired by the company in the Gateway city along Lagos- Ibadan expressway consists of a mixed development. About 40 per cent of the acquisition will go for site and services while 60 per cent would be appropriated for low and medium income housing scheme.

Similarly, the company has redesigned and given a face-lift to Banuso House, one of the oldest buildings along Broad Street. It used to have few show rooms on the ground floor and some offices in the middle and some in the middle floor and pent House restaurant. "Having secured the necessary approvals from the government, we now have 42 shops of various in the premises in addition to the banking hall and offices on the ground floor and the pent house converted to an office because of the nuisance value of a pent house restaurant at that location, according to the Group Managing Director of Odua Investment Company Limited, Mr. Adebayo Jimoh.

The company has also undertaken a redevelopment project of block of 45 luxury flats in Ikoyi, which was formerly a block of six; two bedroom flats .The project was a joint development with a developer, Messrs Beachland Construction Company Limited. The 45 flats have been fully completed. Another residential apartment, which used to be a single detached house on Ikoyi corridor, has been redeveloped into an ultra-modern edifice of six luxury flats.

Jimoh said that Wemabod, one of the nation's largest property companies has begun a strategic a strategic refocusing by moving the frontiers in the areas of property development. "These efforts are inline with the vision of the mother company to reposition all subsidiaries to enhance added value," he added.

He said though some of the properties were strategically located, some of the properties were currently yawning for total redevelopment making the process of privatisation imminent to bring in more money, methodology and direction about the holding properties.

The form the privatisation will take is first to look for core investors with adequate deep pocket and expertise who will be allowed to hold about 51 per cent of the company, while Odua retains 49 per cent. Then together we will tone up the properties and there after go to the capital market to raise funds for accelerated total redevelopment of the company properties at strategic locations, he said.

300 defective Lagos buildings face demolition by month end

April  2008    

By Tunde Alao

OWNERS of structures identified to be defective around metropolitan Lagos have been given a 30-day ultimatum to vacate them, as the State Government served notice last week of its plans to embark on the demolition of such structures upon the expiration of the deadline.

By the last count, no fewer than 381 buildings, spread across both Lagos Island and the Mainland, had been marked for demolition.

Going by the government's ultimatum, the alternatives left for owners of the buildings are that they either effect the demolition themselves - so they can be free from possible sanctions - or, they await the arrival of government agencies to carry out the demolition.
The sanction to be imposed if such structures are demolished by government is the payment of a penalty,"which is the cost of demolition."

The Lagos Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Francisco Abosede, a Town planner, said last week that the state government had waited till now to allow owners and tenants in affected structures to evacuate their properties. Besides, he added, the delay was to persuade them that government was not out to either punish, or deprive them of their properties.

Going by the state government's plans, Abosede, hinted that the demolition exercise could commence before the end of April, when the ultimatum would expire.

According to the commissioner, engineers in the ministry had, in collaboration with owners of the buildings, already carried out structural tests that had identified the defects in the more than 300 buildings, the bulk of which are located on Lagos Island.

Also listed under the exercise are some unoccupied but old buildings in the Central Business District (CBD). Discussions with the owners of such properties, particularly, those within the vicinity of the Bank of Industry (BOI) building on Broad Street, sources said, may involve the state Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola.

Others, located in such places as Kakawa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Custom and Martin Streets, include buildings identified to be old, but are not occupied. "They are included not only because they are old, but because many of them have manifested serious structural defects.

According to Abosede, "many of the buildings are over 20-25 years old and they have started witnessing decay because they were subjected to neglect, since many of the developers have made their money." He said that those who now occupying the buildings could not maintain them.


"Ordinarily, the life span of a building should be between 60-70 years. But what we are witnessing in Lagos is that some of the developers have abandoned the maintenance of these buildings, perhaps, because they have made their expected profits," he stated, adding that "those that could not be salvaged just have to go.

" Among the features adopted to define a defective building are: a manifest case of cracks emerging from the foundation; cracks on walls, which are an external feature; failure of integrity test conducted by structural engineers; and, column dislocation among others.

However, some professional bodies in the building industry last week offered options by which they could be involved in the exercise.

For instance, professional builders, under the auspices of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), during a visit to the office of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), expressed their desire to assist the state government in achieving its goals towards stemming the incidence of collapsed buildings.


According to the chairman, NIOB Lagos chapter, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, the most important area in which attention is urgently required is the issue of rising cost of building materials.

Awobodu said the building industry has to contend with such problems as the use of insufficient or sub-standard materials to boost profits, hence, "the state government needs to sharpen it's laws and made concerted efforts to collaborate with professional bodies in the building sector to achieve the expected results."

He said the NIOB would intensify its efforts to ensure that builders live up to expectations and that the incidence of quacks in the profession is eliminated.


He therefore called on SON to be more proactive in its oversight functions to ensure that substandard materials do not find their way into the market.

Similarly, architects, under the aegis of Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), in fighting the scourge of building collapse, have set up what they termed the "ARCON Volunteer Network (AVN).

" ARCON President, Mr. Jimoh Mohammed Faworaja, said the registration council's intention in with the establishment of the AVN was to ensure that sanity is brought to the chaotic building environment.

According to Faworaja, "the menace and activities of quacks and cheats operating and impersonating architects should be stopped at all cost.


" He said ARCON laws, which empowers members to inspect construction sites to ensure that builders actually engage registered architects for their design and supervision work were being hampered by insufficient logistics. This, he said, informed the establishment of the ARCON Volunteer Network (AVN).

The concept of AVN, Faworaja added, was to ensure that the activities of quacks could be halted.

Time To Invest In Mini Cement Plant

By Festus Bamiyo

IT is alarming to hear that retailers in Lagos now sell a 50kg bag of ordinary Portland cement for as high as N2,200. The price moved from N625 in 2002 to more than N1, 250 in 2007 and now N2200. The cement price in Nigeria is four times the price in Egypt and South Africa, and 10 times the price in the United States. Why this unacceptably high price?

The problem is simply that not enough cement is available. Not enough is imported, neither is enough produced locally. So severe is the cement shortage in Nigeria now that large scale users and distributors of the product have to book months in advance to stand a chance of getting supplies from local manufacturers.

High cement prices can also be attributed to undersupply. Most of the cement (79 per cent) consumed in Nigeria is imported. The inability of existing local producers to meet demand has created a supply gap that only foreign imports can bridge for now. Cement consumption has increased from eight million tonnes in 2001 to 11 million tonnes in 2006, whereas the Minister for Commerce and Industry declared recently that the local demand for cement is about 18 million.

The Minister who lamented the inability of local producers to meet the local demand for cement put the deficit in local production at 11.5 million tons as against 18 million in local demand. The per capita usage of cement in Nigeria is currently 75kg, which is very low compared to China (610 kg) Mauritius (600kg), Saudi Arabia (900kg), Angola (105 kg) and South Africa (280 kg). This high price has negative implications for the economy and public finances as it inflates the cost of public projects. The cement crisis is also disastrous for private undertakings especially the numerous developers that are transforming the landscape of major Nigerian cities. Without doubt, they will be handicapped in their housing delivery efforts by the unavailability and high price of cement. Individual builders are also discouraged by this barrier of high cement price. High cement prices contribute to high construction costs, which make most new buildings unaffordable for prospective buyers. The prices also inhibit the ability of individuals to build their own homes. The housing units that are delivered are priced to reflect their high construction costs, and are thus beyond the patronage of most potential buyers. Lower cement prices would be felt across the economy as individuals would be encouraged to increase the housing stock.

To solve this problem, the Federal Government granted provisional licenses to some local cement manufacturers and stakeholders for the importation of bulk cement for bagging in Nigeria. The licenses were given only to local cement stakeholders with evidence of local production in a greenfield site, with bagging facilities to handle imported bulk cement. This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and industrialists to rescue the market from imports and make huge profit by investing in mini cement plant; a better way of responding to market needs which the large cement plants are incapable of satisfying. For instance, the Obajana plant which costs over one billion dollars with capacity of just over four million tones per annum could establish a thousand mini cement plants from India with a minimum capacity of 160,000mt each. Based on prevailing scenario of third world countries, it is more viable to invest in small plants than big ones. As a philosopher puts it, "Everyone is trying to do something big, not knowing that the world was made of small things". Thus investing in mini plants would also help alleviate the sufferings of consumers who pay heavily for the product, stabilize prices and the supply of cement as well as substitute imports, thereby increasing Forex reserve.

Mini Cement Plant

The conventional method of cement manufacturing by rotary kiln needs high capacity, huge deposits of lime stone in its vicinity, high capital investment and long gestation period. Vertical shaft kiln (VSK), suiting the small deposits of limestone is becoming popular. The investment, fuel consumption and gestation period are low as compared to the rotary kiln.

The capacity of mini cement plants are mostly limited to 300 TPD or 99000 TPA. These plants are mainly based on vertical shaft kiln technology (VSK). In India alone, there are 333 VSK mini cement plants of capacities ranging from 20 - 300 TPD of various technologies located in different parts of the country. However, a commercially viable plant in Nigeria will be from 50mt because of several parameters affecting industries.

In the past, there had been fears about such plants working efficiently. This fear is no more tenable as there are similar plants all over the world. Chanderpur Works based in Haryana, India, a pacesetter in the industry, has installed efficient plants in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana and Zambia.

A proforma invoice received from India for a 65mt per day plant consists of the following :raw material crushing and grinding section, blending and storage section, VSK section, cement mill and packing section, electrical and laboratory equipment.

The Need For Cement

Nigeria would need at least 400,000 housing units yearly for 30 years. This translates into eight million metric tonnes of cement yearly for construction of residential homes alone. This level of demand suggests that total demand for cement for residential, commercial and infrastructure projects could reach 20 million metric tonnes per year by 2010.

Growth in cement demand is due to improved macroeconomic stability in the past few years, declining interest rates, lower inflation and a stronger naira. There is both increased foreign investment and attention to such infrastructures as office buildings and residential construction, increased private sector involvement in housing provision as well as the need to redress the housing deficit of 12million units.

More estates are equally springing up and events portend that there will be an increased recourse to public-private partnership to deliver housing. Also, reforms in the banking and insurance sectors have led to the emergence of stronger, well-capitalized entities that need to extend their spheres of business to enhance shareholder returns. Many of these are now launching bigger mortgage facilities with longer tenors, which should encourage more people to build or buy their homes. All these would definitely trigger more demand for cement and other building materials.

Presently, the major importers are Dangote Group (34 per cent), Flour Mills of Nigeria (24 per cent), Eastern Bulk Cement, Bonny Allied Industries, Atlas Cement and Ibeto. Major local producers are Dangote Group (Obajana and Benue Cement), WAPCO, Ashaka Cement and Cement Company of Northern Nigeria.

Portland Cement Manufacturing

Portland cement is a fine powder, gray or white in colour, which consists of a mixture of hydraulic cement materials comprising primarily calcium silicates, aluminates and aluminoferrites.

More than 30 raw materials are known to be used in the manufacture of Portland cement worldwide, and these materials can be divided into four distinct categories: calcareous, siliceous, argillaceous, and ferrifrous. These materials are chemically combined through pyro-processing and subjected to subsequent mechanical processing operations to form gray and white Portland cement. Gray Portland cement is used for structural applications and is the more common type of cement produced. White Portland cement has lower iron and manganese contents than gray Portland cement and is used primarily for decorative purposes.

Portland cement manufacturing plants are part of hydraulic cement manufacturing which also includes natural, masonry, and pozzolanic cement.The process can be divided into the following primary components: raw materials acquisition and handling kiln feed preparation, pyro-processing, finished cement grinding and packaging.

The heart of the Portland cement manufacturing process is the pyro-processing system. This system transforms the raw mix into clinkers, which are gray, glass-hard, spherically shaped nodules that range from 0.32 to 5.1 centimeters (cm) (0.125 to 2.0 inches) in diameter. The chemical reactions and physical processes that constitute the transformation are quite complex, but they can be viewed conceptually as the following sequential events:

1. Evaporation of free water;

2. Evolution of combined water in the argillaceous components;

3. Calcination of the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to form calcium oxide (CaO);

4. Reaction of CaO with silica to form dicalcium silicate;

5. Reaction of CaO with the aluminum and iron-bearing constituents to form the liquid phase;

6. Formation of the clinker nodules;

7. Evaporation of volatile constituents (e. g., sodium, potassium, chlorides, and sulfates); and

8. Reaction of excess CaO with dicalcium silicate to form tricalcium silicate.

Financials

The scale of operation, the material input and the machinery source will determine the investment outlay. For a hypothetical scale like this and cheaper machinery from India, the following is assumed:

N000 FINANCING

Land 15,000 Promoter

Building 45,000 Promoter

Plant & Machinery 150,000 Foreign Bank

Office Equipment furniture & Fittings 3,500 Promoter

Borehole & water system 5000 Promoter

Preliminary Expenditure 15,000 Promoter

Working capital 55,000 Local Bank

Contigency 10,00

TOTAL 288,500

A plant above working at about 60% capacity i.e 10,000mt per annum at a very low price of N1100.00 per bag will yield a revenue of N220million.The profit potential is between 37 and 47 percent depending on the location and sound logistics plan, all other things being equal, while the pay back period is less than three years though this is determined by the availability of working capital.

Besides, the initial capital outlay can be increased or reduced according to the interest of individual investors. It is necessary for all investors to conduct personal investigation into this business. However, for assistance in technical areas, machinery purchase, sourcing fund for machinery import or for a guide, interested persons may pick up a pre-feasibility report from the writer.

Financing The Project

For upward of five years now, the sincerity of the federal government of Nigeria has being yielding good fruits as several funds all over the world are now focused on Nigeria due to several factors mentioned before and most importantly, the improved macroeconomic stability in the past few years, declining interest rates, lower inflation and a stronger naira.

Investors will have access to some of these funds, if they are well prepared and the projects are sincerely packaged. These funds are domiciled in Europe, Nigeria, USA, Canada as well as in China and India to fund the machinery import even up to 100% of the machinery cost. The writer is willing to assist investors in this area .Also, a detailed techno-economic feasibility study will be prepared for interested investors.

For further information and assistance in this and other related investments projects, contact Festus Bamiyo, an industrial, financial and management consultant at

Projects for Entrepreneurs WA Ltd

37, Marina Unity House (6th Floor) Lagos

P.O. Box 4754 MM Int. Airport, Ikeja.

Tel: 08033789909, and 08023003047

Tel/Fax: 01-4521982

E-mail: pfe22@yahoo.co.uk, projectentrepreneurs@yahoo.com, pfe22@consultant.com

FHA, others battle CITEC over Abuja Mount Pleasant Estate

Monday, March 17, 2008              

A TRIPARTITE agreement between CITEC International Estates and some Federal Government agencies for the construction of 5,000 housing units at Nbora District, Abuja, appears headed to hit the rocks over a dispute on management issues arising from the development of the estate.

Details of the grievances between the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the private developer were not clear at the weekend, but a misunderstanding has prompted the government agencies to place a caveat emptor on the housing estate, warning prospective buyers to stay clear of the property.


The disagreement has also led to FCDA revoking some portions of the estate and seeking the intervention of the Federal Executive Council to divest the private developer from the rights to the land.

 Built as an "affordable residential scheme," about 600 units of homes have already been completed in the first phase of the 5000 units housing scheme offering houses ranging from one-bedroom flats to four/five bedroom duplexes, Nbora was designed to be a well organised future city. The houses are unique with pre-fabricated panels produced in conjunction with the technical partners Edicomsa.

 Another set of six luxury flats on two-storey buildings was being planned by the developers to enable the group maximise the use of land. The common features of each of the super blocks of 242 units include sports arena for recreation and mild competitive sporting activities when the situation arises. Others facilities include clinics, light shopping areas, police posts, hospitals and other infrastructures in this integrated whole. In all, the estate intends to house over 40,000 families.

 The estate is now partly developed with over 100 families residing in the vicinity and an additional 450 buyers waiting to perfect their mortgages and take possession.

 The Guardian learnt that CITEC entered into an agreement with FHA and FCDA on behalf of the Federal Government for the development of the housing units at Mbora District, which was in furtherance of the public-private sector partnership in the development of the housing industry. The financing of the estate was undertaken by FMBN to enable subscribers to the National Housing Fund (NHF) become beneficiaries of the houses through Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs).

Efforts to contact the acting Managing Director, FHA, Mr. Felix Koyenikan and CITEC's Managing Director, Mr. Oludare Bello, proved abortive. But in reaction to the caveat emptor, CITEC authorities through the firm's lawyers, Olumide Ayeni and Company have dismissed the document, alleging that it was the handwork of "disgruntled persons who are envious of the success achieved by CITEC International estates Limited in real estate developments in the Federal Capital Territory.

" It disclosed, through Victor Abasiake-Ekim that "the government agencies did not keep to their own part of the agreement with regard to the provision of infrastructure on the site as well as financial backing for the project.

In fact, the FHA wrote to CITEC withdrawing from the project over two and half years ago. Hence, our clients resorted to FMBN for the funding of the project." The solicitors, while assuring subscribers that their investments in CITEC estates are safe and secure, recalled that "sometime in 2005, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai threatened to and subsequently, purported revoke a portion of the CITEC Estate at Nbora District, which action was challenged in the court for the value of its illegality. He ordered the destruction of about 200 foundations and infrastructure valued at over N1 billion at the site.

 "Irked by our clients temerity to challenge the former Minister's action in court, the former Minister presented a Memorandum at the Federal Executive Council meeting of May 23, 2007, seeking to take over and divest CITEC International Estates Limited of any/all title in CITEC Estates by executive fiat and without a hearing. Our client also challenged the action in court in Suit FHC/ABJ/M/519/2007 pending before the Honourable Justice B.F.M. Nyako, sitting at Federal High Court 2, Abuja." 

Builders threaten to suspend work over high materials' prices

THE Nigeria Institute of Builders (NIOB) has warned that in the light of prevailing current high price of major building materials like cement, re-enforcement rods and casing (special pipes) equipment, the most viable alternative open to the association may be to suspend all activities pending the time sanity would be restored to the market. NIOB officials, who visited the sites of various collapsed building on Lagos Island last week, concluded that for any professional who wants to do a good job, "caution should be the watch word, at least, for now, as it appears that Nigerians would for a long agonising period need to pay what they are not bargaining for towards building their houses."

 Expressing the fears of his association, the NIOB Chairman, Lagos Chapter, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, in the company of Segun Ibrahim, the association's Secretary and Adekanmbi Adelaja, NIOB spokesperson, said the current prices of notable building materials are threatening the sector, both in terms of producing a good job and in profit making. According to Awobodu, it is certain that based on the astronomical cost of cement, which was N1,400 a few weeks ago and is now N2,200, and reinforcement, which has risen from N87, 000 per tonne to an all time high cost of N160,000, "it is either the ongoing contracts are reviewed or suspended, pending the time there is improvement." He said the association, while trying to seek the opinions of other professional groups in the building sector on the possible way out, has called on its members to suspend further action on the jobs they currently have on hand. He said the concern by his group over the seemingly unstoppable incidence of building collapse, particularly in Lagos, made the group's decision inevitable, adding that the unjustifiably high cost of building materials will definitely add to the ugly development.

To the NIOB, there is a possibility that in the quest to make profit or to break even, the tendency to cut corners in form of using less quantity of materials is real. "But as a key professional body in the building sector, we will not allow that. And that is why we are trying to sensitise the public and government about the goings on in the building sector. But beyond the issue of high cost of building materials, the group has also spoken of the need to look into the existing building regulations and laws in Lagos. "It is of paramount importance to look again into the statutes and building laws in the state and examine the possibility of either amending, or fine-tuning them where necessary, or to see if there are other things to add," said Awobodu, who decried the seeming inability of the state government to prosecute those responsible for building collapse in the state. "For one thing, many houses identified as being defective and marked for demolition are there still standing and still occupied by people. So, what exactly is government waiting for?" he asked. Besides, he noted that approvals were being given to owners of buildings adjudged to be defective, thus, provoking the questions; who, or which government agencies are issuing out approval letters, and who is doing the monitoring to ensure compliance? Other speakers' members of the group also raised during the forum "the mistakes" which government is making by turning the approval agencies, such as Lagos State Physical Development Authority (LASPHYDA), into money making agencies. "With this notion that a government agency, which main function should be the regulation of physical development now to turn into revenue generating agency allows illegality to thrive, since it is through such illegalities that fines and charges could be realised. Government is therefore, wittingly, or otherwise, creating room for defective and illegal structure to thrive." Beyond the need for the review of the existing laws, NIOB is also looking into ways of incorporating the various artisans into the mainstream of activities by the professionals in the sector. What informed the development is the realisation of the importance of these critical, but often 'vilified' groups in the construction sector.

 According to the NIOB chairman, professionals have always looked down on artisans and technicians "as people with inferior intellect." "But of late, one has to realise that whatever design made by architects; drawings approved by the engineers and standards recommended by builders, it is these artisans that are the real 'actualiser' of whatever building dream is being conceived. So, there is an urgent need to give them their rightful place in the scheme of things, take them into confidence, and if possible, grant them orientations and directions at which they can improve on their trades," he said. However, another critical issue, which the association wants government to intervene is the liberalisation of casings equipment, which was described as "profoundly fundamental" in construction of building foundations. The group noted that it has expressed its concern to the appropriate authorities on the need to liberalise the importation of casing material, which today, have become the prerogative of the oil and gas industries to import. It noted that many high rise buildings in Lagos today relied on 'bored piles' for their piling work instead of the casing method. "It is an understatement to say that because of the terrains in places like Lagos Island, Lekki or Victoria Island, the need for casings in pilling is the only acceptable option, except in buildings that are bungalows." In the wake of persistent building collapse in Lagos last year, government had made several recommendations, which the NIOB pointed out, are yet to be implemented. Among them, according to the former General Manager of (LASPHIDA), Alhaji Sulaiman Yusuf, are that: As a deterrent against collapse of buildings, not only should their properties be confiscated, but such developer(s) should be prosecuted;

all existing buildings in the state should be subjected to laboratory and soil tests to ascertain their structural stability;

owners of existing buildings be mandated to obtain insurance on the building against collapse and loss of lives and properties;

owners/developers of new construction should obtain insurance cover for the construction work to take care of any incidence of collapse and loss of lives of workers, while monitoring of construction sites by professional in the build industry should be carried out at a fee to the owner(s) of the building through the proposed mandatory two-levels plan approval process involving preliminary and final approval process.

the rebuilding of old estates due to old age and loss of economic life of buildings must be properly assessed; and,

all houses built by developers on Lagos Island, Ebute-Metta, Yaba be declared "Disaster Zone," except those that may be certified structurally fit by the Lagos State Building Materials Testing Laboratory.

"In addition, the society as a whole should see the incidence of collapse of buildings as the effect of societal problems, bordering on the growth and expansion of our city through migration and the increased demand for land for various purposes. The society must therefore see the importance and urgent need to engage the services of qualified personnel in all construction activities. 


Culled from Guardian News

Firm partners UK Land on offshore property investment

A LAGOS-BASED real estate firm has entered into an agreement with one of the United Kingdom's leading property acquisition merchants - UK Land Investments Group (UKLI) to snap up land and investment properties in some choice areas for Nigerian investors.

The deal brokered recently by Bishops' Court allows prospective investors to buy into any large parcel of undeveloped land, which has been divided into building sized plots. The plots are later hold in trust for the buyers for upward of three to five years until a developer acquires the plots and perfect their documents for property development. For instance, the Phase 9 of Cambridge shire, Buckden that located on the western edge of the Cambridge shire border, close to Bedfordshire is now available in the property market.

According to Mr. Grant Okpere, a partner in Bishop's Court, "the UKLI strategic land buying team identifies, evaluates and then, after much deliberation, purchases sites that they believe have good potential for development, which they also believe has the potential to gain planning permission."

He stated the land acquisition strategy is not to simply buy any large site of undeveloped land, divide it up into parcels and then sell off these parcels to people. "It is more comprehensive than that." __He added that the firm identifies areas in the UK that have a high demand for new housing, reviews current zoned areas for development, identify new areas for potential re-zoning to meet new housing targets. "Strategic land has long been a source for creating wealth. Through UK Land Investments' knowledge and expertise prospective investors can benefit from the increasing value of strategic land in the UK," he said.

Okpere disclosed over the years the acquired land has steadily increased in value, saying that land has proven to be one of the most robust and resilient investments globally. He states that Nigerian investors can easily have access to visa to visit their sites or attend regular free seminars across the UK for potential investors.

Culled from Guardian News