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Tuesday, December 10, 2019
  • REAL ESTATE

How I started cheap housing company Koto

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Koto Housing: As he was building a two-bedroomed house for his mother, the costs kept rising as the construction work continued at a snail’s pace.

For three years, Mr Moses Nderitu kept travelling from Nairobi to his rural home in Nyeri during weekends to oversee the works.

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Interestingly, he could not tell the exact cost of the house as the constructors kept varying them.

“The contractor did not complete the house within a year as promised. The cost sky-rocketed and all family members chipped in funds haphazardly,” he recalls.

The problem gnawed his mind for a while: how could this be addressed? The process of seeking an answer to the nagging question ignited a business idea; he thought of a venture that would not only reduce building costs but also make them predictable.

Mr Nderitu’s dream turned into reality when he visited Malaysia on a business trip where he learnt that there was indeed a technology to build residential and commercial buildings within seven days and at far much cheaper costs.

The technology is referred to as Expanded Polystyrene Building System (EPS)

He obtained franchise licences and upon his return to Kenya he did not waste even a single minute; he began discussing with his business associates about the idea. His colleagues warmly received the idea and the result is the current Sh500 million Koto Housing EPS factory at Mlolongo, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

After Mr Nderitu set up the business, a team from Malaysia came to Kenya to train workers on EPS technology which produces light weight concrete panels.

Mr Nderitu, who is the Koto chief executive personally supervised the putting up of the first houses for private individuals who kept referring their friends to the firm.

EPS panels are not for temporary buildings but permanent buildings. They are easier to put up and cost-friendly since the entire building’s walls can be done at the factory and the house be up, ready for occupation in two weeks,” he adds.

Mr Nderitu said the housing deficit in the country could be adequately addressed if contractors observed timelines and keep costs as minimum as possible.

“It is very frustrating to pay more than the agreed amount to a contractor only for the quality of the building to be compromised and more money spent to correct glaring errors after a year,” he says.

Mr Nderitu said that Koto Housing Kenya made a major breakthrough three years ago when it was contracted to put up 200 units for police officers at Kamulu in Machakos county and at Migosi in Kisumu. Saying this was the first major assignment, Mr Nderitu added that his workers have learnt the new technology well and are able to handle a variety of building designs including multi-storeyed houses.

“We have been building the four-floor apartments for police officers using EPS technology that has been approved by the National Construction Authority and we promised to deliver the same for occupation in three months. We are now encouraging Kenyans to engage us in putting up houses that are affordable,” he added.

Koto Kenya, now in its third year, has also started training other contractors on EPS to help popularise the technology across the country.

To help fast-track house ownership among Kenyans, Mr Nderitu entered into a partnership with Commercial Bank of Africa and Bamburi Cement in a bid to reduce raw material costs and offer technical support. Koto Housing.

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