Nyeri contractor opens inter-locking blocks technology factory to save building costs

Using such concrete blocks instead of stones saves you Sh300,000 per Sh1 million budget

As the country grapples with increased demand for housing, it’s every man’s dream to own a decent house for his family in difficult economic times. For many Kenyans, this urge to own a decent house means a life-long savings plan to ensure they deny themselves many luxuries to save the required funds.

But one man has defied all these odds by establishing a factory to manufacture inter-locking blocks, used to construct affordable housesin Nyeri county. And it takes just two to three weeks to ensure that families have a roof over their heads.

For Ndegwa Muriithi, the proprietor of Stone Shutters located along the Nyeri-Nanyuki highway, innovation in construction of houses using inter-locking blocks made from sand and fine ballast is not purely to make a coin.  It was also derived from an intention to help solve construction problems be-deviling poor Kenyans. “I have been in the building and construction industry for 20 years. Each time we were contracted by a customer, their pains from huge construction costs nagged me,” said Ndegwa, 56.

He says the concept arose after he discovered on a trip to the Far East that construction of houses can be simplified with little or minimal costs to the owner. “It was three years ago when I noticed that they were constructing simple, but stable houses using stabilised soil bricks since they have no stones, unlike here where we have plenty of them. Yet we cannot afford proper housing so when I came back I started this initiative,” said Mureithi.

On his return, he bought a machine and started manufacturing the blocks, which he used to construct his office and found that he was able to save about 37 per cent of the costs. “Using interlocking concrete blocks for a Sh1 million stone wall will save you over Sh300,000. So this is what our technology is all about,” said Ndegwa.

The concept of building using the blocks is simple as all what one needs are steel rods, sand, ballast and cement. The blocks are designed in male and female forms to facilitate interlocking.  “Once you have decided on your building plans, one needs to dig the right foundation. After placing the blocks in the right way, you place the steel rods 10 metres apart using space in the blocks then fill the spaces with right materials,” she says.

He says in less than three hours,  one is able to construct a three-bedroomed house, which can accommodate six members of a family at a cost of Sh720,000.  Yet, if this home is constructed using normal stones, it would have cost slightly over Sh1 million.

His firm provides the bricks together with tiles ready for construction. “Using machines, we are able to cut tiles from stones that are found in this locality, thus creating a one-stop-shop for building materials,” says Ndegwa. He, however, regrets that many of Kenyans are yet to embrace this technology, adding that he is hopeful that even in the midst of all   quarries in the area, residents will appreciate his efforts.

According to statistics in Nyeri County and the wider Mt Kenya region, few investors are able to construct decent buildings given the rising demand for houses. In Nyeri town,  an influx of university students and staff looking for accommodation has been driving demand for housing.

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