Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hydraform Blocks: Innovative Housing

There is a deficit of over 14 million houses and a growth demand of 200,000 homes per annum in Nigeria, according to data from the Federal Mortgage bank of Nigeria’s (FMBN). This, coupled with the Nigerian Government’s target of building 40,000 housing units per year, a growing population and increasing urbanization establishes an urgent need to creatively solve the problem of housing in Nigeria.

The price of building materials is partly responsible for the astronomic cost of real estate development. In addition, the absence of mortgage backed securities, archaic laws and regulations, and the difficulties associated with getting long-term loan are some of the limitating factors against housing developers in Nigeria, according to the communiqué released at the end of a conference on mortgage-backed securities conference in Nigeria (June 2005). As I wrote in an earlier post, CreditRegistry, a pioneer Nigerian credit bureau service company, appears poised to offer some services in this regard.

Now, “imagine building a wall out of blocks made from just soil and cement that interlock with each other and require no mortar”, Ugo Okafor writes via his African Architecture and Design Blog. The Hydraform building system is a cost saving home building system that replaces the traditional bricks and mortar with innovative interlocking, dry-stacked soil-cement blocks.

The blocks are manufactured in South Africa, by hydraulically compressing a soil-cement mixture in the Hydraform block-making machine. The company was founded in 1988 by Jochen Kofahl and Robert Plattner, who started initial production in their car garage. According to the company website, the product is widely in South Africa as well as in many African countries, Mexico and the USA. In additional, the manufacturer claims that the “Hydraform building blocks are being used successfully in earthquake stricken regions of Argentina and India. These blocks have been extensively used in Jigawa state, a northern Nigerian state.

After Moladi, Hydraform is the second company showcased on Grandiose Parlor proffering innovative housing solutions out of South Africa.