By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
Nigerians are increasingly embracing the dry construction system introduced by Nigerite Nigeria Limited as an alternative to the conventional wet construction building method, after years of doubt and apathy towards the initiative, Business Hallmark can reveal.
This is amid rising acknowledgement among stakeholders that mass housing is practically unachievable owing to the challenges, especially the long delivery period associated with the traditional building method known to many Nigerians as wet construction.
It would be recalled that Nigerite, Nigeria’s manufacturer’s of roofing, ceiling and flooring products, had in 2001, introduced the innovative building solution known as Kalsi performance cement boards into the Nigerian market.
While the walls, roofing and ceiling are made of claddind which is made of a special formula, Kalsi plasterboards, the flooring is left to the new owner to do.
The new construction boards by Kalsi are manufactured from cement, quartz sand, cellulose, natural calcium and water. The boards which come in various sizes and thicknesses between 6mm and 20mm are processed by autoclave (drying process under high pressure and temperature) for durability and dimensional stability.
However, Nigerians reaction to the products was largely that of lukewarm. The company, sources in the firm confided in BH, initially had difficulties pushing the products into the market for about four and half years.
“The initial reaction to the Kalsi wasn’t too lovely. I remember I had several presentations to people, and they didn’t understand it very well, as many would tell us then that ‘I don’t want to be used as a guinea pig’ for this your solution.
“It was like that for about two years when we started. But after the third year, some people tested it and found out that it enhanced their jobs, including the architects. Now, people have been coming for it and more are also keying into it”, an architect with the firm, Mr Jesse Onovre stated.
But all that is changing. As is the practice in Europe and America where citizens are more at home with dry construction, there has been a noticeable shift in Nigerians’ attitude towards Nigerite’s dry construction solution.
The tide, our correspondent leant, broke towards the end of 2015 after the relaunch of the products by the company.
Speaking at the relaunch of the products in 2015, the company’s Managing Director, Mr. Frank LeBris, had described the dry construction system as a modern building method that allows up to 70 per cent construction time saving possible when compared with the traditional wet construction using bricks and blocks.
“Since we cannot run away from tomorrow, why not bring tomorrow to today if we have the means. The world over, dry construction is gaining ground.
“It is common knowledge that housing deficit in Nigeria today is close to 20 million; this solution is being introduced as one of the fastest means of bridging this gap since it takes pretty few days to construct from start to finish.
“It ensures cleaner environment at construction sites and thus points to our avowed commitment to environment friendliness and it costs less in the final analysis.
“This system, unlike the traditional brick and block method requires minimum use of water. The system generates minimum construction waste and Kalsi buildings have much better preserve room temperature and they are energy efficient.
“The use of timber associated with the traditional construction is avoided with dry construction, and the system impacts positively on reducing deforestation.
“Lower dry construction load impacts on minimum excavation, less soil disturbance. The system compliments better the green building idea for modern construction world over.
“In additional, the system is a lightweight construction. It is about 10 times less in weight compared to equivalent blocks and mortar construction, resulting to savings in foundation and structural costs.
“Dry construction using Kalsi board for ease solution has also proved to be a much viable solution with lower self-weight, faster and better technical finishes.
“Kalsi building boards have a high fire resistance rating and good acoustic and thermal properties. It is also a moisture and pest resistance solution”, the elated Nigerite boss had stated.
BH checks showed a large numbers of prefabricated homes have been built in major cities across Nigeria, particularly Lagos, Abuja, as well as oil and gas rich states like Rivers, Delta, Edo and Bayelsa.
Lagos, however, has the highest number of homes, accounting for about 80 per cent of the numbers, followed by Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Some of the major clients of Nigerite’s dry construction solutions include the Federal Government, state governments, especially the Lagos State government, oil and gas companies, as well as developers.
For instance, leading oil firms like Shell, Mobil and TotalEnergies have spend several billions of naira in acquiring offices and homes for its workers.
The company has also constructed many prefabricated houses in Abuja, including 24 units of one and two-bedroom detached houses.
The housing unit was built using dry construction technology in partnership with Nigerite, Selavip and Etex. The walls, roofings and ceilings were made of cladding from building board specialist Kalsi.
Housing developers are not left out. BH reliably gathered that the bulk of homes built with Kalsi products are housing projects developed by real estate firms.
The MD/CEO of Gran Imperio Group — developers of the Lakeview Park Estate and the Inagbe Grand Resort in Lagos —, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, said his company had been working with Nigerite’s new home solutions in the past two years.
Apart from driving speed and efficiency, the innovatiion, Ogunwusi stated, has also brought down construction cost by about 20 percent”, Ogunwusi stated.
Other benefits of the new housing solution include significant reduction in cases of building collapse. With the new boards designed in a pre-engineered system, unscrupulous builders now find it impossible to alter construction process.
Also, builders no longer need to apply plastering on a building with Nigerite’s latest product product called KalsiClad.
KalsiClad is a light weight fibre cement building board suitable for cladding application that gives facades a modern and stylish look.
“It is a result of sheer determination of the entire stakeholders of Nigerite Limited and many years of experience and innovation of our major shareholder, Etex.
Nigerite’s Head of Dry Construction Business Unit, Wale Ogungbe, while speaking on the innovation, said the boards have the capacity to repel any natural external force such as wind.
“The product resists humidity in the house even if it is situated in a coastal area. This is a product for the high end market. The new product is bringing innovation into the Nigerian market.
“It is quite innovative because with this, you don’t need to plaster your house before proceeding to paint. The product is out to revolutionise the construction of building in the country.
“The Integrated Building Solution (IBS) encompassing the entire building systems are designed by a software which considers a host of external forces so there is no cause to worry because incidents such as heavy wind have been taken into consideration in the production process,” he said.
Meanwhile, the KalsiClad range of products is raising a storm in the construction industry with some stakeholders, including cement giants like Lafarge, Dangote and BUA Cement companies introducing products to help ward off Nigerite’s incursion into their territories.
For instance, Lafarge recently launched a revolutionary product called Ready Mix. The product which comes with self-placing concretes and screeds has become popular among builders.
Other benefits offered by Lafarge’s ready mix product include: self-placing and self-levelling characteristics; perfect flatness and smooth finish (screed); no need for remedial work or painting; strength, thickness and drying time similar to traditional concretes; screed suitable for all conditions, unaffected by wetting once installed; and can be delivered and installed by conventional methods as well as quick, efficient installation which reduces overall construction time.