How to Build a House in Ten Days

There has been a rise in adoption of alternative building technologies (ABT) in house construction over the years. ABTs improve the speed of construction and eventually reduce the overall cost of construction.

Traditional methods of construction, no matter how efficient you try to be, simply cannot compete with the advantages offered by modern technologies. By traditional, we are referring to masonry construction and in situ concreting of structures. These are not only labor intensive but have the disadvantage of being adversely affected by weather conditions.

The weight of masonry blocks, or even concrete structures increase the dead load that has to be sustained and taken safely to the foundation, hence will require a much more elaborate structural design in the form of more reinforcement, bigger columns, deeper beams etc.

Technicalities such as setting up of formwork and reinforcement and erecting of scaffolding take up a lot of time and add on to the complexity of the process. Work on lower levels cannot proceed before scaffolding can be removed (in about 3-4 weeks), further delaying the project.

Modern trends in the building and construction industry are leaning towards light weight construction and a shift from using natural building materials to more man made and composite materials with increased levels of fire safety. Off-site pre-fabricated construction is also being encouraged for more efficient use of these material and further reduction of build times. The bottom line is to save on time and ultimately cost but not to compromise on quality.

EPS panels

Construction of high rise building using EPS panels. IMAGE/NHC

The National Housing Corporation, in a bid to develop decent and affordable housing in Kenya, introduced expandable polystyrene (EPS) panels to the Kenyan market. The EPS panels are an innovative building material consisting of EPS foam sandwiched between a galvanized steel wire mesh that provides for lightweight construction with excellent insulation properties.

Each panel is 3.0×1.5 meters wide and is a substitute for building stones and timber and take less time to erect. This means that they might very soon replace the traditional reinforced concrete and masonry in both horizontal and vertical parts such as roofing, walling and flooring. They are finished by plastering on both sides.

Steel frame construction

Construction of a sky scraper using steel frames. IMAGE/COURTESY

Steel frame construction is one of the building techniques that have made construction of sky scrapers possible. The skeleton of the building will consist of vertical steel columns and horizontal I-Beams constructed in a rectangular grid to support the floors, roof and walls of a building which are then attached to the frame.

The frame needs to be protected from fire because steel loses its strength at high temperatures and can cause a building to collapse.

Construction is quick and simple mainly since fabrication is carried out off site.

Steel as a building material is more durable, compared to wood, since it is not susceptible to termites and other pests. It is also able to span greater distances enabling design flexibility.

It has the highest strength to weight ratio of any construction material and is also a recyclable product.

Shipping Container Homes

Shipping Container Home Construction in progress. IMAGE/COURTESY

Shipping containers that are normally ferried on trailers are now being used to make homes. Aside from being very affordable, they have an added advantage of being portable meaning if you want to sell the land, you can relocate your container somewhere else.

The shipping containers are modified and refitted to fit the user’s interest. The prefabricated container house can be used as an office, shop, or home. They even come complete with installed plumbing and electrical system.

The size of container, age and condition will influence the price of the container. The number of add-ons or customized features that you go for in the shipping container will also contribute to your overall construction cost.

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