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By BRIAN OKINDA
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Driven by the upsurge in the country’s demand for improved and affordable housing, besides the rapid growth of informal settlements, global building and construction solutions firm, iBUILD, formally launched its services as well as its mobile-based platform in Kenya.

The firm, whose main objective is to expedite solutions across the building and construction, as well as the housing value chain by making all construction services easily accessible to users, began its initial testing in the country in 2017, but is now fully rolling out countrywide.

“Technology transforms the way people achieve what they need, hence the reason we decided to empower average Kenyans to transform the way they carry out their housing, construction and building accomplishments,” said Lew Schulman, iBUILD’s co-founder and chair of the company board.

According to Lew, globally, Kenya is among the front-runners in embracing and making good use of technologies, thus the reason iBUILD chose to implement its programme in the country.

The iBUILD mobile application is essentially a citizen-to-citizen (C2C) housing market tool which empowers small-scale constructions based on each individual’s unique needs and affordability.

It empowers a citizen-focused virtual marketplace where customers directly engage with architects, lenders, artisans, material suppliers, and certified contractors, while equipping small scale construction markets to scale up and meet the growing housing demand.

The web platform is designed to lower construction transaction costs by providing citizens direct access to an active network of competitive housing construction services, while creating transparency of transactions across all involved stakeholders throughout the project.

The three-pronged approach of service provision largely revolves around the property owners, contractors and the employed construction site workers.

Through the mobile phone platform, for instance, individual property owners have the ability to search and find qualified contractors by reviewing and selecting contractors’ bids, track and manage their home construction and repair projects, assess their corresponding project budgets, project payments and project timelines all from the comfort of their mobile phone devices.

iBUILD chairman Lew Schulman, and market director Aggrey Wangwe during the media briefing.

iBUILD chairman Lew Schulman, and market director Aggrey Wangwe during the media briefing. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

On the other hand, through the same system, contractors can find projects, place bids, hire workers as well as pay them, rate the workers’ efficiency and productivity, manage the project details and make, as well as receive payments for their complete jobs.

Construction site workers and artisans also have the ability to build their profiles, find construction site jobs, track their work history and skills progression, and get paid through the same mobile platform.

“Construction work needs reliable service delivery and as such, contractors as well as site workers need to be reliable enough to do their duties for their pays’ worth. Fundis and construction site artisans also need to have a voice vouching for them, something that enables the good ones get more jobs, and the platform enables them to do that,” said Alice Mutai, who is the registrar at the Kenya Engineering Technology Registration Board (KETRB), whose duty it is to set and enforce standards that promote the engineering technology profession and ensure provision of quality services and works by its stakeholders.

The system, according to iBUILD, is set to help in digitally managing more than 100 million new buildings incrementally built, and repair jobs by ensuring up to 1.6 million homes are constructed and repaired each year, besides certifying more than eight million construction workers who are benefiting from the platform.

According to Habitat for Humanity-Kenya, the housing deficit in the country stood at two million in 2012 and continues to grow at the rate of over 200,000 units a year, which has led to a proliferation of informal settlements in urban areas with 60 per cent of the population living in informal settlements.

Families live in overcrowded homes- typically one room with no adequate ventilation, putting the members at high risk of diseases such as respiratory infections among others.

The government has put in place mechanisms to supply over 500,000 units of affordable housing over the next four years as part of its Big Four agenda, making technology an invaluable resource in realising this agenda.

It is for this reason that Habitat for Humanity sought to have partnerships with stakeholders such as iBuild, among others.

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The importance of technology in housing is paramount, which is why an application like iBuild, will make the process of achieving the affordable housing agenda, even faster, according to ICT CS, Joe Mucheru.

Avoid these mistakes and you will move houses stress-free

Just like any changes in human life, moving from one place to another comes with a lot of emotions — both positive and negative. Stress in particular is a dominant emotion associated with moving from one house to another.

Whether you are a first-time mover or a seasoned one who perhaps changes jobs frequently, the stress associated with moving is inevitable.

However, according to Mr Fred Magadi, the director of Pro Team Movers Kenya, a property moving company, stress can be minimised if people avoided these common mistakes:

Poor planning for the move

When planning to move, many ignore setting a specific move date. Majority concentrate on getting a new house, paying deposits and pay very little attention to how their things will be moved from one place to another.

“The moment you settle on the house you are moving to, it is important to begin making moving arrangements immediately,” advises Mr Magadi. “If you will be engaging a moving company, then it is imperative that you start looking around for one so that you settle on the one with the most competitive rates.”

He adds that poor planning in moving results in unpreparedness for the anticipated challenges that may come with packing and moving.

When one has a set date for the move, they are able to plan themselves accordingly and get their house in order in time. Proper planning helps avoid last minute packing which leads to stress.

Not taking inventory of one’s household goods

“After a long day moving, you will need time to relax. However, this may not be the case if you did not prepare an inventory of your belongings while packing. Many people pack without having a record of where specific items are being packed. This results in difficulties while unpacking and one may end up living out of boxes for quite a while because they cannot immediately trace the items they could be looking for,” notes Mr Magadi.

It is therefore advisable to clearly label each box and indicate what it contains. Alternatively, one can have a list detailing where specific items are.

It is widely believed that the best time to do away with items that are no longer in use is when moving houses. However, a number of people hold on to items that they no longer need and insist on moving with them to the new homes.

“Unpacking into a new home is a strenuous task, especially for first time movers,” says Mr Magadi, adding that disorganisation and hoarding of items simply adds to the stress of unpacking when trying to arrange your new home.

It is advised that before the move, one should go through their household goods and donate what they do not need anymore.

Doing everything by yourself in attempt to save money

Another common mistakes made when moving is trying to do everything alone.

“Engaging professional movers is not a common notion in Kenya as it is perceived to be very costly. People prefer to pack by themselves, or to invite relatives and friends to assist them. This makes the moving process tiring and time consuming. Should there be items of significant value, there is risk of damage if they are not properly tended to, as would have been by a professional. Most moving companies have invested in packing and moving materials, and will be better placed for this job,” says Mr Magadi.

He however notes that Kenyans are slowly embracing professional moving companies.

“In the recent past, it has been noted that most households prefer hiring professional movers which explains why we are having so many companies springing up,” says Mr Magadi. He nevertheless cautions that some of these companies are masqueraders who are out to con people out of their money.

To curb this problem, registered companies have come up with the Association of Professional Movers Kenya — Under Incorporation, which protects clients and their properties in the moving process. In case of a grievance, there is a mechanism that is in place for the clients to have their matters attended to”, notes Mr Magadi. By Julie Ambani



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