Construction firms offer home builders expertise, but…
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Tell us about yourself.
I am the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Pacific Reality Investment (PRI), a construction management firm based in Ruai, Nairobi. Our specialty is offering cost-saving construction solutions to our clients.
We ensure that the houses we build in Kenya are budget homes of the highest possible standards, within the shortest possible time and lowest cost.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with a construction management firm?
A registered construction management firm shoulders a significant proportion of the risks and liability since the firm has to work within the agreed budget, terms and conditions.
In case of any complaint, one can also seek legal redress. Moreover, working with contractors not only saves you money, but also saves time because you do not have to make frequent visits to the construction site.
Such firms also use professionals and good quality construction material.
Contractors haven’t been fully embraced in Kenya, especially by individual homebuilders. Why?
The construction sector is riddled with fraudsters and conmen, resulting in many scams, which has created a negative perception of these players in the sector.
Consequently, many people avoid contractors in an effort to cut costs. Most Kenyans believe that when you hire a construction firm, the cost of building a house will go up, but this is not always true.
For example, we can build your home at up to 40 per cent less the amount of your initial budget since we are aware of the current trends, suppliers and prices in the construction industry.
Bulk purchases of raw materials directly from suppliers earns us and the client economies of scales.
Of course there is a need for construction managers to create awareness and start offering wholesome services so that once a client comes in, most services are available under one roof.
How did you get into this industry?
Initially, I was in land buying and selling business. I used to get many clients who would come to me for referrals on construction matters once they acquired plots from us.
From that experience, I realised there was a gap that needed to be filled. In 2013, I registered the company and we went into construction management.
It hasn’t been an easy journey though. Our operation model is that we offer a one-stop-shop for all construction services.
We have a team of professionals such as land surveyors, architects, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers. All a client needs to do is to have a plot, help us design his/her dream home, then we discuss the budget.
From there we deploy our employees to the construction site and the client is always updated on the progress.
In short, the company builds a complete house for you on your land and oversees power and water connections. From as low as Sh900,000 you can have your dream house.
What challenges do you face?
The major hurdle is delayed approvals by county governments. This is making us lose customers since most of them can’t understand why we are taking so long to commence our work.
Even worse, there are also cases of harassment by county government officials at construction sites for no reason. Poor infrastructure in many sites—roads, electricity, water supplies, and sewerage—is another challenge.
Notwithstanding this, the future is bright for the construction industry since Kenyans need to have houses; the bubble is not going to burst anytime soon. For our company, we want to have a subsidiary, which will be offering complete ready to occupy houses.
Which areas of the building sector are not yet tapped?
Most developers sell houses off-plan and ask for lump-sum payments before they start working on a project. This locks out many potential customers, particularly middle-income earners.
There is, therefore, a need for companies that will accommodate this class of people as they are the majority.