“Nigerians construction industry may soon start to experience series of building collapses as indications emerged that many housing developers are now compromising quality in the delivery of housing units.
LEADERSHIP findings in Lagos and Ogun States revealed that astronomical rise in the prices of building materials caused by a cost-push inflation that has driven commodity prices beyond the reach of most consumers has compelled some housing developers to disregard specification recommended by structural engineers.
Its prevalence, LEADERSHIP further learnt, was triggered by the refusal of clients to reviews contract sums for the delivery of the projects in the face of recession and high rate of foreign exchange that push the prices over the roof.
Building materials like Cement that was selling N1, 400 per 50 KG when some contracts were signed by the contractor is now selling for N2, 450 or N2, 500 depending the location while iron rod used for reinforcement in construction work moved from N130,000 to N250 ,000 per ton for the locally produced , while the imported iron rod sell for N290 ,000 . Aluminium roofing sheets, both long span and step tiles, Gerard roofing sheet are all affected by the price hike.
It was also learnt that professionals are particularly worried iron rod because it is one of the important components of building construction, being an important element of reinforcing cement concrete. It takes care of the strength in structure. Thus, it becomes very dangerous to use substandard iron road in building construction to avoid structural failure.
Traditionally, the core of iron rod is uniform and is always available in different diameters like 8, 10, 12, 16, 20 millimeters (mm). Different grades of iron rods are available depending on the yield strength of the bars. Bars of higher strength are normally used in order to decongest the concrete in thin columns and large span beams.
LEADERSHIP checks showed that as effect of recession bites harder, 12 mm iron rods are being substituted for 16 mm for construction of high rise buildings. Although hike in cement price had also raised the prices of blocks by between 11 per cent and over 30 per cent, with the new price regime of the 6x9x18 load-bearing blocks selling for N220 per unit over the previous price of N160 it has been discovered that the blocks were stronger than prices of cement were cheaper.
A contractor, Stephen Abba said, ‘‘Most of the building collapses recorded of recent occur while the building is still on-going. The right materials are not being used for the construction of the buildings.
“The price of cement is so high and blocks are weaker, right iron rods are not being used for reinforcement. The clients are cash strapped and yet need the best. How do you reconcile this? People are likely to cut corner and the result is building collapse.”
Commenting on the development, the vice president, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Builder Kunle Awobodu, said it was high time building control agencies and building materials testing laboratory intensified efforts to ensure that building materials being used for construction are tested and contractors adhere to building specifications.
“This is going to create crisis in the construction sector and bad blood between clients and contractors, as developers will make claims for fluctuations. Invariably, it will lead to upward reviews of contract sums. New and on-going projects will be delayed until there is agreement on the contract variations. It can also expedite construction activities because of the anticipation of further increase.”
For many other experts, the country is at the cross roads and must adopted creative and innovative ways of building its homes, because the ultimate dream of many Nigerians to own their own homes is becoming more far-fetched.
Also, a real estate analysts, Abiodun Doherty pointed out that the rate of inflation has skyrocketed in the country, making several people who were hitherto excited about the prospect of investing in real estate not be so keen about the sector.”