Inside Housing Technology That Slashes Building Cost by Half

  • A mansion built through the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology.
    A mansion built through the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology.
    File
  • Over the recent years, the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Housing has been promoting a relatively unexplored technology in the construction of houses that can reduce building costs by as much as 50 per cent.

    TitledĀ Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB), the technology includes the use of interlocking of bricks hence eliminating the need to use cement in connecting two blocks during the construction process.

    According to the Ministry, the making of the blocks, which retails anywhere between Ksh15 and Ksh35 a piece, are made using a special machine that is currently being distributed for free by the state.

    The technology involves the mixing of cement with soil which can be found on a construction site or imported depending on the type of quality an individual is looking for.

    Some of the blocks made through the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology.
    Some of the blocks made through the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology.
    File

    "Currently, the machine is being offered for free as an incentive to accelerate the uptake of the technology. However, you are expected to cater for the machine operating costs i.e. fuel, routine maintenance, towing charges, labour and security of the machine among others.

    "When properly utilised, ISSB technology can reduce construction costs by half, create sustainable employment, transfer skills, conserve the environment and raise living standards," reads a statement from the Ministry in part.

    In comparison, a square meter of the wall can use 30 ISSB blocks at a price of Ksh15 each on the lower end while that of normal concrete blocks uses 10 blocks costing more than Ksh300 each.

    According to experts, the blocks can last as long as 60 years once built and can support a story building that goes as high as 3 floors with the aid of a qualified structural engineer.

    The block, since it is held together by cement as a binder, is stronger than normal bricks which are made with soil and heated.

    "ISSBs are stronger with minimum compressive strength of 2.5Mpa as per KEBS standard. The strength can, however, be increased depending on the required load-bearing," adds the statement.

    The uptake of the technology has been slowly taking off across the country with over 9,300 people trained on machine use and 3,000 houses built using the technology since 2013.

    According to the latest available data, the average cost of owning a 3-bedroom house in Kenya is Ksh14.4 million.

    Some of the blocks made through the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology.
    Some of the blocks made through the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology.
    File