REDUCING BUILDING COSTS IN THE COUNTRY

By Prof. George W. K. Intsiful

How much does a building costs in Ghana? How many people can afford the cost of a building even though the lowest paid labourer in the country aspires to build his or her own house? Can such costs be reduced? These are some of the questions that are asked by thousands of Ghanaians everyday. In attempting to address questions of this nature, building in Ghana will be discussed along two lines – small ones which could include private residential units and public ones which are financed by the central government and could include offices, classrooms, markets etc.

Communal Labour

For small buildings, in days gone by and in traditional or rural societies in Ghana, building activity was a communal one, which involved virtually the entire community. All that the proposed house or building owner, for example, needed to to was to provide food and drinks for the workmen and women who provided one skill or the other. The building materials were obtained in the surrounding areas and virtually every member of the community participated because those who did not were also denied such communal assistance when they wanted to build. Communal labour for building construction, however, appears to have died in the Ghanaian communities and may even sound like a fairy tale to the present generation.

Traditional Buildings

In spite of that, there exists across the country several traditional buildings. It is a well – known fact that the advent of the rains in the rainy season also means that many of such traditionally constructed buildings collapsed . Several issues of the local newspapers have documented this over the years. The major reason for the collapse can be described as poor construction methods which include the absence of foundations and the lack of durable materials . Most traditional buildings have no foundations and the walls sit on the ground. What passes for a foundation in many traditional buildings is simply raised compacted earth and rain action results in erosion and weakening of the whole structure. In a tropical climate where sound roof construction is very essential, many rural buildings have poorly constructed roof substructures to carry the final roofing material.

Even though over the years, corrugated metal roofing sheets, which can be described as more durable than the flimsy materials such as bamboos and thatch are now widely used in traditional construction, the rather weak substructure of flimsy timber members, which receive the roofing materials, results in a shorter lifespan for the roof as a whole. Additionally, many rural buildings of swish or mud construction have several cracks developing around doors and windows. Mud walls are also not plastered or rendered. Thus, rain action again leads to rapid deterioration. The effects of water on earth buildings have very often been totally destructive. All these problems are further worsened by the lack of surface drainage. Waste water from kitchens and bathrooms and bathing enclosures, as well as rain water from the roofs, collect in the alleys separating individual building units. The stagnant water consequently eats at the base of the buildings and weakens the structure which eventually collapses.

Builder’s Brigade

Needless to say, such building activities take place without the involvement of the district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies. Admittedly, in more recent times, due to urbanisation, many buildings across Ghana are being developed with building materials such as cement, sand, iron rods etc. The prices of these modern building materials never come down. They are always on the increase. So what is the way forward? The widespread use of earth buildings suggest that improved earth construction could go a long way to lower building cost across Ghana. Some people might shout that you need kilns and other sophisticated machinery to make that possible. In a country with huge unemployment problem, particularly among the youth, is it not possible to revisit the concept of the Builders’ Brigade of the Kwame Nkrumah era to produce even sun-dried bricks in large quantities for construction purposes?

Trained Artisans

One of the major needs of the country is the availability of skilled labour for building construction. My understanding is that one of the original goals of the introduction of the junior high school (JHS) and senior high school (SHS) systems was to pave the way to students to be trained for  skilled labour in the vocational and technical areas since not every product of the two systems can continue to pursue tertiary education at the University. Is it not possible to return to this initial goal? With a wider training programme for artisans, more people could be trained at the regular upward movement of fees charged by artisans could also be stabilized.

STEPS FOR OBTAINING A DEVELOPMENT AND BUILDING PERMIT

STEP 1 – PURCHASE OF FORMS

Buy your development and building permit application form from the Town And Country Planning Department and Works Department of the Assembly.

STEP 2 – REQUIREMENTS

BASIC  REQUIREMENTS

  • Evidence of land ownership
  • Building permit application form
  • 4 copies of building drawings

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS (For Multi-purpose and multi-usage)

  • 4 copies of structural drawings
  • Soil test report
  • Ghana National Fire Service report
  • Environmental Protection Agency report
  • Structural integrity report in case development has already commenced or is completed.
  • Up to date business registration and operating permit (For organisations)
  • Property rate payment receipt (For existing buildings)
  • Endorsement of plans for State Housing Company’s areas
  • Traffic Impact Assessment

STEP 3 – COMPLETION OF FORMS

Complete the application form in full with the required information. Add the above listed documents.

STEP 4 – PAYMENT AND SUBMISSION

Pay processing fees and submit completed form with all required attachments to the Town & Country Planning Department of the Assembly. On submission, you shall be informed  about the following:

  • Corrections to be made (if any)
  • Date for  site inspection

STEP 5 – PROCESSING

The secretariat will process the application within two weeks of receipt of application for the Technical Sub Committee’s inspection, assessment and recommendation.

  • The Technical Sub –Committee’s recommendation on the application is forwarded to the Statutory Planning Committee within a month of receipt of application for the final decision.

NB: Applicant may be informed of any corrections to be made.

  • The final decision of the Statutory Planning Committee is communicated to the applicant in writing within two working days.
  • Possible Decisions:
  • Approval
  • Regularization
  • Refusal
  • Deferral

STEP 6 – COLLECTION

  • On approval, pay the approved permit fee or penalty fee to the Bank as indicated in your approval letter and collect your development and building permits from the Works’ Department of the Assembly.
  • In the case of deferral, the applicant will be notified and advised on what needs to be done for further consideration.
  • In case of refusal, the applicant will be notified of the reason(s) for the refusal.

By the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Town & Country Planning Department

‘SPEED UP PASSAGE OF REVIEWED RENT CONTROL LAW’

By Timothy Ngnenbe

The National Tenants Association of Ghana (NATAG) has declared its intention to go to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation of Section 25 (5) of the Rent Act of 1963, and Section 19 (2) of the Rent Control Law of 1986.

The association has also called on Parliament to expedite action on the processes to pass the reviewed rent control bill into law.

The National Secretary of NATAG, Mr Eric Opoku, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said the current rent law, which barred landlords from taking more than six months’ rent advance, had been grossly abused.

“Even the executive and legislative arms of government have breached Section 25 (5) of the Rent Act through the payment and receipt of four years’ rent allowance by Ghanaian legislators. We want to seek interpretation as to whether it is proper for parliamentarians to continue to receive four years’ rent advance even though it is clearly stated under the Rent Act that tenants should not pay more than six months’ rent advance.”

“We are calling for it to be reviewed immediately because the more it delays, the more tenants continue to suffer injustice from landlords,” he said.

Recall

NATAG has since 2013 advocated the review of the Rent Act of 1963, citing abuse of the law by landlords.

The association also blamed the executive and legislative arms of government for breaching the Rent Act through the payment and receipt of four years’ rent allowance by the legislators.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Works and Housing responded by saying that the four-year rent allowance amounting to GH¢50,000 that was given to each of the 275 legislators did not constitute a breach of the Rent Act, since the allowances were not paid directly as rent advance.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr David Tetteh Asumin, said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on January 29, 2015 that Parliament did not rent houses for its members, but rather paid rent allowances.

Mr Opoku observed that the imbalance between the demand and supply of housing units in the country had given landlords the opportunity to exploit tenants through the charging of exorbitant rent and taking of rent advance for up to three years.

He, therefore, called for the strengthening of the Rent Control Department, the body under the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing mandated with the responsibility to solve rent disputes between tenants and landlords.

Social housing

According to him, the government ought to roll out a social housing policy that would address the over 1.7 million housing deficit in the country rather than the affordable housing policy being espoused by government.

He contended that affordability was relative to people of different social classes and that social housing would be the best way to help the poor in society.

PREZ MAHAMA TOURS SAGLEMI HOUSING ESTATE PROJECT

By Kwame Asare Boadu

President John Dramani Mahama last Tuesday toured the Saglemi Affordable Housing Estate project and expressed satisfaction over the housing projects being undertaken across the country under the government.

“Ghana is progressing,” he said, after inspecting the first phase of the affordable housing project at Saglemi, near Prampram, which is nearing completion.

“Seeing is believing. I am saying this because there are some people who see but refuse to see,” the President added.

The tour was part of activities marking the first day of his four-day “Accounting to the People” tour of the Greater Accra Region.

President Mahama said some people had described the buildings as photoshop and added,  “After this visit, I don’t know what else… maybe we photoshopped the buildings behind me as I stand here.”

He expressed regret that in spite of the progress being made, opponents of his administration were not ready to see anything good about the government.

Real projects

President Mahama stated that what stood at Saglemi was a real project and threw a challenge to those who claimed the government was doing photoshop to go to the site to see things for themselves.

“If they like, I can organise an excursion for them to come and see what is happening here,” he said to cheers from the gathering which included chiefs, the people of Ningo Prampram and workers at the site.

The Saglemi project is being undertaken by Construtora OAS Ghana Limited, a Brazilian construction firm, in collaboration with the government of Ghana.

The first phase is made up of 1,500 housing units. The entire project would comprise 5,000 housing units.

It also has recreational centres, commercial facilities, roads and other infrastructural facilities.

Ghana has a housing deficit of 1.7 million and the government has been seekings avenues, including partnership with the private sector, to address the challenge.

Affordability 

President Mahama said the contractors were working to make the cost of the housing units affordable to many people.

“This is going to be a unique estate, a modern estate, ” he said, and encouraged the people of Ningo Prampram to acquire some.

Other  projects

President Mahama said other housing projects, including the Nyame Dua Estates at Kpone, were in line with the government’s quest to ensure affordable accommodation for the people.

He said the government was also working to complete the affordable housing project started by the Kufuor government.

Outside housing, the President said a new 2,000-acre free zones enclave was being developed near the Saglemi Housing Estate and expressed the hope that many companies would establish in the enclave to create jobs for the youth.

Earlier, the President had interacted with the fisherfolk, artisans and market women at Anyamam in the Ada West District, during which he enumerated the development projects the government had undertaken in the district.

They included the construction of a district assembly hall and adjoining offices at Sege, two Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds at Caesarkope and Afiadenyigba, school projects in a number of communities, among others.

The President also visited the Tema ICT Park.

Ghana Home Loans signs MOU with govt to deliver affordable housing

Ghana Home Loans, the nation’s leading residential mortgage provider, has signed an MOU with the Department of Rural Housing (DRH), a policy formulation agency under the Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing (MWRWH).

DRH shall undertake to build homes using improved local building materials such as Compressed Earth Bricks (CEB) and Micro Concrete Roof Tiles.

As the mortgage partner, Ghana Home Loans shall provide the prospective home owners with Home Construction Mortgages to finance their projects.

The credit facilities have repayments periods of up to 15 years.

The use of locally sourced materials has the twin benefit of supporting local industry as well as delivering affordable housing to the target groups.

DRH offers a selection of spacious standard house designs ranging between 77 and 148 square metres.

However the Department will consider large scale projects which require a different set of house designs.

The product offering is targeted at individuals, staff associations, and credit unions that have acquired land for their members and are considering options for construction.

The challenge that these groups have typically faced has been identifying housing solutions within their income range and agreeing on a contractor to build for them.

Source:  Ghana Home Loans

 

Ghana Home loans launches ‘Quick Cash’

Ghana Home Loans (GHL), the nation’s leading mortgage provider, has introduced into the Ghanaian market its latest product, “Quick Cash.”

It is a short-term loan which enables individuals or groups of people to access funds to undertake urgent needs.

GHL’s “Quick Cash,” according to the company’s Head of Mortgage Origination, Ms Regina Baah, was aimed at assisting homeowners to access fund within the shortest possible time.

“Quick cash is targeted at homeowners, whether self-employed or salaried, resident or non-resident, who have urgent cash needs such as school fees, port clearance fees, medical bills etc,” she said at the launch of the product in Accra on Monday.

According to her, since 2006, GHL had offered a diversified range of home loan products to assist thousands of Ghanaians to realise their dream of homeownership.

“These include a home purchase, land purchase as well as home equity release mortgage,” Ms Baah added.

Preferences

The Executive Head of the Osei Tutu II Centre for Executive Education and Research, Nana Otaru Acheampong, who launched the products, advised Ghanaians to make good choices, especially on their finances.

According to him, any purchase that would not amount to future gains should not be made since it would become a major barrier in destroying one’s life.

Concerning the Quick Cash product, he noted that: “This product is timely as it bridges the liquidity gap between financing needs and expected funds available in these periods of austerity.”

For his part, the Chief Operating Officer of GHL, Mr Dominic Adu, said the minimum amount an applicant could apply was US$ 5000, adding that: “This could rise up to any amount.”

He said once funds were released, payment for the loan would be demanded within 24 months.

Source: Graphic Online

Ghana needs collaboration to resolve 1.7 million housing deficits – Dr Ankrah

Ghana needs an effective public-private partnership to resolve its national housing deficit, Dr Mark Nii Akwei Ankrah, the Former, Managing Director, State Housing Corporation, has said.

Speaking during the launch of the ASN Financial Services’ Home Investment Fund (HIF), Dr Ankrah said collaboration between government and the private sector would help bring solutions to the housing challenges.

The Home Investment Fund (HIF) is to help facilitate easy public home acquisition as well as promote the individual’s effort towards saving for affordable home ownership and mortgage repayment.

He commended the management of ASN Financial Services Limited for their foresight to provide solution to the housing deficit.

Ghana’s Housing deficit currently stands at 1.7 million units.

Mr Prince Sarpong, the Group C.E.O, ASN Holdings, said governments over the years have tried to provide measures to solve the country’s housing challenges.

He said it is the resolve of ASN constructions, a subsidy of ASN Holdings, to construct one million houses within a 10-year period.

He said already, his outfit has constructed a number of housing units ready for the public.

“GRA has signed a partnership with ASN Construction for about 7,000 houses for its staff, and that the Ghana Cocoa Board has also requested for about 2,000 houses,” he said.

Mr Johannes Akuffo Okutu, the Managing Director, ASN Financial Services Limited, said the Fund offered potential homeowners the opportunity and privilege to make monthly contributions over a period of one to five years towards the attainment of 20 per cent of the cost of the building.

He said ASN Financial Services would complete the payment within an affordable mortgage facility.

He said in the first of the acquisition, the company would provide free life insurance and mortgage protection.

“HIF home acquisition attracts no hidden charges in the form of facility fees, search fee and closing fee,” he added.

Source: GNA

Ghana Business News

Selling Tips for Vendors

Selling your house in these difficult times is not only dependent on economic conditions but also on how the individual seller goes about it as well.

Below are a few tips to help you sell your house quicker:

• Make your house look good:

Initial first impressions are helped when a property looks clean and tidy. Internally, everything should be nicely arranged. The walls should be nicely painted. Where there are any damp issues, these should all be properly treated with damp proofing and then re painted. Do not freshly paint over any damp issues since any prospective buyer with a discerning eye will spot this and feel that you are being deceptive.

A tidy exterior with a well maintained landscape is also important to give the right first impression.

Care however must be taken on how much is spent on making a property look good. For example putting in a new kitchen costing 100,000 GHC may not necessarily make the property sell for 100,000 GHC more. Some things are best left for the new buyer to change to their tastes and preferences.

• Make the house available for viewing:

Do you really want to sell the house? Then make the property available for viewings. Remember that the prospective buyer has other properties to view as well. Where they are finding it difficult to gain access for viewings, they may wander off to view other properties.
Where an agent is being used, make them aware that you are available to show clients at all normal times. With care takers is where the problem normally arises. Care takers and house helps normally responsible for showing the property to clients normally wander off and are difficult to contact. Where they live in these properties alone, there could be a conflict of interest since they could be losing the roof over their heads where the property is sold.

• Get the Price right

Getting the price right is very important in achieving a quick sale. If the price is too high, many buyers and their agents will stay away, assuming you’re not serious about selling or you’re unwilling to negotiate. Where it is too low there will be obvious unnecessary losses.
The use of an experienced agent with good local knowledge will help determine the right price for the property.

• Issue with Pets:

It is always advisable to create a nice conducive environment for viewers to view your property.. How many times have you not been to a viewing only to be harassed by the house owner’s dog? Snoopy may be a nice dog to you but your prospective buyer may not be a lover of pets. It is advisable to keep pets locked away during viewings.

• Don’t be over bearing

It is advisable to allow the viewers some space after initial introductions have been done.  Show some discretion and allow them some space for some honest interaction between themselves.
They have been situations where a vendor on a viewing hijacks the show from the agent and ends up being over bearing and sounding overly desperate to sell the property. Telling the vendor you are selling the house to pay for your children’s education puts you at a disadvantage with regards to bargaining.
Where there is an agent, its best to let him be in charge of proceedings.

• Make sure that the property is properly and widely advertised.

Is your property being advertised on all property portals? Are the pictures the agent posted sharp and many?

Is the description of your property accurate? These are all things that have to be checked and reinforce the need to use a good agent who is professional.

Housing Needs of the Ghanaian Population

The Zoning Guidelines and Planning Standards (2011) recommended maximum room occupancy for low income households of two people per room. On the basis of two people per room occupancy, the need for rooms was calculated from the household sizes data from the 2000 Population Census by the UN Habitat Ghana National Housing Profile. Accordingly Housing Profile survey showed that almost 60% of households occupy only one room, 25% at two rooms, 9 percent at three, and 4 percent at both four and five – plus rooms. In contrast there is much lower demand for single rooms; greater demand for two rooms per household (at 2.5 and 3 persons per room occupancy rates). Very few households needed more than four rooms at that crowding threshold.

Based on the household size data for 2000 from GLSS 5 the Housing Profile estimated that there are more than 30% of households occupying one room who should be in more rooms at crowding thresholds of 2 persons per room and 2.5 persons per room, and more than 20 percent at the 3 persons per room threshold. Thus out of the 1,733,000 households in urban Ghana in 2000, between 295,000 and 520,000 households occupied single rooms when they should be in two or more rooms just to clear the various overcrowding thresholds.

The Housing Profile has estimated roughly that just to clear the shortfall in the number of rooms available for occupation in urban Ghana, at 2 persons per room, 1.7million rooms must be built. The provision for new households is, however, much greater. Assuming an urban mean household size 4.75 person, the population growth is likely to add two million extra urban households by 2020.
At the preferred threshold of 2 persons per room, total stocks of 4 million new rooms are already required for the additional households between 2000 and 2010. This includes the existing shortfall of 1.7 million rooms as at 2000. Additionally, 3.2 million rooms will be needed to keep up with population growth by 2020. Thus, going by the preferred maximum occupancy of two persons per room, a total of 7.2 million extra rooms are required by 2020 to be able to address the deficit and accommodate the new households. However, if the housing sector profile assumes the 1.5 million estimated supply between 2000 and 2010, the numbers of the rooms required during the next decade reduce to5.7 million at the preferred occupancy threshold of 2 persons per room.

Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing 2015

 

Housing Ownership In Ghana

The 2010 Population and Housing Census records that nationally about 47.2% of dwelling units are occupied by their owners, while 31.1% lived in rented premises, 20.8% are occupied rent free. The results indicate that ownership of living units is mainly by private individuals, households’ members and relatives who are not household members. Only 3.7% of dwelling units are owned by employers (public and private).
The Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) 5 classifies housing into eight (8) types as follows;
1. Rooms in compounds
2. Rooms (other types)
3. Separate houses (bungalow )
4. Flats/ apartments
5. Semi – detached houses
6. Several huts / buildings
7. Tents/ improvised housing (kiosks/ containers)
8. Others

Compound houses still dominate the existing housing in urban Ghana but have declined from 62 per cent of Accra’s housing stock in 1990 to 42.5% in 2000. Newer forms, such as bungalows and especially flats and informal types (wooden shacks, kiosks, etc.) are growing very rapidly in proportion, but each is still a small component of the stock. In contrast, in Tamale, the housing sector profile found that all four of the sampled houses in newly- developing areas are compounds. Out of the 11.5 million rooms in Ghana, 40 percent (4.6 million) are in urban areas of which 13 percent (1.5 million) are in Greater Accra Region.

There is a high concentration of households in the urban Ghana (around two fifths – 2.7 million) occupying single rooms. It is evident, also, that about one third of urban households manage to obtain two rooms (31% in Accra) but very few enjoy three or more rooms. In Accra almost 60 percent of rented or rent – free properties are owned by private landlords; 50 percent in other urban areas. In Accra, about one in four renter and rent – free households live in houses owned by a relative but about 40 percent do in the rest of the urban areas. Publicly – owned housing is a small proportion of all rented and rent – free accommodation, only 9.3 percent in Accra and 4 percent elsewhere.

Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing..2015