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Container housing offers cheaper, faster option for mass housing — Tempohousing Nigeria

By YINKA KOLAWOLE

Tempohousing Nigeria (THN) specialises in the manufacture and design of flexible and affordable homes using standard ISO shipping containers.

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In this interview, Dele Ijaiya-Oladipo and David Aderounmu, Managing Partners of THN, explained that the company is leveraging its technology and expertise to create a Nigerian tailored solution to the country’s housing problem. Excerpts.

Brief introduction on Tempohousing Nigeria

Tempohousing Nigeria is a cargo-tecture solutions company. Essentially what we do is to convert shipping containers into habitable spaces.

We are partners with Tempohousing Global, a Dutch company – the leading mass container housing provider in the world. We entered into the partnership in 2011 and started operations in 2012. What we do is to tailor the solution to what is here locally.

Our mantra is keep it affordable. We don’t want to import anything apart from our technology. And most importantly we want to deliver at 30 to 40 percent cheaper and 3 to 4 times quicker than if using concrete. We know the demand is there.

The market is huge – 170 million people, the deficit is 10 percent of that nationally. In Lagos, it’s 1 million and we need about 100,000 homes annually. With concrete you can’t deliver that. So this is an avenue for alternate solutions that you can build quickly, en mass and cheaper.

What has THN done so far?

So far we’ve been working with some institutions like Ecobank, Exxon Mobil, Dominion Church, Harvesters Church, Oilserv, etc., to provide staff housing, camp solutions, offices, health centres. Now we are seeing that it’s has been accepted more. We have a show home in Ikeja that people can see.

How do you address misgivings of Nigerians on houses not done with bricks?

That’s the biggest hurdle we have with alternative building methods. What we hear is this is container. What we intend to do going forward is to educate people and let them see what the so called container actually looks and feel like, and once you enter you realise that it even looks better than a normal building.

It’s easier to control, not using cement, no cracks and all that. It’s just about education and doing things that people can walk in and see. We’ve done that with our pilot project and everyone that has gone inside has been amazed at what can be done with a shipping container.

As to the notion that if you have not built with bricks you have not built a proper house, that is a Nigerian or African mentality. But the fact is there is a stage for everything. People graduate every year and go into paid employment.

What we are trying to offer is play within the market where you can own something for yourself, you are not paying rent and you can save money. Nobody is saying you have to live in there forever. We also plan to partner with financial institutions that will enable young people achieve their dream of owning houses. So it’s about education and the way we package it.

We are partnering with Tempohousing in Holland because they are the biggest and they’ve done it all over the world. And it can be done in Nigeria; it has been done in other climes – Australia, Brazil, even in countries having harsher weather than us.

Also the market is big enough, and we feel that if the price and the quality is right there will always going to be a demand. Not everyone can afford concrete. What we are offering is that for what you will spend leasing a house in ten years you can own a home in ten weeks.

Any moves to partner with government on mass housing?

Two years ago, Lagos State gave us an award for being the most innovative solution for the housing problem in Lagos.

And we’ve been speaking with them over the last two years, with a number of ministries, about putting out pilot projects. It looks like over the next three months, we’ll be doing something with the Ministry of Health. Our ultimate aim is to work with the Housing Ministry, we are in talks with them.

We are currently engaged with some of the project managers from the Lagos State HOMS scheme. Essentially they want to see if we can recreate their designs using containers.

We know that government involvement will also help to change the psyche of people towards container housing.

How durable are container houses?

Containers are based on International Shipping Organisation (ISO) standards. They are built to withstand high weather conditions. The law is that shipping companies are supposed to renew their fleet after a shipping container has been used for 25 years.

When you are using it for a building requirement and is stationary and within accommodation area, it can last forever. And it’s like any other building, you have to maintain it. In our own fabrications, we don’t usually expose the metal container.

Internally, we have wood loggings, plywood, insulations, and depending on your choice, we have plasterboards or PVC.

Externally, you could use Alucobond cladding or cement fibre which is being promoted by Nigerite at the moment and is significantly cheaper, because it’s made in Nigeria whereas Alucobond is imported.

And before we hand over, we put anti-corrosive paint over the metal as well to give it extra durability.

There has been numerous constructions globally. And I can tell you that I have never heard about any one collapsing as opposed to cement buildings that do collapse all the time.

Cost and delivery time for a 2-bedroom container home?

It depends on the size of the house. On a cost per square metre basis, we rate between N45,000 and N65,000 per square metre, so it really depends on individual personal preferences for certain things – the finishing, external cladding, etc.

For an average 2 bedroom, we are looking at about N2.5 million, all in, that is, you are moving in with only your luggage and movable furniture. And we can deliver in 6 to 7 days.

Plan for students housing

We have a plan of developing student housing. There is a big demand for student housing and very short supply. Once we are able to put structures where students are leaving in, that’s is the first point of education.

So if you are having students living here, over the course of their education, they’ve been used to living in a container structure.

After they’ve graduated and have gotten their dream jobs, getting them into another container housing will not be difficult.

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