Stroika’s 2015 Forecast on Lighting Trends

1. Go Solar

Apart from being green products, the new breed of solar lighting solutions are guaranteed to ensure savings on electricity bills. We see this in application with the solar lanterns with new features including mobile phone charging capabilities, garden lights, indoor lighting ( reliant on solar panels) and even security lighting like our outdoor wall lights with motion sensorssolar-motion-lighting_STRKLGHT_032

2. Think Smart

Your mobile phone should be able to control your lighting. If it can’t , you need an upgrade. Your lighting system should be so intuitive that they know when you have left a room or need to get that coat from the back of your closet. We have great installers and fantastic new smart lighting that can be customized for your office, home, car or garden. Contact us here

3. Lead with LED

LED lighting simulate natural daylight, is less harmful to the environment and saves energy compared to incandescent light bulbs. Commercial spaces such offices are now adopting LED panels in favour of the commonplace fluorescent tubes.

New market entrants like the LED strips work well for staircases, corridors, counters and any other suitable surfaces. We see an uptake in these for 2015.

4. Pendant, chandeliers and wall mounted lighting

Previously a reserve of the lounge areas in hotels and homes, these 3 types of lighting are streaming into other common areas including showers, kitchens, bar areas, stairwells and corridors. The designs for these lighting types are ever increasing and clients are constantly in search of affordable but high quality lighting.

The statement chandelier pieces are remarkably in demand for commercial projects and pendant lighting being a star performer in residential housing.

5. Automotive LED lighting

Car lighting for the headlights, interior and body are all going LED. We have had success with our rim stickers which mimic LED.  LED strips, especially for the interior of cars,are a potentially healthy niche market. We see an upsurge in LED in other numerous applications.

What do you think we missed? We’d love to hear from you!

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Selecting bamboo flooring

Durability

Some bamboo is softer than others and, therefore, can easily be dented(think high heels) or scratched (pets or machinery) . For example, carbonized bamboo, which has been boiled to produce a darker color, softens the bamboo considerably. It however may be found to be more aesthetically appealing than natural  bamboo.

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Strand Woven is the hardest type of bamboo flooring and is most comparable to the hardest of wood floors. It’s made from strips of bamboo that are shredded into strands and combined with resins, which help protect the flooring.

Strand woven bamboo is water proof and moisture resistant, which can greatly increase the life span of your floor compared to wooden flooring.

There are also solid bamboo and engineered bamboo flooring. Solid bamboo flooring comes in either horizontal or vertical grain types, which refers to the way the bamboo strips are laminated together when the flooring is manufactured. Which to choose? If you like the look of the natural bamboo nodes showing in the floor, then choose the horizontal grain. The vertical grain has a more uniform appearance with no visible knuckles, or nodes. Engineered bamboo flooring appears like solid bamboo from above, but those top layers are actually attached with adhesives to another layer of wood, such as plywood or pine (Source: Ask.com).

Color

Choosing the color is the easy part. That depends on your taste and the colors in the room. Bamboo flooring comes in a variety of colors that will suit any taste or interior. You can choose anything from a natural blonde to burnt mocha, Irish moss and red cognac. When considering color, traffic is again something to consider. The natural golden color is neutral and goes well in most decors, but it is not recommended in highly trafficked areas because marks will be more visible

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Location

Bamboo can be specifically chosen depending on where it is to be installed. Indoor bamboo flooring differs from the outdoor decking. Decking is made from vertically laminated bamboo strips individually selected for color and compatibility.

It has low moisture absorption and high resistance to decay and UV damage, higher density and rigidity than wood finish and is easy to  maintain. All you need is your basic mop or broom to keep dirt and debris from piling up.

Additionally, outdoor decking has:

! No rotting, cracking, warping or splintering
! Looks and feels like natural wood, but harder and more durable than wood
! Can be cut, fastened, drilled and sanded like real wood
! Termite resistant
! Environmentally friendly alternative to using hardwoods

There is a price difference between indoor and outdoor bamboos. Generally, outdoor bamboo flooring costs more than the ones installed in interior spaces.

Outdoor bamboo decking

Contact us : info@stroikagroup.org to request your free catalog or order through our website http://stroikagroup.org/?page_id=837

Building a home back home

 Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. ~Robert Frost

Once you choose to construct a home back home, the next immediate step is to identify how to start. Most people rely on  relatives or friends living within Kenya to select a site (location) , obtain designs and construct the home.  In order to ensure that the building commences and progresses smoothly  they periodically send money home. This arrangement has worked for some but an increasing group of diaspora get conned by their own family members because of poor workmanship or non-existent projects.  Family ties  prevent them  from taking legal action against them. Today we advice you on how to  avoid these problems.

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1.  Let Professionals Handle your Project:

Building professionals ensure a number of things. First, by appointing a team of professional contractors, you benefit from expert advice in design, construction, costs and all other aspects of the project including legal standing.Building professionals also ensure that the quality of workmanship in construction is upheld. They become your eyes and ears on the ground.

Letting professionals handle your project also enables you to easily acquire mortgage  if need be, from lending institutions  In Kenya, a registered architect and some instances, a registered engineer is required for all projects.

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2.  Don’t Send down all the Money at Once:

For construction projects, it is smart to remit funds gradually as opposed to in lump sums. The reasoning is this: the risk of loss of funds in unscrupulous deals is reduced.

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3. Conduct due diligence

Always make an effort to verify all project details.  These details include:the validity of issued certificates, the evidence of the construction site, the status of the project and the reputation of the contractors.

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4. Stay connected with your local team

Keep constant communication with your local contractors. Make an effort to visit the site at least once a year, to assess the situation on the ground. Keep your eyes on your investment!

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5. Retain all relevant documents

Your property documents are what you need and will stand proof of ownership in case of legal tussle or private incursions. Examples may include the title deed/settlement agreement or share certificate for the land, the architectural & structural documents and significant agreements.

In KENYA?

You may find the paper below particularly useful.

The Cost of building works paper can be downloaded below

download (8)

construction-materials

Finding contractors/ fundis in Kenya

Today we talk about how to find a builder, and the key issues to consider when choosing building contractors.

Key qualities

Hiring the right builder is crucial to the whole building experience. People who have been involved in building or renovating a house typically report that the key factor in making it a happy experience is finding a good contractor and subcontractors.

We talked to a few home builders and they cited the following problems encountered during construction:

  • Poor workmanship.
  • Contractors not turning up when promised.
  • No communication about variations and other issues that arise.
  • Complaints being ignored and problems not being fixed.
  • Phone calls not being returned by the contractors (Fundis)
  • Delays which became a nightmare.

In contrast, people who’d had positive experiences reported that the builders they hired all had the following qualities:

  • Skill.
  • Honesty and integrity, i.e. someone who tells the truth, keeps promises and accepts responsibility when it is due.
  • Knowledge of the housing industry.
  • A personality that meshed with their own.
  • Patience.
  • Sympathy for their goals and budget.

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Contractor selection criteria

When the tenders come in, don’t automatically choose the cheapest. Use a number of criteria to decide, such as:

  • Price – if a tender is way above or below the others you should question it. Some builders tender low on the initial bid just to get the job – but they’ll probably be forced to cut corners, or rely on expensive variations along the way to make the job pay. They may even put their own business into jeopardy and be unable to finish the job. Expect to pay a fair price for the job – you get what you pay for.
  • Examples of their work – ask them if you can talk to someone who has used them to build or renovate, and look at examples of their work.
  • Qualifications – find out if they are qualified.

Finally, talk to each one and decide if you think you can work with them on a daily basis. You need to be comfortable with them, believe communication channels will be open, and confident they are capable of turning the designs into a high quality/satisfactory house.

Get an independent opinion

If you still can’t decide on which builder to choose, ask an independent person, for example a quantity surveyor, or another builder, to look at all the tenders. Remove the names of the builders and ask the independent person what they think of the quotes and the service being offered. You might have to pay them for this check but it will be a small investment to help you find the right builder.

Where can you get a good builder?

It may be part of your brief with your designer that they engage the builder and subcontractors. Usually an architect/designer works with a pool of contractors (who in turn work with a pool of subcontractors). So the architect/designer will advise you who they usually work with.

If you are going to select the builder yourself, start looking around early. If you see a house you like, ask the owners who built it and if possible talk to them about any problems with construction and what the builder was like to work with.

Ask for recommendations from friends and colleagues, your mortgage manager, the real estate agent and others in the house business. Word soon gets around about who is reliable and who you should avoid. Get a list of names and start a pre-selection list.

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Group housing company Contractors

Group housing companies offer a range of standard designs and usually take care of the entire building process, including in some cases, the landscaping.

If you have chosen to build your home through a group housing company, the builders and subcontractors will often be part of the package. Unless you have objections to any of the people employed or contracted to the company, you won’t need to worry about finding and selecting your Contractor and subcontractors.

In some cases the company might insist on using their approved builders so that they can be sure the finished product meets their quality standards and therefore protect the company’s reputation. Or because the particular systems used in construction have to be installed by specially trained tradespeople.

Many companies provide project management, guidance and advice. Make use of it and avoid those companies that don’t offer this sort of support.

At Stroika, we provide full service to home builder. We undertake all tasks from design through to completion and offer expert advice throughout the project.

BUILDING POLICIES AND REGULATIONS

Q & A

What are the problems in the sector?

The construction industry everywhere faces problems and challenges. However, in developing countries like Kenya, these difficulties and challenges are present alongside a general situation of socio-economic stress, chronic resource shortages, institutional weaknesses and a general inability to deal with the key issues. There is also evidence that the problems have become greater in extent and severity in recent years. One of the charges leveled at the construction industry, as at the beginning of the 21st century, is that it has a poor record on innovation, when compared with manufacturing industries such as aerospace or electronics.

Institutional weaknesses exist where a regulating authority is unable to effectively implement the set regulations. This is a fairly common challenge in the sector where incidence, incapacity and negligence of the parties concerned results in poor building construction and associated challenges.  In order to come up with a way forward, it is critical to examine the existing codes already in place.

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2. Present Regulations

The regulations governing the construction sector are distributed among the following:

(a)    Government policies- Building codes.( DOWNLOAD HERE)

(b)   Statutory regulations

(c)    Contractual regulations

(d)   Law of torts

(e)    Rules of equitable law.

 

2.1 Government Policies

Property and land policies so formulated by the government were and still are gradually being adapted in the construction sector. These policies include;

i)        The National Housing Policy- aims at ensuring sustainable construction and proper administration of land

ii)      The national land policy- ensure sustainable use of land

iii)    The Economic Recovery Strategy for wealth and employment creation strategy- Enabled urban renewal and rehabilitation of infrastructure and previous mining areas.

iv)    Vision 2030- The present government policy that aims at ensuring effective, efficient and fast socio-economic development in Kenya.

v) Building Code (downloadable here)

2.2 Statutory Regulations

These are formulated by either government bodies or the associated agencies. These include, but are not limited to, The National Housing Corporation, The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU), The City Councils, The Professional associations, Bureau of standards, the courts among others.  Such include the following;


2.2.1 The factories acts

It defines a factory as any premises in which, or within the close or curtilage or precincts of which, persons are employed in manual labour. In the context of manufacturers in the construction sector, subsection (VI) states as follows:

‘any premises in which articles are made incidentally to the carrying on of building operation or works of engineering construction, not being premises in which such operations or works are being carried on’

This act also makes provision for the health, safety and welfare of persons employed in factories and other places of work. The Act is predominantly socioeconomic in nature and focuses on the shop floor conditions of the factory, safety devices, machine maintenance, safety precautions in case of fire, gas explosions, electrical faults, provisions of protective equipment among others.

 


2.2.2        Kenya Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005

In the construction context, this act governs the procurement and disposal of public property. It defines who a contractor is, the form of tendering (open), the procedures to be applied in both the procurement and disposal of property.

Other statutory regulations include;

  • Environmental management and coordination  act – Which established the National Environment and management authority (NEMA) to cater for all issue affecting the environment
  • The Physical planning act- established to control land use
  • The Land planning act
  • The water act
  • The energy act
  • Building codes of 1968- Established to be enacted by the local authorities. They defined the building specifications and the quality of building material to be used. Connection to common facilities such as sewers, electricity and water pipelines was also defined.
  • The land acquisitions acts- dealt primarily with the procedure of land acquisitions, ownership and disposal
  • The Government Lands Act (Cap 280 Laws of Kenya)-This enactment is no doubt a replacement of the 1915 Crown Lands Ordinance.  It was enacted to make further and better provisions for regulating the leasing and other dispositions of Government Land and related issues.  Under this Act, only the President can sign documents granting title. The President can and has delegated his powers to the Commissioner of Lands. The GLA lays down the procedures the Commissioner of Lands must follow in allocating land.

Continue reading

CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS

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There are three essential requirements of any contract.

  1. Incentive: The prime aim is to provide an adequate incentive for efficient performance from the contractor. This must be reflected by an incentive for the client to provide appropriate information and support in a timely manner
  2. Flexibility: the prime aim is to provide the client with sufficient flexibility to introduce change which can be anticipated but not defined at the tender stage. An important requirement is that the contract should provide for systematic and equitable evaluation of such changes.
  3. Risk sharing: the prime aim is to allocate all risk between Client and Contractor. This must take into account the management and control of risk which materialize.

Types of Construction Contracts

There are various types of contract strategies in construction industry. Some of the main choices available are:

  • Traditional Contracts

A consultant (or team of consultants) undertakes the process of feasibility, detailed
design, and contract preparation. A tender process follows and thereafter construction
installation and commissioning by the appointed contractor. The consultants who
developed and designed the project supervise these.

  • Design and Build

A consultant undertakes the process of feasibility, establishing the client’s basic needs
and contract preparation. A tender process follows and thereafter the appointed
contractor undertakes detailed design, construction, installation and commissioning.
This type of contract is also known as turn key or prime contracts

  • Management contracts

The client initially appoints consultants to undertake feasibility and costing and
perhaps outline design.A management contractor is appointed early in the project life and has considerable design input.

The management contractor’s responsibility is to prepare and appoints trade contracts or supply packages. Separate contracts are drawn up for independent parts of the construction project. A large amount of work is divided amongst several contractors.

  • Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT)

In its many forms a BOOT contract not only includes the initial design and
construction of the facility but a continuing maintenance and perhaps refurbishment
of over a number of years until final transfer to the client. Finance is often provided
by the contractor who recovers his cost through the life of the project. Other terms are
PFI, PPP etc

The concession agreement is the structured contract between the client and contractor.
It identifies and allocates risk. 

Modes of Payments

The two main payment systems used in construction contracts are:

  • Price Based: this system consists of lump sum and admeasurements. Prices or rates are submitted by the Contractor in his tender
  • Cost Based: This payment system consists of cost-reimbursable and target cost. The actual costs are incurred by the contractor and reimbursed, together with a fee for overheads and profits.
  • Price Based Payment System

Risk Allocation
A prime function of the contract is to allocate risk. The identification and
consideration of risk is a logical way to develop the organisational and contractual
policies for any project. Some of these uncertainties will remain whatever type of
contract is adopted and the contractor must then include a contingency sum for them
in his tender.
Different levels of risk contingencies can explain the wide range of bid prices
frequently received for admeasurements contracts. Another consequence of risk is that
fewer contractors are prepared to respond to or submit unqualified bids.
All parties to a project are at risk to some extent whatever the contract between them,
for instance that work may be frustrated by the forces beyond their control. If so, the
time lost and all or some of their consequent const may not be recoverable. The
choice of type of contract can motivate (or fail to motivate)

 

Kenya: Construction Trends for 2013

Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong though common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. (Proverb)

Today we highlight the top construction trends for 2013. We also go a step further to examine the potential threats that are anticipated in Kenya.

The Trends

For construction,  some of the top trends are:

  • Create large space by removing walls and eliminating obstructions
  • Construct buildings that can be easily converted to commercial office space or residential homes. For example, when building a residential home, make sure the wall elements are non-structural to enable future demolitions. The same applies to other elements such as windows.
Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo floor tiles

  • Move to hardwood and/or bamboo floors instead of traditional carpet flooring. They are sustainable, affordable and easy to maintain.
  • Transform areas into multi-function areas, for example open plan kitchen tops can be converted  into dining/bar areas
  • Use deeper sinks instead of double bowl sinks
  • Add living spaces to accommodate elderly family that are not able to afford a single unit
Solar Tiles being installed

Solar Tiles being installed

  • Install solar tiles or energy generating thin glas
  • Use sustainable concrete
  • Apply paper-based insulation
  • Install super-efficient triple glazed windows

Location, Location, Location….

In terms of location for development, these are our top locations:

  1. Thika road and surrounding areas
  2. Ruaka
  3. Ruai and Utawala areas
  4. Naivasha and Nakuru (For secure neighborhoods)
  5. Mlolongo/Syokimau area

Threats to Future Performance
Potential hazards in 2013 lie on various factors. These factors are socio-economic and political/Legal ones.

The socio-economic threats are various and are both local and international economic conditions. These may affect the interest rates and therefore the cost of construction among other factors. The political threats are largely due to the upcoming general elections in Kenya which may slow down business in general. Legal matters pertain to the approval and implementation of the new Built environment regulations (2012) which may affect general construction operations.

Worth noting, many contractors have experienced positive growth in 2012. This has been boosted in part by the reduced interest rates, influx of Foreign Direct Investments and general economic stability. These conditions lead to an increase in the number of residential units under construction. The margins may begin to shrink in anticipation of the general elections (IMF report, 2012).

Anecdotal evidence suggests contractors have been passing along a larger share of materials cost increases to project owners, a symptom of economic rebound. But if backlog begins to shrink again, pricing power would be compromised as decreasingly busy contractors begin to chase work more aggressively. The reverse may also hold true for the construction sector in 2013.

We are your thoughts on this?

 

 

STROIKA

Hello there!

It’s always nice to introduce yourself…and since we are nice people, we would like to introduce Stroika to you.

We are a Kenyan organization primarily interested in the construction sector. We provide customized contracting services to individual home-builders.

Check out the short video and let us know what we can do for you.

~Stroika~