How to Reduce cost of Roofing In Kenya. Maai Mahiu Italian Church case study.

How to Reduce cost of Roofing In Kenya.Maai Mahiu POW Italian Church case study.

Roofing costs can cost as much as 20 to 25% of the total cost of construction. Effective methods of ensuring that this cost is reduced while still maintaining the aesthetics and functionalities are important. One of the best methods of learning how to reduce roofing costs is to look at the Italian Church near Maai Mahiu town on the slopes of the Rift Valley.

Maai Mahiu Italian POW church built 1942

The church was constructed in 1942 and is still standing strong to date . For the doubting Thomases, this proves that the materials and design/technology used to roof this church is superior and can last the test of time.
Roof trusses.

The church has utilized round poles for the structure. These poles are much cheaper than the usual sawn timber that Kenyans use for roof trusses. Coincidentally, Uganda still utilizes timber poles for the structure.

% of cost savings on roof trusses.

A meter of pole costs an average of kes 30 in hardware shops around Nairobi. A meter of comparative cypress 6 x 2 truss costs kes 200 in the same area. This represents a savings of 666% on the cost of roofing trusses.
The only drawback is that the poles are slightly uneven and have a rough appearance compared to the sawn timber. This is mitigated by the fact that the timber structure is usually hidden from view and sandwiched between the roof cover and the ceiling.

Roof cover.

The church has utilized clay roof tiles for the roof cover. Clay tiles are light, have a very appealing texture and color and the runoff rain water can be used for human consumption unlike most other roof types.
The clay tiles also have another advantage of looking better with age.

front view

% of cost saving on roof cover.

Clay roofing tiles in Nairobi cost kes 600 per m2. The comparative, stone coated roofing tiles cost kes 1,800 per m2. This represents a whopping 300% savings in costs if someone uses clay roofing tiles instead of stone coated tiles.
Clay roofing tiles can also be used to harvest clean rain water that is Lead and other hard metal free. Lead is used in manufacture of paint which is used in other roofing products and can cause illnesses such as High Blood Pressure and learning disabilities in children.


The high material costs does not necessarily translate in higher quality. It’s important to first research on the best materials to use for your buildings before embarking on purchase. This will enable you to save very high % on overall costs.

Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.

  2 comments for “How to Reduce cost of Roofing In Kenya. Maai Mahiu Italian Church case study.

  1. Joseph Mungai
    January 8, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I love reading your sage advice both on your website and on Wazua. I am planning to build a house with a green coloured roof and would like to use clay tiles. The colour is required by the developer and is not negotiable.
    Do you know anyone in Kenya who manufactures green-coloured clay roofing tiles?

    Thank you.

  2. Tony Murimi
    April 25, 2016 at 4:25 am

    joseph contact to make orders of aany color

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