FACTORS THAT DETERMINE TYPE OF HOUSING UNIT ON LAND IN KENYA.
Assuming a 1 acre piece of land, there are several factors that determine the type of housing units that can be put up.
1. Distance from tarmac.
If the land is less than 0.5km from tarmac, the best land use is to construct high rise flats, 4 to 5 storeys high. The cost of tarmac, over kes 60m per km, means that the area serviced by the tarmac has high potential for growth. This means that the land value appreciates at rates faster than 20 to 30% annually so within no time, the lands will be scarce and will need to be planned well for future use.
A good example for this is Kitengela town whereby lands located 0.5km from main highway are developed with flats.
Land between 0.5km to 1km calls for maisonette type of construction. or ground plus 2 levels type of building. This means the land value will appreciate at an average of 10 to 20% annually so there will be some time before the maisonettes constructed are overwhelmed by the land scarcity and high demand to give way for high-rise . A good example of this is the maisonette types in hurlingham and kilimani areas constructed in the 70s and 80s. They are now being demolished for high rise structures after serving their clients for 15 to 30years.
Land over 1km from tarmac is suitable for bungalow type of construction. This land does not have high value hence demand is not high. It’s not viable to shoulder the high costs associated with storeyed construction since it’s cheaper to acquire adjacent land for expansion if need be. A good example of this Umoja estate old bungalow types which have now become nonviable and are quickly paving way for high rise flats.
2. Proximity to a major town.
Land 0.5 acres from the epicentre of a major town is best planned for highrise construction. A good example of this are the highrise flats surrounding Kitengela town.
Land 0.5 to 1 km from the epicentre of a major town is best planned for maisonettes. A good example of this is the maisonettes dotting the Mlolongo town neighbourhood.
Land over 1km form the epicentre of a major town is best planned for bungalow construction. A good example of this is the developments around Njoro,Rongai, Bahati compared to developments in Nakuru CBD.
Number of housing units per acre.
An acre in an area viable for 5 floors of highrise flats can comfortably handle 20 units of 2 bedroomed per 1/8th and 140 units per acre.
An acre in an area viable for maisonettes can accommodate 2 maisonettes per 1/8th acre and 14 maisonettes per acre.
An acre in a land which is suitable for bungalows can accomodate 1 bungalow per 1/8th and 7 bungalows per acre.
Within the acre, 1/8th acres will be swallowed/go into roads servicing the plot.
Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.