Making Prices of Building Materials Affordable 

By Isaac Asabor
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There is no denying the fact that from the point of view of a typical African, being a landlord is the most measurable yardstick of defining how successful a man is. Being a landlord is of utmost primacy that when a wealthy man dies, without a house of his own to be buried in, despite his fleet of cars and other symbol of wealth he acquired in his earthly journey, his kinsmen would mock him; even in death, without reckoning with the literary meaning of an African proverb that says, "Do not speak ill of the dead"

Without any scintilla of hyperbole, not few members of both the immediate and extended families of any man or woman usually have their hearts feel like bursting with happiness and gratitude upon the realization that one of their own has embarked on the building of a house. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as in African context, “A house that belongs to anyone in a family belongs to everyone”. More so, in Africa, with emphasis to Nigeria in this perspective, and more so in African inheritance system, a house is of utmost importance, and thus highly regarded.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not a mean feat for someone to be a landlord. It is something; no matter how small, provided he or she could one day say, “This is my house!” To own a house is the “real thing”, it does not matter if anyone died poor, provided such person made provision for where he or she would live the rest of his or her life, and a place to be laid to rest. In some clime in Nigeria, it is seemingly regarded as a taboo for anyone to live and die without building a house of his or her own.

When analysed from the perspective of politics and governance, it will be crystal clear that any aspiring politician towards any given political position cannot in any way be considered to have concluded his campaign if the promise to build massive blocks of low-cost houses is not included in his or her campaign promises.

Still in the same vein, political history is replete with how each passing regime tried as much as possible to leave its own peculiar housing project as a legacy for posterity. For instance, in Lagos State, there are Jakande Estates in many communities in the state. The presence of Gowon housing estate in the state cannot also be ignored.

However, ostensibly to experience the sense of accomplishment and ownership that are inherent in building a house, not few Nigerians daily count the cost of building a one in a manner that suggests that they are obeying the scriptural injunction in Luke chapter 14 verse 28 that says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?”

In answering the foregoing question, it is not an exaggeration to say that not few Nigerians are by each passing day counting the cost of building a house, and they are not finding it funny as prices of items meant for building a house keep on escalating thereby preventing intending or rather aspiring landlords to ascertain the budget they need for such project. It also prevents them from arriving at an estimate of the total building cost, and thus make the process of budgeting unarguably complex. It is even worse when one is doing it for the very first time because the slightest error between the estimated cost and actual construction cost can cripple the financial plan for the building project.

At this juncture, it is expedient to throw insight on some essential building materials. For instance, the price of cement in the country in the recent time has not been steady, and there have been groaning from consumers in the real estate sector of the economy due to unjustifiable and unfair increase in the prices of cements of various brands. As at March 24, 2021, Dangote Cement brand goes for N2,570 per bag, Elephant Cement (WAPCO) goes for N2,550, Ashaka Cement goes for N2,550 N1,470,000 and Ibeto Cement sells at N2,550. Also, Eagle Cement sells at N2, 550, BUA Cement sells at N2, 550 and UNICEM cement sells at N2, 550.

As can be deduced from the foregoing, the price at which one can get a bag of cement varies from one location in Nigeria to another. The price in high-profile areas will definitely be more expensive than other places, although the difference might not be that much.

In respect to Aluminium Roofing Sheet, the long span roofing sheet goes for N1, 250 per meter while the Step tiles aluminium roofing sheet goes for N1, 400 NGN per meter and Metcoppo aluminium roofing sheet goes for N1, 450 per meter.

Considering that building materials that deserve to be purchased in the course of building a house are not few, and therefore some can prudently be ignored, there are some that are indispensably essential, and therefore cannot in any way be ignored, and one of such materials include Granite which is very key when casting a building to make concrete for the decking and it is known to be expensive. The price varies in tonne and in sizes. For instance, the price for 20 tonnes range across N42, 000.00, N60, 000.00, N75, 000.00, N85, 000, N90, 000 and N120, 000. In the same vein, quantities of 30 tonnes attract the price ranges of N65, 000 to N180, 000.00 depending on the sharpness.

Likewise, sand, which is unarguably expedient in building project has its price pegged on the high end of building materials market. Thus, 20 tonnes per trip of sharp sand (Highly Silty), is sold at N45, 000 while fairly silty variant is sold at N40, 000. Still in the same vein, 7 tonnes of Smooth Plaster sand (Very smooth and clean) goes for N22, 000 per trip, N20, 000 and N25, 000; depending on where it was bought from.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing insight thrown on the trend of prices in building materials market, it suffices to say that building a house is unarguably costly.

At this juncture, it is not an exaggeration to say that the question been asked by virtually everyone that is bothered about the skyrocketing prices of building materials is, “Can’t the government intervene on the rising prices of building materials?

In his view, Edmund Iriobe, a Quantity Surveyor said, “Government should set policy actions on the environment in which the building-materials industry operates. Such policies should be wide-ranged such as those on import tariffs, distribution and pricing control, and tax incentives to the industry, determine, to a great extent, the availability of building materials and their prices”, and added that government policies also determine standards governing the use of building materials.

Mr. Kelvin Onyeka said, “Government can make building materials affordable by ensuring that price control mechanism works in the sector, even if other sectors of the economy are excluded from the mechanism.

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