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Off-plan home buying loses appeal among many Kenyans

Tuesday June 09 2020
home

A new home for sale. Many buyers are unhappy with what is offered on paper and what is delivered at the end of the day. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

By JOHN MUTUA

Over the last 10 years, off plan development projects have been the route to home ownership for low income earners in most parts of Nairobi and its outskirts.

But in recent times, it has turned into a bitter cocktail, with Kenyans sinking millions of shillings to buy houses that are a far cry from the dream units seen in photos.

Some home developers go out of business, designs fail to match the market hype, while fittings and finishes may turn out to be cheap, leaving the home buyer staring at huge losses besides having to live in a house that does not fulfil their dreams.

EARLY OCCUPANTS

At times, early occupants find themselves living on a building site with construction clatter, ruining the much-needed serene environment, besides health hazards of dust.

A sneak preview of some of the off-plan developments in Nairobi by some developers reveals the shock that most home-buyers who opt for the plan risk plunging into. At exit-14 along the Thika superhighway, near Juja, a 10-kilometre drive along Kenyatta Road leads to Kimuyu and Cornerstone houses.

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Residential units by a local real estate firm are a pale shadow of what was promised to home-buyers and lack of electricity for almost a month has added to the woes of the families.

On getting closer, a rumbling generator — the sole source of power and lighting at the development — disturbs the otherwise dead and dull estate.

“We’re living here in darkness and the management isn’t even having the courtesy to remedy the situation,” said one resident who was among the first inhabitants, but did not wish to named.

“Some of us have even bought our own generators because as you can see, we are on our own,” another disgruntled owner told us.

CRACKED WALLS

“These are not homes! We have houses that have cracked walls and falling ceilings,” said the resident. “Mahiga homes only gave us fake stories and dumped us here in Kimunyu,” the seething owner adds.

Calls to Mahiga Homes in efforts to see the projects as potential buyers were not successful. The firm told us that all they could offer are photos and that all their completed houses are fully occupied.

A detailed check around the residence, however, shows that the sewerage line is yet to be completed with some houses with flushing units not working posing health hazards to the families.

“You can’t, it but we’ve been here for over a year, but the developer doesn’t care. All we receive are empty promises,” a young couple that also sought anonymity said.

The residents, who are on their own, after sinking millions into the project, are now using a make-shift bio-digester.

HOME OWNERS

Home-owners bought the units for about Sh3.5 million but what they are grappling with are small houses, cramped together— a far cry from the dream house they were promised.

A spot check of the Acacia 1 project tells a totally different story with works barely half-way done and the 15 houses are all abandoned.

The houses were retailing at around Sh3.95 million, but site visits show how investors were duped into a raw deal to sink millions of shillings.

A closer look at the architectural designs reveals a stark contrast to layout and the size of the houses.

We checked through seven houses and all of them had different interiors, pointing to poor quality of the houses that forced investors to fit interiors afresh.

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