The location of any development is critical to its allure for potential buyers. But one detail, if left out, may prove to be a deal-breaker for homebuyers or property hunters.
The road network where a property is located has a significant impact on its initial or resale value and how long it takes to find a potential buyer.
Because a poor road network can be a major turn off for future buyers, investors are advised to include motorable roads, drainage and sewerage systems in their planning.
Felix Onyango, the chief executive officer of Dominion Valuers Limited, a real estate firm, says there are different types of roads that can add value.
These are roads laid with subsoil that is not sandy or clay in nature. They are the cheapest of all types of roads but are only suitable for areas with less traffic.
The advantage of this type of road is that it is low-cost and its construction and maintenance do not cause much harm to the environment.
On the flip side, they are generally narrow and support few vehicles, generate a lot of dust, especially in dry seasons, become impassable during wet weather due to potholes, ruts and ridges, and there are chances of skidding as earth surfaces absorb some of the surface water especially if a drainage system has not been installed. And they are not durable.
These are also low-quality roads constructed with a compacted mixture of gravel and earth that has been brought to the site from a quarry or stream bed. They are affordable, low-maintenance and good for areas that support low traffic.
However, they pose user challenges in wet weather; require frequent maintenance especially after wet periods or when the traffic on such roads increases; generate a lot of dust in dry seasons, absorb some of the surface water, and deteriorate faster than bitumen-surfaced roads. But gravel roads are more durable compared to earthen roads.
Murram and bituminous roads
Murram roads are more or less similar to gravel roads, differentiated only by the material used in making them. They are made by mixing hard gravel and soft earth dust embedded with small stones.
Bituminous roads are made using asphalt, also known as bitumen, which is applied on a pre-compacted aggregate.
A bitumen rubber chip emulsion is sprayed and then rolled into the base layer to create a hard and sealed road surface. They are low in cost and good to drive on.
The advantage of bituminous roads is that they are waterproof, skid-resistant and dust-free. They can last up to five years before requiring any form of maintenance. Their downside is the tendency to crack during hot weather.
These are constructed using cement. They are very popular and costlier than all other types of roads. They are suitable for high-traffic areas and require less maintenance.
Their disadvantages stem from the high paving cost, and the fact that an entire concrete slab must be replaced when the road breaks.
Types of roads in a typical estate
Onyango says: “The internal roads would range from murram or earth-surfaced in schemes that sell serviced plots for development, to cabro or concrete-block, paved within residential estates targeting purchasers looking for finished developments like bungalows, maisonettes or town houses.”
There needs to be the main arterial road that channels traffic from the main access road into the subject court or property, he says.
Then there can be two other types of feeder roads within the estate that serve the bigger one. The feeder roads can be constructed using a range of materials from murram to loose chippings or gravel.
“Roads within a project are critical to ensure ease of access and movement into and within the particular estate or gated development,” he avers.
The standard or size of the roads is also critical, with Onyango pointing out that the main road should ideally be about 15 metres wide to allow for high traffic movement.
The feeder roads can be either 12 metres or nine metres wide, and where the road exceeds 100 metres in length, it is required to be at least 12 metres wide.
“The standard of the road depends on the quality of the development envisaged or planned and the target market,” Onyango points out.
To set a development or an estate apart, Onyango explains that an investor should always strive to have standard roads by constantly improving them so that their state does not become an inconvenience to users, especially during rainy season when low-quality roads become impassable.