Prospective Home Owners have been advised to explore alternative building materials and the requisite project planning to manage and reduce the cost of their building projects. This is according to Karen Halm, COO of Spektra Global – a Ghanaian design-build firm – at the just-ended Republic Bank Mortgage Expo held at the Silver Star Towers in Accra.
“People tend to choose building materials that are in vogue and are usually quite exorbitantly priced to be trendy. However, alternative building materials such as brick, cement types like pozzolana, modern louvre blades, among others, can be used for modern home designs and can help solve affordable housing issues in Ghana,” said Mrs. Halm.
The Republic Bank Mortgage Expo is a platform that brings together the supply and demand sides of the building and construction business to deliberate on innovative processes and ideas in the sector.
Presenting on the theme ‘Project Planning: the journey to owning your home’, Mrs. Halm said irrespective of an architect’s professional ability to meet a client’s desires, the architect should be guided by the client’s needs, opinions and, very importantly, the client’s budget to inform design-build specifications.
She stated that architects are sometimes restrained by client-dictated designs that end up increasing the building cost but not meeting client needs. “Clients come to me and request for well-ventilated rooms but rule out the thought of louvre frames because they want the trendy sliding windows, even though that cuts off about 50% of the air access to the rooms.”
She also educated the participants on what to consider when acquiring a personal property, whether building or buying. “Analyse your situation, assess your financial strength and know what exactly you want before embarking on any building project in order not to waste your time and money,” she urged participants at the mortgage expo.
At the end of her presentation, Mrs. Halm offered some free design-build services to participants. The first was a ‘budgeting guide’, a booklet to help participants generate an estimate of how much their building project will cost. The second is a ‘design brief’ that helps to determine the users’ needs and priorities before designing the house; and the third service was a 30-minute free consultation dubbed ‘ask the expert’, wherein she provides free consultation to participants via phone calls.
A participant, Mr. Samuel Quainoo stated: “I now have knowledge on the availability of different building materials. I want to use this platform to urge architects and real estate developers to build prototypes in order for us to experience them and have the confidence to use these alternative building materials”.
Mrs. Paula Baldwin, General Manager of Republic Bank, emphasised that mortgage servicing is one of the focus areas of the bank. She disclosed that the maiden Republic Bank Mortgage Expo, which was organised in collaboration with the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association (GREDA), will be an annual event. She said the bank has a special desk dedicated solely for mortgage servicing, and provides excellent mortgage services with unbeatable interest rates.