66 Engineering – The leading affordable housing developer


Times are hard nowadays and everyone is looking for alternative ways of cutting costs in doing business without compromising quality particularly when it comes to expenditure on capital projects like building. The housing and infrastructure deficit in Ghana keeps widening with time and it appears all hopes are lost in the attempt to arrest the situation. But the question however is, where did we go wrong as a state? This is the multimillion-dollar question that stakeholders need to answer, and getting that answer right is what will set the tone for a new dawn in getting this deficit corrected.

I was born in the mid-80s in a rural area under an atakpame house. Atakpame house according to Essienyi, (2011) is a house built with molded balls of wet mud that has an estimated thickness of about 300mm, constructed by layering balls of wet molds in a rectilinear frame marked out with pegs and strings, the roof is either grass straw or molded wet mud with interior wooden columns

and reinforcement. I grew up under this structure till I was 15 of age before leaving for secondary school and returned home after acquiring my bachelor’s degree, to meet that same house still upstanding. There were virtually no structural defects except the straw roofing which was changed a couple of times. This was a house built without iron-reinforced columns and beams, no cement as a binding element, etc.

I left back to the city in search of white color jobs to live in some instances, newly built concrete buildings and watched them deteriorate within a short space of time and the maintenance cost was such a huge concern. So, I keep asking myself how we got convinced that concrete and iron reinforcement ensures high structural integrity. Three things, it’s either we got the western concepts wrong, or maybe we are misapplying, or could it be that we were misled. But whichever the case may be, one of these may be true and that is the purpose of this article, to “rethink affordable housing in retrospect”

According to Kwaku et al (2014), the school of engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology – Sweden, reported a trend in the construction industry in Ghana that witnessed a dramatic shift in the use of locally sourced building materials to concrete and iron reinforcement which begun in the mid-70s and runs through to the 2000s. Many houses were demolished and reconstructed using cement, iron reinforcement, and aluminum or zinc roofing. If you and I will be honest enough, to tell the truth, many buildings built in both our villages and cities over the years have been demolished and replaced with concrete structures. The situation is even worse today as all the houses we build in Ghana today are imported. Imported because about 99% of the materials used are imported from overseas and I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Today, our own clay burnt bricks have been replaced with concrete blocks, asbestos/clayed roofing tiles replaced with aluminum & zinc roofing sheets, natural stone/bamboo reinforcement has been taken over by iron rods, gravels/clay for plastering substituted with cemented floors and imported ceramic/porcelain tiles, P.O.P and T&J took over our plywood ceilings, our locally made wooden doors taken over by Chinese and Turkish security doors, our wooden roofing trusses taken over by imported corrugated iron trusses just to mention a few.

We ended up transferring wealth to the west and Asia and by implication killing our economies and leaving present and future generations in abject poverty. The ripple effect in recent times is the high prices of houses and rent in major cities across the country, with Accra being the worst of all. Exchange rate crises set in and reached unprevented levels in 2022, and 2023. But the question here again is, is there any hope? The answer is yes because 66 Engineering Ltd has reinvented the art and science of building residential homes using rejected local materials that are yielding approximately 50% savings on building projects for its clients as compared to the use of the supposedly modern imported building materials. We are a team of young engineers; we do not condemn the use of cement and iron reinforcement. Let them go into commercial, storey/high-rise buildings and let the local materials do the job for residual homes. That is the only workable solution to this housing and infrastructure deficit problem staring us in the face as a state all these years. Whilst plans are underway to acquire huge parcels of land to build these cheaper residential houses in gated communities to ease the housing burden on individuals and the state, we are taking small steps by helping individuals, government institutions, NGOs, etc. to construct affordable housing units for them using our Local Material/Green Building Technologies.

We offer several alternatives; one is the hydra form technology which has both technical and cost-beneficial advantages. The hydra form brick by its estimated width of 9 inches makes it both bullet and fireproof. It also has an average compressive strength of 8Mpa partly due to its large surface area compared to concrete block. It’s resistant to an earthquake because of its interlocking property. These are just a few technical properties of the hydra form bricks that place it on top of the list as the most preferred choice. Sight must not also be lost on the cost-saving benefits of the technology that many do not know. One is the cheap source of its raw material input, laterite/clayed common in Ghana and Africa.

Raw material inputs are cheaper and only four (4), cement, water, sand, and laterite, unlike concrete blocks that have 5 inputs, cement, water, sand, chippings/dust, and in some cases additives. Hydra form bricks are interlocking, it has a male and female groove for interlocking. This eliminates the use of mortar in construction, therefore the cost of labor that mixes the mortar, cement, water, and sand for the mortar as it is in a concrete building is also eliminated. Transportation, loading, and offloading cost of bricks are also eliminated because the machine is moved to the project site for bricks production. The building after completion does not require plastering, no need for painting and all these are cost savings as compared to the use of traditional concrete blocks. It maintains a relatively cooler temperature than concrete buildings thereby accruing savings on electricity consumption on ceiling fans and air conditioners to maintain average room temperature. Less cement usage conforms with the requirements of the standards of Green Building Technology which is a global concern in this era of Global Warming. If we may offer you a free consultancy on the options of affordable housing, hydra form is the ultimate choice by all permutations. The picture in this article is one of our hydraform projects built for a client a few months ago. Take a look at it and tell me if this is inferior to the traditional concrete blocks house.

Having chosen the hydraform technology giving you a cost cut of about 50% on your project, we offer the following for finishing to make that affordable house ready for occupancy. Roofing is either clayed/asbestos roofing tiles locally made and cheaper, bush-cut timber for wooden trusses far cheaper than iron, and plywood for the ceiling but in contemporary design, we create large windows with wooden/glass fitted louver blades depending on your taste and preference. Locally made ceramic tiles for floor works which are also cheaper, the front view can be given a luxurious taste by using a locally sourced décor/marble stone cladding. These are just a few to name for the sake of time and space. The same technical and cost-saving benefits apply to the use of our second affordable building module which is the perforated interlocking bricks. This we shall expound on in our next article.

Until we go back to the genesis where we missed the mark, this housing deficit will continue to widen ad infinitum. This article is a wake-up call on the leadership of our dear nation, civil society organizations, the business community, non-governmental organizations, stakeholders of the built environment in Ghana, the Ghana Chamber of the construction industry, Ghana institution of construction/engineering, individuals and African states at large to sit up and avert this turn of events to bring back prosperity to our people and posterity. We at 66 Engineering are already blazing the trail in this agenda and we are calling on the state to consider using this technology in building all our schools, clinics, CHPS Compounds, markets, etc. We are also appealing to all investors to invest in 66 Engineering to champion this agenda. You can always reach us at www.66engineering.com or send us a mail via 66[email protected] or check us out on all social media platforms by the name 66 Engineering. 66 Engineering: Bringing Imagination to Reality!

The writer is the  Managing Director of  66 Engineering Ltd

Contact:  +233209032280

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