One of the challenges while building in Kenya is with regard to the process of ensuring quality control within a building project. Numerous parameters affect quality in a building, and it is imperative that a developer interested in investing in a construction project should be aware of several issues that shape the quality of a building.

building in Kenya, a nairobi street

Nairobi's Kenyatta Avenue

Quality control is the process of ensuring that all aspects of a building are constructed to high levels of user satisfaction and experience. A building is said to have achieved quality when it exhibits characteristics that make the people who interact with it feel happy with it, whether in terms of its appearance, its functional character or even its provisions. Various elements contribute to this sense of quality and user satisfaction, and achieving high levels of excellence with these issues means greater likelihood of achieving a quality building.

Achieving quality while building in Kenya requires a developer or consultant to emphasize work in several areas.

  • Quality of construction materials and finishes used
  • Structural quality and integrity
  • Aesthetic quality
  • Functional quality
  • Economic quality

Quality of construction materials used in a construction constitutes a big headache for many a developer interested in building in Kenya. The building is made up of construction materials that require to be properly applied within the construction. In addition, the process of building requires specific techniques to be employed in order for the building materials to be applied correctly.

Achieving green sustainable architecture is part of ensuring quality while building in Kenya.

Vital aspects of construction such as concrete mixes, structural reinforcement, material tests, dimensional stability and rigidity, and a host of other issues can be a nightmare for the untrained mind to comprehend in the process of building. Undertaking building processes without engaging trained consultants can therefore be detrimental to a project.

The architect ensures that the materials being used in a building shall fulfill the requirements of durability, and ease of maintenance, in addition to their aesthetic characteristics. Use of sustainable materials that stand the test of time will enable the building to be cheaper to maintain in the long term.  Sustainable architecture can be achieved by using materials that are renewable and have low impact on the environment.

Quality control with regard to structural quality is a key element in ensuring the integrity of construction while building in Kenya.

The developer is well advised to work with a registered architect as well as a structural engineer for the purpose of ensuring the building structure is sound.

The structural engineer undertakes the design of the building structure in the most economic way, avoiding ‘over design’ or over provision of reinforcement or structural elements in the building. This will ensure that the building structure is cost effective. At the same time, he ensures that the building structure is not under designed, whereby the structural stability is inadequate for the entire building to stand. Achieving this balance is a major part of achieving structural quality at design stage.

During construction, the contractor is responsible to construct the building with the specs that have been provided by the architect and engineers. While many contractors may be faithful, the greed for profits cause some to resort to unscrupulous means of profiteering through cutting corners as regards use of materials in a building. It is here that the role of the consultants including the architect and the structural engineers is most pronounced, as they act as the jury to ensure that the contractor delivers on the specifications and building that they conceived at design. This supervision of the construction process is a key ingredient in achieving quality in construction.

Quality control is also undertaken with regard to design when building in Kenya. The design process requires the architect to be aware of issues that will affect the building being constructed. The form of a building is an important part of defining the perceived quality of the building. A building which has a good form quality is likely to look more attractive and command a higher premium with regard to its letting or selling rates. The architect is therefore well advised to have a well-designed building form in tandem with creating a good quality project.

The functional quality of the building is experienced especially when users have occupied a facility. The appropriateness of each space for its use is a major part of creation of quality facilities. The building must have adequate spatial provisions for each activity. Rooms must be correctly sized for their intended usage, as well as having appropriate trappings in tandem with the same.

Well Serviced Spaces Are Characteristic of Quality When Building in Kenya.

Provision of services within spaces is also a key part of achieving functional quality when building in Kenya. For example, constructing an office space without proper structured cabling and ducting will lead to the same office being considered poor in quality due to lack of provisions.

All these elements of buildings all contribute towards the issue of economy and cost. There has often been a correlation between higher quality and higher spending on projects. However, being able to creatively synthesize these elements together can result in better building economy in the long run, especially when sustainable building techniques have been utilized in the process of building in Kenya.

Economic quality in a building can be achieved when the building has been implemented using the best value solutions for its context. When one is building with a fixed budget, it is understood that the architectural solutions being sought can only be provided within this context. However with good value engineering, the architect and other designers can achieve the best value for money for a given budget. This comes as a result of carrying out cost benefit analysis of several options and coming up with the solution that best suits the context.

Achieving quality is a continuous effort in the course of a project. A developer should engage an architect and other consultants who are versed with matters of quality control to achieve excellence while building in Kenya.