Fri, 25/05/2018 - 05:10
Current Issue 75
A Safe and Modern Community
Unity Homes is building exclusive communities in Kenya, looking to take its mission for the creation of safe and secure homes further afield in the near future
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
In 2013 Unity Homes was incorporated with the mission of creating happy, beautiful communities that could provide a wide array of professionals and their families with affordable, high-quality homes. The Company is still in its developmental stages, establishing its place in the Kenyan construction market.
“At the minute we are purely located in Kenya, but plan to be in more African countries as we expand in the next few years,” explains John Latham, Chief Executive Officer of Unity Homes. “We aren’t regional yet, however, there are plans in motion to achieve that soon; we certainly do a lot of work regionally and at some point we will expand our efforts.
“We are overwhelmingly driven by achieving quality and striving to create a product that is standardised. Since inception we have achieved this by selling relatively low-cost houses, ensuring that they are high-quality but at a smaller size.
“In terms of the final standards that we aim to achieve, we want to provide the sort of high-quality that you would expect to see in a European house.”
During the next few years the Company plans to build smaller houses, and during the last few phases of its current project it has moved down from 90 square metres, to 80 and the next project will be 50.
“By creating smaller square metres, we ensure the price of a house is almost directly proportionate to the number of square metres we work with,” explains Latham. “However, when you build cheaper houses, you have to sell and build twice as many and subsequently act in a very systematic manner.
“We have created our homes with a modern family in mind and because of that each home is built to accommodate three to six people, in an environment that allows families to flourish.
“Each of our Unity Homes are built with high-quality fittings as a standard method of practice, with all goods, fixtures and equipment sourced from ISO 9001 registered suppliers and engineers that have stringent quality control methods in place.”
Alongside the high-quality and family-focused attitude, Unity Homes has built all its homes with designs that minimise energy and maintenance expenses for the homeowner. It has incorporated features such as high-efficiency light bulbs and solar water heating-systems that are fitted within the homes as standard practice.
The Company’s largest project to date has involved it building 250 houses on the Eldoret Estate, named Unity Gardens.
“With thanks to this prime location in Eldoret, we were able to build an exclusive community that is situated halfway between the airport and the centre of the main town,” adds Latham. “Our Unity Gardens estate offers our investors the rare opportunity to purchase a high-quality property with a clean and secure title deed, located within a high-end gated community that provides excellent potential for growth.”
With this type of residential development in the country, it is increasingly important to ensure the safety of each resident.
“Unity Gardens is a fully-serviced community that enjoys exceptional around-the-clock security,” Latham affirms. “Centrally located within the estate there are top-class facilities that include a fitness centre, swimming pool, restaurant, shops and recreational park.
“We decided on creating these facilities in order to save our residents time on driving to town during their day-to-day activities, while also helping to provide them with a relaxed and blissful setting to enjoy their down-time.”
At present the Company is in the final stages of this development and is planning to move into a new location, named Tartu City where it already owns land.
“First and foremost we are a developer, buying land to bank and turning it into housing for the masses,” explains Latham. “In Africa our planning permission requirements are far less rigorous than places like the UK; we are still growing very quickly as we urbanise so there is a large scope for activities such as ours to be successful.
“Developers will often come in and purchase around 2,000 acres, beginning by designing and building the required infrastructure such as roads, sewage and the master planning that decides on where the houses and schools are going to be placed.
“This land is then chopped up in order to sell onto developers such as ourselves, which has happened in Tartu City on the edge of Nairobi and will be our largest project to date.”
With the exception of the CEO himself, everyone working within the Company at present is Kenyan and the team tend to avoid hiring expatriates.
The CEO continues: “We require an exceptional team around us and aim to achieve high-quality with thanks to their hard work. Due to the fact that we are operating in a relatively young and developing country, we are able to achieve these high-quality projects on a budget which makes the houses a more realistic purchase for our customers.
“The majority of people living on our estates are lawyers, doctors and politicians and we are keen to build the feeling of community within the development.”
In order to achieve that, the Company has worked tirelessly to ensure that there is zero crime within its estates.
“Of course, the quality is a key factor in achieving a desirable living area, however, the vast majority of people are looking for a safe community where their kids are able to play on the streets,” adds Latham. “We are motivated and passionate about creating a safe space for children and every resident, as we want our developments to be a place that people will thrive in.
“The general landscaping of the estate and creation of green areas has all come together as part of our developmental achievements; in the end there is only so much a person can afford and we hope to provide them with as much as possible for their money.”
The Company differentiates itself through its ability to provide its customers with a new way of life to enjoy, giving them what is essentially a microcosm of the West in a small and safe town environment.
“We like to joke with our customers that we are selling them a European visa without having to do the paperwork, which is a testament towards the relationships we build and the standards we are able to provide them with,” concludes Latham. “In the future we hope to continue to provide excellent service to the market while reaching an increased target of 1,000 houses a year.
“Due to the expense of a mortgage in Kenya - almost double the price of rent - we are looking into partnering with pension funds to rent our houses in the future, linking into our new target pursuit.”