Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How Many Bags of Cement Can Build a Standard Single Room?

In Ghana, a standard single room must be approximately 14 by 14 feet and comprise a toilet, a bathroom, a kitchen, and in some rare cases, a porch.

To embark on building such a structure, one must first take into consideration the building materials and their costs. For instance, the number of bags of cement required for the work, plywood, the volume of sand, and the labour force or workmanship.

Cement is the main building material needed to mould the blocks, and therefore the need to calculate how many bags would be needed for the entire work – the types of blocks to be used at the different levels of the building process –6-inches size blocks specifically for the foundation, and the normal 5-inches for the building itself including, the wall blocks, the concrete work at the lintel level, plastering and flooring.

According to a professional building constructor, Mr. Edward Akabutu of ASLOM Construction Company, a total number of 150 bags of cement would be needed for the construction of a standard single room, prefiguring the total amount for the purchase of the cement alone to GH¢3,000.00 ($1,500.00). This is no small money for an average working Ghanaian, who earns just over GH¢3,000.00 ($1,500.00) annually.

The price of a bag of cement has not been stable over the few years in Ghana, and based on current prognostications, it may take a while before we see depreciation of prices.
Nonetheless, most people in Ghana are still eager to become proprietors. Nowadays, house is as precious as ‘gold.’ There are three principal reasons, which explain people readiness and willingness to rather build or own a standard single room than renting a 2-bedroom house.
  1. To beat rental charges - Taking the opportunity of price instability as an excuse, landlords/landladies are in the habit of not only increasing their rental charges every so often, but also charging exorbitant rents for low-quality houses. Some of them go as far as taking a 5-year advance payment from their unsuspecting tenants. Today, a standard single room in Accra is between GH¢150.00 ($ 68.20) and GH¢200.00 ($91.10) per a month. Owning a single room apartment is therefore, one smart way that could save one from financial hardships.
  2. Peace of mind - Some landlords/landladies have taken the frequent price increment as an excuse to harass – and even suppress –their tenants in many unnecessary ways. House owners’ enmity does nothing but to trigger frustration and depression that would never be experienced when one lives in their own house.
  3. Extra Passive Income & Making Ends Meet - Being a proprietor of a single room apartment in Ghana may be the ultimate option for the average Ghanaian and would be considered a greater feat. If building a house is a huge investment, it is also seen as a great financial relief for owners of such proprieties and a sign of independence and maturity. Regardless of the economic hardship in the country, these house owners are sure to get something in their pocket at the end of the month.

Despite the sort of comfort it brings, the single room is surely not recommendable to everyone, and certainly not to a large family. If, for lack of space, a single room-house is an encroachment of individual privacy, there could be health implications such as the easy passage of communicable diseases from one person to another.

The building of single rooms may be a choice of lifestyle for some average Ghanaians or a short term shelter for others, such structures cannot be the definite solution to the country’s perennial acute housing deficit. Ghana’s population is increasing rapidly and more and more people from the rural areas are moving to the cities. Encouraging such buildings could further worsen Ghana’s already existing serious housing problem, leading to shanty towns. It is obvious that shanty towns tend to further develop into slums, causing dreadful implication on the people’s welfare and the country’s economy in general.

No serious entrepreneur or foreign governments would want to make any investment in a country with poor settlement plans. Hopefully, lawmakers take note of and act upon this.

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