Banks Endorse Alternative Housing

With the inadequate supply of housing as one of the leading factors in the escalating cost of houses some local banks say they do not have any problem considering applications for the financing of homes built using alternative building methods and materials.

Lately there has been an increase in the number of houses constructed using pre-fabricated materials, cement blocks, compacted materials as opposed to the traditional methods of brick and mortar and New Era has learned that banks are not particularly keen on financing the construction of houses using alternative methods of construction. However, Bank Windhoek says it does consider applications for the financing of homes built using alternative materials and building methods from ‘time to time.’

“In recent years some of these alternative methods have been approved by the bank,” said Bank Windhoek’s executive officer for retail banking services, Chris Matthee. “When considering alternative building methods, various factors such as long-term durability of the property, are amongst others considered, while we believe that there should also be a substantial monetary saving involved for the buyer, when compared to conventional building methods,” he said. Matthee said once an alternative building method has been approved, the bank considers applications for financial assistance from clients desiring to purchase houses erected by making use of the applicable building method, subject to the bank’s normal credit criteria.

He said each application is assessed on its own merits and the client’s ability to afford the repayment installments is a key factor.

Responding to questions by New Era, First National Bank’s group manager for corporate communications, Victoria Muranda, said FNB Namibia is prepared to finance the purchase of houses constructed by using alternative methods, but pointed out that the bank has pre-defined criteria, which all applicants are required to satisfy. “We have no knowledge that the Bankers Association of Namibia is opposed to this building concept and FNB Namibia has also not shared any views on this at the Bankers Association of Namibia.

It is unlikely that discussions of this nature will be entertained at BAN as it can be deemed to be anti-competition,” she further explained. “Although alternative building concepts are not new, technology changes all the time and we have received a number of requests lately. FNB has already approved three suppliers who use alternative building methods. They have set conditions to conform to, such as a structural engineer must provide a report on completion and there must be a five-year warranty on the structure, a 12-month roof leak warranty must be issued and the suppliers must obtain certification from the Namibian Standards Institution,” said Muranda. FNB says it favours local suppliers of such houses and it encourages prospective contractors to approach the bank. “All applications will be screened and processed through the appropriate structures before approval is granted,” Muranda told New Era. “It is ultimately the end users who make the final choice. From past experience Namibians seem to be reluctant to buy a house not constructed with bricks and mortar,” according to Muranda. “It must be kept in mind that FNB has a responsibility to protect its own interests and that of its clients, including home buyers.

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments most people will make and it has to last for many generations. This is why we follow a stringent process to approve and quality assure the construction methods and building process,” she said. Questions forwarded to the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) more than two weeks ago are yet to be answered. With the National Mass Housing Development Programmme well underway, the senior manager for technical services and property management of the National Housing Enterprise (NHE), Uazuva Kaumbi, said the housing body is currently busy going through an experimental phase through which it will determine whether or not to allow contractors to build houses using alternative methods during the second phase of the ambitious mass housing project. “The experimental phase is basically to see how people will react to these houses and it gives us a chance to invite the banks so that they can assess the houses so that they can say whether they will fund these houses or not,” he said. Ten houses are currently under construction in the Goreangab suburb of Windhoek using alternative building technologies.

Source : New Era