P N Ngingi


A wall is the solid structure that defines and delineates a building, supports its super structure and separatesspace into rooms. The projected annual housing need for Kenya populations exceeds 810,000 units as per theNational Development Plan 1997 – 2007 which translates to 162,000 units per year. To solve this acuteproblem, the country needs to develop a fast mode of erecting houses. 3D Expanded Polystyrene ‘EPS Homepanels’ provides the opportunity to utilize the panel walling system to alleviate the housing crunch. Thistechnology allows for affordable, stronger and faster construction of houses. Similar technologies e.g. the‘Space Frame’ system of construction has been used in South Africa since 1980. The EPS home panels are nowlocally manufactured by National Housing Corporation (NHC). The objective of the study was to investigate theeffectiveness of panel wall housing in production of houses in Kenya without compromising the standards.Oral interviews were conducted in various sites. It was observed that a standard size panel weighs only 15kgwhich allows for easy handling and fast installations process, thus reduces construction time by 50%. A singlestory 3 bedroom house was completed in 30 days instead of 60 days. The technology was found to lowerconstruction cost by 30% in red soil areas. Off cuts were easily recycled hence drastically reducing the cost.Data obtained from the manufacturers indicate that the material is fire resistant, energy efficient, has lowerutility costs, earthquake resistant, versatile, flexible design, sound proof, storms resistant and have superiorstrength. The use of panel walling system was found to be fast, efficient and effective mode of constructinghouses which enables mass production of modular houses. It is therefore recommended that training andcreating awareness on the use of local EPS panel walling system be done.


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