by Scot Murray
On a recent trip to London, I was walking through Islington, a popular neighborhood in the northeast of the city, when I was struck by a thought. None of these beautiful old row houses lining the streets were built for the affluent. These were dwellings for the middle class – your shop clerks, artisans and professionals. Yet as we look upon these houses today and admire their attractive Georgian architecture, one need not consult an estate agent to know their prices are sky high and quality long-lasting.
With this thought in mind, let us return to the property market in Accra and consider what percentage of today’s middle-class houses in Adenta or Oyarifa (perhaps the Islingtons of Accra’s future) will be standing in 100 years, let alone inspiring expensive purchases from the next generation’s elite.
Unfortunately, the answer is very few, I fear, and the main reason why is the current condition of civil structures. While a kitchen can be replaced, windows swapped out for new ones, and a front door and landing updated and modernized, you only have one shot at a solid foundation, one chance to install proper drainage to avoid rising damp, one opportunity to design and build walls that will stand up to the elements and time.
While excellent design is a nice-to-have, fundamental solidity in a structure must be an absolute necessity. For who sets out to build a new house only to see it degrade in less than a decade? That cannot be the legacy we wish to leave behind.
So it is time to get educated on good construction. Cut corners on the items you can replace in your house. Buy the cheap fan, or the lesser quality false ceiling. But don’t cut centimeters off the width of your walls and don’t make your foundations too shallow simply to save on those costs that “no one will ever see”.
Do it once, do it right, and who knows, maybe your house will appreciate 10 or 20 times over the next 100 years. Either way, it is worth the relatively small additional investment.
Scot Murray is the Managing Director of Denya Developers. He and Ernest Hanson, the Managing Director of Beaufort Properties, write columns on the property market in Accra. You can contact them at +233268315111 or firstname.lastname@example.org