Fears over effects of El Niño rains on property

By: SILAS APOLLO

In the past few weeks, many parts of the country have experienced heavy rains, which have resulted in serious flooding and the displacement of people.

Concern has been mainly focused on the loss of lives and preventing water-borne diseases, but it is also important to consider the effects of the showers on there buildings in which people work or live. The issue is how to mitigate the effects of the rains.

Experts and property developers who spoke to DN2 said the rains will adversely affect constructions in progress, which will in turn affect a market that is struggling to bridge the country’s housing gap.

Ms Nishma Karia of Lake Estate Properties is Kisumu says the effects of the rains on the property market, especially on constructions underway, were already being felt.

“What we are facing right now is not whether we will feel the effects of the El-Niño rains on property, but rather, what the impact will be,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Mr Wycliffe Abok of Kisumu Real Estates, who says that with the rains, the country’s housing sector could grind to a halt, a situation that could have affect the market trend.

Mr Abok says that even though it is still too early to determine the full effect of the rains, some of the houses whose foundations were under construction are beginning to show signs of weakening.

POOR DRAINAGE

“There is also the challenge of transporting construction materials to sites, which has become very costly due to the poor state of roads in some areas. There are also instances in which developers are rushing to finish work before the worst of the rains, but this risks compromising the quality of a building,” he said.

Mr Vincent Kodera, a civil engineer, says that those who are likely face the greatest challenge are the newcomers to the construction industry.

The former Kisumu County roads minister says that with little knowledge of the sector, such people might end up making uncalculated risks, which could end up compromising the quality of buildings.

“The problem we have in the construction industry is that most people begin construction without any professional advice. What they don’t know is that there are scientific ways of putting up buildings that must be followed to ensure that they are structurally sound,” he said.

“The other option is for people to ask themselves whether it is advisable to put up a structure during the rainy season, or to wait until the rains are over,” he said.

The situation is aggravated by poor drainage in many urban centres, resulting in flooding even in areas that are not flood-prone.

Meanwhile, even though reports by the Kenya Metrological Department indicate that the effects of the current rains might not be as bad as those of 1997, people should take precautionary measures and heed weather reports.

Below are tips that property developers who DN2 spoke to gave on keeping your house safe from the effects of the rain.

1. Repair your roof

Mr Kodera says that since the roof is the most important part of the house, it is important so seal any holes in it to reduce the possibility of leakage, and also keep the house warmer.

“To ensure you have done this effectively, look out for cracks or broken tiles on the roof or in the ridges and make sure they are fixed before the rains begin,” he says.

2.Fix cracked ceilings and windows

Mr Nixon Opande of Opande Properties says that having broken windows or a broken ceiling increases the risks of wind and water enering the house.

“If there are any leaks, make sure you seal them and to ensure that it is properly done, seek the services of a professional. You can also apply a fresh coat of paint to prevent mould,” he said.

According to Mr Opande, your windows are vulnerable to breakage if you live in windy areas with moderate tree cover

“The level of risks would, however, go higher if you or one of your neighbours have a tile, flat or gravel ballast roof,” he said.

3. Clear gutters and culverts

Since the major cause of floods in most areas is blocked drainage, Ms Karia advises that one clean the gutters and get rid of waste that could block the systems.

This, she says, will also ensure that you do not run the risk of having pools of water around your house, a situation is also important in reducing mosquito breeding among others.

4.Protect your furniture and floor

To do this, Mr Kodera advises that you apply fresh paint on the furniture if they are made of wood to avoid damage and growth of mould.

“But just in case the mold forms on any of your belonging, the best thing would be to call for professional service to help clean it and also disinfect the furniture,” he said.

5. Check and repair all your electrical fittings:

Ms Karia says that since many fires in homes are caused by faulty electric appliances exposed to water, it is important to ensure that all appliances are functioning properly, and to turn off those not is use to reduce the risk of fire and electric shocks.