Published On: Tue, Mar 18th, 2014

Brick alternative costs less, creates more affordable housing – Report

Brick as an alternative to cement blocks for housing is strong, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. It can be made from materials found widely across Nigeria, yet Nigerians don’t use it for housing, which is curious. To add to the mystery of its lack of uptake in the market, it actually costs less to build with brick than with block.

Report on a 2012 study by scholars at the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, shows that the cost difference between brick and block is substantial. It costs between 30 percent and 47 percent less to build with compressed laterite bricks than with blocks, according to the report. Building with baked clay bricks costs 19 percent less per square metre than building with concrete blocks, the report further says.

Bricks in Nigeria are made from indigenous materials which support the local economy all the way up the supply chain; concrete blocks use cement as the major cost input, a material that is customarily expensive in Nigeria by world standards and of which a large proportion is imported, mainly from China.

Despite all of these advantages – delivering technical durability, superior appearance, and better cost – brick is used in only about 10 percent of housing construction in Nigeria. Bricks provide serious room for market expansion, and the dearth of brick homes is a dilemma.

Ron Ashkin, a housing and construction analyst, notes in this report that there is hardly a brick house in sight in Lagos and nearly all of the houses in Lagos, and in most of Nigeria, are built from concrete block. A 2012 monograph estimates that 90 percent of physical infrastructure in Nigeria is built from concrete block.

The question to ask is: why? Brick has been available in Nigeria long before concrete block ever made its appearance. Brick construction has been uncovered by archaeologists studying Nigeria’s proto-historic period, and brick was widely used during colonial times. As a walk through some of the world’s posh neighbourhoods shows, brick is not only acceptable in housing construction elsewhere in the world, but is actually preferred. Outside of Nigeria, homes are built with red brick, and concrete block is used primarily as an industrial or commercial building material.

Brick, as a lower-cost alternative to block for housing construction, is interesting in Nigeria’s housing market where there is a need for an estimated 12 to 16 million new homes. Prospective builders have repeatedly cited high cost of materials and out-of-reach home prices as the primary obstacle to homeownership in Nigeria. Simply put, less-costly building materials mean less-costly home construction, leading to lower prices. Any solution that drives down the cost of housing will expand the market from the bottom, placing entry level homes in the reach of more first-time buyers.

Chuka uroko

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  1. Please note that burnt bricks are not cheaper than concrete bricks. Cement Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB)are both cheaper and more eco-sustainable than concrete blocks.
    Burnt brick production is highly energy intensive and leads to wanton destruction of woodlands due to use of fire wood as fuel in baking process. This practice should be seriously discouraged by the government.
    Cement importation is no more the issue since Nigeria is gradually becoming a cement exporter. High cement price as pointed out by the writer remains a major problem for building construction.

    • Bob says:

      Sorry, your point is irrelevant because you should be talking of Nigeria government providing electricity or gas for Nigeria industry so you can use model technology to burn bricks instead of wood. I am even surprise you talking of wood as a means of burning brick.

      Lack of good leadership has failed Nigeria and Nigerians. If people are not building with red brick is due to failed leadership system. In Nigeria we lack innovation in service delivery. There is this culture of quick, ‘what I can just get now.’ nobody is thinking about the future, every seem to crave for finish product, even Nigeria architect unfortunately are lazy too explore new less expensive means to build houses.

  2. agaba christopher says:

    pls i want to use burnt bricks block but the problem i am having now is the produce. pls can u send a clear pic of the block for me to see.

  3. Joshua says:

    Please how much does a baked brick cost?

  4. Nichowaleo says:

    Please I need to know the price of baked brick and where to get it in
    Ondo State. Regards.

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