Chinese fittings make work easier for Kenyan property developers

NAIROBI, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Ready-made house fittings imported from China have made work easier for Kenyan property developers, enabling them to save money and time they would spend engaging carpenters.

The machine-made furnishings that include picture frames, drawers, cabinets, wardrobes and ceiling boards and beams are nicely made, many to standards that local carpenters cannot match.

Other furnishings are ceramic tiles, fitted kitchens, upholstery, lampshades and wooden flooring.

In the capital Nairobi, the fittings are readily available in dozens of building stores where property developers easily access them.

Some of the stores are owned by Chinese nationals, which assure the Kenyan property developers that they are dealing with people who understand the products.

"The Chinese furnishings have become popular because of their good designs, but more importantly, one saves up to 40 percent of the total cost. You do not have to buy wood, engage carpenters, pay them and then perhaps end up with low quality work. You now buy and ask someone to fit," Joel Kiboi, a contractor in Nairobi, said Sunday.

Kiboi said the Chinese fittings have become popular particularly with developers who are building houses for sale.

"The lower the building costs, the higher the profit and that is what all the property developers want. Those imported fittings come in handy because they cut costs by a huge margin," he said.

According to Kiboi, it costs at least 25 U.S. dollars per day to engage a carpenter and one can make, for instance, kitchen drawers in a house for about two weeks.

"If you add to the cost of buying all the needed materials and time spent on making the furnishings, then you better buy ready-made fittings and hire someone to do the work in a day or two. Besides, the imported items have better decorations, which people like," said Kiboi, noting 60 percent of the apartments he has built in Nairobi are fitted with furnishings from China.

With the popularity of the furnishings growing, a good number of Kenyan builders and business men are flocking to China for shopping the fittings and building materials, according to real estate analysts.

And the fact that there are all kinds of products depending on the quality one wants and how they suit their pockets has spiced up things for the East African nation's property developers.

Normally, the Chinese sell products according to classes or grades, with the first letter or number (A or 1) indicating the highest quality.

Antony Kuyo, a real estate consultant in Nairobi, noted that locally made products are nothing compared to the Grade A or 1 products in China.

"Those developers who go for Grade 1 offer their clients the value for their money. But sadly, the majority of the developers who are targeting middle-income earners go for lower grade items that get damaged faster, which spoil the name of Chinese products," he said, adding most of those who go for top grade furnishings put them in high-end homes.

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