The Bus Tour [Part II] and lessons for the young developer

This post spins from Part I here. Below, some house reviews.

1: Graceland Athi River

Unreal, they look too perfect.

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The good: Each of the 3 bedrooms comes en suite. The maisonettes sit on some well manicured compounds, in courts comprising of a dozen houses each making nyumba kumi a feasible project here.

The domestic quarters although tiny come with a bit of luxury especially in the bathroom/ cloak room glass partitions and the overall escape from a square block design for the quarters to something more unusual yet practical.

The bad: Small rooms, like Kitchen. Prohibitive prices.

2: [will remain unnamed]

I could tell that this estate was a joke right when I saw its brochures.

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The bad: Some angry-looking exterior painting, not only the choice of color but also the roughness. Colors overlap on the edges – something you would have to up close to notice.

Inside the maisonettes hide a cocktail of sub-standard fixtures. There are also lots of wood imitations for doors and shelves making the rooms stuffy.

Also, some mill in Athi-River made it seem like all its refuse combusted there, filling mornings and evenings with a foul stench according to some mason there. In contrast, nearby estates were devoid of this. Something clearly hadn’t quite worked for this developer.

The developer informed us that the houses were on some special offer. That each unit would have a huge price slash if we bought them quick (Price tag is 7m). That almost all the units had been bought. I concluded that those who had bought them were either in the diaspora (hope they remain there) or temporarily blind.

The good: Spacious.

Tips:

  • Even for an untrained eye, poor quality is easy to spot
  • Neither will good advertising nor discounted prices rescue a bad product
  • A show room with no furnishings is more excusable than one with ill-dressed and poor quality furniture

3: Lapfund Gardens Athi-River

The thing with reviewing multiple houses is that your mind gets fuzzy, and you start walking through the rooms quickly like some routine, before moving to the next house. But there are houses that can make you pause in awe. This estate did just that. In fact, it’s like time stopped the moment we stepped into the showroom.

We were so mind-blown, that the lounge instantly became one massive studio – camera lights, selfies, (no groundies though) . . . like we all wanted to pretend we live here, hehe. Me I don’t do that kind of stuff anyway :D.

If indeed this is as a result of civil servants’ retirement fund monies, I admit that it has been put in some very good use. The 9.5m+ price tag in fact feels fair here.

The good: Spacious in every way; bursts of creativity in each room; adorably different in siting of balconies and other seemingly tiny architectural details. Quality is written all over Lapfund Gardens. For security are some CCTV propped somewhere on the solar powered street lights. Some spacious play area for kids too.

The bad: Dull exterior painting, although this is more than compensated by bright interiors.

4: Sunset Boulevard

There couldn’t be a worser day to receive potential buyers than that Saturday: a furious Athi River had burst its streams encroaching into the estate and quashed any to-die-for impressions earlier seen on the website.

If that gets sorted, the up to 6 storey buildings look like fascinating places to live in. in my opinion, this is  the kind of place to live with housemates – housemates you don’t mind sharing a cloakroom with. Because bedrooms are all in a linear plane like hotel rooms, quite unusual for ordinary houses. In essence, the flats are one big house with many rooms.

The good: Affordable to rent, with ranges stretching from 15k–35k for 1Br to an extended 3Br, respectively. Its slogan is appropriate – High life, low price.

Also, the Boulevard apartments took the price for ‘most creative use of space’. the flats are artistically combined into an interesting jigsaw of 1br, 2br and 3, something a camera would not quite capture. You have to be right up to see it for yourself.

The landscaping too is one to die for, with outdoor seats located on just the right spots.

The bad: Small sized units; the flats are quite populous, if you mind; a rogue Athi-River which if uncontained could make you swim all the way to your flat

Smart tip (for an entrepreneur)

  • With a population of about 1,000+, some good use for your money would also be to purchase/ rent a shop in such an estate. You would hardly go wrong tapping into such numbers.

5: Oasis

They are pricey, and the apartments don’t give two hoots about that. Of such superior quality, they don’t struggle to shine.

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The good: Spacious, very spacious; a pair of balconies; clean and sweet interiors. The solid design makes maximum use of natural daylight. Some extravagant compound space too.

The bad: Pricey. When you have a 1br here selling for about 4.5m, it is probably for a well-heeled bachelor.

6: Sidai

I expected this to be the show stopper, but sadly it was not.

They include a tiny kitchen, but American kitchen. So you can see who’s cooking, and what they’re up to. The lounge, dining and kitchen really are almost seamless.

The good: Ample garden area; serene – the kind of place you’d want to bring up your children in. With electric fences on half-raised perimeter court wall, it also feels safe to be here.

The bad: A defective wooden floor met me at the show house. It reached out for me and whispered doubt about the overall quality of more ordinary houses in the estate.

Smart tip

  • Showroom impressions have a voice. It’s louder than that of any marketer, agent or advertisement .

7: Bonito Serene Homes

If ever there was a house, I wanted to marry and have its babies, it would be a Bonito.

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The good: It’s like space is the last concern on the developer’s mind. She lavishes you with it, throws in a Jacuzzi, and confuses you with one of the most relaxed-looking of breezy balconies.

The 3 Br and 4 Br maissonetes cost 10.5 m and over, but I would rate them as fairly priced for the quality. In fact, you might get so madly in love that for a moment do anything to purchase a unit.The interior/ exterior has been made with such an eye for detail, it makes your heart ache.

There’s even a private bridge for residents across Athi-River nearby. Who does that?!!

The bad: I can’t think of any yet.  . .

Smart tips:

  • Unless you have completed units available for viewing, do not accept potential buyer visits too early when construction is still in the early stages. Only finesse saved the day for Bonito
  • A team of smart, enthusiastic and suave marketers will more than make you score any day.

Rent: 45-55k

8:  Fountain view estate
Plain Jane 3-bedroomed bungalows.

The good: There is a sense of security in this estate; most spacious individual compounds I saw that day.

The bad: Traditional architecture. Using an architect for house plans, would probably have made a huge difference in adding comfort and class; no solar heating; no street lights; at 6.5m these units are overpriced.

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Rent 30k.

9: One World Apartments

From the view outside, I was really billing on these to succeed.

The good: secure compound

The bad: Failed on the quality test – door knobs were coming off right at the showroom, plus the partitions at the kitchen/ dining area looked cheap. With these things in mind, I found the units absurdly overpriced.

 

10: New Mugaa Court

Hell, who needs brochures when you have this? The 10 units more than sell themselves! With a price tag of 10.5m, these units are worth the whole lot.

The good: Every bell and whistle in place, this estate is the real deal; spacious, and the stairway takes you to a breath-taking gigantic window, which not only lets in maximum sunlight, but is just as impressive from outside. As for the master bedroom, it’s another house by itself made to completely dynamite your mind.

New Mugaa Court is also also one of those estates you feel really secure in.

The bad: Estate is fairly small and is tucked quite some distance from the main road.

Smart tip: when potential buyers are visiting, at least have a caretaker nearby.

11: Kisaju-Aiden Housing Estate

You wouldn’t immediately know that the units are not made of conventional stone blocks. The technology used to put up this estate is the future.

The EPS (Expanded Polystrene Styrofoam) is like foam reinforced by galvanized steel and then covered by concrete to produce a house with thin walls.

The good: Although I had my doubts at the beginning, this is one formidable structure. . . Units are bullet proof | Sound proof | Fire proof | inexpensive | quick to construct

The developers here assured us that it takes only 3 days to raise a 3 Br skeleton, and then about 3 months to finish up its interior. The slender looking walls they said, would last for more than 60 years.

Also, massive cuts in costs (by about half) is a plus.

The bad: This particular estate is tucked far from the main road, in the middle of nowhere. Generally, the EPS technology mIght take a while to be fully adopted because it is unconventional. Also it requires a skilled fundi to do this thing thing.

But saying it in black and white to the young developer, this is the future.

Mark my words.

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*[Purely as experienced].

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