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Bahrain to build 5,000 'Smart' homes a year

Manama, February 8, 2010

Five thousand new 'smart' homes are to be handed over each year by the Housing Ministry, it was announced.

The two-storey town houses will be built across Bahrain, with the first construction starting at the Northern Town in mid-June.

By using a new construction technique, adopted from Chinese company Intechbuilding, town houses can now be built in two months instead of the 12 to 18 months it would take using traditional methods.

The construction of a traditional house costs between BD42,000 and 48,000, but smart homes can be built for 60 per cent of the price.

The first smart house prototypes were launched at a Press conference held in Hamad Town yesterday.

The Ministry in co-operation with Gulf Marcom also launched a six-month public awareness campaign to receive feedback about the new houses and will compile a report based on public opinion.

'There are 45,000 families waiting for houses and this number will reach 53,000 by the end of the year,' said Housing Ministry projects construction and maintenance acting director Sami Juma Mandeel.

'Using this technology the ministry plans to launch 5,000 houses per year.

'The waiting period for houses is more than 17 years, but by the end of 2011 we should be able to clear the list up to 2003.'

The two-storey town houses, with front and back gardens, are designed to accommodate a family of six to seven people.

They consist of three bathrooms, a hallway, kitchen, a store room in addition to a majlis.

They have four bedrooms that are about 3.6 metres by 3.8 metres, and a dining room that could be turned into a fifth bedroom.

The house can be expanded vertically to four storeys using the new system or horizontally using a conventional approach.

'The units have been designed by the Housing Ministry and only the system has been acquired by the Chinese,' said Mandeel.

'Before we used to build 25 houses per hectare but with this new design we are building 35 houses.

'More houses can be built because they are built closer together - two are built together, although they have separate walls and there is a 1.5 metre gap between the next lot of two houses.

'Even though the houses are closer together they are 40 square metres bigger than previous models, for example instead of 170sqm, they are 213sqm.'

Mandeel said the Ministry of Housing had been looking for a more modern and efficient construction techniques that would help to solve the country's housing challenges and this new approach met all the conditions.

He said smart homes were constructed using the latest technique of galvanised lightweight steel frames and durable building materials.

The life span of a traditional house is around 35 to 40 years and they require regular and extensive renovations, whereas smart homes are guaranteed for 99 years, he said.

According to Mandeel, smart homes are highly corrosion resistant, can withstand hurricane force winds of 150km and more and an earthquake of 9.0 on the Richter scale.

Traditional units have limited insulation for heat, sound, and damp, whereas smart homes have better thermal insulation, require smaller cooling and heating units and, in turn, average electricity consumption can be halved, he said.

Sound insulation is equivalent to the standard of a five-star hotel.

Smart homes offer flexibility in design, and expansion is simple, rapid and economical allowing the house to expand when the family increases in size, added Mandeel.

'We are also looking at designs for the disabled, which are likely to be one storey homes and stretch over a bigger space of land,' he said.

'We have built 12 to 14 houses for the disabled using traditional methods and we are now evaluating the handicapped applications.

'The BDF and General Organisation for Youths and Sports have expressed their interest in using the new materials for sports centres as well as other buildings.'

Mandeel said that smart homes were becoming a global trend and had been adopted in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the UK and Hawaii.

'This is the global trend in the world and we don't want to be left behind,' he said.

'The Bahrain Society of Engineers and Bahrain University are conducting studies and tests on different construction approaches and designs for Bahrain.'

Mandeel said materials for the new homes were being imported from China but where feasible concrete, plumbing, electrical and other items would be sourced locally.

He said local contractors would be trained on the new system at the International Smart Building Centre and would be able to buy materials at a fixed price from the ministry to help keep prices down.

Meanwhile, Mandeel said the ministry would meet with Parliament's public utilities and environment affairs committee on Wednesday to discuss having independent specialists evaluate the new construction system.

FACT FILE

- Constructed with the latest technique of galvanised lightweight steel frames and highly durable building materials.

- It is highly insulated, providing a very pleasant indoor environment and saving on electricity bills at the same time.

- Construction is easy, fast and affordable.

- Extension is simple, rapid and economical, allowing the house to expand significantly when the family increases in size.

- Lightweight steel frame housing is widely used for many years all around the world.

- The steel frame structure is extremely strong.

- Sound insulation is to the same standard as a five-star hotel.

- No moisture or dampness.

- Better thermal insulation with as a result that smaller cooling/heating units are required.

- Reduced electricity consumption means smaller electricity bills.

- Guaranteed for 99 years and the structure will last for much longer.

- Highly corrosion resistant.

- Earthquake resistance (bearing 9-grade earthquake intensity).

- Tested to withstand 150 km per hour wind force.

- Flexibility in design and expansion - any size, shape, interior layout possible.

- Extension or adding an extra floor is easy.

- Adding new fixtures and fittings or running wiring is simple and quick.

- Repairs can be undertaken rapidly.

- Buildings cost less to construct because of the new construction technique.

- Speed of construction - a single unit can be built in 40 days

- Plumbing, electricity, AC are easy to instal.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | property | real estate | Environment | Housing | smart homes | energy-efficient |

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