Construction & Construction Material Supplies & Services

Building Africa One Brick At A Time; Tap Into The Real Estate Boom

The construction industry is hot in most countries in the continent. Other than accommodation construction, infrastructure is being improved all over the continent. This is a trend that is likely to continue for quite a while as there is a need to serve not only a growing population but the needs that have not been met in the past 50 years. There is also a growing middle class all over the continent and growing urbanisation.

The fastest growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with less than 1 million inhabitants located in Asia and Africa.  Africa and Asia are urbanizing more rapidly than other regions of the world. The rate of urbanization, measured as the average annual rate of change of the percentage urban, is highest in Asia and Africa, where in 2014 was increasing by 1.5 and 1.1 percent per anum, respectively.

The most obvious businesses in this sector are constructors and architects. While there is an opportunity to get in the industry with these two areas of business, the initial capital requirement can be forbidding for most people. Also, if you did not train as an architect going back to school may not be exciting for you. However within the industry, there are many who are in a range of small businesses as demand is high.

The reason for this is that in a number of countries there not enough artisans to support the industry right from the training level so if you are able to capitalise and be the best in a chosen artisan skill or provide building material and fittings for the same you stand a good chance of making significant income from the industry.

OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE IN BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIES AND SERVICES

Re-modelling; there is demand for construction material when re=modelling houses very similar to when building a new project. People will remodel to increase the value of their business when selling or renting,

Interior decor; while many architects have taken up the role of interior decorators to increase their income, there are opportunities to build a business in this especially if you provide a unique product/ service along with this. This could be a finish; wall floor, cabinetry or just a different more excellent way of ensuring the quality of your work is a notch above the rest

Carpentry; these are required for all forms of joinery work and  kitchens and cabinetry that is tailor made. These allow the customer to tailor aspects of the woodwork to their unique needs like bedroom cabinets and some aspects of furniture

Kitchen design; people are increasingly buying custom kitchens. While most are brought in china there is a need for local products that are likely to last longer if the finish is good and tailor made kitchens of high quality. Individuals building their own homes want finishes that are unique to them.

One stop shop; This aspect of construction business is a volume business, unlike the others. It is great if you have no specialisations in any area and are located in a new district where a lot of constructions going on. This is because if you are located in a place where there are constructions going on with time  buildings around you may be done. Having a product that is uniquely yours will continue to drive business for you. Other than this you can expand this business by having new outlets in new construction areas or towns. If you stock power machines you are  likely to sell a lot of auxiliary products like shingles, machine baits, pins and screws. Generally, the most obvious sales of building material will include sales of cement, wood, aggregates, roofing material, glass paint, electrical supplies, steel and plumbing materials.

Franchising; Opportunities to the franchise in the construction business are  there for varied products and will mainly involve installation of unique products or consultation services. When choosing to franchises ensure the product or systems used will fit in with the culture, weather conditions and trends in your country. Like fashion, the interior finishes tend to change however hard finishes and constructions methods tend to remain the same. Picking the right franchise with the right product will give you the opportunity to grow your business with fewer mistakes than if you go it alone with your own products.

Security equipment; Security is a standard in every new construction, especially in public areas. Homes also require the installation of fire fighting equipment alongside security equipment in most complexes.

Energy saving equipment and management systems;
Energy savings are a concern for everyone. Energy bills have been continually high in most of Africa and with everyone conserving energy the cost cuttings  can be very significant. Installation of solar panels for water hitting is one of the most common energy conservation and production systems that is being installed and in rural areas biodigesters that providing cooking gas have grown in popularity as well as cooking stoves that use less firewood / charcoal. These have especially been made popular among women and youth groups who install the cookers and other alternative energy sources as a source of their livelihood.

Leasing of machines and equipment; Most equipment used in the industry is expensive and may not be affordable for those starting in the industry or in a situation where the equipment is not often used for especially for one off jobs. There is  a lot of opportunities to lease out equipment for doing special jobs, technical process ranging from rollers to sprayers and mixers.

Finishes; Such as painting, wall finishes and other specialist art may be applied in many buildings. If you develop a special technology artistic finish lies moulding that is unique to you. You could promote this among professionals in the industry who will then incorporate your work in their designs and finishes.

KEY SUCCESS FACTORS IN BUSINESS MATERIAL SUPPLIES BUSINESS

For a fast-growing industry, there is a lot of tabs that you will need to keep your thumbs on from what is entering the market locally to what is happening internationally and with the legislature in the sector. With expected growth of mega cities some of which will be in Africa it is important to understand legislation that may be put in place to ensure facilities are expandable and usable by not only just a growing population but also as a result of new technologies that are coming up. Below are some of the key factors that will enable you to remain relevant as you serve in this sectors.

Specialisation; It is important to be known as the go-to person for a particular aspect of business sub-sectors of which are specified above. The industry is broad, to be able to offer all services at the best possible rate and quality each time as is demanded by long term business prospects. The cost would also be prohibitive for a small business depending on the business model you choose. Risking to go broad may mean certain death for your business as quality and safety standards are crucial in the industry.

If you choose to do high volume then doing general supplies would make sense however you need to be well positioned and have a good sales team to be able to move volumes. Specialisation gives you the opportunity to operate a smaller operation and sell to experts who will continue to come to your for specific services. This will mean building relationships with architects and contractors. You will be able to supply your products and services at your price and be called for whole projects  with the specialists you build relationships with.

Excellence in each project;
whether a general supplier or specialist, there is no room for any level of shoddiness in the industry. If you  are offering a service, remember people expect perfect finishes and work. This is because construction affects people’s life, sense of wellness and is also a reflection of people’s living standards. Shoddy work affects valuation and will affect the commissioning of the building as well as your relationship with other contractors. Excellence in quality also helps when once you build a reputation for not being corrupt as this will be your most important bargaining tool.

Relation capital; Though there are many opportunities your ability to survive and grow in the industry will be dependent on the relationships you create and your ability to negotiate good business deals for yourself while not competing on price. Your relation building skills are as important as your technical and other business skills in this sector as people will refer you to projects based on how comfortable they are working with you.

Associations; Join the local associations related in the sector. This will enable you to establish the necessary relationships to  keep you in the business and to know the upcoming opportunities and legislature in the sector. These include the local builders and developers, contractors and architects associations that will have chapters in your sub-sector.

Technology; There is all manner of technology in the sector in the different technical aspects and for management as well as marketing. Such technology makes your work easy and enables you to become more effective and efficient. For example working with survey IT professionals may give an edge in design work or operational efficiency that may not be possible if you do not engage them. Also, design software makes it possible for clients to envisage end results though this may not be linked to costs directly. Aspects that can be incorporated by other professionals.

Adherence to OSHA; adherence to occupational health and environmental standards is very important as a good number of cases involving deaths and immobility as a result of work hazards are related to the construction industry. These are the highest worldwide at 17% with most of such accidents happening in developing nations where laws are not be adhered to as strictly as they are in more established economies.

The business case for keeping standards is strong as insurance costs, claims, legal issues and general productivity of the staff are influenced by how well health and safety standards are adhered to. All this will affect not only your ability to secure future contracts but also your profitability and ability to attract financing for projects.

Engagement of partners; Engaging different professionals in your business gives the opportunity to innovate and excel in the industry.  Business consultants may also help you see inefficiency in processes that may not initially be obvious. This will help you either create new products, improve operational efficiency, cut costs or build your business faster.

LICENSING AND TAXES;

In most countries there will be professional licensing bodies and certifications required for different jobs in the industries. Ensure you get the right certifications and contact the tax offices for relevant taxes in your sub-sector depending on whether you offer a product or service or are a manufacturer of a product used in the industry.

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