1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The term ‘local building material’ has generated many arguments in housing study and in the construction industries. The major bone of contention is the word ‘local’. For instance, when does a material become local? Is it where it is produced, is it the technology involved in the use or arrangement of it, is it its methods of production or is it when it crosses or refuses to cross an international boundary? Would one be right to refer to building materials coming from Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic and other surrounding African Countries as local or non-local building materials? When for instance, a firm in Nigeria buys a brick making machine from South Africa and uses the machine for the production of exactly the same type of brick they produce in South Africa, is such product still local?
In some areas mud bricks are generally considered as local material while sandcrete block is not but when one considers the fact that sandcrete block is produced at just about any street corner with sand dug up from just about any river bank, it is hard therefore to see how much more local a material can be. These are the worries of experts in housing and building industries and these issues need further classifications (Omole,2001).
There is no consensus on the definition of the term ‘local building materials’ the reason being that some scholars argued along the line that all materials available and produced within the country can be referred to as local building materials, while other argue differently. With this in mind, there are endless list of what can be called local building materials (Omole,2001).
The term “Local” when used with building materials is a relative term. For instance, building materials produce in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa etc are local products at home, but become imported to other countries that import them. The same thing goes for goods produced in Ekpoma, Auchi, Okpella etc. They are local building materials to the place of their origin and become foreign or imported to others. Along this line, Omole (2001) had once defined the term ‘local building materials’ as those materials used in building construction, got around us, with less stress and with less or no further processing. With this type of definition in mind, within the context of the study area, building materials such as Timber, Mud, Laterite, Bamboo, Raffia leaves etc are available.
A large number of housing experts believe that local building materials serve as good alternative in building construction and that the use of them will go a long way in ameliorating the shortage of housing in developing countries thereby reducing cost of building construction. However, there have not been intensive empirical cost comparisons between the local building materials and the so-called imported building material to ascertain the real cost difference. Another similar argument is that the so-called local building materials compare favourably well with the imported building materials and yet there are less demand for them (Olusanya,2001).
Building materials often constitute the single largest input to housing construction in most developing countries particularly in Africa. In Nigeria, building materials have been established to account for more than half of total housing expenditure. However, the high cost of materials for building houses is a serious challenge militating against delivery of decent mass housing. Other challenges with building materials arise because most housing developers insist on the use of conventional building materials and technologies. These standards and regulations prevent the use of readily available local building materials and also the use of cost effective and environmentally friendly construction technologies. The costs of imported materials are very expensive when converted to the value of local currency at ridiculous exchange rates. It is estimated that the cost of building materials alone can take up to 70 percent of a standard low-income formal housing unit. Many African countries, despite the fact that they are endowed with abundant natural resources that can meet their need for building materials production, depend largely on imported building materials and technologies. While considerable research is conducted in some countries on local building materials, only few of these research initiatives have succeeded in disseminating findings to the potential users. It is envisaged that the use of local building materials will cut costs to its barest minimum. Percentage of house ownership will increase as well as optimization of the national domestic economic performances. Entrepreneurship and multiple employments will result as well as improvements of occupational and institutional productivity, while poverty alleviation is enhanced.
Whatever the argument, the consensus of these arguments is that when every country gets involved in the production of one building material or the other, based on comparative advantages, there is no doubt that countries of the world will have large markets to buy from and this will be better off for housing development globally.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
High cost of imported building material and economic power has combined to deny potential home owners opportunity to build and live in their own houses. The challenges seem almost insurmountable unless enough is done by government through research and development to make building materials available and cheaper. For example, a bag of cement, which is valued at Ν1,400.00 in 2015, goes as high as Ν2,200.00 in 2016 (field survey 2016). Supporting this view, Jagboro and Owoeye(2004) earlier established that increase in the prices of building materials has great effect on housing development while Idoro and Jolaiya (2010) affirmed that many projects were not completed on time due to the cost of imported building materials, which have been on the increase. Besides timely completion, high prices of imported building materials form a crucial constraint to improving housing conditions in Nigeria (United Nations Centre for Human Settlement [UNCHS], 2000).
In spite of the past studies on the use of local building materials in Nigeria, little is publicized about the usefulness of local building materials to the construction industry.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this study is to assess the use of local building materials in building construction within the study area, with a view to achieving the following objectives;
- To examine the concept of Local building materials and to identify same materials and their usage within the study area.
- To investigate the benefits of using local building materials within the study area.
- To determine the factors that hinder the use of local building materials within the study area.
- To determine the frequency in the level of usage of local building materials within the study area.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are local building materials and which materials are available within the study area?
- What are the benefits of using local building material within the study area?
- What are the factors that hinder the use of local building materials within the study area?
- What is the frequency in the level of usage of local building materials within the study area?
1.5 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION
This study on the assessment of the use of local building materials covered the concept of local building materials and identification of same materials focusing on the benefits of using them and the factors that hinder their uses. Delimitation to the study are financial and time constraint; Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This project work is necessary as it provide an avenue for a thorough assessment of the use of local building materials in building construction and delivery to end users or building owners.
1.7 STUDY AREA
The study area is Ekpoma, the administrative Headquarter of Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State. It lies between latitude of “6044” and “6045” North of the equator and longitude “6006” and “6008” East of the Greenwich meridian, Ojeifo (2002). The area is bound in the Southwest of Uhumode Local Government Area and to the North by Estako West Local Government Area and to the South, Esan South East and Igueben Local Government Area. It also lies on Esan Plateau which is between 400 and 500 meters above Sea level. It is influenced by two climate wind and these are the Southwest and Northeast trade winds. The 2006 National Population Census figure put the population of the area at 125,842. Social service exist in the study area especially in the urban centre of the area, it has institutions such as Financial Institutions (Banks), Educational Institutions such as Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions. There are Cultural and Medical Institutions also in the area which provides services to the people.
Ekpoma the study area is made up of several settlements. For this study, Ekpoma is restricted to the following communities, Eguare, Iruekpen, Ujiolen, Illeh, Uke, Uhiele, Ukpenu, Ukhun, Egoro, Emuhi. Ekpoma is a tropical region and it enjoys equatorial climatic type characterized by wet and dry seasons. It has an average annual temperature of 240c and an annual rainfall of 1.556mm which do vary from year to year, (Omofonmwan, 2006). Ekpoma is one of the several growing towns on the Esan Plateau. The topography is relatively undulating and has an advantage of easy construction of roads and buildings.