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A wall under construction using interlocking blocks

In our 'pilkapilka of hapa na pale', Thika Town Today crew went to Kahai-ni trading Centre, Kandara Sub-County, Murang'a County in the outskirts of Thika Town and came across some men erecting a house using interlocking blocks locally made from stone dust and mortar. The beauty of the works and the ease at which it was being built got us interested. We found it necessary to share our experience with our hood back home.

It is everyone's dream to own a home. It is no secret either that putting up a simple house is quite expensive these days. But what if someone presented a cheaper alternative to cut the costs of building your home? Isn't that wonderful?
A finished house made of interlocking blocks
The beauty of the finished product

What we learnt there is that the interlocking blocks technology was a very fast way to build a strong wall and very easily without mortar. This system allows for the high speed stacking of blocks, saving time in the building process and making it easy for low skilled labour. The simplicity with which the blocks are laid and aligned reduces the number of high wage skilled masons required on a construction project. This significantly reduces the costs involved in building a house, fences or garden walls. 
The interlocking blocks that have been made of stone dust

Interlocking blocks made of sand and mortar

Compared to convention masonry block construction, interlocking blocks save a great deal of mortar which is normally used for vertical and horizontal joints, thereby produces savings in terms of both cost and time. The interlocking blocks eliminate the use of mortar in 70% of the building structure with no need for concrete or steel columns because the interlocking feature of these blocks means that no mortar is required between courses. This makes construction is easier thus further reducing costs. In fact, construction costs can be reduced by up to 50% because the blocks are uniformly shaped and much less need for plastering.

These blocks are incredibly durable and yet quick and easy to install. They have this added advantage of one being able to install, reconfigure or relocate the blocks yourself – without the need for expensive, specialist lifting equipment or personnel. Just two men can expect to install 228 blocks per day which is over 123m2. That means, in just 10 to 20 hours, you can lay a 3x16-foot wall. Remember, any time saved in building and construction is critically important. 
The fundi laying down the bottom column of the wall

The fundi demostrating how to interlock the blocks

Capping pieces are also available to give a great looking finish. The face brick finishes are achieved in a variety of natural colours derived from the soil/stone dust used found at individual sites. The interior walls may be plastered, painted or sealed. The amount of mortar needed to plaster these walls is so minimal due to the uniformity of the surface.

Interlocking blocks are set to revolutionise the construction of low cost houses in Kenya especially for the low and middle-income population who are in dire need of affordable housing. It is for this reason that we believe that Thika should not be left behind in taking advantage of this new development. We are a fast growing town and it is opportunities like these that count.

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