In this interview the CEO of Dollar Construction analysed the reason behind building collapse in Nigeria and how to tackle it. The young engineer whose company is making giant stride in Ibadan within a year of operation also shared his winning formula and his projection for the year 2020
Within a short period of time, Dollar Construction seems to have taken over the real estate industry in Ibadan. What has been your staying power?
I would like to narrow our performance and sustaining power down to two. One is that at Dollar Construction we make team work our objective. During the years we’ve built a team of core professionals in every field of our operation. These are guys that understand the job and are capable hands. We all understand the company’s aims and speak in one tone and delivery is not our problem.
The second aspect is that we don’t joke with our clients, we understand what they want. We share ideas and concepts, we update them regularly. We just don’t build and handover, we go through the phases of delivery and make sure they are hundred percent satisfied before we let go.
When we first arrived Ibadan, what we met on ground was quite different from what we understand as Real Estate. Here, a builder will just secure an area, fenced it round and call it an estate. But with Dollar Construction, we go the extra miles in areas of infrastructures and security. It took the people some time before they understand what we are doing. But they can now understand the wide difference between us and others.
You all know that our estate is located in a highbrow area of Ibadan. Jericho/Idi-Ishin is a Government Reserved Area and an environment for the high-heeled . There we have a 105 unit of houses, 5 bedroom duplex, 4 bedroom and three bedroom with all modern facilities.
We have now started the Phase 2 of our project at Alafara. This is what we did to meet the demand of our other clients that are looking for houses smaller than what we have at our Phase 1, and selling of lands is also included in the package of our Phase 2.
Our estates are accessible and equipped with modern facilities, we just don’t boast, our clients understand what we are capable of.
I guess these are parts of our sustaining power and we are bent on doing more. Our mission remains the same, placing Ibadan on the global stage when it comes to construction and Real Estate.
2021 is believed to have dealt a big blow on businesses all over the world, in terms of covid-19 and foreign exchange in Nigeria, many businesses could not survive. How did your company weather the storm?
All thanks to Almighty God. It was indeed a trying period. But I need to confess to you, during the pandemic there was a kind of boom in real estate. You’ll be surprised at this, but the facts are there.
It was during this period that a lot of people realised the value of properties. At the time when other business were failing, a lot of people were diversifying, and the best they could do then for sustenance was to trade some of their properties.
What we know as real estate is when you have invested into properties that could be of use at emergency period such as what was witnessed during the pandemic. This is a sector that its hard for you to lose, because every year your investment appreciates. You can’t buy a house now and in 5 years the value remains the same, unless you didn’t put some key factors into concentration when you were buying.
Again, talking about foreign exchange, it remains a big problem and that is why the value of properties goes up every day. A house you built 10 years ago for a million naira, you would be surprised you would need about 8 million naira now for that. Prices of materials have gone up.
Is that the reason builders are taking short cut?
Any sensible builder dare not seek a short cut! What happens to reputation? What about safety? There are laws and guidelines, you dare not take any short cut. There are stiff penalties for that, some goes as far as death. Beating short cut is not even an alternative.
Then why are there building collapse as we witnessed in recent times?
Projects take phases. Scrutiny stages, regulations, inspections, so many stages. If you conduct independent investigation into why buildings collapse, it wouldn’t take long before you discover the culpabilities. It either comes from the builder or the regulators.
Again, many builders don’t conduct soil test and this is a fatal mistake. This is something that gives you the knowledge of foundation DPC, without a proper soil test, you are destined to fail and your building will fall.
How do we arrest such situations?
The government has a big role to play in that. In most cases of building collapse we discover that the lapses come from both private developers and the government. The solutions lie in awareness, skills, following regulations and making sure there are consequences for failures. The government should be the last regulator and they should appoint a reputable team of experts, people of integrity and character, not just anybody.
How do you see the real estate competition in Ibadan?
Well, I can’t really say there’s competition judging by where we came from. We started in Abuja and we are still operating there, we are in Lagos too. I can’t really compare the competition in Abuja and Lagos to what we have here. We came to Ibadan fully prepared, we knew what we were coming to do, which is far different from what all others are doing.
I noticed you now sell lands which was contrary to what you claimed you came to do in Ibadan?
That’s became necessary because we needed to accommodate more of our clients. That is the major reason behind our Phase 2 at Alafara. We need to bend some rules to accommodate and meet demand of our clients. Our mission is to build for both the rich and the not so rich, and I don’t think we have derailed from that. We are only selling lands to accommodate some of our clients.
So what’s your projection for 2022?
To make Dollar Construction better and bigger than where we were in 2021.
I already told you we’ve started the Phase 2 of our estate in Ibadan. A lot has been happening. Some months ago we signed a contract with a company in Sweden, Renetech AB the agreement is part of our lighting projects where we source for independent energy/power supply for our estates and other areas. We also have a contract with a German tiles-making company, they sell the finest and best tiles you can think of, we are their only representative in Nigeria, we are already building a show-room in Abuja for that, we also have a showroom and warehouse for the tiles in Ibadan. We are at the same time working on a project in Lagos, its a mega plaza, and there are other contracts we are doing, roads and some housing units in Abuja and other places, so we already have our hands full for 2022. Our dream is to extend even beyond the shores of Africa and we can see it manifesting