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Brains and Hammers to develop new Gwarimpa estate

Brains and Hammers recently won the 2014 Customer Service Excellence Award in the area of real estate, what is responsible for this?In Brains and Hammers,…

Brains and Hammers recently won the 2014 Customer Service Excellence Award in the area of real estate, what is responsible for this?
In Brains and Hammers, we have a dedicated customer service department, so it is a well deserved award. The way we do it is just like in the banking sector where every customer or each subscriber for a house has his account officer. We also have facility managers that take over after construction. So they came and did their assessment from what they saw and the management of the relationship made us win the award.

Your company is known for quality output, could you explain some of your new projects?
Yes, quality is our watchword, what we do is that we make sure we hire skilled workers and then in terms of materials we don’t compromise, go for the highest in standard and we also train our staff, not only technical but supporting staff, like administrative staff, we send them overseas on training just to make sure they upgrade their skills. We started operations in 2011 and so far we have executed three projects, Apo 1 and 2 and Life Camp projects, comprising over 600 houses, by next year we should be able to round off all these projects. Brains and Hammers delivered an average of 100 houses annually from 2011 till to end 2014. Our future plan is to construct 750 houses, we have already signed contract to build an estate in the heart of Gwarimpa, Abuja, the  land is two hectares and will comprise 87 houses, we’ve already started marketing. We are about to sign a contract for another project in Apo 3 with 137 housing units on 4.5 hectares land. Then we have another site near the African University of Science and Technology along the Airport Road, Abuja, close to the Games Village, we are about to sign a contract for that site, it’s 15.5 hectares. We will have about 500 units there, in total we have about 750 houses, this is our target.

Customer srvice relations are what you do wherever your estates are sited, what informed this?
In Brains and Hammers we believe in adding value. Wherever we find ourselves, we try to impact on the community. Our Apo 1 was a bush when we came in 2010. Now we have done a 1.6 kilometer road and drainage including street lights. These have added value to the neighborhood and value of properties in the area, cost of land has risen tremendously. This is supposed to be government responsibility but we are doing it and we are making them happy and we too are happy.

Knowing the importance of building materials to the construction sector, is Brains and Hammers considering venturing into that sector in terms of production?
That would be difficult because our primary business and objective is construction, but we are planning for some of our departments to be subsidiaries e.g. engineering department, horticulture department and facility management department, these will make them more independent.
Some Chinese were here last week showing interest in our horticulture and how they can replicate same in their estate along Airport Road. These departments will in future be generating money for the company.

In what ways will the new estates be an improvement on the old Brain and Hammers estates?
Talking of specific improvements that will be featured in our new estate in Apo, the fully detached duplexes will have additional living rooms; and the houses will be wider than those of our previous estates. As for the terrace duplexes, they will have additional living rooms and BQ. They are also bigger than the terraces of previous estates. If you go to Life Camp the houses are bigger, wider and more spacious. The terraces in Apo 1 which are like an attic are like full floors in Apo 2, we are improving in all aspects, be it design, construction and everything in order to satisfy our customers.

What facilities do Brain and Hammers estates have that make them unique?
We have recreational facilities to enhance the comfort and relaxation of our customers. We have a facility management company that takes care of our estates because we provide 24-hour security, water, electricity, landscaping and maintenance of green areas is being done by the company. We do all this to ensure high quality lifestyle for clients, we are planning to provide club house, swimming pool, tennis court, track and field, just to enhance services to customers. The drainage system will be underground; the cabling will also be underground. There will also be a dedicated transformer for 24-hour electricity supply.

Does your company have provision for proving affordable houses for the low income?
We have that plan. We have been trying to acquire land very soon — we are still discussing so we will build bungalows and flats ranging in price from N10 million-15 million.

Are there differences in prices of houses in Apo 1 and Apo 2 Estates?
The price of a house depends on location. The prices of houses in Life Camp will differ with those in Gwarimpa. In Apo we sold houses three years ago for N37 million. Now they are going for N80 million and the terrace houses we sold at that time for N25 million are now going for N50 million-N55 million.
In Life Camp we started selling terrace houses for N45 million, now they are N70. In Gwarimpa, because it’s the heart of Abuja we are starting at N80million
We have investors that move with us wherever we go, we have clients who have bought houses and have now sold them, now their money is ready waiting for us to start new projects but usually when we start we start very low.

What payment patterns have you put in place to enable earners pay over a given time frame?
Our payments are flexible because we have studied the cash flow of the Nigerian middle class and even that of low income earners. Buying a house is capital intensive. You hardly find a person who has so much money to pay at once, even when the house is below N5 million. So we spread payment over a period of one year, or you pay as we build your house.

Where does a large chunk of your client come from?
They are largely average Nigerians as well as corporate bodies. We recently signed agreement with some staff of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to build their houses in Life Camp. We’ve gone almost half way, so we have clients from both the private and public sector.
What about mortgage options?
Yes, we are partnering with bodies like Jaiz Bank, GT Bank and ASO Savings and Loans, the maximum loan issued by FMBN is N15 million which is far below our house prices so we are talking with commercial banks as well and Shelter Afrique, they don’t give loans directly but through primary mortgage institutions, PMIs.

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