Low cost housing in Pakistan

Low cost housing in Pakistan

Private-sector Low Cost Housing in Pakistan was initially based on the concept of providing housing facilities to the general public, without making enormous profits. It was pioneered by Al Azam Limited Construction Company, a start-up construction company, that launched the "Low Cost Housing Society" in Karachi during the 1960s.

Al Azam built very low-priced residential- as well as commercial-type accommodations in Karachi and Hyderabad, using the apartment system. It managed to keep prices down, without sacrificing quality, by:
* reducing its profit margin; and
* increasing land-use density. During the 1970s, Rukunuddin Construction Company followed Al Azam's footstep. The company, which was formed by a retired overseer from the Pakistan Works Department (PWD), also introduced low-cost prefabricated housing units, in addition to their regular low-priced apartments. The quality and safety of their units, however, were generally viewed as inferior. Maymar, another construction company, entered the market in the late 70s, with residential apartments and housing units that were probably the best ever built, and they were highly successful. As demand for better housing accommodation increased, Maymar moved upmarket, leaving behind the low-cost housing sector.

Construction firms, such as Cellrock and Abidi, entered the industry in the early 1980s to focus on low-cost prefabricated housing units. As the quality of their construction was substandard, these efforts proved unsuccessful, causing serious financial losses.

Companies like Al-Azam and Maymar were able to evolve primarily due to the establishment of an institution by the name of Karachi Development Authority. It was entrusted with the task of making new development schemes for the city of karachi and simultaneously the institution also established a wing by the name of Public Housing Scheme which was entrusted with the task of construction and selling finshed housing in shape of flats/houses as the case may be. However since the need for housing was so much in the city that Public Housing Scheme could not have fulfilled on its own. This was the reason the Karachi Dvelopment Authority fasilitated the builders like al-azam and maymar with cheap lands to share its burden of providing finished housing to the people the concept was noble and there was no problem. However the chaos started when these cheap lands were distributed by corupt burecrats to non professional builders. These corrupt and non professional builders not only damaged the industry but they also made the survival of companies making good quality husing difficult. On the other the Public Housing Scheme which was still succeeding in providing decently priced and decently quality housing to the city was hit hard by the collapse of utlity companies who failed to provide them utility connections in time. Thus the last hope of people getting good quality hoiusing with safety of investement also went down with the closure of Public Housing Scheme.

The construction industry began to mushroom towards the end of the '70s. Most of the new companies joined the industry merely to make a quick profit, without regards for the quality and safety of their buildings. Monthly installments were also too costly for most of the general public. As a result of corrupt administrative practices, public confidence in low-cost housing projects suffered after some low-cost buildings collapsed, due to poor construction and thieving of construction materials.

Firms such as Al Azam are nowadays very rare, as most construction firms still preoccupy themselves with traditional outdated modes of construction. As the general public becomes increasingly knowledgeable and affluent, housing and construction are increasingly focusing on high -end and high-quality deluxe housing, where profits are also better. Today, low-cost housing are largely confined to remote city and town areas, and are largely managed by the government.

After the devastating earthquake in Kashmir, many houses, schools and clinics has been destroyed. The demand is huge and has highlighted the fact that globally there is a massive shortage of artisans such as bricklayers. Because of this dilemma more focus is given to building systems such as Moladi who was invited to Pakistan to assist in the reconstruction program.Fact|date=July 2007


* [http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_24-11-2002_pg3_8 POETIC LICENCE: Low-cost cities: an innovative new concept for urban development] Daily Times (Sunday, November 24, 2002)
* [http://www.app.com.pk/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4456&Itemid=2 Low-cost housing facility for poors top priority: Governor] © 2007 Associated Press of Pakistan

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