The construction industry and its activities have an important role to play in socioeconomic development and quality of life. Construction activity accounts for more than 50% of the national outlays. Building Construction costs registered an increase in rates year after year at scales much faster than inflation. It is seen that in view of the increase in cost for basic input materials like steel, cement brick timber and other materials as well as the cost of construction labour, buildings cost increase at around 20% to 30% annually even when inflation is in single digit.
Even though income levels of people are by and large brought in line with the levels of inflation through inflation indexed rise in salaries, year after year, housing is moving beyond the reach of the majority of the people. The reducing housing size for various categories in consecutive years in respect of the plinth areas, nature of specifications even with increased income levels would indicate the rapid increase in cost of construction.
The urban population growth has increased to more than 30%, and has made the need for adequate housing for low income people a very important concern for the government. However, the rush to respond to these needs seems to result in a low quality housing that does not adequately match the needs of these people. In countries where construction contributed 3-5% to GDP, an implication for development policy was that unless the construction industry grew faster than the economy as a whole it might constrain national development (Han and Ofori, 2001).
The construction industry is a main contributor to the national economy, therefore the more developed the industry is the more the contribution to the economy. Similarly, a developing economy leads to more construction projects and purchasing ower means affordable projects. The interlink relation between the construction industry and the economy makes it clear that development can not occur without the other, although a growing construction industry does not necessarily mean a developing industry nor economy.
In fact, the increase in construction prices could cause an artificial indication of the contribution of the construction industry to the GDP and economy. Furthermore the increase in construction costs always occurs faster than the increase in the GDP/capita. Approximate costs generally include mechanical and electrical installations, but exclude furniture, loose or special quipment, and external works. They also exclude fees for professional services and permission fees. The costs shown are appropriate to local specifications and standards.
This should be borne in mind when attempting comparisons with similarly described building types in other countries. One of the main barriers to sustainability and sustainable construction will be affordability. The construction industry in developing countries cannot afford to make any dramatic changes but has to start improving the existing technology and local resources it has. In less than two decades, the construction costs have increased by a considerable rate. This is in respect of the normal types of housing construction.
Still higher levels of costs are registered for using better finishes and amenities. The current situation of un- affordability, necessitates the need for using economical solutions and appropriate designs and construction materials which can bring down the cost of construction within the affordability levels of the people, as identified in the Agenda 21 for sustainable construction in Developing Countries which concerns with construction economic efficiency through national and international housing policies that ensure adequate, affordable and sustainable housing.
Authors such as Adebayo (2000), McIntosh (2000) and Aboutorabi (2000) has addressed out that the sustainability development of the built environment is significantly linked to affordability, and affordability will remain a key barrier to sustainability. CONCLUSION The development of the construction industry should lead to affordable construction activities and materials, which is one of the main issues of sustainability in the developing countries. It seems that the development of the construction industry to achieve efficiency, quality, affordability and then sustainability is strongly tied to the economy.
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