Costek Alma: A Kenyan quantity surveying firm with a difference

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Costek Alma: A Kenyan quantity surveying firm with a difference
Andrew Mandere, Director, Costek Alma.

Costek Alma’s commitment to customer satisfaction, innovation and highly advanced professional capabilities is securing its position as market leader

When it comes to Quantity Surveying, Project Management, Construction Economics and related consultancy Services in the building Industry no one understands it better than Costek Alma, a Nairobi based consultancy firm that thrives in offering quality services.

Formed in the early 1990’s, the company is a merger of two firms; Costek Quantity Surveyors and Alma Consultants. The company is headed by two principal partners, Alex Magembe and Andrew Mandere. Now able to count itself amongst some of the biggest construction consultants in Kenya, the firm initially garnered much of its early success off the back of numerous referrals.

Although Costec Alma offers services ranging from project management to construction management, most of its work has been in quantity surveying where they have undertaken several projects.“Our ability to deliver cutting edge innovation while at the same time ensuring that we continue to churn out quality services has continued to put us on the crest,” says Andrew Mandere one of the directors of Costek Alma.

The company has been involved in a number of ground breaking projects such as factories, banks, petrol stations, airports, residential houses, office blocks, institutions of higher learning, churches and NGOs. In some of these projects the company doubled as both quantity surveyors and project managers.

Projects

Some of the industrial projects that the firm has undertaken include: Go-downs for Nestle Kenya in Industrial area Nairobi and Inter-Consumer Ltd, factories for KTDA among others. The company has also successfully completed projects for several banks in Kenya including Kenya Commercial Bank, Co-Operative Bank of Kenya, Family Bank, Consolidated Bank and Barclays Bank where they acted as quantity surveyors.

Costek Alma has also been involved in residential houses. Some of the projects that they have undertaken while acting both as quantity surveyors and project managers include: Syokimau Housing Scheme, Valley View, Mountain View, Mvita Development Phase I, Flats for Faraja Society among others.

“We have especially mastered quantity surveying in Kenya with bespoke projects already completed,” says Mandere. According to him, quantity surveying is a crucial part in a construction project. Ignoring the services of a quantity surveyor cautions Mandere, is a great financial risk.

Role of quantity surveyors

A quantity surveyor is a person responsible for figuring out what a construction project is going to cost. They have other roles as well, especially making sure that construction costs and production are managed as efficiently as possible.

Quantity surveyors are also tasked with carrying out feasibility studies on a project, write specification for a client and sometimes manage claims and give financial status of a project as it progresses. Currently, Kenya has 830 registered quantity surveyors.

Like any other profession it suffers a myriad of challenges. For instance, in recent years there has been a rise of quacks who have gripped quantity surveying.

“Some clients have spent a lot of money to pay for the services of a quantity surveyor only to later learn that the person was a quack,” reveals Mandere. Such incidences he says, have tainted the name of the profession.

Employee turnover

But perhaps one of the major challenges that Costek and Alma faces is employee turnover. They train fresh graduates but after a short stint they leave. This leaves them struggling to find replacements which can be a daunting task. Businesswise however, corruption has been their main hindrance in their quest to spread wings across the country.

Alex Magembe says some practitioners dislike their honesty and credibility and often working with them would mean that they compromise  on their values. But he   says that Costek Alma has always stood its ground when it comes to staying firm on what they believe in.

With over 20 years of experience in the construction industry, Magembe says that although there has been a boom in the industry a lot needs to be done to make the industry better. Particularly he wants the building code in Kenya revised to allow adoption of new technology in the country.

The code for example allows the use of coral stones in construction a case in point being at the Coast where they have been used to build houses.

“Coral stones are not suitable in construction, the law should be revised to ban their use,” he offers.

Regarding the collapse of buildings that have become rampant in Kenya, Magembe urges county governments to uphold planning regulations.

“Most of the developers have no technical experience in construction. This is where county governments come in; to ensure all rules in construction are adhered to.”

Construction skills

Investing in construction workers skills has also been cited as key way to curbing collapse of buildings in Kenya. Majority of workers have no formal training and normally learn while on the job. He also calls on the university curriculum to be revised and be aligned with shifting trends in the construction industry today.

“What we see today is emergence of new technology in construction like modular houses. The syllabus should be revised to reflect such emerging trends.”

According to Magembe although modular housing are gaining traction in Kenya, the technology will take time to be fully accepted.

“Most Kenyans have a mindset that a proper house is the one built using brick and mortar,” says the consultant. However, the technology can help enhance housing in the country if embraced locally.

In America modular houses are helping to house millions of people who otherwise would not be able to afford houses built using traditional methods.“As a quantity surveyor I would urge that we look in that direction,” says Magembe.

The success of Costek Alma has over the years emanated from their ability to deliver exemplary services in a timely and accurate manner. This has enabled them to not only retain clients but also secure new ones.

“We normally win contracts through a competitive and transparent manner,” says Magembe.

For upcoming quantity surveyors he urges them to uphold honesty and integrity. For contractors, Magembe advises them to take their time during planning to ensure that they get the best product.

Costek  Alma has mainly concentrated in Nairobi but now seeks to set foot in other counties across the country. To start with, the firm has set sights on Mombasa and Kisumu before making inroads to other East African nations.

 

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