The owner occupier democracy and violation of building by-laws
Rukwaro, Robert Wambugu
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This research is based on a case study of Buru Buru estate, the biggest middle class residential estate in Nairobi, Kenya. Casual observations in Buru Buru estate show that there has been indiscriminate design and construction of house extensions with no reference to building by-laws and zoning ordinances. The study has three main objectives namely; to establish the violated building By-laws during construction of the extensions, to establish the owner occupier reasons for these violations and to examine the role of culture and building experts in changing the By-laws. The By-law issues investigated include; the size of the spaces, the building setbacks and heights; lighting, ventilation, internal courts, the plot coverages and the plot ratios. The study set out to establish the extent of the violation of these building by-laws by carrying out a survey and observations of the sampled 89 Buru Buru plots which had extension constructions. The study relied on the descriptive and spatial analysis of the data collected from the sample. The study revealed that building regulations were in conflict with needs and circumstance of the residents of Buru Buru estate. This has led them to violate the By-laws. The study has also established that the most violated building regulations are those relating to setbacks, area of inner courts, area and dimensions of spaces, plot coverage, plot ratio and building height. There is need to re-look at these By-laws through discussions among the building experts, local residents and the Nairobi City Council. This study has recommended that in the process of rewriting the regulations it will be important to incorporate the concerns of local residents and the whole process should be democratic. Finally, the new legislation should take into consideration the traditional culture and the present socio-economic demands of the people and their aesthetic orientations in buildings.