Within a short period of time that it came into the Ibadan real estate sector, Dollar Construction has taken the lead. The real estate company is now where top celebrities rush to buy properties in the ancient city.
In this interview with City People’s Correspondent, DARE ADENIRAN (08057639079), the CEO of Dollar Construction, Engr. Idowu Lamidi speaks extensively on the success story of the company and its projection for the year 2022
Lamidi also analysed the reason behind building collapse in Nigeria and how to tackle it.
The young engineer whose company is making giant strides in Ibadan within a year of operation also shared his winning formula. Read the excerpts.
Within a short period of time, Dollar Construction seems to have taken over the real estate industry in Ibadan. What has been your staying power?
I would like to narrow our performance and sustaining power down to two. One is that at Dollar Construction we make teamwork our objective. During the years we’ve built a team of core professionals in every field of our operation. These are guys that understand the job and are capable hands. We all understand the company’s aims and speak in one tone and delivery is not our problem.
The second aspect is that we don’t joke with our clients, we understand what they want. We share ideas and concepts, we update them regularly. We just don’t build and hand over, we go through the phases of delivery and make sure they are hundred per cent satisfied before we let go.
When we first arrived in Ibadan, what we met on the ground was quite different from what we understand as Real Estate. Here, a builder will just secure an area, fenced it round and call it an estate. But with Dollar Construction, we go the extra miles in areas of infrastructure and security. It took the people some time before they could understand what we are doing. But they can now understand the wide difference between us and others.
You all know that our estate is located in a highbrow area of Ibadan. Jericho/Idi-Ishin is a Government Reserved Area and an environment for the high-heeled. There we have 105 units of houses, 5 bedroom duplex, 4 bedrooms and three bedrooms with all modern facilities.
We have now started Phase 2 of our project at Alafara. This is what we did to meet the demand of our other clients that are looking for houses smaller than what we have at our Phase 1, and the selling of lands is also included in the package of our Phase 2.
Our estates are accessible and equipped with modern facilities, we just don’t boast, our clients understand what we are capable of.
I guess these are parts of our sustaining power and we are bent on doing more. Our mission remains the same, placing Ibadan on the global stage when it comes to construction and Real Estate.
2021 is believed to have dealt a big blow on businesses all over the world, in terms of covid-19 and foreign exchange in Nigeria, many businesses could not survive. How did your company weather the storm?
All thanks to Almighty God. It was indeed a trying period. But I need to confess to you, during the pandemic there was a kind of boom in real estate. You’ll be surprised at this, but the facts are there.
It was during this period that a lot of people realised the value of properties. At the time when other businesses were failing, a lot of people were diversifying, and the best they could do then for sustenance was to trade some of their properties.
What we know as real estate is when you have invested in properties that could be of use during an emergency period such as what was witnessed during the pandemic. This is a sector that is hard for you to lose because every year your investment appreciates. You can’t buy a house now and in 5 years the value remains the same unless you didn’t put some key factors into consideration when you were buying.
Again, talking about foreign exchange, it remains a big problem and that is why the value of properties goes up every day. A house you built 10 years ago for a million naira, you would be surprised you would need about 8 million naira now for to build same structure. Prices of materials have gone up.
Is that the reason builders are taking shortcuts?
Any sensible builder dares not seek a shortcut! What happens to reputation? What about safety? There are laws and guidelines, you dare not take any shortcut. There are stiff penalties for that, some go as far as death. Beating short cut is not even an alternative.
Then why are there building collapses as we witnessed in recent times?
Projects take phases. Scrutiny stages, regulations, inspections, so many stages. If you conduct an independent investigation into why buildings collapse, it wouldn’t take long before you discover the culpabilities. It either comes from the builder or the regulators.
Again, many builders don’t conduct soil tests and this is a fatal mistake. This is something that gives you the knowledge of foundation DPC, without a proper soil test, you are destined to fail and your building will fall.
How do we arrest such situations?
The government has a big role to play in that. In most cases of building collapse, we discover that the lapses come from both private developers and the government. The solutions lie in awareness, skills, following regulations and making sure there are consequences for failures. The government should be the last regulator and they should appoint a reputable team of experts, people of integrity and character, not just anybody.
How do you see the real estate competition in Ibadan?
Well, I can’t really say there’s competition judging by where we came from. We started in Abuja and we are still operating there, we are in Lagos too. I can’t really compare the competition in Abuja and Lagos to what we have here. We came to Ibadan fully prepared, we knew what we were coming to do, which is far different from what all others are doing.
I noticed you now sell land which was contrary to what you claimed you came to do in Ibadan?
That became necessary because we needed to accommodate more of our clients. That is the major reason behind our Phase 2 at Alafara. We need to bend some rules to accommodate and meet demands of our clients. Our mission is to build for both the rich and the not so rich, and I don’t think we have derailed from that. We are only selling land to accommodate some of our clients.
How did your company escape the ‘omo onile’ challenge, it’s a usual practice here?
As I earlier informed you that we came into Ibadan well prepared, there’s nothing like omo onile in our plans. The reason is simple, we get our lands from the government, we don’t deal with omo oniles.
So what’s your projection for 2022?
To make Dollar Construction better and bigger than where we were in 2021. I already told you we’ve started Phase 2 of our estate in Ibadan. A lot has been happening. Some months ago we signed a contract with a company in Belgium, the agreement is part of our lighting projects where we source for independent energy/power supply for our estates and other areas. We also have a contract with a German tiles-making company, they sell the finest and best tiles you can think of, we are their only representative in Nigeria, we are already building a showroom in Abuja for that, we also have a showroom and warehouse for the tiles in Ibadan. We are at the same time working on a project in Lagos, its a mega plaza, and there are other contracts we are doing, roads and some housing units in Abuja and other places, so we already have our hands full for 2022. Our dream is to extend even beyond the shores of Africa and we can see it manifesting.