BusinessDay

We are in Ibadan to show how real estate should look – Lamidi

IDOWU LAMIDI is the managing director of Dollar Construction, a construction and real estate development company. In this interview with STEPHEN ONYEKWELU, he addresses the challenges that developers face and talks about real estate development opportunities in Ibadan in general and his company’s 105 units estate. Excerpts:

What do you do at Dollar Construction?
We are a real estate company with projects in Abuja and Lagos; we are presently working on a new one in Ibadan. The one at Ibadan is 105 units of a housing estate in Jericho Idi-Ishin Government Reserved Area.
We provide top-class quality services to clients with interest and uphold the ethical and quality values of the engineering profession with a mission to be the trailblazer in the field of civil and electrical engineering through value-added services.

We are not only into construction, but we also have other companies like the West Brain Global Resources Limited, Source Model Academy, Pan Media, Fingerlick, and Dollar Farm.
We are in Ibadan to show the people what real estate should look like; they call Ibadan the pacesetter state. We are here to redefine that and set the pace.
We are trying to show the people what they don’t know about real estate. It’s not just about you owning a home; it’s an investment platform for the client and not just having a house.

Real estate is a business that both the rich and the poor should invest in and that’s why we are in Ibadan; we are starting from the lowest point to the highest.
This is not just going to Moniya, buy land and tell people to come and build, that in clear terms is not real estate but a community. Community service is quite different from real estate.

Our project is Westwood Homes, but most people in Ibadan don’t know my real name, they only call me by my company Dollar. So they named it Dollar Estate, it’s a good name also and I think we should leave it like that, but normally our estate in Abuja is Westwood Homes.

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Why would you leave Abuja where real estate is booming to do business in Ibadan?
That is a big misconception. Every big man in Abuja is from somewhere; so many people don’t stay in Abuja for the weekend. They go back to their States. Again development should be from rural areas to urban cities.
Ibadan is a western capital city in its own right when Obafemi Awolowo was the Premier; the capital was not in Lagos but in Ibadan.
Ibadan is a city, Abuja is a city, Dubai is also a city, Shanghai is a city and the facilities provided made the cities what they are. It’s not the city that made the people what they are.

That’s what we are trying to do, we are trying to build Ibadan into the city it should be.
More so I am from Oyo town, so coming to Ibadan is strategic, I want my people to have a feel of my experience.
The prices of houses in Abuja and that of Ibadan is almost the same, don’t look at it from the angle of Ibadan, Lagos, Abuja. They are all cities.
Ibadan is one of the largest cities in West Africa. The whole of Dubai is not more than Mapo, Beere, Ayeye, we should build our cities so people can come and learn from us.
If Oyo State is saying we are the pacesetter state, let’s set the pace and show people what real estate should look like.

What are some of the challenges you face in this business?
We face challenges from so many angles. Some come from dealing with the government, the investors, and the financial part of real estate.
The government is to provide land for developers, the developers provide every other facility, but now to get land is a big challenge.

Secondly getting finances is also a challenge. Housing is a lifetime thing; the certificate of occupancy is usually between 70 and 90 years. When you want to get a loan they expect you to pay back within four years when the life span of the business is 99 years, this is why housing in Nigeria is not thriving.

Society is not also helping because they are not contributing to housing loans, if they are contributing everybody will be entitled to good housing, and once you are entitled to good housing you are creating business for developers, and that why real estate is thriving in developed countries.

Tell us about your project in Ibadan.
Yes. We have a housing project here at the Jericho/Idi-Ishin GRA of Ibadan. It’s a 105 unit house of different levels. We have the 3-bedroom duplex, 4-bedroom duplex, and the 5-bedroom ensuite duplex with all the facilities and features you could think of.
People ought to have moved in this March, but because of some constraints. This estate is unique as we are sourcing our own power, we don’t want to bring more load to the power grid. So, we are sourcing our power and water and I can assure you that by June this year, we would be fully ready.

You are coming at a time the business is saturated in Ibadan, how do you compete?
Selling lands and houses is different from real estate. If someone tells you I’m selling land, come and do part-payment, it doesn’t mean that he is into real estate.
If someone says come and buy a house, it doesn’t just count as real estate.
Real estate has different arms. We have estate agents, lawyers, developers, construction companies. A contractor is different from a real estate person.
I could be in real estate and won’t go to sites, I have people building for me and that’s their job. Mine is to bring designs and show what I want. This is quite different from someone going on the radio telling people to buy lands and houses.

We are a construction and real estate company. Our company constructs, markets, and sells. We do a comprehensive design. We have different stages of designs, the low density, the high, and medium.
The medium is what we call terrace houses; the low density is the stand-alone duplexes while the high is high rise. We have a high-density project coming up in Ikoyi, Lagos. It’s a 7-floor plan.

We are into construction. In a layout you have stages of design, you can have a recreational comprehensive, and you may have comprehensive or semi comprehensive. There are planners that work on the plan before giving it to surveyors.
So, don’t think people coming on the radio are into real estate. There’s a difference between estate and community, people often mistake this. Just because you put a gate and stop okada from entering a place doesn’t qualify your community as an estate.

An estate provides water, generates its own light provides security and good roads, they provide all these facilities to show they are in charge of the management of the place; an estate cannot wait on the government to build roads.
So, I really don’t see Ibadan saturated in real estate. What most people do here is not just real estate and that’s why we are here to define the terms.

How is Dollar Construction different from other proper companies?
We are careful about the quality of work we render to our clients. We are careful not to deviate from the core standard of engineering construction and we do not compromise our standard.

We abide by and follow the tenets of construction as well as the laid down rules and regulations. What stands us out again is our staff; they are well trained and certified. One funny thing we normally joke about here is that we don’t operate a boss-employee structure, we are all the same.
If you get to any of our sites you won’t be able to differentiate who is who. All our staffs know the purpose and the vision of the company. Those in construction, marketing, adverts, and sales all know the vision and we meet once in a while to strategise.

Tell us about the person behind Dollar Construction.
I’m from Oyo State. I was born in Ibadan, had my primary and secondary school in Ibadan before moving to the north where I later completed my education, graduating from Nassarawa State Polytechnic where I had my Higher National Diploma (HND) in Civil Engineering.

I also hold another HND certificate in Land Administration while I’m presently a student of Nasarawa State University studying Business Administration.
I did my Industrial Training with ADKAN, one of the leading developers owned by Yinka Bibilari.
That man has been a role model to me since when we were building the Model City, Gwarimpa. That gave me an interest in real estate in 2003.
That is how I started Dollar Construction. I’ve been in real estate fully since 2010, but I’ve been doing government contracts mostly until now.

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