Housing in Pakistan

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This article deals with housing in Pakistan and, more specifically, the trend of low-cost housing. The total population of Pakistan in 2011 was 176.74 million[1] which means real estate holds immense potential because of population density.[2] The people of Pakistan are experiencing penury and therefore the housing is not very elaborate or accurately planned and cannot last very long. Many people are homeless due to overpopulation.

Construction companies in the 1970s-80s[edit]

Al Azam built very low-priced residential- as well as commercial-type accommodations in Karachi and Hyderabad, using the apartment system. It kept prices down, without sacrificing quality, by: reducing its profit margin and increasing land-use density.

During the 1970s, M.Y Corporation, Rukunuddin Construction Company, and Hasan Associate come in to the construction arena with a commitment to provide low-cost housing and followed Al Azam's footstep. The company, which was formed by a retired overseer from the Pakistan Works Department (PWD), introduced low-cost prefabricated housing units, in addition to their regular low-priced apartments. The quality and safety of their units, however, were generally viewed as inferior.

Maymar, another construction company, entered the market in the late 1970s, with residential apartments and housing units that were probably the best built. They were highly successful. As demand for better housing accommodation increased, Maymar moved upmarket, leaving behind the low-cost housing sector.

Construction firms, such as Cellrock and Abidi, entered the industry in the early 1980s to focus on low-cost prefabricated housing units. As the quality of their construction was substandard, these efforts proved unsuccessful, causing serious financial losses.

There has been interest from Government organizations such as Council of Works & Housing Research (CWHR) from the stand-point of providing low cost material. The proposed construction of low cost housing at Ibrahim Hydery in Karachi pegs rate-per-square-foot at only Rs. 387.

Companies like cooliobob[who?] and Maymar evolved primarily due to the establishment the Karachi Development Authority. It was entrusted with the task of making new development schemes for the city of Karachi. Simultaneously the institution established a wing by the name of Public Housing Scheme which was entrusted with construction and selling finished flats/houses. However, the need was so much in the city that Public Housing Scheme could not have fulfilled it on its own. This was why Karachi Development Authority facilitated builders like Al Azam and Maymar with cheap land to share its burden of providing housing to the people. The concept was considered noble, and there was no risk of losses.

The chaos started when the cheap land was distributed by corrupt bureaucrats to non-professional builders. These corrupt and non-professional builders damaged the industry and made the survival of companies making good quality housing difficult. On the other hand, the Public Housing Scheme (which was still succeeding in providing decently priced and decent quality housing) was hit hard by the collapse of utility companies who failed to provide them connections in time. Thus the last hope of people getting good quality housing with safety of investment went down with the closure of Public Housing Scheme.

The construction industry began to mushroom toward the end of the 1970s. Most of the new companies joined the industry merely to make a quick profit, without regard for the quality and safety of their buildings. Monthly installments were also too costly for most of the general public. As a result of corrupt administrative practices, public confidence in low-cost housing projects suffered after some low-cost buildings collapsed, due to poor construction and thieving of materials.

Firms such as Al Azam and 5G Properties are nowadays very rare, as most construction firms preoccupy themselves with traditional outdated modes of construction. As the general public becomes increasingly knowledgeable and affluent, housing and construction are increasingly focusing on high-end and high-quality deluxe housing, where profits are also better. Today, low-cost housing are largely confined to remote city and town areas, and are largely managed by the government.