Traditional Building Materials in Housing Construction


Usage and Maintenance Strategy



By Francis P. Udoudoh, PhD and Luna Edidem Bassey, PhD

Departments of 1Estate Management and 2Architecture
University of Uyo

Akwa, Ibom State, Nigeria


Before the advent of the colonial government, many Nigerians built houses to suit their cultural and climatic conditions using available local building materials. Consequently, houses were built using earth to produce adobe or compressed earth blocks and bricks for walls. Other materials used for walls as well as roofing materials included woods, bamboo, thatch and straws. This research has identified examples of monumental buildings built with traditional materials to include Mary Slessor’s House and Old Residency at Calabar; Amalgamated House and Lord Luggards’ Residential House in Ikot Abasi (Opobo), amongst others. Despite the fact that we are endowed with abundant natural resources that can meet our need for building construction, we depend largely on imported materials and technology which their high cost have rendered majority of less-privileged Nigerians homeless. To resuscitate the culture of building using local materials, the research recommended that our local building materials should be studied to determine their suitability and usability, while appropriate maintenance strategy is evolved to enhance construction of durable low cost houses conducive for Nigerian environment.


Housing affordability has remained a major concern to most families in urban centres of Nigeria. The Nigerian government over the years has recognized that majority of the urban poor do not have accommodation and that some require special housing programmes to ameliorate the housing problem. Government was for the first time directly involved in housing construction as shown in the 3rd National Development Plan (1975 – 80). This was when the Nigerian Building Society was transformed into Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria with an initial outlay of N150m to expand mortgage lending facilities for housing construction. The 4th National Development Plan (1980-85) was targeted at improving the overall quantity and quality of housing for all income groups by adopting realistic designs, encouraging the manufacturing of local building materials, improving infrastructural services in existing public residential estates and increasing substantially the number of new housing construction nationwide.

The efforts of government at providing affordable housing for her citizens have been greatly undermined by persistent rise in the cost of building materials amidst present trend of uncontrolled dwindling value of our national currency against foreign currencies. This is because housing construction in Nigeria has become foreign oriented hence very expensive. Affordable housing is that accommodation which can be constructed or acquired from household income without sacrificing other essential needs of the family. Affordability principles provide the guide to housing design and construction. It commences with a simple design that entails the use of available, reliable and durable building materials for construction to achieve cost reduction without compromising quality. The design takes into consideration the physical, cultural and other characteristics of the residential neighbourhood such building is sited.

Housing development is an integral part of the overall neighbourhood development process. It requires the application of capital, labour and management to various aspects of construction project. The provision of housing carries with it various problems such as securing of land and adequate title to it, fund raising, legal control, availability and high cost of required building materials, and diverse climatic and other environmental conditions. These problems, however, depend on developers’ taste, state of economy, environmental requirements which exhibits marked regional differences and purpose of the housing development which may be either for self-occupation or investment. The state of housing situation of a community is an indicator to the health and socio-economic wellbeing of her citizens. It has become increasingly glaring that most Nigerians particularly the urban residents live in poor housing while those that have access to decent housing do so at abnormal cost. This is against African tradition and culture where ownership of a personal house is considered as prime value to human existence.


Before the advent of the colonial government, many Nigerians built houses to suit their cultural and climatic conditions using available local building materials. Then, there was easy access to land for buildings using readily available local materials, while the kinsmen contributed in no means way in the construction process with least financial involvement (Udoudoh, 2016). During this period, houses were built to meet owners’ taste and tradition of the community. Nigerian traditional architecture was imbued with great varieties of artistic qualities of art works, paintings and decorations. Those features were as the consequences of geographical and social influences, and ethnic cultural diversities of Nigerian large population. Climate and available local building materials were essential natural factors that dictated and determined the planning and execution of the architecture of different parts the zones or locations. Nigerian traditional architecture toed the same humble beginning as those of other parts of the world with differences in development relative to zones or localities – adapting peculiar influences that played significant roles in the development of traditional architecture in terms of spatial arrangements and building construction.


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How to cite this paper: Udoudoh, F.P., Bassey, L.E. (2021). Traditional Building Materials in Housing Construction: Usage and Maintenance Strategy; PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pmwj104-Apr2021-Udoudoh-Bassey-traditional-building-materials-in-housing-construction.pdf


About the Authors

Francis P. Udoudoh, PhD

Department of Estate Management
University of Uyo, Nigeria


Dr. Francis P. Udoudoh holds B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D degrees in Estate Management from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with specification in Real Estate Development Appraisal and Urban Infrastructure Economics. He is an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, and registered with the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON). He had served as the Secretary, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Akwa Ibom State Branch from 2006 – 2010; Chairman, Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (MCPD) for the same Branch from 2014 – 2019; and as Editorial Board member of many journals including Journal of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Journal of Environmental Design, Real Estate Journal, Artist Journal, among others. Dr. Udoudoh is the author of Real Estate and Infrastructure Economics in Urban Nigeria, and Co-Editor of Real Estate Development and Issues of Sustainability in Nigeria. He was Head, Department of Estate Management (2015 – 2020), and later served as Vice Dean of Faculty of Environmental Studies in University of Uyo, Nigeria. He is currently an Associate Professor in the department of Estate Management and can be contacted at francisudoudoh@uniuyo.edu.ng


Luna Edidem Bassey, PhD

Department of Architecture
University of Uyo, Nigeria


Dr. Luna Edidem Bassey holds a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Architecture from Kharkow Institute of Municipal Engineering and Ph.D in Architecture from Moscow Institute of Architecture in 1988 and 1992 respectively. He had tutelage under a seasoned practitioner, Arc. Rueben Okafor of Master Plans, Lagos before joining the Department of Architecture, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State in 1998. He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and licensed to practice as a Registered Architect by the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON). He is also a member of Association of Architectural Educator (AACHES). He specializes on Public Building and Structures and has research interest in Modern Architecture and Sustainability Issues in the Built Environment. He has published his research output in both national and International peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Luna Bassey is a Senior Lecturer and had variously served as Head in the department of Architecture, University of Uyo, Nigeria. He can be contacted at lunabassey@gmail.com.