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Chinese housing giant teams up with Solid Group for Phl venture

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) Updated October 15, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A world leader in modular building technology has teamed up with the Solid Group to bring to the Philippines a prefab technology that will cut the cost of affordable housing by half.

Representatives from Chinese firm Yahgee Modular House Co. Ltd., led by its general manager Shang Yuexiang, were brought around Metro Manila by Solid Group president David Lim recently for a glimpse of the state of housing in the country.

Yahgee’s China-based factory has a production capacity of five million square meters that produces either standard or customized modular housing (prefabricated) units built using insulated metal technology. Its modular houses and buildings can be found all over the world, including Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Singapore, Pakistan, Bhutan, Qatar, Ethiopia, Sudan and Caribbean regions.

This is the first time Yahgee will bring its technology to the Philippines and has agreed to give Solid Group the exclusive right to distribute it here.

Lim told The STAR that the units will be assembled here in the Philippines and, depending on the response from the market, their partnership with Yahgee includes the possibility of not only assembling the units here but also manufacturing them in the country.

Yuexiang said in an interview with The STAR that they were “touched” by what they saw during their visit and are honored to bring their technology to the Philippines for the first time to help improve the lives of Filipinos.

Because of the durability, affordability and speed by which the units could be assembled, the Taguig city government immediately ordered 36 units for classrooms and day care centers.

Four school houses were also built in seven days in Nueva Ecija and the units withstood the wrath of typhoons Pedring and Quiel, SolidGroup Technologies Corp. president Beda Manalac revealed.

Noted architect Ed Calma said metal houses last longer than cement houses while another highly acclaimed architect, Gil Coscolluela, emphasized that modular building technology will be the future in housing.

The Solid Group has joined the Department of Education’s adopt-a-school program and has committed to build a total of 60 school houses (one classroom every month for the next five years) in areas that include Lucena, Caritas Manila, Mandaue, Quezon City, Marikina, Paranaque, Cavite, Mandaluyong, Laguna and Taguig.

But in addition, the Solid Group is also aiming to make affordable housing “more affordable” using Yahgee’s technology by making it commercially available.

Lim said they will construct affordable housing units in “urban renewal properties” in Manila, Tandang Sora, Araneta Avenue, United Paranaque, Pasay, Sucat, Bicutan, and Blumentritt in lands owned by Solid Group covering a total of over three hectares.

Calma and Coscolluela have indicated their desire to lend their name to the project while other artists and groups have also volunteered to be involved, Lim revealed. “They may do it via their respective foundations,” he said.

For his part, Coscolluela said that “it is not much of the design work where I will be involved with but more of advising and guiding the MyHouse group in providing efficient planning as well as making sure that basic needs and requirements of each homeowners are met.”

To be called MyRainbow Place, Lim said that three-story buildings utilizing the metal modular housing technology will not only change the city landscape but will also provide young professionals with a dignified lifestyle.

With unit sizes ranging from 18 to 20 square meters, they will cater to the “renters,” some of whom pay as much as P5,000 a month for bedspacing, or shell out as much as P250 per day just to commute from outside Metro Manila to their workplace.

“We are targeting to sell to young couples and parents who have no more than two children and who will actually live in the units and not lease them out or buy for investment purposes,” Lim explained.

He said that based on their computations using Pag-IBIG financing, the target monthly amortization will be between P3,000 to P5,000 per unit, a far cry from the P10,000 a month per unit charged by other developers for similarly sized studio units.

In addition, Lim said the units will be fully furnished and fitted with customized toilets and bath. “What we want is for the unit owners to completely change their lifestyle and regain their dignity that is why we decided that the units should be fully furnished and well-designed,” he pointed out.

The Solid Group top executive, whose company has pioneered the dual SIM mobile phone technology under the brandname MyPhone and made brands such as Sony households names in the country, also revealed that a number of local government units and companies have signified their intent to build employee housing projects using the technology, which has been patented locally jointly by Yahgee and MyHouse.

“We will also make the technology available via franchising. Small lot owners can also partner with us, build a number of units, and then we can just divide the profits,” he said.

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