Capevalley Properties: Exploring the Housing Scene in Zimbabwe with Primrose Chakuchichi

Meet Primrose Chakuchichi, the Managing Director at Capevalley Properties and Capevalley Construction, as she provides valuable insights into the companies’ approach to land development and construction, and shares her assessment of the housing industry in Zimbabwe.

Interview with Primrose Chakuchichi, Managing Director at Capevalley Properties and Capevalley Construction

Primrose Chakuchichi, Managing Director at Capevalley Properties and Construction

How would you describe Capevalley Properties and Capevalley Construction?

Capevalley is a land development and construction company. We have been around for the past six years and one of our main advantages has been our finishings. We have travelled around the world to make sure that we bring first world finishings into Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is still developing in terms of the finish, the architectural designs and the way of doing things. We have an added advantage in terms of usage of space and the interiors that we use so we have managed to bring in better quality and better standard interiors. As of the past couple of years, we have seen quite a lot of competition increasing. After the COVID pandemic, a lot of people started to have an appreciation for properties because you then get passive income. We needed to distinguish ourselves from everyone else and what they were producing on the property side, so we had to work extensively on our finishing and the timeframe in which we produce and deliver our products. Before, a 20-cluster project would take about 24 months to complete but now we are looking at at least 15 months to make what we deliver a bit quicker than everyone else. We had a bank that came in and pre bought about 10 clusters in May this year. Instead of us delivering those 10 clusters maybe in about 12 months or by the end of next year, by February we will be handing them over. That is our competitive advantage. For example, we have standalone bathrooms for our clusters. Most of the developments here in Zimbabwe have bathtubs that are linked to the wall, and they are more on the average side. When you have a standalone bathtub, you are looking at the high-end. Even if you are in the middle and step up to what we produce with the standalone bathtub, it has the feel of the high-end which gives us an advantage.

As there is a housing deficit in Zimbabwe, what do you think is ahead for the housing industry?

The housing industry has been very good for the past three years and education in terms of properties has increased in Zimbabwe of late. A property that we were selling for US$220,000 two years ago is being sold for US$400,000 now. That is for the same type of house, so the market has really been good for the sellers. It is not an advantage for someone who is buying but looking to the future, I think we have still got an opportunity for the next five years. After that it will not be as attractive as it is right now because most of the children who are growing up will not be able to earn enough to buy a $400,000 house. Our economy is looking at children who are between 18 and 30 and that age group will want to buy properties in the near future, and I do not think they can really afford a $400,000 house.

What is your target market for the houses that you are building?

The good thing about us is that everyone is our target market. We have developments in Borrowdale, which is the first class step up in the capital city, Harare. We have a project there that has got 19 clusters. So, looking at the high-end, that is our target market. We have two developments in the middle-end, which is still our target market as well. Looking at next year, we have three other projects that we are starting. We have two projects in Mount Pleasant, which is a high-end as well. And then we have also got another project which is 60 hectares in Norton (40kms west of Harare) that is more on our lower end. We cater for everyone, and we are also constructing a 2,000 square meter commercial building. We have a project in every area including commercial, residential, high-end, middle and low-end.

What are the features of the houses that you are building?

Our project in Borrowdale has got 19 clusters, four bedrooms, duplex, double-story apartments. Then we have also got two projects in Mount Pleasant. They have the same features as Borrowdale. Four bedrooms, double story, ensuites and standalone. We have a commercial building with 2,000 square meter offices that can house about 800 people. And then on the middle-end we have two projects. One in Strathaven that has 40 clusters on it. They are semi-detached, double story, four bedrooms with an ensuite. We have another project in Hatfield of 20 single story three-bedroom homes. Our lower end project is single story, three-bedroom homes. We have different house plans sitting on about 90 to 110 square meters and the land size is 200 square meters. This particular project is a whole community with two schools on it, a clinic, hospital and places where you can put shops like butcheries, pharmacies, clothing shops and different things. It is like a self-contained community and is the first gated community in Norton.

What do you see as your hottest projects?

We have three projects that are hot. We have the Strathaven one, Pagomo Manners, with 40 clusters on it. This is semi-detached, four-bedrooms and is really picking up very well. That is our first project and it is really moving very fast. The second project that we are working on is with a Zambian company that has come in and they want us to build a 2,000 square meter office building for them. They asked us to build this commercial building in 35 days and we are right on track. There is a lot in it for project management, but I am sure that we are going to make it. This one we have to deliver by January 7th and I am sure we will do it. Our third project is in Hatfield. Mabuto Villas has 20 clusters. It is a lot easier project because it is single story, and the floor space is about 160 (square meters). We are looking at completing it by July 2024. And another project that we are looking forward to is the one in Borrowdale which is 19 clusters of semi-detached units. Looking at the architectural drawings, it is exciting and is more high-end. It is called the Brook Villas and it has a swimming pool as part of the features.

Are there any specific difficulties associated with the commercial building project?

Yes, it is very stressful, but I am sure we will do it and if we do miss the target, it will not be by more than five days. It gives us confidence that a Zambian company has put their faith and trust in us that we can actually deliver in good time. There was nothing there to start with, it was a field. There will be a foundation, the building will be brick and will have a chromatic roof. It is a lot easier than any other roof and we will have it done in about 12 days. The only delays are on the foundation because it needs time to set in, which is about seven days.

Do you have financial partners, or are you looking for investors, or both?

On the property development side, I have four other partners who are with me. On the construction, I have one other partner. And yes, we are definitely looking for investors. We have been working on getting investments and the good thing with us is an investor can always come in investing on a particular project. We have a huge pipeline and someone can see out of the seven projects we have and say okay, this one looks more lucrative. For example, the bank that came in on the Strathaven and Pagomo project bought 10 clusters before they were built. How we structured that particular partnership is they came in and got a discounted price and next year in February when we hand over, they are looking at about a 28% profit on their investment. And this is in the space of about nine or ten months that they are getting their money back. We have structured several transactions with different people. It depends on the project and who is housing the project. The other four directors at Capevalley Properties are my sisters and we are currently running three projects. We are running Norton, the one in Strathaven, and we have another one in Norton again. Then on the construction side, I am a partner with my husband and that is the Mount Pleasant commercial and Hatfield projects. It then depends on whichever investor is coming in and which project they are keen on, whether high-end, middle-end or lower end. We have been discussing with a certain institution that does housing more on the lower end of $40,000. Those discussions have been moving slower than expected but their interest is huge in terms of let’s offer housing to anyone and everyone. Those are some of the projects that we have.

What is your vision for Capevalley Properties and Construction in the medium to long term?

In the future we are looking at improving efficiency and technology as well. I went to South Africa two months ago for a conference. It was a Big 5 conference that mainly deals with manufacturing, so it was good to see what the developed countries are doing with managing time, efficiency and managing space because land is becoming less and less in Zimbabwe and becoming more and more expensive. So, the more that you can use the space you have, the better you are. We are looking at efficiency and delivering more projects. Growth, in terms of personal growth and company growth. For example, we have our 2028 vision whereby each and every one of our employees must have at least passive income. You cannot go and sell properties and you do not own a property, or you do not have a passive income. That is one of our main visions that we have for 2028 that all of our employees must at least own a property.

What is your inspiration and what drives you to do what you do?

I am a Managing Director for both companies, Capevalley Properties and Capevalley Construction, and my drive is to be significant in all that I do. I do not want to die one day and I have done nothing significant. So, that gives me motivation. I got a lot of inspiration from my parents. They grew up in rural areas and I remember my father telling me that he wore his very first pair of shoes when he was 19 years old. He built his company from scratch and grew it into a multi-million-dollar company. Although I came from a wealthy family, he did not spoil us. He taught us hard work. Yes, we had a driver and helpers but there were things that we were expected to do on our own. Our parents taught us life skills and the inspiration that we got from our mother and father is what still drives us today. One of the mottos that I live by is that I want to be a totality of a woman. That is not just being someone who is significant in business, but I look at the will of life. I check how I am doing with my marriage, with my children and my business. My personal finances, my investments, social and spiritual growth. I try to find a balance and I must say I love what I do. In terms of our projects, it gives me pride to actually go in and make a difference. I am grateful for parents who taught me that I should be fearless and that nothing is too difficult.


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