Residential Building Construction

Most of the multi-family residential buildings in Jeddah are built in a similar fashion. I’ve compared them to long train cars lined up side by side lengthwise and stacked several traincars high. The only variations might be how many floors there are and the finishing materials. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be much creativity in the design or room shapes. The small box-shapes up the front of the building are to house separate air conditioning units. Even though top quality marble or stone might be chosen to cover the front of the buildings, it’s not uncommon for unsightly air conditioning units to be hanging there as well. Another distinctive feature in these buildings (and many private homes as well) is the lack of built in closets in the bedrooms or cabinets in the bathrooms. Nowadays most kitchens do have some built in cabinets, but they are generally lower quality formica finishes.
Jeddah continues to be a beehive of construction with no end in sight. The hard laborers are all imported from poorer neighboring countries in the region, like Bangladesh, Egypt, Pakistan, or India. There is a lot of controversy in Saudi Arabia about their living and working conditions and their pay and treatment.

About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
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6 Responses to Residential Building Construction

  1. Cynthia says:

    It’s pretty much the same building method in France (except that they never heard of AC and they put plaster on those building). Even in recent apartments it’s rare to find closets, kitchen counters or cabinets and bathroom closets. It’s such a hassle when you are renting and you have to come up with all those things which might not fit in the next apartment!

    • Cynthia – You make such a valid point about the huge cabinets, etc., which may not fit in the next apartment. Another thing is that the elevators are usually very small in these apartment buildings, and it is so difficult to get the furniture out of the apartment and then into the next one. Some stairwells are quite narrow and have sharp angles, so it’s next to impossible to get a large piece of furniture in or out. Indeed, when we purchased our bedroom set, the guys told us that these pieces will not be able to be moved from that room into another, much less out and into another apartment in another building. The pieces are too huge too fit thru even the over-sized doorways that we have.

  2. Chiara says:

    Interesting. At one level you seem to be describing a phenomenon of uniformity common to apartment style buildings the world over; and the expensive finishings are common in a number of places, including Hong Kong.

    I was also surprised by the use of box air conditioners in Hong Kong. On the other hand, they do economize on electricity by allowing better for room by room use on an as needed basis.

    The lack of built in closets, and bathroom cabinetry is common outside of North America in my experience. There is a greater tendency to use armoires generally, and free standing units in bathrooms and the kitchen. The expansive and important kitchen counter of the typical North American kitchen is also relatively new in Europe. Most preparation and clean up is done on a table in the kitchen, for that purpose or on the top of a free standing unit, even on the close down top on the stove (when not in use! LOL :)).

    Sad, about workers’ conditions. Interestingly, that has been one of the controversies of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, which I just posted on. Workers have been imported from other areas of India, and are working in unsafe conditions for less than Indian minimum wage, living in squalid, cramped facilities, children accompanying mothers to construction sites, child labour, etc. Also sex workers imported, or women and girls tricked and trafficked from Bangladesh.

    Thanks for elaborating on aspects of construction in Jeddah!

  3. Jerry M says:

    The quality of the work doesn’t look very high. Since it doesn’t get cold, I guess that is ok, but I wouldn’t want to live in those buildings.

    • Jerry – I would have to say that more often than not, the workmanship is shoddy. I have seen new completed buildings with cracks in the walls, loose tiles, leaking plumbing, etc. Also the finishing touches such as cleaning off excess grout or paint spatters is just not done at all. So at first glance, while the materials used – like tile and marble – are top of the line and expensive, a closer look reveals messy and shoddy workmanship.

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