What you should know before building your dream home
There are numerous processes and factors to consider before taking the plunge and building your dream home. Here are a few important things to consider that will help to avoid delays, conflict and costly fixes.
Many people dream of owning a home either through buying or building one to their specifications. Building a home is more often than not cheaper than buying. However, it is a hectic process dotted with many procedures that must be followed in order to sail smoothly when construction eventually begins.
To ensure a successful outcome, these procedures/processes need to be followed:
Do a proper research of the area
Before acquiring a parcel of land, Real estate analyst Effie Otieno says one should consider proximity to amenities they need. They should also consider the zoning regulations of the area which affect the cost of construction.
“When deciding on the location, it’s important to evaluate an individual’s personal needs in terms of amenities available such as schools, hospitals and distance in relation to where one works, shops, etc.,” says Ms. Otieno.
It’s a sentiment thatStructural engineer Mongeri Omwoyo echoes.
“It doesn’t make sense to move a small family where there are no roads, schools and amenities. Don’t sacrifice the comfort and development of your children and even your career. It’s not criminal to continue renting where there are amenities,” he says.
Putting up a good structure requires the knowledge and experience of competent, professional experts, trained in the field of construction.
Mr. Omwoyo says the professionals will ultimately ensure that the house is structurally sound.
Some construction consultants include:
- An architect- to manage the space by drawing the project’s design and other architectural drawings.
- Civil engineer- to determine the strength of the building and do a geo technical survey because not every ground is safe for building.
- Quantity surveyor- to quantify the cost of the building because costs vary depending on the area where you want to build.
- Mechanical engineer- to design the plumbing and mechanical works.
- Electrical engineer- to develop and maintain electrical systems especially if you want an IT compliant house.
- Contractor- to assist in hiring the workforce, planning, managing and monitoring the progress of the project.
All these consultants, he says, should be registered/certified in their respective fields.
The structural engineer continues: “These professionals will ensure that when you are moving in, you do not have dark and squeezed spaces, or water is not flowing. They also need to be qualified because there are fundis (masons) who masquerade as contractors.
“As much as you want to achieve your dream and still cut costs, consider engaging and supporting these professionals because they know the market, they know where to source for quality materials and they also want to earn a living and will do a good job.”
Involve the relevant authorities for approvals
Before building begins, construction projects must attain approvals from county governments, National Construction Authority (NCA) and National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA).
One of the most pertinent approvals, is the one from NEMA which is attained after the Authority has done an environmental impact assessment to study the environment to ensure that your construction does not affect the immediate surroundings. Additionally, anytime one wants to extend the construction, NEMA has to approve.
Further, to get a green light to begin construction, one must get a get construction permit from the NCA to alert them that there’s ongoing construction at a given location.
“NCA usually visits construction sites, and that’s why you’ll see the red crossed signs on some construction sites or buildings to mean they never got approval from the Authority. Notifying NCA will ensure that you are doing the project in line with construction policies or requirements,” says Ms. Otieno.
At the county government, several documents must be submitted when applying for permits.
- A copy of land ownership document.
- Land rates clearance certificate.
- A land search certificate that is not more than three months old.
- A survey map from Survey of Kenya.
- An architectural drawing from a registered firm.
- Structural drawing from a structural engineer.
- The drawings must be accompanied by an architect’s certificate and a civil engineer’s certificate.
“You should also register the construction with the NCA who will countercheck with professionals. In case something happens they (the professionals) will be held accountable,” says Mr. Omwoyo.
In order to get the construction permit, the contractor hired must first submit his registration certificate, the quantity surveyor’s practicing certificate, the client’s KRA certificate, NEMA certificate and the approved architectural and structural drawings.
While these processes might seem tedious, Ms. Otieno says they will ensure there are no inconveniences once construction begins.
“Getting the necessary regulatory approvals is important, and this comes with doing your due diligence to find out whether there are issues where you are building so that you don’t end up having issues with the government,” she says.
Health and safety
To protect the workers, one needs health and safety approvals to show that they are following all the rules and are protected in case of any accidents.
Construction projects can be quite costly and can run into millions of shillings. One of the ways you can keep track of funds is to come up with a budget or a model that will show how much to spend at each stage of the construction.
“When you have a budget you can plan well. A cost estimating model can show how much will be spent per milestone and will also be important in determining how fast or how long it’ll take to complete the house,” says Ms. Otieno.