Building your own home? The dos and don’ts
SEE ALSO :Housing Finance makes changesSite selection Kenyans have an affinity for owning a piece of land as the ultimate investment. However, do your homework before committing cash on a parcel of land. Avoid landfills, riparian reserves or areas prone to floods. Make sure the land is not earmarked for public use. It helps to visit your ideal location and find out any existing or proposed amenities such as a schools, hospitals or shopping areas. A search in the lands registry or county planning office will reveal the real owners or any planned developments within the neighbourhood. The search will also reveal if a virgin area will be connected to a global sewer line, mains electricity or trunk roads. Do not rely solely on the countless “plot maguta maguta” (smooth land deals) advertisements in the media. These have disclaimers that absolve such media companies from any liabilities should your initial investment go south. In any case, you are embarking on what might be the biggest project of your life. Do not bypass the professionals
SEE ALSO :No more excuses for expensive mortgagesHowever, this ends up being costly. Again, few new homeowners know that even building blocks come in different qualities, each with a different cost. “All I had seen were building stones lined up on the roadside. I was surprised to learn that the quality differs. This was the case with sand as well. I thought I could just buy the cheapest truckload only to learn that the grains of sand matter as far as bonding with cement is concerned,” says George Aila, another Langata resident. To get value for money, it helps to purchase materials yourself rather than have your local artisan buy the items himself as he will likely surcharge you in his final billing. And in this era of counterfeits, engaging a reputable dealer of home finishes will save you a lot of trouble, and money. Choosing your main ‘fundi’ Most new homeowners find it safe to consult their friends for referrals. They end up with someone they have little connection with or one who may not hold on to their ideals. How then do you get the right master builder?
SEE ALSO :Hope for low-cost houses in new dealCheck out local associations of registered contractors. This will come in handy should ethical issues arise as you will have a point of reference for possible arbitration. Next, check out previous projects handled by the particular contractor for quality. Once satisfied, draft a workable contract that binds both of you. Among other things, the contract should set timelines for different project phases. Think green Sustainable building practices have gained traction in recent times owing to dwindling natural resources. In addition, using green building technologies will pay dividends through lower utility costs. Environmental design expert Kimeu Musau says poorly designed buildings and failure to use locally available and sustainable materials has led to poor health of occupants besides lowering the value of a building. “A sustainable building is one whose construction and lifetime of operation assures the healthiest possible environment and represents the most efficient and least disruptive use of land, water, energy and resources,” he says.
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