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Why you should not use short-cuts if you are planning to build a house

A few days ago, irate residents brought down a house they claimed was being built on a road blocking their passage. Amidst the chaos, the owner, a woman, spoke out protesting the demolition. She looked decent and well off.

Questions that linger over the incident include why someone who looks knowledgeable would not do due diligence before investing in property.

Many Kenyans love short-cuts, or what they call 'deals'. These are ways of bending the system and getting something done at half price. They get to build houses on road reserves or on land whose proper title is in the hands of someone else.

Because they want to 'save money', they forego an important step in investment: establishing that the land or house they are buying is genuine. Doing a search is very important and the little money you pay to establish the correct status of the property you are purchasing is worthwhile at the end of the day. This is because if you find out that the land has no valid title, for example, this knowledge will help you avoid making losses such as buying the land or going ahead to develop it.

Once you establish that the land is clean, then go ahead and do everything above board. Involve experts. It may seem expensive because you pay professional fees but in the long run it will be cheaper.

If the lady whose structure was demolished had sought the advice of an expert, she could not have spent money on the project on the road.

Some developers have used builders instead of architects and structural engineers to put up multi-storeyed rental structures only for them to crumble down because of poor workmanship. This is double loss – your money goes down the drain and in most cases people on site are hurt or even die.

The Kenyan law might convict you of murder if someone dies at your site due to negligence. Before you start developing your rental or residential house, get a professional to draw the plan and seek approvals from the right authorities. With this certificate, you can confidently start your project.

There are serious lady builders who tough it out with men. But the men always have their way when it comes to construction.

For example, if you aspire to personally pay the contracted workers as per agreement per day, how are you going to measure the quantity and quality of work done in relation to the pay?

You may want a certain quality of cement but they might cleverly arrange a few bags of the cement you want at the top while in between they stack the low quality one. You also may not get the thickness of steel reinforcement you want as it can easily be interchanged with the cheaper one.

The best approach in construction is to have a contractor do the work. You can also get a trusted friend or relative to supervise the contractor to ensure the materials being used to put up your structure are the same you agreed upon.

Once in a while, make impromptu visits to the site when construction is going on. Remember it is your money putting up the project and you have every right to question anything you feel is going outside your expectations.

Notably, the cost of putting up a beautiful and ugly house is the same. The materials cost the same and the quantities are the same if the houses are similar. So why not aspire to put up a decent house that people will marvel at?

Before you start a mega project such as building a flat, make sure you are knowledgeable and state your preferences, ensuring that they are followed by the contractor.

Visiting the site with an expert once in a while will make the contractor thorough. If a mistake is made, put your foot down and have it corrected.

When the builders think that you are a greenhorn, they deliver shoddy work. You will find that floor tiles are not laid out in a symmetrical manner, an outcome that is an eyesore.

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