Building your home can be an exhilarating journey. Transforming your dreams into an actual brick and mortar structure can also be a daunting task. This guide will take you through the building process in Kenya, giving you pointers to some key things you should have in mind. Some of these issues include:-
You probably have an idea of the kind of house you’d like to have. Maybe you saw a design online, on TV or on your travels. It’s time to research further and get a rough idea of what it entails to construct such a house. You can visit housing exhibitions and get lots of free information. At this stage, you’ll want to consider your budget, expected duration of your building project, sources of funds and the people or professionals you’ll consult.
- Budgeted Project Cost: It’s a good idea to have a ballpark price you expect to spend. Allow room for flexibility since, at this stage, you’ve not met the experts who will lay down the detailed costing.
- Expected Project Duration: Find out how long the building project should take. This could be influenced by issues like when your current lease is expiring or your availability for supervision.
- Source of Funds: How are you financing your project? Are you using your savings, a mortgage, sale of a property and so forth? Consider the pros and cons of each choice of funding.
- Bringing in the Experts: Hiring a professional may seem costly (which is not) and it will save you money, time and tears. When you involve a firm of professionals like Mjengo Flexi Ltd, it means that you have a trusted partner who is familiar with the ins and outs of construction. You’ll need an architect to design and make the floor plans, a contractor or builder and subcontractors to do plumbing, electrical and carpentry works.
2. Land Acquisition
Location is key in your journey to building your dream home. Accessibility through public and private means, infrastructure, social amenities are the other considerations. After pinpointing the land available in your desired location, you need to carry out due diligence to ensure you get a clean title for your land. You want to visit the site and conduct a search in the ministry of lands. Once you’re satisfied with the plot and terms of the sale agreement you can go ahead with the payment. Some plots come with a ready title which is an advantage. You should apply for a survey plan from the ministry of lands at the Survey of Kenya offices.
3. Designing Your Home
Keeping in mind your dream home idea, it is wise to consult professionals at this stage. An architect will ensure aesthetics balance with practicability and save you from design mistakes. If you have special needs like provisions for elderly or disabled family members, it’s important to mention it in your meeting with the architect.
In as much as you would want to have a home that meets your family’s needs and preferences, try as much as possible for the design to be universal. This will make it easier to find a buyer in the event you need to sell your house.
Your architect will produce floor plans and drawings for the construction and even suggest a reliable contractor. If on the other hand, you engaged a firm like Mjengo Flexi Ltd you have the advantage of getting a full package from design, approval and construction.
4. Approvals and Permits
In Kenya, the process of approval for architectural and structural plans is carried out at the county department of planning. There are several permits issued for environment and construction compliance. The process is as follows:
- Preparation of a project report by a licensed environmental expert. The report costs about 50,000/- and is submitted to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
- Get the approval of the environmental impact assessment from NEMA. It takes up to a month to obtain one. NB; Not all projects require a NEMA certificate. The Environmental body has outlined the projects that require the certificate here (www.nema.go.ke)
- Submit the architectural and structural plans to the county. For counties like Nairobi and Kiambu, it’s done online. For example in Nairobi, one applies on the county self-service portal, the eDevelopment permit system. The county will issue an invoice and you’ll pay the permit fees. The officers in the various departments like fire, electrical, sanitation will check to ensure the plans comply to the county bylaws. Once approval is done, the signed plans are uploaded on the portal. The architect downloads the plans and submits the copies to the county to be stamped finally obtaining authenticated plans and the building permit.
- Get a project registration certificate from the National Construction Authority (NCA). Once the project is registered, NCA officials will visit and carry out a compliance inspection on the site. They will issue an invoice for the certificate. Once you pay, you’ll receive a provisional compliance certificate valid for 90 days. If after the period work continues with no violations of compliance, you’ll receive a final compliance certificate.
The construction works can commence after getting the approval documents. The process can be summarized as follows:
- Clearing and levelling of the site.
- Digging and pouring in of the foundation. Here, if you’re carrying out a phased construction , you’ll prepare a foundation for the parts of the house which will be constructed in the next phase.
- Walling. This involves laying the blocks for the house and basic electrical and plumbing piping.
The architect and the structural engineer will carry out periodic inspection of the project to ensure all the works are being carried out in accordance with the architectural and structural plans.
7. Handing Over
Your architect will handover the keys to your dream home as you and your loved ones toast to a bright future and start creating memories.