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Smart ways to build your house cheaply

Hellen Njeri @PeopleDailyKE

Renting a house is the most expensive recurrent expenditure in most Kenyans’ budget and therefore everyone’s dream is to build their own house designed according to their preferences.

However, before you build the dream house it is essential that you calculate the amount of money that will be spent on the project as there are several factors affecting cost of building construction in the country. Here is how you can capitalise on these factors to cut your total cost of owning a home, according to property development experts.

1. Look for economic building plots

Many people prefer to own a home in celebrated neighbourhoods. However, the cost of acquiring land is ever rising with an average plot going for Sh15 million for just a 100ft x 100ft piece of land. To secure a home in a good location for a reasonable price, you can buy large plot then look for family or friends to split it into two equal parts.

So if you can share the cost with someone else (preferably someone you don’t mind having as a neighbour) you may be able  to pick up a great building site for a reasonable price.

2. Avoid complicated designs

Keep your design simple but elegant. Think about having reduced area by minimising the number of rooms or bathrooms. A well-planned home will save you thousands of shillings in building and later on maintaining the property.

Let us say, the cost of constructing one square metre ranges from Sh27,000 to Sh40,000 depending on the market. A well designed four-bedroom-house-plan may be up to 20 square metres less meaning savings of up to Sh800,000.

3. Space planning

Ensure that space is effectively used (square or rectangular floor plans will be economical) by having fewer corners on exterior walls. Corners and unnecessary pillars increase cost of material and labour in every phase of the construction process. Every time you add a corner when designing a house, you increase the ‘unit cost’ of the build.

4. Use professionals

If you are building the house yourself and you are not an experienced builder, you are taking a significant risk with one of the largest assists most people ever own.

Building engineers and architects have knowledge regarding material quality and  structural procedures including necessary approvals. Use referral method to get your hands on a quality and affordable professional. Always insist on a portfolio of prior jobs completed to judge the level of experience.

5. Buy building materials yourself

Instead of sending your contractor to buy materials for you, consider buying them yourself. As you know materials account for a huge chunk of construction budget, you need to find a way of saving in this area. Note: Buying construction materials in bulk is another way of lowering construction costs owing to the reduced transport and trade discounts.

Although the above strategies can help you lower building costs, you should never cut corners when it comes to the quality of building materials. Be sure to spend cash on materials that are durable. Ask for advice from your chosen professional as you do a thorough research and a background check on your suppliers. For example: You can visit the quarry where your supplier will be getting stones from to evaluate the quality.

6. Minimise change orders

Planning is an important skill in almost every area. In construction, make sure you have your plan ready before hand as this will greatly reduce the number of change orders in your project. Involve all important stakeholders, for instance, close family members, wife and children to avoid any conflict which may lead to more costs in demolishing some parts of the design: This way saving time also.

7. Roofing style

The roof being the first impression of a house to visitors should be given prominence. However, this does not mean going overboard and installing very complicated designs. Pick less expensive roofing materials, not in quality but simply in price. Choose materials with better insulation. If you roof with well-insulated materials, then you will be able to trap heat in your home.

This way you save money on heating or cooling costs. Consider having someone import your consignment long before hand depending on the size of your house, this can reduce your roofing cost by almost half. Remember to choose a colour that compliments your walls.

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