Viivienne Adala Makulima stays inside a rented apartment in Kyambogo, a city suburb. It’s here that the 46-year old also conducts her catering business.
Sharing the story of her construction journey, she says: “I thought of constructing a house as our retirement home and a strategy plan of building it earlier and later fully concentrating on educating our children.”
Makulima shared the “house building idea” with her husband who welcomed it with a lot of enthusiasm. The couple zeroed on building their house in Fort Portal, western Uganda. “We found the place suitable because of its abundant space, cool weather, and, also because my husband hails from there,” she says.
Putting the house plan into action kicked off in 2012 on an inherited piece of land measuring about seven acres.
“We shared with an architect our ideas and thoughts on how we wanted the home to look like before zeroing down to the final plan.”
He put the final plan together after six months of back-and-forth interaction with the couple.
“The kind of conversations we would have with him included the way we wanted the staircase, living room, bed rooms and other parts of the house. Sometimes, we would make adjustments if a particular design was not effectively coming into plan,” she says.
Part of the project included having a fireplace, however, Makulima says the idea was discarded because it was not quite working out with the house plan.
Kicking off project
In 2013, the couple made their journey to Fort Portal to see how to effect their plan. Makulima says at the time, she had money for about 10 bags of cement, which she deposited at a hardware store. A bag of cement was at about Shs24,000 them.
It was during this visit that they also employed the services of a contractor.
“He looked at our house plan, visited the site and wrote down a bill of quantities, ideally showing the likely expenses we would incur during the different phases of the construction.”
It was during the interaction with the contractor that Makulima realised she needed almost 3, 000 bags for the construction. The couple, therefore, decided that whenever they got money, they would make more deposits in the hardware store for additional bags of cement.
The building process kicked off around February 2013 with the couple spending about Shs40m on the foundation. Raising the walls cost about Shs35m while putting the slub, which has been the most expensive part of the construction process so far cost about Shs70m.
These expenses were met with money from their savings.
“My husband and I have been saving from around 2008 and it is same money we have used to pay for such expenditures. Other than the savings, we have also been able to rely on profits made from different business transactions, a case in point, after closing a deal, sometimes we direct the profits to construction,” she says.
Makulima emphasises they will not take a loan to meet expenses of building the home as loans sometimes affect financial planning of any project.
Once it is completed, the house will have six bedrooms, kitchen, dining and family room, a swimming pool, steam and sauna area, gardens, among other features. So far, roofing has been completed, plumbing done as well as electrical wiring.
“We are still remaining with more things to do including plastering, fixing doors as well as windows, among other things,” she says.
Makulima says she wants to install a fitted kitchen that comes with units such as cupboards, storage unit, sink and with appliances such as oven and dishwasher.
“I may send my dimensions to a country like China or Italy and they make for me one basing on my desired specification,” she says.
Lessons learnt along the way
One of the key lessons Makulima has learnt during the building process is the importance of a reliable contractor. “For anyone planning to build, I advise you to get an efficient and professional contractor.”
A contractor is responsible for hiring specific subcontractors to perform particular construction roles. They may also provide labour, materials and other forms of equipment required during the building process. Makulima says their contractor is a competent and reliable man who was recommended by a family member.
“He comes with his own team specialised in different things. We also like the fact that he works according to our particular timelines. He once told us we should only continue building if there is money, if it is not there, we should then halt the project and not stress ourselves,” she says.
On whether this building project is taking a toll on them, Makulima says it is not. “My husband and I are not in a rush to complete the house,” she says, adding, “We wanted to limit scenarios of the building process becoming too stressful for us by thinking about money for buying cement and other items all the time. You may have heard of stories where individuals hurry to complete house and it ends up looking terrible. Then, it is the future, they may have to again incur costs of doing repairs and renovations. That is something we did not want to experience.”
For this reason, the couple is taking their time in completing the house even if it means finishing in the next five years.
• Do not rush the project for the sake of getting it out of the way. Take your time to ensure a beautiful finishing.
• Build when the money is available. If you run out of funds, halt the process until you get money again.
• For those planning on building in the future, start saving money early.
• Get a professional contractor to handle the project. You could do so through inquiries and by looking at previous work handled by the contractor.