Wednesday June 18 2014

Buying saved me building glitches

Uhuru at his re-modelled home. Photo by Edagr R

Uhuru at his re-modelled home. Photo by Edagr R Batte 


My name is Salim Saad Uhuru. I was born on July, 24, 1971. I grew up in Old Kampala and studied at Old Kampala Primary School and Old Kampala Secondary School. At some point, I felt I was grown and I needed to become self-sufficient.
I had some money so I started a business. I opened up a restaurant with branches on Wilson Street, Qualicel Bus Terminal and at Mukwano Mall. It was at this point that I shifted from Old Kampala to Mengo where I bought an old three-bedroomed house.
It had an empty kitchen, a cardboard ceiling and plainly painted walls. But I transformed it into exactly what I wanted.


I bought the house in one instalment at Shs350m and it sits on an acre of land. The house was basically old-fashioned but being a young man, I wanted a house that was fairly in vogue. I needed a house that was trending in the construction world because right from my childhood, I have always wanted to keep up with new trends.

I believe that accessing one’s home is very important and this is why the first thing I did after paying for the house was fix the road that branches off the main road to our community. Now known as Uhuru Road, it was quite long and filled with potholes. But because I am not a selfish person, I fixed it. After that, I fixed the street lights in the area for security purposes. All this cost me approximately Shs10m.

I had saved over time to be able to buy the house so as to change it all over, I had to take breathers. I started with the face stones and then the modern wall bricks.
It had paint but I preferred to use the new model bricks which more or less serve the purpose of half bricks.
It is what is on fashion and I was not to let the trend leave me behind.

Changing the exterior
With the road and lights in place, I then embarked on changing the look of my house. I reconstructed pretty much everything.
I started with a bit of the exterior then to the doors. I bought three brass gold tinted doors with Egyptian designs at Shs1.8m from a company in Industrial Area.
I also changed the windows from two way to one-way (Where the person inside can see the one outside but the latter does not see the former). These cost me Shs7.5m which is a set of three windows. I then worked on the ceiling.

Changing the ceiling
The house originally had a cardboard ceiling which I changed to a well-designed concrete one.
I then bought chandelier, golden colour to match the white ceiling. I bought the lights at Shs1.8m, and for the ceiling, I used my local builders who broke and reconstructed a stronger one.

The kitchen was one open space with no shelf or cabinet. I changed the kitchen’s outlook. I introduced a cabinet or kitchen cabinet which cost me Shs20m from Kitchen and Office.

The wall
For part of the walls, I built them with decorative stones which added beauty to the interior because they have different colours.
I can say that all these changes I had to introduce to the house cost me approximately Shs50m. But I did not add any rooms to the house. It still has three bedrooms, a sitting room, dining room, a kitchen and three bathrooms.
Throughout all the renovations and reconstruction I was staying in the house. We would shift from one room to another.
They would reconstruct one room then we enter it and give room to builders to work on another. It took me two years to complete the whole process.
My main aim was to change the interior and touch a bit of the exterior.
After working on fixing the inside, I bought the decor for the interior with my wife from different places.
We bought some vases from Oasis Mall/Nakumatt and she bought others from other places.
In all this, I considered the advantages and disadvantages of building a house.

When you set out to build, you will buy every material from the smallest nail from your pocket and you will have to factor in thieves who will be stealing from your site.
But for my house, I bought it more or less fully constructed and I transformed it.
This, I feel, was better than starting afresh from the foundation.
I knew I would not have the time to be at the site constantly because you need to be there to make sure there is no theft.
There is no way you can leave masons on site and nothing will be stolen. All those challenges I avoided by buying a constructed house.
With such theft and unbalanced mixture of cementwill put you at risk because the walls or foundation are not strong enough to hold the house. Many times the mix is not right.
But I can tell you that renovation is more or less like construction.
I did the reconstruction in phases which was basically to allow me look for money. I did not have all the money at once.


When I was done reconstructing it, I went to the outside. I love nature so much. My neighbours suggested that I construct another house since I still had a lot of space. But I told them that my plan was to use the remaining space as a playground for the children. In fact, I am planning on setting up a small swimming pool for them.
I am still doing the costing. I want to make it convenient for the children so that if they do not want to go out, they can play from home.
For the parking lot, I used pavers and then started designing the compound with grass, flowers and trees for the rest of the space. I did stone pitching all around right from the gate. This also took time and money.
For this phase, I never saved. I would work as and when I got the money. If I got money in one week, I would work, if I did not get enough the following week, I would take a break.

Ignore myths. It is not true that when you buy a house, you cannot fit into its structure designs. All you need is to make the changes that you need.

Buy the material. If you want a specific thing for your house like doors or windows, go out and buy them because it is the only way you will be assured of its autheticity.

Take part. Always take part in the building process. In this way the contractors will not cheat you.

Use what you have. You do not need to have completed the house to occupy it. You can complete room by room until you finish.

THE numbers
Amount he paid for the house that is seated on an acre of land

Amount of money he spent on the remodelling of the house