Wednesday April 9 2014

Don’t build your home in these 12 places

Before you dig the foundation for your house, you neead to find out if you are going to build in the right place. You also need to ensure that you are following the reaquirements for the location of your land.

Constructing a house is a long thought through project and by the time most people embark on turning the imaginary structure into something real and visible, several preparations and plans have been drawn.

What a shame it would be therefore, if the area you choose to construct in does not only stretch the construction budget but happens to be against the law, or makes maintenance of the house difficult and living in it uncomfortable.

This is why Moses Kinobe, an architect with Kinobe and Partners says, “You can build anywhere but whether you are building in the right place is a different thing.” He adds that there are some areas that are not suitable for building residential houses.

Industrial areas

O ne of such areas are industrial areas. Ms Gina Naluyima, an architect with Arch-Tech Consult explains, “Most cities or municipalities have been planned and zoned”.

She says zoning is categorised in terms of residential, commercial, institutional or mixed use. When buying land for home construction, it is best for one to consider the zoning of the area the land is in.

“For example, commercial and industrial areas are not a favourable choice for living in since you will experience inconveniences like noise and air pollution. The best choice for a home would be a residential area,” Kinobe says.

Living under high voltage lines affected her health

Diana Nakimuli, a resident of Nansana West II Zone A was recently forced to relocate from her dream home because of the electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by the High Voltage Transmission lines (HVTL) that were passing over her house.

“I bought that beautiful home house on a piece of land measuring 50 x 100 metres at Shs25m, little did I know that the previous owner was selling it off as a way of rescuing his family from the dangers of electromagnetism,” says Nakimuli.

She says when she moved into the house, she could often feel dizzy and at times faint. Whenever she was taken to the hospital, she would always be told that she was anaemic (lacks enough blood).

“The doctors often tested me to find out what was draining my blood but failed to come to a conclusion. Later when one
of my neighbours told me that the previous owners of my house had similar problems,” she says.

“My neighbour further said that the previous owners were compensated by Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited before they put the high voltage lines in place. So I was leaving in a dangerous zone called the way leaves corridor which is illegal,” she added.

According to Dr Henry Bukenya of Hope Medical Centre in Wakiso District, many people overlook the dangers of staying in a house under electricity lines, forgetting that it has long term effects.

Dr Bukenya says the magnetic wave reactions from the HVTL, interfere with the blood transfusion process in the body hence causing a number of diseases which include; brain tumour, anaemia, skin cancer and cancer of the blood (leukemia).

People are only afraid of the most commonly known dangers that power lines pose like during natural disasters such as trees near power lines or poles getting knocked down, exposing a live wire,” he added.

Nakimuli advises that before constructing a house, look for electrical wires, cables or equipment plus warning signs of danger from electricity. Remember to look up, down, and around you because if you don’t, “you might end up paying a high price like me because I lost my house.”

Railways and roads

Ms Gina Naluyima, an architect with Arch-Tech Consult, notes that when building close to the road, avoid constructing in a road reserve.

Kinobe says that different areas have different sizes of road reserves. The road reserve depends on the size of the planned road and not on the size of the road in existence.

It is best for you to confirm the size of the planned road and its centre with the authorities in this case Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) before construction commences.

“If the planned road size is 30 metres, you have to measure 15 metres from the centre of the road and then develop the land that does not cover the planned road,” advises Kinobe. He adds, “Even though you have a land title that stretches to the road reserve, you are not allowed to develop it.” The road reserve leaves allowance for utility services like water lines, optical ground wires and electric poles.
Additionally, Naluyima says, “The road reserve allows for future expansion so if you do not want your home to be demolished you should stay away from road reserves.

This also applies to railway lines, they also have reserves within which homes should not be built.”

She further notes that the noise made by the train when it’s moving might be another inconvenience.

Hilly areas

M oses Kinobe, an architect with Kinobe and Partners shares that while it is true that a house on the hill looks good, it comes with higher building costs than in other areas.

He explains that such a house is not easy to access even during construction. “Some vehicles might fail to go up hill. Besides, when building on a hill, you need to have a strong roof, lest the wind blows it off.”

“Hilly areas are also more prone to landslides therefore you have to put in terraces to reduce the possibility of a landslide and go slow on cutting trees which hold the ground together,” Kinobe offers.

Way leaves, High voltage lines and masts Way leaves are agreements or permissions that allow work to be carried out at a property in a specified way and these provide right of way de“With way leaves, there are areas electric companies pass their high voltage lines and people have a minimum distance they are allowed to build in,” Kinobe explains.

He adds that the allowed building distance from the high voltage lines is to ensure that in case the electric poles collapse, no one is in harm’s way. Also, electric wires emit electromagnetic waves that are dangerous to one’s health.

In event of a transformer explosion, several lives could be lost with the people closest to it, the most affected therefore one should not construct their house next to a transformer.

Gazetted areas
These include swamps, wetlands, game parks, lakes, nature reserves and forests. “The main reason for not building in such areas is for purposes of conserving the environment,” states Ms Gina Naluyima, an architect with Arch-Tech Consult.

She notes gazetted areas usually flood during the rainy season, they are also breeding areas and habitats for birds, animals and insects which endanger one’s health.

More so, in cases of continuous flooding for people with land in a swampy area and wetland, the water seeps into the foundation and the walls causing a damp environment and with time, the house can easily collapse.


There is a recommended distance for people who want to build near a water body. This is because the lake’s water level also changes with season and could result in flooding to as far as the house.

Before constructing a house close to the lake, one has to note there are protection zones for lake shores and river banks under the National Environment (Wetlands, River Banks And Lake Shores Management) Regulations, No. 3/2000 (Under section 107 of the National Environmental Act Cap 153) monitored by National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).

Some lakes and rivers have a protection zone of 200 metres from the low water mark and 100 metres from the highest water mark for rivers.

Other lakes and rivers have a protection zone of 100 metres from the low water mark for lakes and 30 metres from the highest water mark for rivers. No activity is permitted in the protection zone without the written authority of the executive director of the National Environment Management.

The above protection zone or recommended distance from the lake not only protects the water body from pollution but also gives one time to flee in case of dangerous floods.

Chnage of use

Do not construct on a piece of land whose user you have not changed. Kinobe explains that if the land was initially commercial, you would need to change its user to residential.

“This is because both users have different specifications. Therefore you should be familiar with the area, ensure the land is not marked for government development and that the land is truly yours.

It also important that your house plan is approved; this will help you avoid constructing in unauthorised areas.”

Government land

You should not plan to construct a house on land intended for government development projects. For example, one should not plan to build in land intended for the Southern by-pass since the house is likely to be demolished.

KCCA building checklist

Physical planning and surveying checks . Some of the checks include: proof of land ownership, proposed use of land, project description, validation of site plan, location plan, plot size as per zoning area, leeway reserve and boundary wall.

Architectural checks. Some of these include checking for space planning, door and window schedules, rock plan, appropriate indoor heights, cross sectional drawings.

Engineering. Checks made under engineering include the structural application certification form, structural plans, structural, calculations, excavation plan, soil investigation.

Environmental checks. Environmental impact assessment report, existing/ proposed drainage system, pollution management and control as well as storm water management plan are some of the things included in the environmental checks.

Landscape checks. These include location of existing and proposed trees and vegetation, contours of existing site, proposed surface materials and finishing to be used, irrigation and drainage in general and for planters, location of water courses or wetlands nearby, area of public open space in large residential developments.

As told to Betty Ndagire