Homes and Property
How I built my home
Posted Wednesday, January 23 2013 at 02:00
Sacrifice, is a word that Diana Kabahinda uses to describe how she built her home. She feels that she learnt a lot from the experience.
My name is Diana Kabahinda. I am a financial assistant with an organisation in Kampala. After university, my family was going through a challenge. Our property was being sold and I didn’t feel comfortable not having a place to stay. I started praying to God for to make a way for me. Not knowing about the future pushed me into wanting to have my own house.
I wanted a big piece of land where I would build my house and still have a spacious compound.
My house is in Zanta, Ndejje. The land cost me Shs3.5m at that time, which was expensive for me. The plot is 60ft x 110ft. I managed to build the house through prayers and a lot of consultation. I asked people who had built before, how much it would take and how they did it.
How I raised the money
When I finished university, I did some different jobs. I was earning little money. I couldn’t afford to buy a plot at the time. But I thank God, I got a scholarship and I went abroad. During the time I was waiting for my results, some months before I returned, I did some simple work; but I was able to earn some money. I saved that money and it is what I used to buy the land.
With these different odd jobs I was getting when I returned, I was able to buy materials in bits. I can’t tell how much building the whole house cost. I like building houses. If I had the opportunity, that’s what I would do. I usually ask about stages. I asked how much it would cost to build the foundation and the materials I would need.
When they told me I needed sand, cement and bricks, I made sure I put those aside in the planning; and the labour too. That stage would be done and I would go on to the next stage. I was building the house in stages as God was blessing me. I bought this place in 2002 and I entered this house in 2003. There was no floor and no power.
The building process
When I got the land and the house plan, my friends told me I needed to do a slab. A slab is the concrete in the foundation. They said I needed Shs13m for that. They also said that to start building, I needed to have another Shs13m in my account, which I did not have at all. I didn’t even think, at the time, I could make that kind of money within a year.
I closed my eyes to that and decided to look to God and do things bit by bit. I started listening to different people’s advice, but it was also good to listen to people’s encouragement. For example, I was told that some type of soil is good murram, so I didn’t need to do a slab.
I had to change the plan mid way though. A friend told me that because this was my house, I needed a room that was self-contained. I had not thought about that. I thought I needed only one bathroom to be shared by the three bedrooms.
My friend said, “No, as the owner of the house, you need privacy and peace in your home.”
So she gave me Shs150,000 and I changed the place. The structure had already been built. It was supposed to be straight. I extended the wall, to make my room bigger, to accommodate a bathroom and toilet. The first builder did that. I was happy when he accepted the Shs150,000 to do it.
When I was careless
I wanted to use people I knew. The first builder was a friend’s relative and I thought he was a good builder. The friend advised me, saying he might not know everything. But because it was cheap labour and I didn’t know anything, I thought I was getting a bargain. I knew my friend could always supervise. I thought I was in safe hands.
Later on, I was told some of the places were weak. The mixing was not good. I didn’t do those places again. That is why some walls are a bit hollow, when you hit at them.
At one point, I got another builder. When the new builder came in, he noticed the mistakes of the other person. I did not go back to change those mistakes though. I built up to the wall plate.
When the new builder came in, the structure was up to the wall plate. He was going to put the roof on, when he noticed that the wall of the structure I had extended was crooked. Being a professional, he said he did not want to do a shoddy job. He could not put a roof on a house which was crooked. He refused to work on it and volunteered to break the wall and work on it again, so that the roof would be at the right angle.
When I wanted to have the burglar-proofing made, I used this person in our fellowship. I thought, being a born-again person, I could use somebody like that and also encourage him, by giving him some money. I was working up-country at the time.
I used to send money to this person. I didn’t know what job he was doing, until a friend challenged me, saying I should first see the work I was paying for before I could send the remaining half of the money.
Indeed, when I came to check on the burglar-proofing, I discovered he was a builder, not a welder. He was using other people to do the welding. He was not paying them all the money I was sending him. The welders had to do the best with the little money he was giving them. The burglar-proofing did not come out as well as I had wanted it to.
I also wanted my windows to be wide. The windows that had been made were narrow, yet the window frames were wide. We had to do some extensions. It wasn’t a perfect job.
It’s my first project. It was a learning experience. I see it as a miracle because I did not have much. But now at least I have a roof over my head; although a lot has not been completed. I am already in the house, so sometimes I overlook some things. I have not yet done the plumbing, because I have an outside toilet. I also have a tap, so I have not yet put in the other faucets; and I have electricity. So, it is a comfortable house. I have not yet tiled and I have not completely painted it.
I put up a perimeter wall, because I need privacy. I love my fruits (orange trees). But people come and pick them when they are still young. This is a challenge which is pushing me to have a gate in the compound, so that the oranges can grow to what they are supposed to be.
I entered my house when it was not complete. Only the garage was cemented. The other rooms were earthen, with boulders. It was good to sleep and know that I wouldn’t have any landlord at my door, although I didn’t rent for a long time. The experience of knowing that it was my house and that I could go to bed hungry and no one would know, was comforting.