At the entrance to Denis Abola’s home, various features in the compound catch your attention, from the monkey sculpture, the beautifully designed birds on an engraved flower pot, swimming pool and the decorative paintings on the walls.
The ambience is cool, air is fresh and natural, and the space has been well managed but most of all, the decorative colours and the artistic designs of the building sets the difference from other homes within the area.
But to get a home like Abola’s, it takes one’s initiative to plan for the right design and features you wish to have on your house, when beginning to build or while renovating the house to give it a face lift.
But above all, the right design by the right architect, can create an everlasting attraction to your house as Abola shares.
I am Denis Abola, a businessman in Gulu Town. I deal in hardware and motorcycle spare parts. When I started my business in 2007, I was not making enough money but after some time, I began getting good profits. But all along I had a plan of building a beautiful home for my family. In 2007, I bought a 100ft by 100ft piece of land in Gulu Town. The moment I bought the land, I started saving for the house.
CONSTRUCTING THE HOUSE
The moment I got money, I asked an architect in Gulu Town to draw me a house plan. By then I never had enough savings, but I dared to begin the construction with the little I had at hand.
The plan I had in mind was of a self-contained house with four bedrooms, two sitting rooms, two dining rooms and two kitchens plus two swimming pools, one for adults and the other one for children.
The architect drew the plan of the house I wanted and the whole total cost of building the house was estimated at Shs300m.
I wanted a big house because I have two wives and they were all going to stay in the same house with their children.
After the plan was drawn, I started building in January 2013. I built up to the beam level and that was in March. I stopped the construction because I had run out of money. I only had half of the estimated budget.
It took me a month to collect the balance. So by July, the whole house had been built and I was left with the final touches like painting, designing the ceiling and the compound.
It took me another one month to do all the finishing touches and by August 2013, the house was complete.
What challenged me the most was the cost of putting up the final touches on the house.
I spent a lot of money which I would have used to build another small house. However, when the house was complete, it was worth it.
My favourite spot in the house is the swimming pool. To me it is a dream come true and it is the one place I look forward to being when I am away from home.
The other spot is the dining area I have on my porch. It overlooks the swimming pool and it offers a cool setting when you are having meals.
The swimming pool
While I wanted a nice looking house, I wanted a house with a swimming pool because it adds beauty to the home and it is one form of relaxation that helps you keep physically fit. So choosing the right contractor or engineer to construct the pool was paramount.
I chose Davis & Shirtiliff to construct the swimming pool because they had been recommended by a friend.Building the pool was not expensive, however, the challenge comes in the maintenance; I spend a lot of money in maintaining the two swimming pools.
Other materials that I bought included a pool pump, pool tile, pool ladder and pool lights which collectively summed up to Shs74m, including the entire construction cost.
The cost of maintaining my swimming pool is reduced since it is only used by family members and a few friends. I have employed a casual labourer who helps in the cleaning on weekends when I do take part in cleaning. To protect the children from entering the swimming pool without the knowledge of the adults, I fenced it off.
I did this upon the advice of the constructors that it could be fatal to leave the pool open, especially with the presence of young children who can easily try to swim on their own. But I have also hired a trainer who always teaches the children how to swim over the weekend.
COMPOUND DESIGN AND MAINTENANCE
Besides the swimming pools, I also like a nice looking compound. I love the fact that creative designs make the compound more beautiful than other compounds in the neighbourhood, it also gives the home a luxurious feel.
The beauty one has with designing animal sculptures at home is that it gives a home that feel of not missing places like the zoos and the game parks.
So, I came up with the idea of designing the sculptures and contracted an artist within Gulu Town who charged me Shs3.5m.
The presence of these art pieces in the compound has helped me reduce of the money I spend on taking children out because most of the things are at home.
For the plants, I bought the flowers in Gulu Town at Shs50,000 while others were brought from Kampala at Shs300,000.
I have hired a gardener who does the maintenance work every weekdays.
On weekends, the whole family sometimes gets to do work, most especially my children and I. We clean the compound, trim the flowers and do some little pruning.
I am glad that my children are able to maintain the compound on their own, when the gardener has not turned up.
But in general, whenever I sit at any of my two porches, I thank God for having enabled me build my dream house.
Always get professionals to construct your house because they will do a good job.
Know the cost.
Always know how much you will need to build your house. This will enable you to draw a plan.
Always take part in the building process. In this way the contractors will not cheat you.
If you have hired a professional, always listen to them because their recommendations are normally informed.
Buy the material.
Always buy your own material and from authentic hardware shops.
Take part in the plan.
If you have a house plan in mind, always sit with the architect when they are drawing the plan so that they do exactly what you want.