Homes and Property
One man’s unconventional suggestions to cutting your building budget by one third
Posted Wednesday, February 20 2013 at 02:00
Building a good quality home that will stand the test of time and the elements is only sensible. But a thorough project usually comes with a hefty price tag. We examine one experienced builders’s opinions about a few “safe shortcuts.”
Rich or poor, providing the basic needs of food and comfortable shelter to a family is many a man’s sense of pride. It is the reason some intelligent respected previously well-meaning focused people will stoop down to unbelievable habits like stealing, lying and bribing. Why, they wake up at 40 and realize that however much they save, even with a paycheck of Shs1m, it may take a miracle to build a home while taking to their other needs.
Generally, building involves colossal sums of money regardless of what you do for a living or how simple your house plan is. Last year, Homes, while talking to experts found that with a salary of Shs500,000 (which is fairly decent) and while saving Shs200,000 monthly, it can take seven years to buy a cheap plot of land and build a two bedroomed house that is not self-contained.
Knowing how much the achievement of owning a home means for most people, one man has come up with some unconventional suggestions to help people achieve this dream without having to save for 10 or 20 years to get there.
Not really ‘professional’
The first unconventional thing about Charles Nabbimba Mukasa is that he has no qualifications in building and construction. He learnt the craft through apprenticeship.
“After my carpentry course, I worked for some years but did not feel very comfortable in the profession. It is an uncle of mine, a friend to the late William Lukwago who helped me join the now defunct Lukwago Construction,” Nabbimba says.
“I have been on this job for more than 20 years and I have managed to keep all my clients because they are mostly satisfied with my work besides my useful cheap suggestions that help them fulfill their dreams,” Nabbimba boasts.
A well-known resident of Nyanama, a place where he has a home, he keeps waving and stopping to greet locals while pointing to a number of houses he has helped to build both using the conventional and unconventional methods.
Building walls without cement
He points to a house whose walls he claims were constructed without using cement.
“That house,” he says pointing to an unplastered row of five rental units “has no cement all the way to the beam. The owner is a widow who wanted to utilize her land to get some income but yet had no money to invest. I advised her and today, she is making some money off her investment, money that will help her to achieve her dream of classy rentals in the near future.”
In putting up these walls, Nabbimba says that three wheel barrows of river sand are mixed with two wheel barrows of good homogenous soil that has no stones.
“Instead of using a spade, these two items are mixed thoroughly by stomping with feet the same way bricks are made,” he explains.
“It is this mixture that acts to hold the bricks together in the erection of the walls with the soil acting as cement since it has deposits of calcium and starch.”
And off your list goes the cost of the cement that was supposed to go into the walls.
Keeping it realistic
Nabbimba argues that instead of dreaming of a storeyed commercial building in your prime plot of land that you might never be able to build in 100 years, it is best to start with a structure that will help you get some rent coupled with a slightly better loan that you can invest to facilitate future investment in your plot as opposed to when your collateral is an empty piece of land.
With the proceeds, you can now comfortably build your dream in five or so years, he adds, instead of selling off your prime plot.
How about the risks?
But isn’t such shoddy work the reason why buildings have collapsed killing people in some instances? I ask him.
There is something called poor workmanship, he explains, even when someone is using cement. Some people just don’t pay enough attention to detail even though they were using all the standardized materials. You’ll find that the building has cracks when the owner personally bought all the materials and supervised the building.
“A poor workman is a poor workman but over the last 20 years none of my buildings have collapsed. With time, the owners get money to erect their dream buildings/homes and they always give me the job once again which demonstrates that they trust me.”
However, Nabbimba strongly warns that this kind of ‘cement’ should not be used in the foundation or in the beam as these need the right ingredients for your building to remain firm for years.
Using “number 2” bricks.
Nabbimba’s tips are entirely for people who have desperately failed to have something of their own because of limited resources and using ‘number two’ bricks is one other recommendation. These are bricks that do not bake to optimum standards. While the market price of a well-baked brick will cost about Shs180, this ‘number two’ will go for Shs80, less than half the price. But obviously, it has its disadvantages that Nabbimba points out.