During his final year at Kyambogo University, Joram Ntende, started dreaming of owning a house.
This was in 2013 while studying a Bachelors degree in Social Work and Social Administration. He shared his “dream” with his girlfriend, Efrance Bukirwa, also a finalist, studying a Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Sciences. Both were 23 years at the time.
“Like me, she thought it was a brilliant idea and encouraged me to start saving money for land,” says Ntende.
The saving process started in 2014 after Ntende graduated and got a job as a data clerk at Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB). Once the savings accumulated, he purchased a plot of land at Gayaza, Kiwenda in August 2016. It was 25 decimals (100 feet by 100 feet) and cost Shs9.5m, an amount paid in installments.
Upon acquiring the land, Ntende shared his house plan with a friend, a civil engineer. He guided him on the house plan and how to go about the construction process. At this point, Ntende had about Shs5m, a balance that had remained from the money he used for acquiring land. This balance (Shs5m) was injected into building the foundation of the house. Once the savings were used up, Ntende got a loan of Shs1m and the building process continued up to the ring beam (part of the house that separates the windows from the roof).
“I spent a total of about Shs13m from the foundation to the wall plate [horizontal wooden building frames],” he says.
While some people applauded Ntende for embarking on the construction process, others thought he was still young to pursue such a venture. “They thought I should be chasing other dreams with my savings rather than investing it in building, a process that is quite costly and draining,” she says.
Ntende did not let the discouragement get to him. He continued with the construction process.
The roofing process, alone, cost Ntende about Shs15m. Part of this money catered for the iron sheets, super tile wrinkled, which cost him about Shs5.7m while the timber for supporting the roof cost Shs3m. The iron sheets were installed in April, 2017. “I was now able to cater for some of these construction expenses because of the other job I was doing as content creator at Comedy Store, a weekly live stand-up show created by comedian Alex Muhangi who later gave me another role of finance manager, my current position,” he says.
Ntende juggled his job at Comedy Store with that of UNEB and ensured to save at least Shs1m every month, purposely for construction.
In this same month of April 2017, Bukirwa gave birth to the couple’s first child. With a new addition to the family, the couple opted to rent a two-bedroom house in Seeta, a township located along kampala-Jinja Highway in Mukono District.
“With the arrival of the baby, the demands increased. There were now more expenses to spend on family as well as the house construction,” he says.
After finishing the roofing, Ntende was left with a balance of Shs2m. The father of one topped up the amount with Shs3m he got as a loan. The amount totalled up to Shs5m which he used to instal windows and doors.
Ntende then invited friends and family members over to inspect the house. “I would ask them to freely tell me what they adored and disliked about the house. One particular friend advised me to settle for an open kitchen, rather than an enclosed one which is an old fashion trend.”
Current state of the house
The house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and kitchen. “I have not yet enclosed it with either a gate or fence because I am concentrating on completing it first,” he says.
Currently, the builders are plastering the house and installing wardrobe frames. Once this process is finished, Ntende will see what part of the house to concentrate on next.
Despite the progress of the house now, Ntende says there were moments the building process was taking a toll on him, and, sometimes he would pass over the blame to Bukirwa.
“For example, during the roofing process, I wanted to settle for cheaper iron-sheets because I had run out of money. But Bukirwa thought otherwise. She advised that we don’t pay attention to the price, but rather, quality of the sheets,” he says, adding: “This was how in the end I settled for versatile iron sheets which cost me Shs5.7m. With such a cost, I remember telling her that we were biting more than we could chew.”
Regardless of the challenges, Ntende credits his partner for her emotional and financial support.
“She has helped handle the minor building expenses for example plumbing costs where we tend to get pay smaller amounts of money such as Shs500, 000,” he says.
In the beginning, when the construction began, Ntende thought it was not important to share his building plans with the area’s building inspector at the respective building offices. Well, he thought wrong.
“I thought it was irrelevant. I was, however, shocked one day when the area building inspector paid me at a visit and asked why I had not gone to share my building plans with them. He reasoned that the inspection was mandatory for every person who is constructing as way of ensuring that the house plan is within the required approved plans,” he says.
From this experience, the now 28-year-old advises everyone interested in building to always share their houseplan with the respective construction authorities in their areas.
The lessons Ntende has learnt
• Every penny counts, even if it is Shs20,000. Such a small amount can make a huge difference during the time of construction.
• You don’t need to have a huge sum of money in order to start construction. Start building whatever amount you have, however little it is.
• Do not rush the construction process just so that you can finish the house. Whenever you do this, expect poor results. Sometimes, if you want exceptional construction results, take your time as you build. Do not rush the process.
• If you can, get someone [you trust] who will continuously encourage or uplift you during the building process because building has a tendency of taking a toll on people.
Personally, I had a friend, Ivan, who kept telling me things will eventually work out in the end.