Basics of constructing a commercial building

Wednesday October 17 2018

A building under construction on Ssebaana Road

A building under construction on Ssebaana Road (Nakivubo Road ) in down town Kampala. PHOTO BY SHABIBAH NAKIRIGYA 


Constructing a commercial building calls for time, concentration, accuracy and determination because it is a project that will be in place for many years. Emmanuel Kyambadde, a physical planner, says, before constructing a commercial building, you must consider these:

Any entrepreneur will agree that every project needs commitment if it is to succeed. “Even if you hire a project manager to oversee the job, you still need to be involved in daily decision-making. That may mean more time away from other daily operations,” he says. He adds that you will have to consider other things such as renting office space, buying another building or renovating existing space. When in doubt, find a financial consultant to help evaluate your situation.
“Once you have carefully determined your objectives, recruit engineers, architects and interior designers to help you find the right solution,” Kyambadde explains.
Another factor worth noting is your long-term needs; if the building you want will be able to accommodate your growth many years down the road.

Make the right plans
With this venture, a bank advisor can help you determine the affordability of your project, how much money you will need to complete the project and the right financing solutions for your needs. “It is advisable to work with a good business plan for realistic revenue forecasts,” Kyambadde says, adding that you have to get your building permit in order. Once you have made the decision to build, ensure that you have satisfied all local rules with the right permit.
“It is wise to do this as early as possible, since building without a permit is not an option. However, rules vary depending on whether you are building on new premises, changing existing premises, changing the appearance of a building or changing its use,” he points out. Looking into these issues is crucial lest one incurs great losses.

Work with a good architect
“High costs should not be reason to shun professional help,” Kyambadde says. He adds that this may earn you shoddy work. “Experts should be hired to ensure buildings are both functional and efficient. For example, in a production plant, you need to be sure your building design and makeup can accommodate your equipment,” Kyambadded says.

He adds that people should not be enticed by seemingly good prices because they are low. It is wise to do a feasibility test before starting your construction work. To back that up, an emergency plan is ideal because some costs may be overlooked. “Even if you have a fixed price contract, price issues such as additional landscaping costs, electrical and plumbing modifications may be overlooked yet they are important,” Mr Kyambadde says.
If you plan to get a loan, be prompt about applying for it lest at the last minute you fail to secure it for one reason or another.

Choose the right contractor
A competent contractor is a must have. However, when evaluating them, look at quality of work and costs. “Ensure the firm is licensed, financially stable and willing to provide references and has great referees from previous clients coupled with full information on any past legal disputes.
You also need to ask your contractor to avail you with maximum price guarantees to protect you from cost overruns,” Kyambadde advises.
He adds that you have to determine whether your contractor has expertise in constructing sustainable buildings.

Avoid sudden changes
That said, avoid making last-minute changes because it is common once construction is underway. However, these changes are usually costly as they may mean changes in building plans, and permits that the property owner may not envisage. Kyambadde also advises people never to make quick decisions on the spot, to avoid losses.

Managing the challenges
According to, one of the most important things for business owners to consider is picking the right commercial contractor to complete the project.
If financing is needed, it is critical to partner with a bank whose lenders have experience in financing construction loans. Having the right financial partner will ensure that everyone gets paid in a timely manner.
After the construction work is completed, the owner and contractor should walk through the project and develop a ‘punch list’ of items to be finalised. That ensures proper completion.