Tom Kundig, an American architect, with some of the highest design awards, says: “People who build their own home tend to be courageous, these people are curious about life. They’re thinking about what it means to live in a house, rather than just buying a commodity and making it work”
Margret Nambusi Nanyonga, 26, and her husband Musa Biire 30, have toiled to put up a house of their own. Nambusi recalls the life she went through as a child and says it is one of the things that triggered them to work hard to have a house of their own. “I was raised in Bwaise and my husband is from Masaka, we met in 2012 when we had nothing at all. We opened up a small garage at Namagoma stage where we both worked while renting in a nearby place,” she says.
Nambusi notes that they had a common goal, which was owning a home of their own and they never settled for less, they bought a saving box and dropped in every little they earned. She says to increase the income base, they got the little saved money and bought an old boda boda at Shs2m. All money made from the boda boda was saved.
In 2013 after a year of saving, they heard that someone was selling a piece of land in the neighbourhood. They ran to their box which had only Shs3m out of the Shs3.5m that they needed to pay. “We paid the Shs3m and were given six months to complete the payment. We had a friend who helped us with the money and we paid him after,” she recalls. She says that the plot is not proportional (30-33 by 50-55) but its big enough.
At this point, they went back to zero, because they had no money left. Biire spared time at the weekend and made bricks on the site to reduce building costs. The first set of bricks was sold to raise money to buy other building requirements.
Building the house
In 2014, they agreed to buy building materials one by one, they started with iron sheets, which they kept at Biire’s sister’s since they had no space in their house. Buying of materials took them a period of one year.
This time things got hard as their garage was doing bad. At this point, Biire had to join boda boda business full-time while Nambusi worked in hotels.
From the little saving, they were able to buy a second boda boda hence increasing their income.
They kicked off the construction in 2016 with only bricks and iron sheets. They would buy cement and sand in bits until the house was on the wall plate. This took them a year as they didn’t have a stable income.
They started with two rooms and a store. Biire says the remaining space will be for rentals.
Biire could not stay in a rental anymore because the money paid there could be used for buying construction material. “We entered the house with only one room complete, which had no window, the first week was unbearable as there was too much coldness. However, at the back of our minds we knew this was the right choice,” Nambusi shares.
The couple just put a door on the complete room, which they occupied and are working to complete the second room. Nambusi adds that they have taken some more time to complete the house because they had to re-open their motocycle repair garage to increase their income pool.
“We have been using neighbours’ toilets for this long, which is a little uncomfortable for both us and the owners,” she says.
Last year in December, a Facebook group called my Fabulous homes asked people who wanted help on their construction to share their stories and Nambusi’s was one of the many stories shared. She was among the few chosen because of her touching story and the group gave her Shs500,000, which she used to build a toilet.
“We had collected some good amount of money in 2015 with an aim of starting the construction but someone broke into our house and stole our saving box. This blew us far as we went back to zero,” she says that this opened their eyes and they started saving money in a SACCO in Namagoma, Wakiso District.
Nambusi adds that they also lost iron sheets. Someone had been stealing them without the knowledge of Biires’s sister.
This was also a big set back because out of 38 iron sheets, they had only 16 left. For this reason, Biire had to get iron sheets from a friend on a loan which were of a different colour from the ones he had bought, this is the reason their iron sheets are of green and red colour.
In 2016, the couple lost one of the boda boda’s leaving them with only one and a little income.
Margaret Nambusi, advises people, especially women to do a lot of save because it is a very good habit to adopt. She also advises people to strive as much as they can to have a house of their own however small because renting is tiresome and money wasting. “You don’t need to have much to save, saving means keeping 10 per cent of every money you earn, avoid keeping money in the house and utilise banks and SACCOS,” she says.