Shame motivated me to build my first home
What you need to know:
Many times when people start living with their relatives they find themselves being forced to do chores such as mopping the house as a way to earn their keep.
According to our cultural norms, owning a home is a mark of maturity, security and wealth. For many who relocate to urban centres, they rarely feel that they are making any progress until they have a home of their own.
Bob Allan Mucunguzi, was deeply humiliated because no member of his immediate family owned a home in Kampala. Although he was welcome to stay with relatives whenever he travelled from Kisoro to Kampala, he felt the need to redeem his family’s reputation by owning a home.
Saving for the project
“Because my relatives had done it, I knew it was doable. So, I started thinking of smart and fast ways to do it. I started asking close friends that owned beautiful homes in the city how they had done it. One of them encouraged and advised me to start by buying genuine land,” Mucunguzi recollects.
When Mucunguzi started working in the procurement department at the United Nations’ Uganda office, his first priority was to save and buy land in Kampala and build a home that his family could call their own. By 2016, he had saved Shs20m, which he entrusted to Amos Baguma, a mentor for safe keeping, while he searched for the perfect land.
“My friends had bought mailo land but because I am not from here (central Uganda), I was scared of buying land that is not titled. We looked for land around Nkumba. When we failed to get anything there we tried Abayita Ababiri which is just next to Nkumba but the land here was more expensive and beyond my budget,” he recounts.
Fortunately, one of his friends agreed to sale to him a 50X100 plot in Ssisa Kaga, Wakiso District, cutting the hunting short. Because the two were friends, there were no middlemen involved so he paid Shs18m just for the cost of land. Mucunguzi regards the day he signed off the agreement one of the greatest days of his life.
“Having a title which showed that I owned land in the city was a great achievement. Whenever I could, I would go check on the land, which never ceased to make feel so good,” he says.
One Saturday morning in 2017, with Shs7m in his pocket, Mucunguzi met Baguma to consult about starting the process of constructing their home. His mentor cautioned him against trying to save money by using unprofessional builders or masons.
“Baguma advised me to hire a civil engineer to supervise the construction journey and recommended Daniel Yiga, a civil engineer to handle the project,” he says. Mucunguzi and Yiga met and started planning for the construction.
“Yiga was at first under the impression that I had a lot of money so he came up with this long list of materials I needed to begin with. But I told him the budget I was working with and asked him to trim it to the bare necessities,” says Mucunguzi.
Yiga’s asked for Shs7m as his fee for supervising the construction up to roofing level, which Mucunguzi also thought was a bit too much.
Mucunguzi bought bricks, cement, sand and some iron sheets to begin the construction process. Along the way, Mucunguzi says he realised that there were some inflations in the quantity of materials that were listed for him to purchase.
“I discovered that site managers often inflate costs which makes the project look more expensive than it really is. Being involved and learning what was needed at each stage, I discovered that with Shs500,000 or less, I could progress with building. When I was not around, I delegated my brother to supervise the project on my behalf. Somehow, whenever I asked for soft loans to help me cover my construction expenses, my friends were willing to lend me money, perhaps because they knew it was going to good use,” says Mucunguzi.
When the house reached roofing level, Yiga advised Mucunguzi to pause the construction and start constructing a perimeter fence and septic tank.
“The engineer noted that if I finished the house before building the fence and the septic tank, I would not feel pushed to construct them,” he says.
At the time Mucunguzi started the construction of the home, Kaga was more rural than it is today. He remembers having to move with a panga to clear bushes to be able to get to his site. The status of the neighbourhood was the least of Mucunguzi’s concerns although he is glad the village is inhabited by more people and some of his neighbours are his friends. His biggest motivation was to have a home no matter what.
“I was consumed by how I could I remove this curse of my parents not having a house in Kampala. Many times when people start living with their relatives they find themselves being turned into houseboys doing chores such as mopping the house as a way to earn their keep. I turned this anger into motivation and within six months, I had completed the shell of the house,” says Mucunguzi.
Mucunguzi, his wife and their one-week old baby ended up moving into the house before its completion.
“The house was plastered only inside. I made sure the toilet and shower were functional and that the bedroom had tiles. My engineer had advised me to not start with the living room when tiling the house as this would make become lax about tiling the rest of the rooms,” he recalls.
Mucunguzi says Yiga’s advice worked because every time he stepped on sand, he thought of the need to tile every room in the house and make it habitable, one step at a time. After completing the house, Mucunguzi started shopping around for a gate but most of those he wanted cost more than he could afford. To solve the problem, he decided to start a welding workshop which not only made his gate and window panes but started manufacturing metallic materials for others in the construction business. Today, Mucunguzi runs two welding workshops, one in Seguku and another in his home district of Kisoro.
Bob Allan Mucunguzi bought bricks, cement, sand and some iron sheets to begin the construction process. Along the way, Mucunguzi says he realised that there were some inflations in the quantity of materials that were listed for him to purchase.
“I discovered that site managers often inflate costs which makes the project look more expensive than it really is. Being involved and learning what was needed at each stage, I discovered that with Shs500,000 or less, I could progress with building. When I was not around, I delegated my brother to supervise the project on my behalf,” says Mucunguzi.