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You do not have to be rich to join property market.

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PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Don’t wait until you have saved enough to build a house. Put the ‘little’ cash you have in a joint land-buying venture and watch your investment grow. 

In Summary

  • Indeed, real estate has proved to be an avenue for creating wealth.
  • Whether it is building your retirement home or buying plots as a group, many of us have dreamt of investing in property at a certain point in our lives.
  • However, sometimes investing in real estate can be intimidating for beginners due to fear of the unknown.

“Earth is the best investment on earth.”

That is a statement by Mr Gilbert Kibire, the CEO of Icon Valuers Ltd, a real estate firm based in Nairobi, a statement echoed by his colleague, Mr Martin Cheboror.

“Land is the only asset you can invest in, where its value will almost always appreciate,” Mr Kibire expounds.

Indeed, real estate has proved to be an avenue for creating wealth. Whether it is building your retirement home or buying plots as a group, many of us have dreamt of investing in property at a certain point in our lives.

However, sometimes investing in real estate can be intimidating for beginners due to fear of the unknown.

Mr Cheboror explains that these reservations are legitimate as he has seen people lose millions of shillings and go bankrupt overnight in real estate deals gone awry.

“For smart investors who consult widely and seek guidance from professionals, the industry sure is lucrative, as we have facilitated deals in which people have made millions of shillings overnight,” he says.

Below are 10 tips that will help you get started in real estate and turn investing in property into a lifelong pursuit to secure your financial future.

  1. START SMALL, START NOW

A common truism in property circles is that, with real estate, you don’t wait to buy, you buy and wait.

“Many people lose out on making a fortune because they think the money they have is too insignificant to get them into the real estate business.

They don’t know that there are investment packages and opportunities they can exploit if they seek guidance from a real estate agent,” Mr Cheboror offers.

To drive the point home, Mr Kibire gives the scenario of two individuals with Sh100,000 each, and who both want to own a home in 10 years.

While individual A might think it is better to save until he can raise the capital required to build a home, individual B, who gets into a joint land-buying venture with his Sh100,000, will be better off as his stake in

the venture will have risen over the years since the value of land always appreciates.

“There are many financing options available to people with an interest in the real estate, ranging from bank loans to mortgages and micro-finance savings packages. Just make sure the income or appreciation

value of your property surpasses the interest on the loan to avoid burning your fingers,” advises Mr Kibire

You don’t need to buy an apartment complex right out of the gate. It is okay to start small, even if it is with REITs or partnerships. Just start.

  1. REAL ESTATE IS NOT A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME

Most people find the allure of buying property today and selling it after a short time hard to resist. However, the two professionals caution against getting into real estate with such an attitude because, like any

other investment, there is always an element of risk involved.

“One virtue that will prove very vital in this business is patience, which goes hand in hand with the principle of delayed gratification.

A person seeking to make a fortune in the real estate sector should be prepared to work hard and learn over a long time to understand how the market works,” Mr Kibire says.

  1. DO NOT QUIT YOUR REGULAR JOB JUST YET

If you are looking to  getting started in the property sector, quitting your regular job might not be a very sound move, especially if it is the job that provided the initial capital for your investment.

According to Mr Cheboror, people who quit their jobs to concentrate on real estate are oblivious of the fact that they can get professionals to handle the management part of their investments.

“Property agents and land economists have obviously been in the industry much longer, and are thus more experienced in competently managing your investments,” he says.

Relying on professionals saves you time as it only requires you to play a supervisory role.

  1. DO NOT UNDERSTATE THE IMPORTANCE OF DUE DILIGENCE

The average Kenyan looking to get into real estate is always paranoid. This is because cases of people buying land whose title deeds are later revoked are rampant in many parts of the country.

“We have had people asking us to do a title deed verification when their investments have already gone up in smoke.

By then it is too late, and there is little we can do. To avoid being sucked into such unscrupulous deals, we advise land buyers to consult  professionals , who will carry out due diligence to verify the legitimacy

of the property in question,” says Mr Kibire.

Even when buying property from a family member, a friend or a person you think you know very well, resist the temptation to skip carrying out due diligence as unforeseen circumstances  could later lead to

life-long scarring.

“We know of people who spend the rest of their lives servicing loans for properties that turned out to be phony,” Mr Cheboror offers.

Given the kind of emotions land  issues raise, it is certainly better to be safe than sorry.

  1. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT TEAM

When getting started, it is advisable to build a team of professionals  you can easily consult before making any move, especially one that involves high financial expenditure.

A property valuer, a conveyancer, an accredited contractor and a loan adviser are a few of the professionals whose advice you cannot afford to shrug off.

While adding the professionals to your payroll might seem costly at a glance, a closer look will reveal that it actually saves you money.

Mr Kibire, the CEO, cites the case of a client who wanted to buy a house in Nairobi valued at Sh10 million, a week before the interview.

Before he could seal the deal, however, the prospective buyer decided to call  the valuation firm for advice.

“Our team visited the property and advised the client not to pay a cent more than Sh7 million for the property. He later sealed the deal for Sh6.5 million. While we only charged him 0.25 per cent of the property

price for our services, he ended up saving a huge sum,” Mr Kibire  says.

  1. BUY THE WORST HOUSE IN THE BEST NEIGHBOURHOOD

“The importance of location in any real estate investment cannot be overemphasised.

This is because property in prime locations is measured not so much by the cost of construction, but by the value and high appreciation rate of the land on which the property sits,” Mr Cheboror says.

Investing in a simple establishment in a high-end neighbourhood always pays handsomely.

However, the reverse can be the worst mistake an investor could ever make. Buying the best house in the worst neighbourhood, he warns, will always turn out to be disastrous as the value of the land

underneath hardly appreciates, and future buyers will most likely shun the property because of the neighbourhood.

  1. BEAR IN MIND  THE 1 PER CENT RULE

When putting up commercial or residential property to let, seek advice from your agent and do your calculation in such a way that, when the property is finally ready for occupation, the money collected

as  monthly rent is always more than 1 per cent of the total investment cost. This is what Mr Kabire refers to as the 1 per cent rule.

“Say you put up rental apartments at a cost of Sh1 million. The total monthly rent collected from an apartment should always be at least Sh10,000.

This will enable you to recoup your investment in less than 10 years,” Mr Kibire says.

However, the 1 per cent rule is not cast in stone.

“Some investors recoup the principal investment in a shorter time, even four to six years. But those whose buildings on prime land in places such as Westlands and Kilimani take as long as 30 years.

These investors rest easy knowing that the land on which their buildings sit is gaining value at a much higher rate than the rents,” he adds.

  1. GOOD BOOK-KEEPING WILL SAVE YOU A FORTUNE

Mr Cheboror points out that many small-scale constructors do not appreciate the value of accounting for every shilling spent while constructing.

They thus end up getting duped by unscrupulous foremen and contractors, so building a house ends up feeling like pouring money into a bottomless pit.

He advises that investors get into the habit of keeping all the financial records pertaining to the construction.

This, he explains, is useful in determining the amount of rent to be charged, or the price of the building, were it to be put up for sale.

Keeping records can also save you money when the time comes to file your tax returns with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The financial records put you in a good position to enjoy tax exemptions.

  1. DO NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH THE PROPERTY

When buying property for resale, you are better off checking your emotions at the door. “There are buildings put up for sale that are over-designed and over-decorated.

These buildings have great curb-appeal, that is, they look appealing at a glance. People tend to fall in love with such buildings and hence end up paying inflated prices, only for them to get shocked when they

later cannot sell the building at a profit,” Mr Kibire says.

“We always advise our clients that real estate is not a sentimental business. One should always be on the lookout for profits and not let the visual appeal of a property cloud their judgment,” he adds.

However, when buying your own home, you can go ahead and fork top dollar for a property with great curb appeal.

  1. AVOID THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE

The temptation to cut corners to save some money will certainly arise at some point. The agents agree that taking shortcuts is rarely ever worth it; if anything, it usually results in the loss of entire investments,

and sometimes even lives. Going by the book might seem expensive, but it saves you a lot of mental agony and is actually cheaper.

“Hire only contractors accredited and licensed by the National Construction Authority,” advises Mr Kibire.

“Take note of the national construction regulations and county by-laws to avoid the possibility of your property being demolished in future.

Conduct surveys to avoid encroaching on public land, and use only genuine materials while constructing. I have seen entire buildings being marked as unfit just because the owners did not see the need to

conduct the necessary inspections at the foundation stage.

Original Post from www.nation.co.ke

PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

 

 

5 Factors to Consider Before Buying Quarry Stones.

Manually cut Quarry StonesBuilding a house is the ultimate goal of every family. Strategic financial planning, emotional strength, and physical energy are required for a successful completion of a housing project. Without walls, we cannot talk about a house. Walls are an important part of a house and hence a lot of care and due diligence should be done when purchasing of the quarry stones. It’s important you consider the points below.

1. Type of Quarry Stones.

We can classify the stones according to the way they are mined and shaped.Locally available in the market are machine cut quarry stones and manually cut quarry stones.

Manually Cut Quarry Stones: These are mined by blasting the stones and then manually using steel chisel and sledge hammer to cut into required shape and sizes,150 mm or 200 mm thickness. These stones are normally rough with uneven surfaces, manually cut quarry stones are sold per running foot. In Nairobi, they may cost kshs. 35 to kshs. 40 per running foot. In Kisumu, 6-inch cost around kshs.36 and 9 inch stone cost kshs. 45, with transport, factored in differently.

Advantages of Manually Cut Quarry Stones.

  • They are strong and hard. Suited for foundations and other underground structures, like a water tank, septic tanks etc.
  • Because of their strength, Structural Engineers, considering other factors can design a house with manually cut quarry stones as load bearing walls.I am sure you have seen mansions built without concrete columns, supported only by the manually cut stones on the ground floor.
  • They come in various beautiful colors.
  • The rate of water absorption/seepage from outside is very low, so it’s suited for external walling of a building.
  • They can be used for both substructure (underground) and Superstructure walling.

Machine Cut Quarry Stones: As the name suggests, are cut into a specific shape and size using a special machine at the quarry that cut both in vertical and horizontal directions. The resulting stone pieces are same in sizes. Machine cut stones are sold per piece. They are commonly known as Ndarugu stones.At the quarry, they may cost between kshs. 23 to kshs. 28 per piece, transport can be sourced at the quarry or from where the site is located.

Advantages of Machine Cut Quarry Stones.

  • Use Less Mortar: The stones well shaped with even surface hence, a small amount of mortar is used to bond the stones. There is even a bigger saving when plastering. Less mortar is used compared to manually cut stones, because you don’t need to fill in the uneven gaps on stones with mortar.
  • Less Labour Cost: It is fast to build with machine cut stones, meaning the mason builds a larger area in a day; hence, you save on labor cost. Same labour benefits are there when plastering the wall.
  • Neat: The wall build with machine cut stones is neat.
  • No Stone Dressing: They don’t need stone dressing hence you save on the cost of carting away waste from the site. You save on time also.Building made of Machine Cut Stones

2. The Intended Use of Stone. 

What are you buying the stone for? Is it for internal or external walling? Sometimes it’s advisable to use 200 mm thick stones for external walling especially if you are using machine cut stones, to avoid rain water seeping through the stones from outside.
Sometimes the architect or the consultants can design a wall of a different thickness, like 100 mm (4 inch) stones for washroom partitioning etc

3. The Source of the Quarry Stones.

In the construction industry, just like most sectors, there are a lot of unscrupulous people, scheming day and night on how to con you off your hard-earned money. It’s important that you look for a reliable and honest supplier of quarry stones. Some suppliers will sell you poor quality stones that will compromise the structural strength of your house and later cause dampness or cracks on your wall. Apart from poor quality you may receive less quantity of stones, than what you have paid for. In fact, it’s advisable that when you are going to buy building stones you go with a qualified person to confirm the QUALITY and QUANTITY of stones. You can also confirm quantity and quality of stones on site. Stones of poor quality should be rejected on site.

4. The Quantity of Stones.

Before making an order for stones, you need to get the services of a qualified person to help you calculate for you the right quantity of quarry stones required. Buying without getting the right quantity may be costly, because, you may over or under supply the stones.

5. The Cost of the Quarry Stones.

It’s important to shop around for the right kind of stones at a reasonable cost. There are several types of quarry stones across the country. Some may cost more than others because of transport. So ask around for a quarry near your construction site, it may save you some good money. Ask for the price of stone at the quarry and the cost of transporting the same to the site. This will help you to negotiate better.

3 Effective Ways to Save Money When Building a House

 

For a long time, timber, bricks, blocks and quarry stones have been the most commonly used materials in the Building Construction Industry. With modern technology, other new types of materials for wall construction have been introduced and approved in the market. Let’s look at the 3 types of materials that are cost effective and much faster to use than the conventional brick and stone materials,when building a house

 

1. Expandable Polystyrene System.EPS

 

EPS is an industrial system of constructing a structural wall of reinforced concrete. This is a wall made of panels that consisting of polystyrene materials sandwiched by an electro welded, zinc coated square wire mesh, Which in turn are connected by 33 connectors per m2 realizing a three-dimensional hydrostatic reinforcement steel. Polystyrene is the white soft materials normally used to support or protect delicate consumer goods like television sets, radios etc when transporting.

The panels are assembled on site. Once the panels have been assembled and connected to the steel bars on the ground slab, in situ concrete is poured on it on the panels on both sides. Roof, stairs and slabs can be done with these materials.Building a house with EPS has been widely adopted in European /Western countries.

Advantages of EPS Panels.

  •  Speed of construction a 3 bedroom house can take 4 weeks to build to completion.
  •  Doesn’t need special equipment to use, and easy to work with during the erection phase.
  •  Good sound insulation.
  •  Good Fire and Heat Insulation.
  •  Long life and low maintenance.
  • Cost effective as compared to normal types of materials.
  •  Reduce the negative environmental impact. Reduce quarry activities, deforestation.

2. Hydraform Interlocking Blocks

Hydraform interlocking block is a walling material made of three inputs, namely soil, cement and sometimes sand. In Kenya it’s also known as MAKIGA interlocking blocks. This is a type of wall material that doesn’t use mortar to bond. It has grooves on all the four sides that lock into each other hence the name interlocking blocks. It can be used for storey building with reinforced columns used to handle the loads. Some of the main of the advantages of this material includes;

  •   Speedier construction,Building a house with Hydraform blocks is faster than normal building blocks.
  •  It’s very cost-effective. Save about 40% compared to normal quarry stones.
  •  It doesn’t require special skills to use hence semi-skilled workers can build the interlocking wall.

3.Pre-Cast Concrete Panels.

This wall material is made by casting concrete in a steel pallet in a factory and curing in a regulated curing chamber. These Pre concrete panels come in various sizes depending on the use. Some can be used for doing the slab work.Pre cast beams are also made to work with the panels.

Boleyn a Chinese company has built a Kshs.3billion factory in Kitengela for manufacturing Pre-cast Concrete panel and Expandable Polystyrene System panels.

Advantages of Pre-Cast Concrete Panels.

  •  It can cut the construction period and labor by up to 60%. This technology can be used for high-rise apartments, large-scale projects as well as stand-alone. With this material you can build a 2 bedroom house in 8 days
  • It has Superior strength durability.
  •  Provides excellent protection against explosion and severe weather effects.
  •  High-quality wool with a uniform consistency.
  •  It has very low maintenance.

The only downside of these panels is special means of transport required in transporting like the low loaders and crane for lifting and installing it on site. So a small project like a single bungalow may be expensive construct using these pre-cast panels.

Advantages of Hydraform Interlocking Blocks.

Why Hydraform interlocking blocks?

Hydraform interlocking block is walling material made of three inputs, namely soil that can be sourced on site, a small amount of cement that provides stability to the blocks, and water.
The machine from making the blocks are currently available in all county offices in the ministry of housing. This is a diesel machine. The county government gives the hydraform machines for free; you only cater for transport to and from their offices. You also fuel it on daily basis when in use. Locally there are also manual making blocking machines.
The machines have the capacity to produce between 800 and 1,000 blocks per eight-hour shift.
This building system has been extensively tested for structural strength and durability, as well as for fire, rain and sound resistance.Hydraform Interlocking Blocks

Advantages  of Hydraform Interlocking blocks.

• Hydraform Interlocking Blocks save on Mortar & Plaster cost, you don’t use mortar to bond it together, it has tongue and groove joints that form interlocking masonry wall. When it comes to plaster you also save since the interlocking wall doesn’t have big holes that need to be covered with mortar when plastering. You also have an option of not plastering, because the wall looks beautiful even without plaster on it.
• High Finish design & Aesthetics/
• Speedier Construction, because, there is minimum mortar is used, only before the first course, after that it’s just laying on top of each other, without cement.
• Unskilled / semiskilled workers can also make blocks and masonry
• Cost Efficient. It saves the cost of walling by about 50% as compared to conventional blocks or stones.
• Hydraform Interlocking Blocks is environment Friendly,by saving trees – No Burning of Bricks required/
• Independence to make at site of construction
• Training and technical support from the county officials when making the hydarform  interlocking blocks and also when building the house.
• Interlocking Shear key makes masonry Earthquake resistant
• Hydraform Interlocking Blocks is International proven product used in more than 50 countries.
• Compatible for both Load bearing and for In fill applications
• Can be used without plastering
• Lighter than conventional masonry
• Conduits / Plumbing possible.
• Hydraform interlocking blocks and masonry are compatible for Green Building.

Original information from Hydraform.com

Foundations types and their Use

Foundation is the firm concrete base on which the entire building rest on. It’s the lowest and supportive layer of a structure (Wikipedia).

Factors to Consider before even starting the design of a house, you should consider the factors below;

  • Type of ground; is it a swampy or dry ground?
  • Type of soil; is it loose sandy, firm or deep black cotton?
  • The type of building; is it a low level house, or a multistory building?
  • The climate of an area, eg area prone to floods.

Picture of Strip foundation

It’s important that you involve the services of a qualified and experienced person to check the ground for you so as to determine the type of foundation you will put. Let’s look at the four types of foundation
Strip foundation-This is the most common type, it is mainly used where you have strong soil base and non-waterlogged areas. Most low level or buildings with few floors are constructed with this type of foundation. It supports line of loads either due to load bearing wall, or where a line of columns are so close that that individual column bases will impossible to have.
The depth and width of the foundation trench will depends on the structural engineers recommendation, the depth of your foundation could be from 600mm to 1200mm mostly for small scale buildings. The main reason for excavating foundation trench is to establish a firm ground level on which the concrete will settle on and distribute the loads of building evenly to the ground. The structural engineer will determine the thickness of concrete to be laid, otherwise, for low level house bungalow, 150mm (6 inches) of concrete thickness is accepted.
Pad foundation-This is where isolated columns are concreted from the foundation to carry a slab at the top of the ground. This is mostly used when you want to make use of under of a building as parking area est. These columns are thus isolated and their foundations are referred to as pad.
Raft foundation-This is where you have reinforced concrete spread on the entire area of the building, meaning the entire house rest on the reinforced raft concrete bed(foundation). It is mainly used in areas where the soil is sandy or loose, with low bearing capacity. You spend more on this than the other previous two most of the time. It is also recommended in waterlogged areas but with buildings of less storeys.This type of foundation allows the building to “float” on the ground, the load on the raft foundation is evenly spread on the entire foundation.
It has a ground beam which shuts out from the foundation base and is also attached to the ground floor slab to form a network of concrete embedded round the building space. The ground beam is usually from 600mm to 1200mm for low buildings.
Pile foundation.The most expensive and the strongest type of foundation, this requires specialist engineering to do. The soil are bored deep down the earth and filled with concrete to be able to support loads of multistory building on top. Most skyscrapers are constructed with this type OF foundation,a waterlogged area of high building may also require this.
It is the costliest hence it is used for high rise building, mostly Short pile can be typically 2-3m long and reinforced with steel, each pile is the connected with horizontal reinforced beam, where a suspended slab can be built on.
They transmit foundational loads through soil strata of low bearing capacity to deeper soil or rock strata of high load bearing capacity.

 

How to Paint a Wall.

As final finish on a wall, paint determines the beauty and mood of the room. Factors to consider when planning painting work.
1. The type of paint.
We have different kinds of paint in the market, we have water based paints, and oil based paints. Paints for external use, internal use, special paint for wood, paints for metal, roof paint, floor paints. Clean and dry surface before painting is a must for all the above paints.
Grading of Decorative Paints.
There are three grades or quality of paint in the market.
• 1st Quality marked as Premium Grade
• 2nd Quality marked as Trade Grade.
• 3rd Quality marked as Economy Grade.
So be alert and check out the grade of paint to be used in your house.

Common types of paint for buildings.
 –Gloss paint: They give a very glossy finish and can be wiped easily with water. Gloss paint can be applied as a final coat on wooden surface like fascia boards,doors,skirting,as it prevent water from penetrating it, thus preserving the wood. Also gloss can be used in cooking areas, public places like institutions, health facilities.
-Egg shell paint. This is a semi-gloss paint with a lot of sheen.
Vinyl silk Matt-Water based paint has a low sheen and can be wiped easily. Modern homes use vinyl silk Matt, because of its low sheen, it doesn’t have a strong smell, also dries very fast.
They are also made for external use on the wall of a house.
Some of special vinyl paints includes
Teflon Surface Protector from Crown Paint Ltd is a new improved top quality for both interior and exterior.
Crown Medicrly Anti –Bacterial paint. This is a silk emulsion paint launched in May 2013,by Crown Paint Ltd.Its an innovating coating solutions with unique anti-Bacterial properties targeting health institutions and other work and living spaces requiring high standard of hygiene.Its odorless and fast drying, making it suitable for rapid deployment in a busy environment like hospitals, schools restaurants etc.
-Matt emulsion: Is water based, doesn’t shine and is not washable. It has no sheen and can be used internally and externally. It’s mostly applied on ceiling since it doesn’t shine.

2. What is the quantity required?
It’s important to get the service of a qualified person to give you the quantity of paint required for your house. It’s at this stage that the color of every room is decided. Below are some common materials needed for a paint job

-Paint
-Paint brush or Roller
-Water, white spirit or thinner (depends on whether you are using oil or  water-based paint)
-Old bed sheet or polythene sheet, for covering floor.
-Sand paper, (we have smooth and rough sandpaper get the right texture)
-Wall filler.
-Scrapper.
-Masking tape.
– Ladder.

3. Buying Materials for painting.
The quality of materials you buy also determines the quality of final paint finish.Dont go for cheap and unknown brands. We have various good quality paint from recognized distributors. Some paint hardware’s have computerized paint mixing machines. So you can get any color you want. Buy a quality brush, wrong choice of brush can deny you a fine finish.

4. Preparation for painting.
Whether a new or old house is being painted, the procedure is almost always the same. The difference being that the occupied house the furniture and other items must be moved around and covered to avoid paint spilling on them.
• Make sure you have all the materials and tools with you, including ladder,      polythene or old bed sheet to cover floor.
• Put the polythene on floor to avoid paint spillage
• Using the masking tape, make sure that all the timber edges, electrical sockets,switches,cornice,timber skirting, architraves and any other area where paint is not supposed to overlap each other is taped well. This is to give a clean fine job.
• Never paint on loosely bound old paint. Old flaky paint must always scrapped off.
• Make sure the surface to be painted are clean and dry; free from dust, rust, oils and greases.Dont paint on wet or damp surfaces.
• Never paint on mould growth. Such surface should be cleaned and mould scrapped away, then two coats of Sadolin fungicidal wash or Dura fungi wash should be applied prior to painting.
• For a new wall apply primer or first undercoat.
• Using scraper apply paint crack filler on visible minor cracks, or if possible buy gypsum filler and apply on the whole wall with this filler to give one white smooth surface. This is one sure way of getting an even and smooth surface. After applying the filler you sand it again to remove any loose or sharp materials.
• Apply the second coat and third of paint coat to give you a fine, even paint finish. You can choose to use a roller or brush.
• The last thing is to remove all the masking tape and clean the entire working space.

Overnight Storage

If you’re done painting for the day but still have more to do tomorrow,the painter should clean the  paint brush/roller,and immerse them in water for the water based paint and for oil based paint the brush/roller  should they  be immersed in white spirit or thinner.The immersion will prevent the brush/roller sleeve from drying.

 

 

How to Build a Sound Concrete Slab on the Ground.

Ground slab is basically the ground floor.

There are some important factors worth considering before concreting is done.

It is important to involve the services of qualified persons like engineer, architect or builder when planning for ground slab.

 Below are the steps required when laying the ground slab?

 1. Planning for materials tools and equipments to be used in concreting.

Assuming the hardcore has already been placed on the foundation area.You should know the quantities of cement, sand and ballast; the type and size of reinforcement and the size and type of dump proof membrane.

      Method of mixing the concrete.

Is the concrete mix mixed manually or is it premixed and delivered to site.Concrete mixture is commonly used.In most cases those who rent out concrete mixture also provide the poker vibrator and also comes with a gang of laborers to mix, pour and lay the concrete.It is important to know when giving such a contract what the quoted amount includes.The rate should be for concrete mixture, poker vibrator, fuel, wheelbarrows, and spades and batching containers; transport to and from the site and also complete team of labourers, including machine operators and skilled masons. A standard three bedroom house can cost ksh.15, 000 for all the above mentioned.All materials for concreting should be delivered on site before casting day. Cement can be delivered on the casting day where security on the site is not very good.Availability of water is also very important. To be on the safe side, a storage tank should be on site filled with water a day before concreting as it requires a lot of water.

2. Preparing the ground.

Make sure the ground is level.Note; all entries to the house should be at least one step; 150mm below the general level of the slab.Approved murrum is placed on the leveled hard-core and a roller is used to compact the hardcore together.Anti termite is sprayed on the compacted ground; gladiator or any approved pesticide can be use.

3. Fixing the side formwork of the slab.

The slab formwork is to prevent concrete from spilling over the floor area; it is fixed depending on the thickness of the slab.Most slab thickness is100mm. This means the side form work should be 100mm from the underlay to top of the side formwork.Slab thickness of 100mm can have side formwork of 6×1(inches). Straight and strong timber that is supported with cut poles at 1m interval. The formwork is placed where the floor has a step down; like from entry porch to main house or from main floor to washrooms.

It is important to note that side formwork also determines the horizontal level of the slab; it must be double checked to make sure dimensions are correct and the required level has been achieved.

4. Installing the Sewer pipe.    

Drainage pipe must be installed by a qualified and experienced plumber.This sewer waste pipe for the toilet is placed in the hardcore with an outlet passing through the foundation wall.

5.  Laying the under lay.

This is commonly known as the Dump proof membrane (D.P.M).Polythene of 1000g will do the task very well. The underlay is placed on the entire floor surface with over lapping joints of 200mm taped together.

The main purpose of dpm is to prevent water from the foundation on to the slab.

6. Place the BRC or Reinforcement.   

After the polythene, Brc mesh wire is placed on the under lay. Care should be taken not to create holes on the under lay.Brc mesh wire specification is done by the engineer

7. Laying electrical pipes and waste water pipes.           

Place the electrical conduits on the slab and hold them firmly with binding wire on to the Brc mesh wire. These are conduits are the ones that connect to power sockets on the wall of rooms.The main electric conduit for main power supply is placed on the Brc mesh wire.

Drainage pipes placed on Brc mesh wire are those from wash hand basins, from the shower and floor traps. Note the pipes should be heavy gauge and should be held firmly on the Brc with binding wire.

8. Mixing and laying the concrete.

If a concrete mixture is used, there are several things that must be done to make sure the concrete is mixed and laid well.

The cement should be placed on a polythene paper and not directly on the ground to avoid mixing with impurities from ground.

The container for sand, ballast, water and cement should be of equal volume so that the ratio is equal.Care should be taken to make sure that the approved ratio is adhered to; the containers used should be filled to required levels.

There must be a qualified person checking the ratio of materials as they are being poured into the concrete mixture. The concrete mix should also be poured on a well prepared surface without impurities.

The concrete mix is then taken with a wheelbarrow and poured on the prepared wet surface and spread by a skilled mason. The mason will use the trowel or spade to spread it over the surface area.

A poker vibrator is then used to compact the concrete; vibration is done until air bubbles stop rising from the concrete.

Care should be taken not to damage the underlay, Brc mesh or the side formwork when vibrating the concrete. Level the surface of the concrete with a screeding board. It is important to move the screeding board in a sawing and chopping motion as this helps to compact the concrete.

The sawing and chopping motion helps in leveling and gives the final finish of the concrete floor.

 9. Curing the Concrete Slab.                                                                                                                                          

Concrete must be protected against loss of moisture as soon as the surface is sufficiently hard to resist spoilage. This process is known as curing.If concrete is not cured well it will dry out too fast, lose strength and the surface may crack.Curing involves pouring and holding water in the concrete to prevent the concrete from drying rapidly –allowing the concrete to gain its full strength.The common way of curing is pouring water on the concrete slab; but to help it retain water, polythene or hessian cloth is spread on the entire concreted surface.Sand can also be spread on the slab to help it retain water.It must be stressed that curing is very very important.If the concrete is not cured then all the previous precaution will go to waste and this will result in poor quality floor slab.

9. Conclusion.

As explained above, all the steps are very important in successful laying of the ground slab.Failure to fallow will result in poor quality concrete, loss of money and materials.Proper planning and consulting qualified and experienced people can help in achieving concrete of sound strength.

 

 

 

 

Factors to Consider when Buying Construction Materials

There are several factors to consider before buying construction materials. This calls for proper planning before doing the purchasing. Poor material management can result in large and avoidable loss in terms of time and money during construction.

Decisions about material procurement may also be required at the planning and scheduling stages. Proper planning and material management can be divided into several parts.

1. Planning the purchase of materials.
This, would of necessity, require help from a qualified and experienced person. He/she will majorly consider the scope of the project.

He/she should take your preference into consideration and building by laws must be taken into account.

The planning should follow a critical path; always buy materials according to need.

Below are some questions that need to be answered in planning materials purchase.

What are you purchasing?
• Where will it be used and at what stage?
• Where will the items be bought from?
• What is the quantity required?
• Most important what is the cost of the item?
• Is there a secure storage place on site?

2. How to Shop for materials.
The cost of a house directly depends on your source of materials; the finesse and workmanship of a project depends on the quality of materials.
When buying materials you should make sure you get them from reliable, honest suppliers. There are as many bad suppliers as are good ones. It is the duty of the purchaser to make sure he uses reliable sources; inquire where and how to get the right quality and quantity of materials.
When procuring items for construction, the cost is as important as quality and quantity. A balance of the three should be achieved for a successful purchase.

How do you make sure you buy the right materials without paying more than the required price?
Before you buy anything, make a list of what you want and photocopy it.
• Visit different hardware stores and put down their prices against your list.
• Use one copy per hardware and note down the name of the store on top of the list.
You will be shocked at the differences in pricing for the same item of same quality and quantity. The interesting thing is that the stores may be located within the same street or even the same building!
Shopping for materials is very tedious and time consuming but a shilling saved here and there throughout the construction period can add up into hundreds of thousands or millions.

3. Purchasing Materials.
Once you have identified the hardware store of your choice, on the day of purchase make sure you have the correct quantity, the right size and the right quality.
If you do not know how to identify the correct quantity and quality then get services of a qualified and experienced person to help you.
It is important to buy the correct items to avoid wasting time returning the wrong items bought and also to avoid using the wrong materials when building.

Materials delivered on site.

picture of ballast delivered on site.

Note:Materials of good quality mean a house whose structure is sound and is of good aesthetics.

Ascertain the quantity of materials bought. This has a direct bearing on overall cost of the project, keeps costs in check and avoids time wasting.

Remember, the quality of workmanship starts with the choice of materials bought.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to get genuine items in hardware stores. Extreme care should be taken not to be duped into buying fake items, they will not last long and keep in mind the saying ‘cheap is expensive’.

4. Securing materials and controlling the use on site.
After spending enormous amount of money and time purchasing materials, securing them on site becomes another serious challenge. Theft of materials on site is a common problem. This can be through outright robbery by gangs of outlaws or by workers at different levels of management; either directly or in collusion with outsiders.
The items can also be stolen from site or before they reach the site normally through collusion with hardware store’s staff. It’s an arrangement that is done when a client pays for materials with arrangement that the items be delivered to the site. The builder can ask the store staff to deliver less materials and the balance is shared between the two in form of money.
The casual workers (fundis and their assistants) also participate but normally for small items that can be hidden in their clothes or bags; items easy to carry. Materials are also stolen at night by people given the responsibility of guarding them.

5. How to secure materials on site.
Have a store keeper with known record of honesty and has good record keeping skills.
The store keeper should be employed by the developer especially where the developer is buying the materials. He is answerable to him.
Have only one person (storekeeper) issue and receive items in the store.
Items on site should be counted everyday after work and every morning.
Items delivered should be counted and verified by storekeeper and contractor or any authorized person.
The workers should be searched /frisked at the gate anytime they go out of the site.
Delivery notes and receipts should be issued and filed properly.
Don’t buy materials in large quantities; in as much as you save when you buy in bulk, you also make the site attractive to thieves especially at night. It is also easy to count and check small quantities of materials.

6. Controlling material use.
It is monitoring of quantity used on a daily basis as per required specification to avoid wastage. The right quantity and quality of materials should be used in each and every stage.
The Store keeper should have an inventory of what has been delivered on site and by whom. He should have a daily book where he notes down items or tools issued out.
At the end of a day’s work, the store keeper or foreman should see to it that tools used are washed, cleaned and returned to store in good condition.
Plumbing and electrical items should be stored in separate sections within the store.

7. Safety
Safety of the store should be observed by properly storing items. Unauthorized entry of the store should not be allowed.
Items should be stored in compartments or shelves with the items that are frequently used easily accessible and those that are less used stored out of site.
A good store should be built of masonry wall with a properly reinforced roof especially those that are locked after work.
Other situations may call for building of an iron sheet walled store. It is advisable in such cases to have a room where the caretaker of the site can be staying to take care of materials at night.

Setting Out a Building

What is setting out? It is the process of developing the physical positions of corners and walls of a building, and it’s done by transferring dimensions from the layout plan to the ground.

Setting out is done when building a new house, or when renovating an already existing one, especially an extension. The process of Setting out is done by a contractor, and overseen by the lead project consultant engineer, architect or any other qualified member of the project team. Read More …

Step By Step Guide to Building a House in Kenya

building a house.Building a home  is everybody’s dream. Unfortunately, many people have had their dream shattered by players in the construction industry. Do you remember the Syokimau, Kiamaiko, and Eastleigh demolitions.

The mental anguish, financial loss, and emotional distress occasioned on home owners in the recent past can be attributed to unscrupulous characters in the construction industry. It is obvious that nowadays one needs to exercise extreme caution, and be keen on the procedure followed in the acquisition and development of land. Read More …