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3Bedroom starter Home

COST: KSHS- 2,640,000/= with EPS 2,300,000/= with Stone.

CONSTRUCTION PERIOD: 45 DAYS with EPS, & 90 DAYS with Stones


-Gross Built Up Area- 76 Square Meters

-3 Bedrooms. All Bedrooms Share one Bathroom

-Kitchenette and Lounge

-Cost is inclusive of cost of house designs.

Click here> Floor Plan for the House


The cost is based on the following finish specifications:-


Internally: – skimmed walls with three coats of first quality matt finish and gloss to doors and windows.
Externally:- skimmed walls with three coats of first quality gloss finish for paneled walls and keyed wall surfaces with a 900mm skirting, plastered and painted with a gloss finish for the masonry walling.
Ceiling finish:-P.V.C ceiling based on the client’s taste of colors
Gauge 30, IT5 sheets on 4×2 trusses and 250x25mm painted fascia board.

Solid T-door (cypress) with a 3lever lock for the external doors and veneered semi solid flush doors with 2 lever locks internally.

Standard casement windows with 3mm c.s.g and 4mm o.b.s for the wash rooms

Floor and walls:
300×300 x8mm ceramic tiles to floors and 200x250x6mm ceramic tiles to walls.


Water closet and wash hand basin to be “white India” in make, and single bowl double drainer sink for kitchen.


Bedrooms: Ceiling rose (one per room)
Lounge: 4 ft fluorescent ceiling fitting and two wall brackets
Kitchen: 4ft. fluorescent fitting (one per each)
Corridor: 4 ft. fluorescent fitting.
Twin socket outlets( one per bed room, two for the lounge and two for the kitchen)
Security lighting: two security lights (back and front)

Rain water goods (gutters) are not included in our quotes
Sewage disposal not incorporated
All external/civil works not incorporated.


Factors to look at when investing in real estate: location and potential returns

Alternative investments like real estate, private equity and structured financial solutions have outperformed traditional investments such as stock and bonds generating returns of, on average, more tha
n 20% per annum over the last five years. Among this, real estate has been the best performer recording returns of on average 25% per annum over the five-year period.

An analysis on performance of portfolios by Cytonn shows that returns on those with real estate exposure in 2015 were 6.7% higher than the returns on portfolios without real estate exposure. Real estate is thus a good investment both for profits and for diversification of an investor’s portfolio to minimise losses.

Despite the high returns, investment in real estate is not foolproof and one can just as easily make losses, especially if the product delivered does not receive expected uptake or occupancy. That is why it is important to explore two key factors that an investor should look at before making an investment.

Location is what will determine how fast a product will move in terms of both renting and selling. While returns, which is mainly touching on how to gauge the level of expected returns from a research perspective, will then be used to guide the investment decision. Based on these factors, you can then invest in real estate sharply, conveniently and earn the highest possible returns from this asset class.

Location – The importance and effect of location on the potential returns from a real estate investment can never be overstated. Being a physical asset, the potential clients must see, test and gauge if the property they are eying meets their requirements before buying or renting. Before selecting a property to develop, a potential investor should critique the location based on the following two key issues:

Infrastructural development – How is the infrastructure around the place, is the site close to a tarmac road, and are there alternative means of transportation? Is there electricity on site, sewer connection? Does the government supply water? If these services are available, then a site is ideal as it will have lower construction costs as the developer or investor will not have to provide them. If absent any plans in the pipeline to develop them and the timelines for the same if in tandem with the timelines the developer hopes to go to market may suffice. Should there be no plans, then the development may be futuristic and the investor may have to hold to the land for some time. Alternatively, the investor may provide the services but often such undertakings are expensive and may drive the price of the property to levels above market making selling hard.

Security – The security of a place often plays a big factor when buyers decide on whether to invest in a property. An ideal location with ease of access and good amenities may not achieve the sales expected if in a place with poor security. Hence before purchasing land, a real estate investor ought to conduct a background check on the security of the place to avoid being stuck with a product due to insecurity and hence make losses in the high performing real estate sector

Returns – While real estate generally earns high returns, it is not often the case and poor choice of investment in the sector without prior research may lead to making losses. Thus, before investing in real estate, an investor ought to gauge the level of expected returns on the product to establish viability. From a market research perspective, an investor can gauge the potential returns of a real estate investment using the following metrics.

Rental yields – This refers to how much the property pays back itself on an annual basis. It is calculated by dividing the annual rental income by the price of the property. A yield of say 5% means the property earns back 5% of its value on an annual basis and will hence take 20 years to recover initial investment, if the property is held as an income generating asset and not sold. A 10% yield means a property will take ten years to pay itself back. For rental yield for example, the higher the yield the better.

Capital appreciation – This refers to the rate at which the property appreciates in value. This can be due to demand or appreciation of land on which the property stands. Capital appreciation is calculated by dividing the current price by the price at a given base period then compounding to get the annual growth rate. It can be used to estimate future prices for modelling and to estimate the selling price at a future time point.

Total Return – This is the total return an investor is likely to get on a real estate investment. It is calculated by summing up the rental yield and the capital appreciation such that on sale of a property, the investor will gain from the increase in value of the property as well as the rental income earned. The increase in the value of the underlying asset is the key differentiating factor between real estate as an asset class and other asset classes.

Occupancy – Refers to how much of a development has been absorbed by the market through renting. Calculated as a percentage, it is obtained by dividing the number of units occupied by the total number of units available. A high occupancy leads to higher returns and low occupancy significantly reduces the return potential of a real estate investment.

Uptake – Refers to how much of a development has been absorbed by the market through sales. This is calculated as the number of units sold divided by the number of units available and is expressed as a percentage. Occupancy and uptake indicate the demand for the real estate development. High rates of the two indicate there is demand and low rates indicate that the market may be oversupplied or that there is no demand.

To get the above metrics, a potential investor has to visit comparable properties in the chosen location and collect data on the same, compute the metrics then make decisions off the findings. While the above does not guarantee the success of a project, it goes a long way in minimising the risk of losses to an investor and is hence worth it.

From the above, sharp real estate investment is very tedious. One has to first look for the site, gauge its attractiveness based on infrastructure, access, amenities, and security and if it checks the box, carry out a research to estimate potential returns. After that the site acquisition begins and it can be as messy as it is tedious involving sale agreements, due diligence documentation to name but a few then get approvals before beginning the development. It is hence hard to do this by oneself unless it’s a full-time job.

To invest sharply, conveniently and stress-free in real estate sector, an investor may also consider three things. Firstly, get a partner. Do not go at it alone get professional help to guide in site acquisition, market research, project, and construction management to make the process faster and quicker.

Secondly, buy real estate projects off plan provided all the above factors are clearly provided and due process has been followed. This enables you to enjoy returns without working for it big time.

Thirdly, consider real estate backed notes and listed property through Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). This enables one to enjoy liquidity similar to that of traditional investments such as stocks and earn the high returns in real estate without the hassle of dealing with property.

It is thus possible to structure investment in real estate to suit your needs and still enjoy the high returns of the asset class.

BY ELIZABETH NKUKUU.                                                                                                        

 Writer is Chief Investment Officer and Head of Cytonn Real Estate.

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A perfect 3 Bedroom House plan for Kshs.12,000.

Buy this dream house plan

Building your home at a fraction of the cost

Building your own house is never a cheap affair. But there are aspects you could consider to save on cost. HOME and AWAY tells you how

1. Foundation By Harold Ayodo

The loftier the building the deeper the foundation must be. The importance of a building’s foundation cannot be over-emphasised. Experts say the ground is not totally solid and a house set up without a strong foundation is more likely to either crack or cave in over time following natural forces. Foundations perform many functions such as to bear the load of the building, anchor against natural forces like earthquakes and isolation from ground moisture. Industry professionals concur that the type of soil is important as it determines costs for a typical slab with hard-core infilling.

Construction experts have that the cost of a foundation is between 15 and 20 per cent of the total cost or between Sh4,500 — Sh7,000 per square metre of the floor area Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) Architects’ Chapter chairman Musembi Mumo says it is cheaper to lay a foundation on red soil compared to black cotton soil. “Construction on black cotton soil is costlier as all soil must be excavated and carted away,” Mumo says Mumo says a fairly level site would be cheaper to construct on than a sloping site that would require stepped foundations and earth works of cutting and filling. Quantity surveyor and construction project manager Tom Oketch says red coffee soil or murram is cheaper following the simple foundation design associated with them.

The type and quantity of materials used to construct foundations on the cheap depend on depth of the trenches. “The deeper the trench the more stones would be used…Depth is also determined by the nature of the subsoil,” Oketch says, adding that the design of the house would also affect the quantities of construction materials used – keep the design simple. According to Mumo, a good foundation is built with masonry walling set on a 60cm wide by 20cm deep with construction materials mixed on a ration of 1:2:4. “The ration means a mixture that entails a bag of cement, two wheel burrows of sand and four wheel burrows of kokoto (ballast),” Mumo says. Mumo, however, says that steel reinforcement bars may be necessary depending on the type of soil. Oketch explains that in cases where concrete needs further strengthening, reinforcement bars and formwork are introduced as additional items which would increase the cost. “Foundation footings must be on rock and you may have to dig up to eight feet to the rock,” Mumo says. Oketch explains that a simple rectangular foundation (floor) plan would be cheaper than an irregular or circular design

. It is important to hire a competent mason to be in charge as the outcome of the entire building depends on setting the foundation. “Three masons and six labourers are required for a cost effective and good job to be completed within four weeks — depending on sub soil conditions,” Oketch says. Mumo says that a lean workforce of utmost ten fundis can complete the work within a month but says a larger workforce will be needed on the day of koroga (mixing). Other registered professional required before and during construction of the foundation are a land surveyor, architect and a quantity surveyor. “Structural, mechanical and electrical engineering would also be helpful at low cost to add considerable value to doing it right from the start,” Mumo says. He explains that seven days should elapse after a concrete floor bed has been laid before erecting the walls. According to Mumo, the slab should be watered daily in the evening over seven days for proper stability. Oketch says that bulk purchases of construction materials is another stride towards saving costs following trade discounts and reduction of transport costs. “It is easier to determine quantities of materials needed and plan for bulk purchases,” he says. The quantity surveyor and construction project manager warn that theft on construction site is also common and, therefore, enhanced security would consequently cut costs vastly.

2. Interior finishing By Wangeci Kanyeki.

It is a well-known fact that it is one thing to finish the structure of your house and an entirely different budget to finish the interiors. How do you outfit your interiors to have a stylish quality house for as little money as possible? The trick is to get creative and think outside the box so that you have attractive living space without breaking the bank. Below are some money saving décor ideas for your floor and ceiling materials that are locally available and easy to execute. Keep an idea notebook where you can collect your desired décor ideas, paint colours and fabric samples that fit in with the style of the house.


If hardwood is pricey for your wallet consider using laminated flooring. This is a modern versatile, attractive and low maintenance; synthetic flooring that imitates natural wood flooring. Though it looks like wood there is actually no solid wood used in its construction, which makes it more environmentally friendly as it uses less timber in its construction. In comparison to hardwood floorboards, laminated floor boards are made from water resistant layers of high density fibre boards fused together by a lamination process and topped with a photographic image of natural wood flooring. In comparison to fixing hardwood flooring, laminated floorboards are quicker to install and require less expertise skill, which tremendously cuts down on labour costs. They are fixed using tongue and groove planks, which are clicked together without using glue, or nails and can last up to 20 years if well maintained. Constraints of laminated floorboards include fading where there is exposure to sunlight as well at the difficulty to repair scratches.They are also difficult to redo, refinish and repair as the production of models, colours and brands can become obsolete so the entire floor area would have to be replaced in case of damage. Look for various open market sources and showrooms in Kenya, in Nairobi there are various suppliers stretching from Mombasa Road’s Industrial area through Gikomba Market all the way to Ngong’ Road.

Non-slip ceramic or stone tiles should be used for wet areas such as kitchens and bathroom. The cost and durability vary depending on the thickness and size of the tile. The tile itself is easy to maintain, but the grout needed to hold it together tends to discolour with age and is difficult to keep clean.


Ceilings are not only decorative but serve to provide insulation from heat loss, sound proof to reduce noise levels and hide unsightly building services such as pipes. Below are some entry-level ceilings. -Bamboo or match stick blinds Use inexpensive matchstick or bamboo blinds to create some fun ceiling panels, which are easily, installed using a staple gun or strong adhesive. To hide unsightly pipes, swag or drape them and hold the drapery in place with reeds or an attractive rope.

Faux Wood Panelling

Buy sheets of ceiling boards made from wood and its by products such as pre-primed wood panelling. Pre drill holes through the sheets into the ceiling and screw in place with wood screws. You can paint these out in any colour but white will light up even the smallest rooms. These wood panels are also a fun way to add an architectural detail or interest. Other more expensive options include PVC ceiling boards and the much-coveted gypsum. Heavy Grade Fabric Finally, this is a great option for anyone who will be installing their ceiling alone. You can see heavy or thicker fabric, like upholstery fabric or even canvas to cover your ceiling. Work this fabric in the same method described in the blinds section. Use wood dowels on the ends of the fabric. Roll to cover the ends, then staple onto the ceiling in swags or flat panels. Use a thick sturdy fabric so it looks substantial on the ceiling and stick with solid colours.

3. Roofing & Walls By Allan Olingo

One of the most expensive aspects of building a new home is the cost of roofing. In most cases, the roofing cost is based on the cost of roofing materials, roof steepness, and the labour cost. Other determinants include the roofing style, the durability and availability of roofing materials to use on your house.

Stephen Kavira, a contractor with Erdemann, says often, roofing is measured and estimated in squares. “A square of roofing is the amount of roofing material required to cover 10 square metres (3.3 X 3.3). The cost will always depend on how many square metres you want and it doesn’t get cheaper especially when you want your house to have pitches and dormers,” says Kavira. Kavira, however, says that to lower the roofing costs, one needs to reduce the pitch and eliminate the dormers.

“It is also important to work with either your fundi or contractor on the roofing estimates and by using the architectural design on the roofing type, you will be able to determine which concept will work within your budgets,” he says. It is also advisable that even after having your roofing contractor do this estimate, you need to seek a third opinion or do your own calculations to see how they compare. Roofing installation labour increases dramatically as the steepness of the roof increases. The steepness of the roof can also be used to control cost. The more steep the roof is, the more the surface area and hence the more the cost. Roofing contractors charge according to the shingle weight and the roof pitch because the steeper the pitch and the heavier the shingle, the harder their job. Currently, the thinnest grade in the market is gauge 32, which costs about Sh270 per square meter. Gauge 30 costs about Sh310 per square metre and gauge 28 pre-painted costs approximately Sh700 per square meter. The concrete roofing tiles cost around Sh600 per square meter. “When budgeting for your roof, you should consider not only the upfront cost of materials and labour but also the entire life-cycle cost,” Kavira advises. Walls According to Felix Anyango, a quantity surveyor at Erdemann one can save on costs by using machine cut stones.


Home and Away

The ABC of taking out a Mortgage


The ABC of getting a Mortgage
A building under construction. The whole process of taking out a mortgage ideally takes about 90 days. [PHOTO: FILE / STANDARD]

Many aspire to own a house, but not many can put together millions of shillings required as payment, mortgage financing is the solution. Through mortgage financing, owning a home has become manageable, cost-effective and affordable. It is, however, a big commitment — one that you will be in for 10, 15 or even 30 years. This may seem a daunting a task but with some research and the right lender, the process can be fairly smooth and one that you as the borrower can actively participate in and control.

There are many players in the mortgage market, most of whom offer similar products at more or less the same prices. A smart way to choose a mortgage lender would be to look at who offers not only the best rates but also the most convenience in the process.

Before one goes out looking for a property to buy, it is advisable to visit your intended financier and have them evaluate your finances and assess exactly how much you would actually qualify for. This will typically entail the following aspects that relate to your current financial status as well as your financial history.

Once you know how much you are qualified for, you can start looking for a property worth the said amount. Some banks have a list of property developers that they partner with, which is to be a good place to start.

Sale agreement

A sale agreement is a written contract between a seller and a buyer for the purchase and sale of a particular property.

It is imperative that you do your due diligence on the property you have chosen before entering into a sale agreement. Have your lawyer do a search with the property registrar in your jurisdiction confirming that there are no encumbrances on the property that would prevent its sale.

Valuation process

Sometimes referred to as the appraisal process, property valuation is the process of estimating the value of a piece of real estate. The valuer will be looking at factors such as location, amenities, structural condition of the property and sale of similar properties within the same location.This process ensures that the price quoted by the seller is the actual value of the property.

Conveyancing process

Once the valuation report is in and everything checks out, the bank’s lawyer issues an undertaking to the seller’s lawyer stating that all things remaining constant, the money will be released to the seller within 14 days after the successful registration of the property. The latter then releases the title to the bank’s lawyer in the borrower’s name.

The borrower will be required to pay a stamp duty on transfer — four per cent for major cities and two per cent for upcountry and a stamp duty charge of 0.1 per cent of the loan amount. The documents are kept by the bank to be released to the borrower once the mortgage has been fully serviced. On disbursement of the loan, the borrower will be required to take property insurance and mortgage protection insurance will be paid on an annual basis.

The whole process of taking out a mortgage ideally takes about 90 days.

—By George Laboso-The Barclays Bank head of mortgages


You can lose deposit, house if you default.

By Harold Ayodo

I resolved to buy a house from a Government institution six years ago following its pocket friendly cost. The sale agreement stipulated that I pay a deposit then settle the balance in installments before I am furnished with the legal ownership documents. However, I defaulted for some years after my wife fell sick and I was not in a position to pay the installments over a certain period. Recently, my name was among some that were published in a mainstream newspaper for defaulting and were threatened with repossession should we not settle our dues within a specific time frame. The reality is that I am still spending a lot of money on paying medical bills for my wife and may not settle the dues as instructed. Is it legal for the house I bought to be repossessed? Tito, Nairobi.

You can loose your house if you default.

Legally, a seller can repossess property when a buyer defaults payment as mutually agreed in a binding sale agreement. In such cases, sellers can legally repossess their land or homes as provided in the recently passed Land Act 2012. It would be easier for the seller to reclaim the property when there was a written sale agreement with detailed clauses to guide the transaction. According to Section 39 of the Land Act, sellers can invoke their right to cancel the written agreement over breach of contract by the purchaser. The seller can either resume possession of the property on mutual agreement or obtain a court order before moving in. Before regaining possession, the seller must give a notice informing the purchaser of the nature and extent of the breach.

The seller also has the option of seeking financial compensation for default as stipulated in the sale agreement. However, there are legal requirements that must have been fulfilled before the seller reclaims the property. For instance, the sale agreement must not only have been in writing but signed by both parties and the signatures attested to by a witness who was present during the signing. There are also some clauses in the agreements stipulating that the seller can repossesses the property and not refund the money earlier paid as deposit/down payment – especially if there is a forfeiture clause. Majority of forfeiture clauses in property sale agreements stipulate that the purchaser lose the money paid as deposit if they default in payment.Several prospective investors have lost fortunes over failure to abide by written contracts over various reasons. For instance, most sellers of property require that buyer pays a deposit of at least 10 per cent of the purchase price and the balance settled in installments within 90 days. Traditionally, most courts abide by the written contracts signed by both parties when property transactions turn sour. A precedent was set in a recent case where South African farmer Stephanus Kruger won a Sh800 million land dispute in Uasin Gishu at the High Court, sitting in Eldoret. According to court records, Kalenjin Investment Trust, EMO paid Kruger Sh112 million deposit for a Sh800 million tract of land in the area. EMO, which has 400 shareholders, moved to court seeking to block Kruger from selling to third parties his controversial 5,000 acres of land and properties in it. The buyers told Lady Justice Philomena Mwilu that Kruger breached the sale agreement after sub dividing the land for sale to third parties after pocketing Sh112 million deposit. The intention of EMO was to stop Kruger from sub dividing and selling parcels LR 21792/3, 2179/4, 9127 and 8522 and movable property within. However, Kruger – in his defence – argued that the contract stipulated that EMO were to pay a deposit of Sh252 million, which they failed. Therefore, Kruger placed an advertisement in a local daily on the sale of the 5,000 acres of land located in Uasin Gishu County which prompted the suit. Furthermore, the sale agreement stipulated that Kruger was at liberty to sell the property after issuing notice in cases of a breach. Lady Justice Philomena Mwilu (currently Deputy Chief Justice) concurred with Kruger that EMO was in breach of a requirement to pay in full either the deposit or purchase price. According to Justice Mwilu, dealings of the two parties after the expiry of the date of payment were outside the sale agreement. The court ruled that it could not be involved to re-write the contract between EMO and Kruger. Consequently, Lady Justice Mwilu found EMO guilty of breach of contract by failing to abide by the clause on payment of deposit or sale price. — The writer is an Advocate of the High Court
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You do not have to be rich to join property market.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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




You and your contractor


Rosslyn Springs for sale in Rosslyn on July 30, 2015. Whether you are renovating your home or building one, you need the expertise of a contractor to oversee the project. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

                                                                             In Summary

  • While some clients insist on moving into a building before  it is completed, Mr Muiruri is against the idea.
  • “The best thing to do is to wait until your house is complete before you move in. This ensures that the contractor has their space while working, and the client has their privacy in their property,” he reasons.
  •  Whether you are renovating your home or building one, you need the expertise of a contractor to oversee the project.

“A contractor knows what your project entails and will advise you on the choice of construction materials and the best team to undertake the work,” explains Mr David Muiruri, a contractor based in Nairobi and Thika.

But for the contractor to do their work effectively, there are certain things the client should know in order for the project to run smoothly.


“Before you begin construction, it is important to identify the best location,”  “advises Mr Muiruri. “If you pick an unsuitable area, say one that is swampy, it might land you into trouble later.”

We advise clients to choose a suitable and marketable area so that even if they plan to rent it out in future, they will not have trouble getting customers.”


According to the contractor, there are different types of plans for different locations, yet some people put up a building in an inappropriate environment.

“You should not build a bungalow in an enclosed estate with maisonettes or elevated buildings,” he says.


If you expect a project to run smoothly, you should make the major decisions in good time.

“As the home owner, you’ll probably need to make major decisions at the beginning of the project. With the advice of the contractor, other decisions can easily be made as the construction progresses. “Mr Muiruri says.

“Major decisions should be made in good time, but in case you missed out something, a good contractor will  alert you and advise on the best way forward.


It is important to maintain constant communication with the contractor to  ensure that things are going according to plan.

“This interaction gives the client an opportunity keep track of the project and allows them to ask any questions  they might have.  If they need any changes done, for example, they can notify the contractor as early as possible,” he says.


Get an experienced contractor who knows the best construction materials.  “A good contractor will go out of their way and assist in buying these materials.  That way, the client is assured of getting quality, and at fairer prices.”

He adds that a person without the necessary experience can use the wrong materials, leading to structural faults in future.

A good contractor can also advise you on the choice of  workers. “While a client might want to bring in their team of construction workers, we also offer them advice on the same. For example, if we notice that your team is doing a shoddy job, we notify the homeowner and might even decide to work with experienced workers from previous projects.  Any failures in the project might be construed as failures on the part of the contractor so it is important to work with a competent team,” he says.


While some clients insist on moving into a building before  it is completed, Mr Muiruri is against the idea.

“The best thing to do is to wait until your house is complete before you move in. This ensures that the contractor has their space while working, and the client has their privacy in their property,” he reasons.


“In any construction project, it is important to set aside funds for unforeseen changes. Whether it is added by a contractor to his estimate or added as a percentage by the homeowner, it is an important risk-management tool,” Mr Muiruri says.

“There will always be things that were overlooked or left out when the estimates were made. These can be catered for by the contingency fund,” he adds.

He says contractors often stipulate that a construction contingency fund be used with the owners’ approval, and that the remaining amounts be credited at the end of project.

“Understanding the contractor’s needs enable them to work efficiently and give their best,” Mr Muiruri concludes


Why you need an interior designer



Interior decor has been known to increase the aesthetic value of spaces since time immemorial. Designers help to give your property the ‘wow’ factor. They are experts at thinking outside the box and visualising an overall picture that clients often cannot.

There are, however, property owners who do not think it is necessary to hire professional interior designers because they can hang a few paintings in a room and make it look “better”.

“They do need professionals,” says Metreen Wamalwa of Classic Moulding. Here is why you need an interior designer:

Professional eye

“A designer is able to give you a professional assessment of the property’s status and, from a trained eye, notice what you may not,” says Wamalwa. The designer’s perspective will lead to a more specific course of action. A design plan is essential in determining what can and should be repurposed or edited. This is key when making decisions on aesthetics.

“This greatly cuts down cost. Often times, homeowners attempt to do it by themselves and end up getting frustrated,” she says.

Save money

The common assumption by property owners is that hiring a decorator will increase their expenses. “Ideally, it would, but this can help you avoid making mistakes that cost even more to correct, thereby saving you money in the long-run. This can also boost buyer appeal, pushing the price up, when the time comes to sell your property,” says Wamalwa.

Hiring a professional, therefore, eases the budgeting and planning process, as they will keep you within the budget and save you time and effort. A designer knows where to source for everything needed for the work. This will considerably save you time evaluating products, brands and prices.

availability of resources

A designer has a better network of vendors: architects, contractors, plumbers and electricians. This liaison saves you time and money.

“Designers are trained to think about things a client may overlook, and will therefore identify which service providers are needed to give your space a unique finish,” says Wamalwa.

Visual story-telling

“Interior design is a skill that enhances the space you are in and consequently the quality of your life,” she says.

“This art transforms a house into a home. A designer can bring your visual story to life.” I can’t think of a better reason to hire an interior designer.

By Constance Orwa                                                                                           

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.

5 Steps to Help You Hire the Right Contractor.

Don’t take chances on this all-important team member. Find the best general contractor for your renovation or new build by heeding this advice

Building your dream home is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do, but all that excitement comes with a lot of responsibility. Hiring the best general contractor for you and your project is an extremely important decision. That choice will determine the quality of craftsmanship and will minimize emotional stress and unexpected costs. Bringing in the right contractor early in the design process is one of the most important ingredients in staying on budget and on schedule during construction.

Here are five simple steps to help you hire the right contractor for your project.

1. Get referrals. Talk with people you know and trust. Your architect is an obvious source, but talk with family, friends, neighbors, lawyers, real estate agents and others who have built projects similar to yours.

Browse professional listings to find general contractors in your area. Check out their reviews and browse photos in their portfolios to see how their work lines up with the scope of your project. You can even message them to get a conversation going.

Are there recently completed or under-construction projects in your area? Ask the owners about their contractor and the working relationship they have with him or her.

2. Verify licenses. Make sure your contractor candidates are licensed and in good standing with your state license board. Ask to see the contractor’s pocket license, picture I.D. and certificate of insurance.

Proper licensing demonstrates a company’s best practices management, but hiring a licensed contractor will also protect you. For example, worker’s compensation insurance is a contractor’s responsibility, not a property owner’s, but that’s not the case if a contractor is not licensed or does not carry proper insurance.
3. View recent work. After looking at a contractor’s portfolio, request to visit a few projects similar in size and style to yours. Try to check out one that was recently completed, one that’s under construction and one completed five to 10 years ago. Ask yourself:

o Does the work carry a warranty, and are problems corrected?
o How does the construction site look?
o Did the older finished project stand the test of time?
4. Check references. Ask for a list of references. In private, discuss with previous clients their experiences working with the contractor. Ask:

o Was it a pleasant working relationship?
o Did they and the contractor communicate well?
o Was the contractor fair and honest?
o Was the project completed on schedule and within budget?
o Were there extra costs or surprises?
o How were problems handled?
o How was the quality of craftsmanship and follow-up?

5. Understand the contract.Decide on the contractor you wish to hire and while your plans are in the permit-review process, discuss the different kinds of contracts available and ask for one to review.

Ask for updates to the construction bid if plans change for any reason.
o Do not sign the contract until your permits have been approved and all costs have been finalized.
o Be aware that there are always unknowns in the construction process that create change orders and additional costs. This is normal. Expect it. Allow 5 to 8 percent of your total budget for these extras. With good planning, design and management, they can be minimized.
There are far more reputable, honest and hardworking contractors than there are the slapdash, fly-by-night operations we read about in the news. With proper planning and research, you will find the perfect contractor for your project. Invest the time and remember that spending a few extra dollars in the beginning could save you thousands of dollars in the end.

Adapted from

Factors to Consider When Designing Your House

Designing Your House

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at

Designing your house is the first step of building a dream house. Consultation with the right people/professionals in this stage is a MUST if the developer is to save on important resources like, time and money when building. We all know building a house involves a lot of money. Without Proper project planning and management, the cost of building your home can unfairly go up. Proper planning before designing your house will also enable you to build a house that fits in your lifestyle, according to your financial means.
Below are important points to consider before drafting your house plans.

1. Hire the services of a Land Surveyor to Establish Actual Plot Location and Beacons of the Plot.

There are cases of people confusing their land with the neibour’s.They then go ahead and build on this wrong plot, you can imagine the headache and the loss of resources, when reality dawns on them. To avoid this massive loss, get a good Land Surveyor to locate your plot for you.
Once you have bought land or plot for development. The best time for involving the Land Surveyor is when purchasing the piece of land, so make sure before starting the design of your house, the Land Surveyor has done his part. His main mission on site is to,

  • Establish if indeed the plot on the government survey map is the same one on the actual ground. The   land surveyor will use his surveying equipment to confirm to you, that indeed the plot you want to construct on is yours.
  • Establish the beacons of the plot, in other words the corners of the plot. Hence you are able to know the exact size (dimensions) on the ground to plan with. Sometimes the size of land on the survey map may vary with the actual size on ground. Imagine when you have designed your house only to find that it can’t fit on the ground since the size on ground is smaller than the one you adopted from the survey plan.

2. Designing your house that works with your budget.

Money is a core factor in the planning and designing of a house. What’s your financial capacity? Are you building the house using your own savings or through a mortgage? A good architect will want to know how much you are willing to spend in building the house. This will enable the architect to know the type and size of a house that you can afford. There is no need of designing a large house only for you to realize that you can’t afford it once the designs and costing have been completed.

3. What’s your Lifestyle?

Lifestyle is your way of living. The size of rooms, the number of bedrooms, and the expected number of people who will reside in the house, their occupation should be taken into account, before designing your home. It’s important that you as the owner or end the user have a rough idea of the size of rooms you want. You can buy a measuring tool and measure an existing room for example a bedroom to gauge whether you want the exact size, smaller or bigger. The advantage of measuring an existing room is the fact that you are able to visualize how your proposed rooms will look like. Using an existing room can even help you to calculate the size of furniture that may fit. Once you have a rough size of room, it will be easy for the architect to help in putting your dream home on paper.

4. Choosing an Architect.

At this stage, you take the preliminary design to a skilled and qualified architect who has the necessary skills and training in planning and designing a house. The architect will help you put the rough sketches or idea into an organized format, and in manner that is beautiful and functional. Due diligence should be taken when choosing an architect.The most important is his academic qualifications and professional experience. The best way of getting an architect is through referrals from friends or relatives. That way it’s easy for you to know his character and his professionalism.Whichever method used to choose, you should at least see his previous designs and if possible visit those construction sites also.

5. Local Authority Bye Laws.

It’s important to find out if there are building restrictions put by the local authority. You may intend to put a residential house in an area meant for commercial buildings only. Some areas also have controlled buildings. These controlled areas have one specific house plan that is used by every developer in that controlled area. All the houses look similar in design although they have been constructed by different contractors.
Most local authorities have divided development areas into zones, like residential zones, commercial zones, and industrial zones. It’s important to find out the right type of building allowed in a given zone.
In some cases the residents of an area may form an association/welfare for the area with some set standard of building to be developed in the area, they may for example refuse developments for renting, like apartments. Consult widely to know rules and regulations governing the intended area for development.

6. The topography.

Topography refers to the physical appearance of natural and artificial features on surface of an area. The Architect should visit the proposed site and establish the type of soil and topography of the land. This visit will enable the architect to know how elevate the house from ground. He will also know how to drain waste water from the house. Establishing the type of soil is important, because it will determine the type of foundation to use, when designing the house.

7. Contract Agreement.

  • It’s important to have a written contract between the developer and the architect. The contract set the rules of engagements.
  • It should have the duties and responsibilities of each party.
  • The contract should state clearly the set of plans to be produced.
  • The plans should be accompanied with a valid stamped and signed certificate of a registered architect, which is a must for plans that are to be approved by local authorities.
  • The contract should clearly state
    • The contract sum,
    • The mode of payment and
    • The payment schedule against the percentage of work done.
  • The time of commencement and completion should also be included in the contract.