By Umar Nsubuga
John Sserwadda, 36, a site engineer, started the journey to build a house for his family in 2004. A friend took me to his boss, who was about to start construction and I was hoping he would give me the job, to supervise the project.
The construction took almost two and half years. After the success of my work and being the biggest job in my life, I was paid well and saved some money. I learnt that it is better to have a small house that you call your own than to live in a big bungalow that is not yours.
I first bought land in Kisaasi, but it was a swampy area and it was going to be expensive for me so I decided to sell it. After buying my dream plot I was so eager to start building. so I saved more. Project Sserwadda bought a piece of land in Komamboga at sh8m in 2007 and did not start building right away because he had many responsibilities and he needed to stock up on materials before embarking on the task.
I copied the design from my friend’s house in Kisaasi. I took my builder there and I drew the plan myself, as the builder helped me with the measurements. I hired two builders and two porters. I spent sh600,000 on 50 bags of cement. The trips of sand cost me sh400,000 and each trip of stones cost me sh60,000. I borrowed building tools like wheelbarrows, a water tank, hoes and spades
from my friends.
Although I was not a rich man, I decided to build a house with three bedrooms, a sitting room, bathroom and toilet. I constructed the house from the foundation to beam level without any interruption. I strictly monitored the development of my house and that really helped me.
The construction process was enjoyable and went according to plan, since I had saved some money. In late 2008, I had to install
windows. By early 2009, I had electricity and water pipes. I spent about sh1.2m on both power and water. With the windows and doors it was almost sh2.5m. When it came to the floor, I chose tiles which give a house a warm and classy look, although they were really expensive.
When I went back to school, this decision slowed down the construction. Having to look after my family, inspect the construction site and study was a challenge. Building materials were also very expensive. But what helped me was that because of my inexperience, I depended on experienced builders, who knew income level and helped me accordingly. Paying rent and my children’s
school fees also presented challenges for me.
I got tired of giving my landlord money yet I could use it to buy a bag of cement. The landlord’s behaviour was also inconveniencing, especially for a married man like me. So such pressures kept me going with as much vigour as I could muster.
Very many people spend money on luxuries; there are better ways to use it. Save and buy land however small it may be. You will have great satisfaction that you have something to show. Motivation I really love my family so much, so I wanted to provide
a good house for them. I also wanted to disapprove many people who were saying that I will not manage to finish my house. My wife was very supportive during our construction process.
Sserwadda was born in a poor family but he is grateful that this introduced him to hard work. Sserwadda says he is a proud man, who completed his house without a mortgage or any other debt. “I used my personal savings to construct it,” she states.