By Verna Mwinganisa
Most companies selling surveyed plots offer the standard 50 x 100 feet plots. I have always wondered where this size of plot originated from – after all, according to the building by-laws, the smallest acceptable plot is 25 x 100 feet.
One of the possible origins of the 50 x 100 feet plot size is the ‘Swahili Shop’ that you see in your local trading centre – with four shops in front, each shop has two 10 x 10 feet rooms, one at the front – the other at the rear. There is enough space left on the sides for a passage way to the rear of the plot, although some shops have a corridor between the shops.
The rear of the plot is a typical courtyard with single rooms facing each other and common showers and toilets at the back of the plot. The owner of the property probably lives on the property, runs a shop and rents out the other shops and rooms.
Suddenly, the exact plot size is in a residential neighbourhood – and the question is, what can one develop on this plot? It really depends on the aspiration of the plot owner.
*On the extreme end, one could develop a stand alone bungalow for a single family. Note that the total area developed should not exceed 30% of the plot area, in the case of a 50 x 100 feet plot, the developments should not exceed 150m2.
This size of house could comfortably house a three-bedroom, two bathroom house with a room for the maid. Alternatively, a garage can be built which could end up being used as a neighborhood shop, home office or for cottage industry.
*There is the option of developing simple rental units – where the developer lives in one unit and rents out the others. Again, the nature of the rentals depends on the temperament of the developer and the quality of tenants he/she wants to attract.
One could develop two units, each about 75m2 in size which allows for a spacious two bedroom unit or a really tight three-bedroom unit.
*It is also possible to develop three units; each 50m2 unit with two-bedrooms. You can provide for up to 4 parking lots and limited compound.
*The ‘Swahili shop’ model would give you about 16 rooms for rent. In the township of Kibera, Nairobi – developers go as far as developing six-fl oors of the ‘swahili shop’ floor plan which would offer about 96 rooms for rent. Of course, the value of the land and rent you can collect should be worth constructing all these floors.
In cases where multiple units are built, it is possible to create condominium units and get separate titles for each unit. The units have to share a wall or slab for them to be converted into a condominium property. In this case, you would be able to sell some units if funds get low – or mortgage some units instead of the whole property.
Otherwise, you can plant eucalyptus trees that take 3 – 5 years to mature. As you decide what to build and save money to start construction, your plot will not be idle.
The writer is an architect with Evolution Edge