“In 2008, I acquired 30 decimals of land from a friend for sh80m in Mbuya. I paid for it in instalments. For the house plan, I Googled. I saw so many I zeroed in on this one. My whole idea was to avoid the typical Ugandan plan which everyone seems to copy from their neighbours. Everybody seems to have a sitting room, dining with a sink and a small window into the kitchen, with the corridor leading to the bedrooms. I met an architect and asked him to draw a plan for me, using the one I had gotten on the internet. He charged me sh3m for the paperwork. Then I decided to start building in 2009 and it took me seven months to complete the house.
I do not remember how much money I started with, I just started and found myself completing the house. Of course, I had to borrow money from money lenders. At that time I could not go to the banks. I was timid and with hindsight, foolish. Source of income I am an advocate of the High Court of Uganda. I specialise in real estate and debt recovery.
Cost of materials
I bought cement at sh17,000 a bag. Each trip of sand cost sh120,000. A lorry of stones was sh100,000 and I paid sh120 for each brick. I bought the blocks at sh2,000, iron bars type y12 at sh17,000 and type y16 at sh25,000. For the tiles, I used shingles which cost about sh50,000 for m2. The other material that I had to buy was the solar water heater at sh1.8m, including installation and it still works fine.
In brief, my construction process was a hurried one. When I am constructing, I push myself to finish in the shortest time possible and I avoid stalling. I used blocks and these allow you to build in the shortest time possible. The special finishing touch that I added to my house was the faux beams and the conservatory-like area, instead of corridors. I did not plant trees in the compound. We use it as a playground for soccer.
Secret to success
My secret was going all out to finish it at all costs, disregarding the risks associated with borrowing money. The end justified the means. There are so many luxuries that I had to avoid to achieve my dream. At one point I had to convince my wife to sell her car so that I could buy cement. It was not easy, but I promised her a better car when I got back on my feet.
My boy Lincoln was also very involved. I remember one time the tooth fairy gave him sh20,000 and he gave it to me to buy cement. He also physically participated at the site. He is a hard working chap.
The major challenge was money to complete the job on time. Money, money, money; it played hide and seek with me yet I had made up my mind to finish what I had started. Another challenge was the theft of construction materials by the workers. My advice to the people who are renting is to sacrifice the good life they are living now and save every penny. They can also get a mortgage instead of paying rent.
One should be careful where they want to build. Some want cheap land and end up in wetlands. When it rains, they lose everything. Some areas are crime hot spots, they need to be avoided.
As told to Esther Namirimu