By Deo Tumusiime K
Aradio jingle runs thus: “Omanyi ba bbosi bafala. bw’omusaba obusawo bwasementi makumi ataano nawereza, gwe n’ogula asatu.” (Bosses are unwise. You ask them for 50 bags of cement, they send the money and you buy 30, instead).
Building is an expensive venture.
Very few Ugandans are able to build their dream homes to completion off their salary. For this reason, the process is usually split into phases, which makes it more expensive and because of the insincerity of many builders, the work goes on and on.
This is one of the reasons some people opt to reside in incomplete structures with the hope of doing final touches with time.
Aware that people are often scared of the excessive expenses involved in construction, some builders have devised tactics to conveniently cheat people. First, they refer to homeowners as ‘boss’, or Omugagga in Luganda.
The Luganda connotation is even heavier because it refers to you as a ‘rich man /woman’, no matter how much money you are committing.
When you ask for budget estimates, the builders make them as low as possible, which gets you excited as you empty your account to achieve your dream. A few weeks later, with a few walls up, the builder says the materials were inadequate.
In the end, you are left too broke to pay rent, yet you cannot live in an incomplete structure. So, the next option is securing a bank loan, which must be repaid in a stipulated time.
There is a slight twist today. They are aware that not many ‘bosses’ will count the number of bricks or personally supervise the mixtures to be used.
Many builders, especially those who have not studied that much, but have the technical knowledge, are unable to construct their dream homes, but handle millions of other people’s money, rushing to put up all types of houses!
You may have gone to school, but cannot easily comprehend the technical language of construction materials.
So, how do we get out of this web of daylight robbery? According to engineers, the cost of a builder’s labour charge should be 10% of the total cost of materials.
Of course, this may vary, especially when working with individuals, but at least it provides a starting ground for bargaining. Secondly, one must visit the construction site regularly.
Involvement could mean studying the market prices of materials.
Also, soliciting various quotations from builders might give one an idea of the average price of materials.
You could make use of the Internet to acquaint yourself with the meaning of words used in construction.