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How To Build Your Comfortable House Earning Little

How to build your dream bungalow earning little: budget and approximate cost.

No1. Ensure you have a land,

You can pick one of the low cost areas; for many reasons which includes
a. Cost of land is cheap (obviously - why its called low cost area)
b. Normally these areas have good and film soil types
c. Labour cost is relatively cheaper to the high cost areas (but sometimes this is not a major factor because you can bring your workers and labour from any area)
d. Material cost are cheaper

I'll advice you get a One Plot of land ( 18m x 36m i.e 60ft x 120ft ) however if the price is too much to afford, settle for a half plot of land ( 9m x 36m i.e 30ft by 120ft OR 18m x 18m i.e 60ft x 60ft )

No2. Get a decent design from an Architect (not a draftsman)

There are many advantages - You are going to live in this property for a long time; or a life time - a badly designed / ventilated house would mean a future renovation at a cost higher than what you're trying to save now.

My advice here is that you ask for a minimum 3 bedroom design, and depending on your land, pocket you could opt for a 4 bedroom bungalow. Remember we Africans and Nigerians have a link to our extended families - so you want to provide a room for your Parents, Grand Parents, Cousins and Family Friend etc should they visit and want to stay overnight. I always discourage people from 2 bedroom apartment. You pay more on the long run.

No3. Get a good good workforce

Preferably via referral. I don't recommend using one of the locals (bricklayers, carpenter etc) living in the area you just brought your land. They normally do bad job, steal your materials or get away with money, because they are locals - dealing with them is difficult considering you would be living in that community soon.

My advice here is contact a friend or relative building and ask to use his workforce on your own negotiation, cos if your guy has more funds than you do, you might not afford what he's paying them. so it's your terms not his.

No4. Cost

You're probably doing to spend a fraction of a million on foundation to German floor. (remember we picked a good soil area) - so how do you get your first million to start?

Well, you don't need a million;
a. Buy let less than 30 tonnes of granite (preferably) or 2 tippers of gravel. 30 tonnes means you'll get delivery from a quarry and a good deal, but sometimes its difficult for the 30 tonnes trailer to access your site, only then should you settle for 15 or 20 tonnes.
b. Buy one 20 tonnes tippers of sharp sand; this would serve us to German floor level
c. Save for 50 bags of cement; but the actual amount you'll need is about 30 for foundation and 15 for block works and other works.
d. We wont be budgeting for reinforcement bars (rebars) because we picked a good soil.

No5. The actual works.

a. Ensure you get the Hausa guys to clear your site and up-root any tree that falls on the building's location totally, at a price of about 10k, you should get this done.
b. Digging of foundation would cost you about 25k - 30k; if you pay more than that, then you must have hit a rock under ground that needs extra cutting, however I always advice you follow C below
c. Always negotiate for all works in a stage at once, don't separate the works eg digging, foundation, blockworks etc instead discuss by saying Foundation works to German floor. (minus filling to German floor and German floor itself)
d. Filling can be done by yourself, buy your filling and get people to spread it at a rate of about 2.5k per tipper, you would need as much as 12 tippers here x about 20k per tipper but we can save cost
e. Your bricklayer should be charging you about 100 - 120k for all the works in this section (digging, casting of foundation, block works)
f. I ALWAYS ADVICE YOU DON'T HAVE LESS THAN 4 COURSES - DONT LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE; should there be need to add a fifth, ask for the advice of a professional. 3 courses is not saving money, it is inviting trouble in the nearest future.

No6. Saving money.

To save money you can opt to dig your septic tank & soak away and use the sand dug out for filling, this would normally save you about 200k. YES! but rules applies.
a. Make sure erect the blockworks to the septic tank and soak away immediately after digging
b. Make sure the septic tank is well plastered
c. Make sure you supervise the back-filling yourself, ie every space between the septic tank's block and the natural ground must be well filled and compacted to avoid a tear off after the first rain.

No7. What Next?

Now that you have completed this works, filled the foundation to level allow rain fall on it, compact it before thinking of your german floor.

IT IS COMMON TO SEE PEOPLE CONTINUE THE BUILDING TO LINTEL OR ROOF LEVEL WITHOUT A GERMAN FLOOR but I'll advise you do it; remember, the plan is to complete the house over a long period (from limited fund), the amount you'll probably save by skipping this stage would be forced out of your pocket later in the project. You don't need something too thick, a German floor of between 3inches - 4inches would do the trick.

We would continue from here in the next series of How to Build Your Comfortable House Earning Little.

Thanks... Drop your comments, question and I'll answer them (from a professionals' point of view). It is also possible that I've omitted something major; Quote me in your reply and I'll get back.


  1. Thanks a lot for the info. I will like to ask....... How many courses of blocks is recommended after lintel.


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