Steps To Building A House In Nigeria

Thinking of acquiring land in Nigeria and building a house? Perhaps you already have a plot of land to call your own and are interested in constructing a new home. Whatever the case, building a house is not easy. But if you plan and have at least an idea of the home construction process, then things become easier.

The procedure for building a house in Nigeria is similar, regardless of if you are building in Abuja, Lagos or any other city. What does vary is the cost of land, labor and materials. For instance, building a house in Abuja is considerably more expensive than building a house in Jos. This boils down to the fact that property in Abuja can be considered “prime real estate”.

In this article we will highlight exactly what you need to know and consider before constructing your own home. We will be using Abuja as a case study, but the steps apply to building in any other Nigerian city.

Villa Afrika are Abuja estate agents. If you are looking for a house, flat, land or commercial property, to buy or rent — visit our property or land listings. You can also send a property request.

Want to build a house? – plan, plan, plan

What type of home do you want? What exactly are you looking for in a house?

When it comes to building a house in Nigeria, planning cannot be over empathized. In fact, planning is by far and away the most important step. This remains true whether you want to build quickly, cheaply or for a profit.

Having a goal, in this case building a home in Nigeria, and then planning what needs to be done to get it built makes the eventual construction process go smoothly. Having a plan ensures you are not just making decisions “on the fly” and this will lessen the chances of making costly mistakes.

Questions you need to ask and make provisions for in your plan include:

  • How many rooms do you want?
  • How many toilets?
  • Bungalow or duplex?
  • Solar powered or generator?
  • How will you get water: borehole?
  • Luxury finishing?
  • How many power points (wall sockets)?
  • Where will the TV go?

And many other things.

You would do well to look at others for inspiration, what parts of their homes do you like and what don’t you. Make notes, take pictures and browse online: the more you research the more ideas you will get. These ideas can then be used as a reference for your builders, architects and interior designers.

Make a realistic budget

When it comes to building a house (like constructing anything else) there are almost always two givens: it is likely to cost more and take longer than you initially thought.

Any estimate that a builder gives you is likely to be missing things that you certainly need. Finishing costs is one of the things that are often overlooked. So things like gas and electrical meters, TV satellite cables, window covers, water tanks etc. Additionally, things related to landscaping, such as gates or fences might not be included in any initial estimate.

You also need to be aware of costs like infrastructure, roads, lighting and security services: particularly if you are building in an estate. Building plan approval fees are also a given. When you total these hidden costs you are likely looking at over 30% of your budget.

To make the most accurate budget possible, the general list of costs below may come in handy:

  • Price of land
  • Government taxes to pay
  • Site cost
  • Building plan fees
  • Finishing costs
  • Building costs

Purchase a suitable plot of land (if you don’t have one already)

Taking into account what you want (written in your plan above) and what you can afford (written in your budget above). You can proceed with acquiring the right plot of land.

You may already have a plot appropriate for building a home you wish. If the plot is not suitable, you may consider selling it and purchasing another, in this case a reputable real estate agent can help.

Utilizing the services of professional estate agents is the recommended method of sourcing for a plot of land in Nigeria. Just tell them your requirements and your budget and they will come back with a list of lands suited to you. You can then decide on the one to buy.

You may have thought about a few of these things in the planning step, but here is a list of things to consider before buying a plot:

  • Location
  • Accessibility
  • Schools, markets, malls, healthcare, work etc.
  • Water & electricity
  • Security
  • Price

The key is to do your due diligence and verify all the details, before parting with your hard earned money. Take a look at our how to buy land in Abuja article, for step by step guidance on the land buying process. Our top places to purchase land write-up may also be useful.

Hire an architect to produce a design

Armed with a plot of land and a few design ideas, you can go ahead and hire the services of an architect to help bring your idea to life. The architect will design a plan of the home you wish to build.

Working with a competent architect is a must, the architect’s job is to:

  • Make sure they understand your ideas/plans
  • Represent your ideas on paper
  • Ensure your ideas are viable
  • Make you aware of how things can be done more cost effectively
  • Ensure that your ideas are in line with the building standards/regulations in the area and if they are not, to make adjustments

Given the architects responsibilities, highlighted above, you can see that their role in the building process is integral.

Get a more accurate estimate

Hiring a cost consultant (quantity surveyor) is highly recommended. They can produce a bill of quantities (BOQ), which includes an estimated cost of parts, materials and labor. This estimate is based on having a completed design and specification (from an architect).

An estimate will give you a stronger foundation when it comes to negotiating with your contractors or builders.

Obtain building plan approval from government

In order for one to begin developing a plot of land, building approval must be obtained from the relevant authorities. Usually this involves payment of an application fee. Documents needed include:

  • Title documents: Certificate of Occupancy / Right of Occupancy, with proofs of payment
  • Survey plans
  • Design plans
  • Floor plans
  • Structural, electrical and mechanical drawings
  • Environmental impact report
  • Site analysis report

In Abuja the relevant authorities are the Federal Capital Development Authority, specifically the department of development control.

Choosing the right builder, contractor or developer

The builder’s job, in essence, is making sure that the approved plans you have on paper is what is eventually built on ground. The builder strives to complete the building project at or below the estimated costs produced earlier. The builder may or may not source the required materials and labor, depending on the arrangements you have with them.

A contractor is someone you contract to complete the building process for you: usually from start to finish. You allocate money for the project and the contractor then proceeds to buy materials and hire the required expertise to complete the project: as per the specifications of your contract with them.

Working with a contractor is more hands-off, as a contractor may hire on your behalf: engineers, electricians, project managers etc. to complete the building project. Alternatively, working with a builder or builders is more hands on, as this often entails you hiring specialized services yourself: so someone to do the foundation, decking, roofing, finishing, wiring etc.

If you don’t have the time or expertise it is often better to work with reputable contractors as they are more knowledgeable in such matters and often will get the job done quicker than you. Building and hiring the labor yourself can be cheaper, but not always.

If you have the money and would like to completely avoid the stress of building a house in Nigeria, you can always hire a real estate developer. Developers have teams of professionals including: contractors, sub contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, electricians, plumbers etc. that can take on a project from start to finish.

There are a number of factors to be considered before picking any one builder, contractor or developer:

  • Are they licensed?
  • What work have they done in the past?
  • Were previous clients satisfied?
  • What kind of homes do they specialize in? Flats? Bungalows? Luxury?
  • Are they easy to work with?
  • How much do they cost?

Before entering into any agreement, make sure you understand what you are signing. If need be, hire a lawyer to go through the details.

Communication is key

Throughout the construction process, be sure to be in constant communication with your builder, contractor or developer. Get regular updates on progress made and be sure to visit the site as much as you can. Taking regular pictures is a good way to identify and rectify any problems. Working with independent site inspectors, that will report to you at different stages of the construction process, is recommended: if you are too busy.

Look for where you can save money

Building a home in Nigeria is expensive and often costs do overrun. To offset this, you need to look at places where you can save money without sacrificing quality (after all, you want your house to last a long time right?).

One way of doing this is through bargaining. Try to never pay the first amount someone quotes and obtain multiple quotes for any items needed in the building process. This will guarantee you always get the best deals possible.

Final thoughts

Building a house in Nigeria is not easy. However, if you follow the steps outlined in this article, the road to owning a home becomes relatively straightforward. The key takeaways are: making sure you plan, have the appropriate approvals and work with competent professionals that will help build your dream property.

Looking for land to build a house in Abuja? Or would you rather buy a ready built home? Either way, Villa Afrika can help get what you need. Get in touch today: +234 708 500 8039.

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