12 steps to building a house in Nigeria

Perhaps you are thinking of acquiring land in Nigeria and building a house, or maybe you already have a plot of land you call your own and are interested in constructing a new home. Whatever the case may be, building a house is not an easy task. It requires your time, and it can be tedious.

But with proper planning, it gets easier. First, you have to plan and have at least an idea of the home construction process.

The steps in building a house in Nigeria are similar regardless of the state you are building at. Whether you are making it in Abuja, Lagos, or any other city, the process is the same. The only thing that varies is the cost of land, labour, and materials needed.

This post will highlight all you need to know and consider before constructing your own home. Remember, these steps apply to building in any city in Nigeria.

Steps to Building a House

The building construction process involves two stages:

I) Pre-Construction steps

II) Construction steps

The steps below will give you a clue about how to go about building your house. Understanding these steps will aid your knowledge and, in turn, help you come up with a great result.

Pre-Construction Steps

Acquiring a Suitable plot

The first step that sets things in motion is buying a plot of land to erect your structure. In this case, utilizing the services of a reputable real estate agent is recommended so that you won’t fall into the hands of fraudsters.

Just tell them your requirements and your budget, and they will present you with the list of available lands that suits you. You can then decide on the one to buy.

Here is a list of things you need to consider before buying a plot of land:

– Location

– Accessibility

– Social infrastructures

– Security

– Price

The trick is to take the appropriate steps, conduct thorough research, and double-check all of the information before handing over your hard-earned money. You can check our previous article on a guide to buying lands in Nigeria for step-by-step guidance on the land buying process.

Plan

Want to build a house? You need to plan. After buying your land, you might want to sit down and think, “What type of home do I want?” 

When it comes to building a house in Nigeria, planning cannot be over-emphasized. It is a crucial step.

Having a goal, in this case, building a home in Nigeria and then planning what needs to be done to achieve it, makes the overall construction process go smoothly. 

Questions you need to ask and make provisions for in your plan include: Is the house going to be a bungalow or duplex? How many rooms do I want? How many toilets? Water source? Luxury finishing? How many power points (wall sockets)? And many other things.

You can even look at other houses for inspiration. What parts of their homes do you like, and which do you dislike? Make a mental note of all these things. Thanks to technology advancements, you can also check online for more ideas and design inspirations. These ideas can be used as a reference for your builders, architects, and interior designers.

Make a Budget

There are almost always two givens when building a house: it will likely cost more and might take longer than you initially anticipated.

Any estimate that a builder gives you is likely to be missing things that you need. But, unfortunately, one of the things that are sometimes overlooked is the cost of finishing things as electrical meters, TV satellite cables, window covers, water tanks, etc. Additionally, the landscaping cost, such as gates or fences, might not be included in the initial estimate.

You also need to be aware of Building plan approval fees. When you total these hidden costs, you are likely looking at over 30% of your budget.

Here is a general list of costs you can use to create an accurate budget:

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

Hire an Architect to Draw the Plan of the House

Having a plot of land and a few design ideas, you can go ahead and hire an architect to help bring this idea to life. The architect will be the one to design a plan for the home you wish to build.

You should discuss your requirements with the architect, the number of rooms you wish your house to contain, your taste, and the requested facilities. After you have discussed these things, the architect then gets the plan designed to fit and meet the building standards of the authorities in line with the location of your land.

It is the architect’s job to make sure your ideas align with the building standards/regulations in the area and, if they are not, to make adjustments.

5. Consult with a Quantity Surveyor

Once the architect is done with the house plan drawings as required before he presents them for building plan approval, you will need to consult with a Quantity Surveyor to prepare the Bill of Quantities (BOQ).

This estimate is based on having a completed design from the architect. It will help you determine what building a house will cost you. It is ideal to have this document, as you may be required to produce it for verification purposes if you are looking for a loan to fund the construction of your home.

And if you are funding your structure out of pocket, this estimate will give you a stronger foundation when it comes to negotiating with your contractors or builders.

Obtain Building Plan Approval from the Government

Before you can begin developing your land, you must obtain building approval from the relevant authorities. This usually involves the payment of an application fee. In addition, you are required to submit certain documents, e.g., a Survey Plan, Architectural drawing, structural drawing, Title Document(C of O), and Evidence of payment.

Getting the right builder, contractor

The builder’s job is to ensure that what you have on the approved plans is eventually built on the ground. The builder strives to complete the building project at not more than the estimated costs produced earlier except in situations where there is price movement in the market and the time you drew your plan and got your Bill of Quantities (BOQ) and when you moved to the site. 

Based on your arrangements, you have the builder; he may or may not provide the necessary materials and labour needed.

A contractor is sometimes called the site inspector or Foreman. The contractor is someone you contact to complete the building process for you, usually from start to finish. For example, you assign money for the project, and the contractor then proceeds to buy the materials needed and hire the required expertise to complete the project.

When you work with a contractor, you don’t have to be personally involved with hiring engineers, electricians, project managers, etc. Instead, it’s the job of the contractor to handle this.

Whereas working with a builder, you need to be more involved as you will handle hiring specialized services, e.g., someone to the roof and someone to do the wiring.

Hence if you don’t have the time, it is often better to work with a reputable contractor as it is their area of expertise, and he will get the job done quicker.

Before you decide to pick any builder or contractor, you need to consider the following factors:

– Are they licensed?

– What work have they done in the past?

– How much do they cost?

– Are they easy to work with?

– What kind of homes do they specialize in the building?

Buying Materials

Purchasing building supplies is one part of your construction project that, if not properly managed, can derail your entire dream house plan financially.

You need to be familiar with material types, their specifications, and where to purchase them. Then, you can select three reputable building supply firms and submit your materials estimates to each. You can then compare the price given against your original estimates and correct the differences.

Finally, you can go ahead and select the building supply firm with the best combination of service and price.

If you don’t want to go through this process because you feel it will take more time, you can get the support of an honest handyman or builder to help with buying these materials

Construction steps

Start the Building Construction

In this step, the first you need to do is site preparation and levelling. Next, you must clean the site to be constructed before the work is executed. Finally, the roots of trees and debris need to be removed.

Before you start your construction, your surveyor needs to ensure that your construction plans correspond with the topography and stability of the environment. They know the best spots for building structures and learn to steer you away from certain parts of the property.

Preparing a site and levelling a property are done in preparation for building, and having your property surveyed by a professional will ensure that you build on the best spot.

After clearing and levelling, the land needs to be excavated in preparation for the foundation of your home. Finally, the building is supported by the foundation. 

The following steps, amongst others, include column casting, floor casting, laying of block walls, Lintel casting, roofing, and plastering work.

Exterior and interior fittings 

This step is all about the exterior and interior fittings task involved in building a house. First, the roof embers are set up to receive the roof covering. Then the plasterwork begins. The thickness of the plaster layer should not be over 0.75 inches.

Fix doors and windows:

At this stage, you can fix doors of various materials depending on the specifications you want. Wooden doors are the most used, but sometimes, doors made from aluminium and steel are used. 

For the windows, you can have wooden windows, aluminium casement/sliding windows, projected windows, etc. Fixing doors after the first coat of painting work is safer and advisable.

The necessary electrical and plumbing works are carried out before the final finishing works. Tiles are laid in specific areas such as the bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen. 

Monitoring the Construction process

Throughout the construction process, be sure to be in constant communication with your builder or contractor. Make sure you get updates regularly and visit the site as often as possible if you have time. You need to monitor every step to be able to identify and rectify any problem.

If you are working with a builder and are too busy to visit the site, you can hire an independent site inspector who will report to you at different stages of the construction process.

 

Decorating

At this point, you might want to take the reins from your contractors and undertake the decorating tasks yourself.

Taking on these smaller tasks at the end of a building project is a good idea as you might want to put some things in place. For example, all debris and dust should be removed from the house and leave it outside. 

In this final step, you take charge of how you want the interior of your home to look.

Conclusion

Building a house in Nigeria is not easy. However, if you follow the steps outlined in this article, it will ensure that the road to owning a home becomes relatively straightforward.

The essential things to note are: making sure you plan, have the appropriate approvals, and work with competent professionals that will help build your dream home.

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