Building Own House: The Price, The Agony | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Building Own House: The Price, The Agony

Posted: Jun 4, 2016 at 6:22 am   /   by   /   comments (1)

Hazeez Balogun – Lagos

Building a home should not be a big hassle. But in Nigeria today it is a big lot of problem.
It can be that simple only if one has a fat wallet: Buy a land, get an architect, hire a contractor, and in three months the house is ready.
For the average Nigerian, the case is different. Building a house is a tedious and emotional journey with lots of pain, belt tightening and headaches.
Shelter is one of the basic needs of man. From the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, shelter comes after air, water, food and clothing. Most Nigerians live in rented apartments or in family compounds, but it is everyone’s dream to have their own house.
What also drives people to build their own house is the cost of renting one. In large cities like Kano, Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Asaba, Benin or Calabar, house rents are sky high. A one bedroom flat in Lagos is over N250, 000. It is almost double that in Abuja and slightly lower in Kaduna. So if you have a family of six, you should be looking at a three bedroom flat that is more than N500, 000.
This high cost has driven a lot to build their own house by hook or crook. A few weeks ago a picture went viral on the internet. It was the picture of a house built with wood under the base of a bridge and furnished with air condition.
Such is the desperation of some city dwellers. Instead of shelling out half a million to some landlord, they would build a makeshift shelter in some obscure parts of town where they believe the government cannot disturb them. In Lagos, you can see such houses around Oworonshoki area. Such houses are periodically uprooted and they are usually rebuilt in a matter of days.
Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) just recently demolished illegal buildings at Mende. The LASBCA’s General Manager, Mr. Sola Adeigbe, confirmed that the particular buildings were illegally constructed. He also said that such illegal shanties will continue to be found out and will be demolished without compensation for the owner because in the first place, it was not supposed to be there.
For those who want to go the legal route, it is not an easy road either. The usual resolve is to build the house in installments. They save enough to buy the land, leave it for a while to gather money to do the foundation, then abandon it once again… until finally, the house gets completed. Some take up to 10 years to finally complete their houses.
Buying a land
It all starts with buying a land. Buying a land in the heart of the city is almost impossible. If you ever find a vacant one for sale, you will have to shed an arm and a leg for one. A piece of land in FESTAC Town in Lagos costs between N30m and N40m; same goes for other areas of the city. So the best bet is to get a land in the outskirts of the city.
In Abuja, Kurudu area is now becoming well desired. Though it is over one hour from the city, land is relatively cheaper there and the road to town is smooth. One can still get a plot of land in Kurudu for as low as N800, 000.
In Lagos, the preferred outskirt town is Ikorodu, but the township is also expensive these days. You still have to go deep inside the town to places like Igbogbo and Ijede, Ibeshe or Egbin. There you can have a plot of land for about N400,000.
But buying the land is not a straight transaction even if you have the money. The question is, who do you pay the money to? You could pay for a land, get receipt and even be issued what seems to be a Certificate of Occupancy, and the next day some other set of people will accost you saying the land belongs to them.
Tayo Odueke, a tailor in Ketu area relays his experience: “I saw the advert on a paper that there is land in one estate in Ikorodu. They said it was N450, 000 per plot and I can pay 12 times. Every month I gave them N38, 000. My wife and I struggled to pay that money. After we finished paying for one year, we went to the land and saw that someone else was already building on the land. Till today we are still on the case. They said I should pay N100,000 more and they will give me another land.”
Building the house
Even when you eventually get to buy a land, if you are in the South West, you will face the next set of hurdle which are the ‘Omo oniles’. Literally meaning children of the land, these hoodlums are not necessarily from the area you buy your land, but they can wreck havoc and make work on the house difficult. Sometimes they beat up workers or steal building materials from the site.
All they need from you is to ‘settle’ them. Depending on the area, the omo onile fees can be as high as N500, 000. And their fees are not one-off. If you are building your house in installments, they will accost you anytime you commence work. Even when you start living in the house, they will ask for money for any modification done to the house. If you erect a gate, they will charge you. If you paint the house, they will charge you. If you build shops in front of your house, you will be charged.
Speaking with a building contractor, Semiu Alebioshu, he said that it is not only the owners of the house that are affected. “People think that it is only the owners of the house that omo onile harrasses for money. When the owner has left the site, they will come and meet us again and ask for settlement. If we do not do anything, they start to throw stones at us. There was one house I was building in Egbe area. The omo onile came with a bus and pack all our cement away. Even when we eventually settled them they refused to return the cement,” said Semiu.
Lagos State government has been threatening to deal with any omo onile when caught. Governor Ambode said at a forum, “Land is a very important asset in this state and the security of title is also very important and therefore, anybody who uses threat of arms or physical threat to disposess people of their legitimate property will be treated as criminals.” But despite this, the omo onile continues to operate without hindrance across the state.

High Cost of materials
After all these hassles, building the house itself is a big hurdle. Almost every building material is expensive. These are the current rates of materials in the open market.
Cement – Block Work N
Cement per 50kg bag 1,800.00
One tipper load of washed gravel (5 tonnes) 13,000.00
Sharp sand per tipper load (5 tonnes) 8,000.00
Soft sand per tipper load (5 tonnes) 7,000.00
Unwashed gravel tipper load (5 tonnes) 12,000.00

Wood work
2 x 6 x 12 per length 600.00
2 x 4 x 12 per length 400.00
2 x 3 x 12 per length 250.00
1 x 12 x 12 per length 600.00
3 x 4 x 12 per length 600.00
¾ x 4 x 8 Flush door high quality 10,500.00
½ x 4 x 8 Flush door low density 4,500.00

Corrugated iron roofing per handle(20 pieces)
9, 500.00
Super Seven Asbestos 8ft 1,950.00
Super Seven Asbestos 6ft 1,700.00

6 x 6 Wall Tiles per pack (72 pieces) 1,400.00
Water Base (Dunlop) per litre Tin 2,200.00

Coloured Emulsion (4 litres) 1,200.00 per tin
Tyford Toilet Complete set 10,350.00
Standing Shower Complete set 9,450.00
Wash Hand Basin 5,500.00
Bath tub with one tap 18,000.00
20mm plastic pipe per length 220.00
20mm ‘U’ Boxes ‘I’ Angle through 290.00
25mm ‘U’ Boxes ‘I’ Angle through 480.00
3 x 3 Galvanised switch box 330.00
3 x 6 Galvanised switch box 400.00

All these will be multiplied by how large and how many rooms you want the house to be. Also, better quality materials will cost more. This is also excluding transport cost for these materials and payment of those who will offload and onload them.
Living and building
To work around the costs, many have resulted to tactics which are not advisable. While the house is built to a certain level, some would decide to move into the house even while it is being built. According to them, instead of paying the landlord, they would rather spend the money on their house and live in it till it is completed.
Many of such cases can be seen in Ibafo area of Ogun State. Many who live there work in Lagos but took advantage of the cheap land there. You would see houses without roofs, doors or windows, yet people are living there.
Kelechi Magnus, a pastor is one of those who lived like that till he finished his house. He shares his experience: “Shortly after our marriage in 1999, things were so bad that we found it difficult to pay our house rent, school fees and other normal bills. We made up our mind to do all manner of awkward jobs to feed the family. Two years later, we were able to raise some amount of money which was sufficient enough to buy a piece of land around Ofada, Ogun State.
“We took a bold step to forgo the three bedroom apartment that we kept on owing the landlord at Ojodu and pack into a one-bedroom apartment at Ofada to live close to our piece of land. Almost three quarters of our belongings were kept outside the building under the rain and shine since the room could not contain them. We lost all our wedding photographs and other valuable documents. Later, we struggled to build one room out of the proposed three-bedroom flat.
“We were both consumed with tears of joy at the completion of this room which we insisted the carpenter should roof same day. We spread planks on the bare floor when he finished, laid mattress on them and slept not minding snakes and sound of other carnivorous animals surrounding the bushy community. Apart from ours, there was another building about 300 meters far away in the bush. It was the soundest of all dreams that night in five years. Though without door and window, we lived under this condition for four years before we finally completed the apartment. Today, the rest is history.”

Running from your own house
Building ones house is not always a happy-ever-after affair. Even after building the house, there are many challenges one will still face. In Lagos for example, escaping from the landlord does not make you free. You still have to pay a land-use charge which is also very expensive. Depending on the area, you can pay between N50,000 to N200,000 a year.
Also, those who built houses in outskirts sometimes end up regretting their decisions. The complaint is usually about the long journey they have to make every day to get to work. These areas are usually desolate with lack of social amenities. No tarred roads, no hospitals, no street lights, and there are hardly police presence.
Tony Okonkwo moved into his house in Ofada, Ogun State immediately after he completed it, but today he has moved back to Surulere in Lagos where he has resumed paying rent.
“After living in my house for two years in Ofada, I just could not bear it. There are no good schools in the area, so I go and drop them (his children) in Surulere every morning before going to work. They are always late every morning. If I get them ready by five in the morning to beat traffic, when I drop them at school the school will not be open by that time. All these got frustrating. We have no light and no water. I decided to rent out my three bedroom house. I get just N200,000 in rent from it, and I am paying N500,000 for the house I am renting now,” said Oknonkwo.
Okonkwo’s case is not isolated. There are many in his shoes. Owning a house should be a thing of joy and pride, but the experiences of Nigerians are the opposite. The government of President Buhari had promised a massive housing scheme for Nigerians including 250,000 houses, but that is yet to materialise.

Comments (1)

  • Jun 30, 2016 at 6:53 am bulletproofroofer

    Building your own house can be very costly often more than
    what you can get from an already built house for the same amount. Especially is as important
    as it is hard to make and requires professional staff, which, would of course
    cost you even more.

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