Factors that affect construction costs in Kenya

Factors affecting cost of construction in Kenya

Building your own home is one of the most rewarding tasks one can undertake. It requires excellent research, proper planning, budgeting, and execution of the laid out plan for the project to be successful.

One needs to engage professionals to come up with a precise figure as to how much it would cost to build your dream home. To determine this, several factors should be considered such as house design, site location, fittings, specification of materials, floor to ceiling heights, and economic factors.

House Design

The shape and design of the house influence the total cost of construction. It affects the amount of material needed, the level of finishes, and the expertise required.

This is where an architect comes in. They design and draw up the building plan, putting into consideration several things such as the topography of the land, which hugely affects the type of house you can build on the land.  They then get the project approved once they have met all the building requirements.

In case you find an architect’s fee expensive, you can save by engaging draftsman. The draftsman translates designs into technical drawings and blueprint for builders to follow.

The style of the house also matters. Some people go for a modern style that is cheaper. It uses minimal decorative elements and an open floor plan that reduces cost. Traditional style home has a lot of detailing in the design. These are colonial or Victorian style homes. The time and materials that go into these homes make their cost more expensive.

A modern style home could end up being expensive, however, depending on the finishes you choose such as hardwood floors and gypsum roof.

Site Location

The soil at the site will determine the foundation to be used. Black cotton, for instance, must all be removed down to the rock level. The soil also determines the depth of the trenches to be dug and the re-enforcement needed. Red soil is easy to use. The foundation takes up about 20% of the cost of construction.

Poor road infrastructure can cause an increase in the cost of acquiring the materials.  Local availability of building materials affects the cost of transportation.


These include mirrors, fitted cupboards, lighting fittings. These items depend on your style and cost differently depending on their type and quality. High-end fittings are more costly at the onset but give value for money during the lifespan of the building.

If you have a flexible budget, consider engaging an interior designer to merge your dream home with style and appeal. They will advise on design themes, colors, and concepts that they implement to create a beautiful space for you.

An interior designer may not be very cheap, and if you are working on a small budget, consider getting inspiration from the internet, on websites like houzz.com, architecturendesign.net, Pinterest, and many others.

Specification of Materials

The workmanship and materials in the construction process add up to the cost of construction. Every building material has a substitute which could be cheaper or more expensive but play the same function. They also require different levels of expertise.

The building materials can be locally sourced  or imported. If you are buying in bulk, it may be cheaper to import rather than buy locally.

It is important for you or your representative to take part in purchasing your building materials, to avoid inflation by your contractors, to avoid unnecessary wastage.

Floor to Ceiling Heights

The higher the ceiling height the more it will cost in terms of materials that will be used and hence the higher the overall cost. Long ceiling heights creates an appearance of grandness.

Some people prefer the living room to be double height (double volume) creating the appearance of spaciousness and exclusivity.

Economic Factors

The source of financing plays a huge role in the final total cost of a building. For instance, the interest on borrowed funds could go up because of inflation or market forces affecting the initial cost. Inflation is a key determinant of the lending rate.

Inflation occurs when prices rise due to an increase in production costs such as raw materials. It has a ripple effect, the prices of common goods and services such as food, fuel, and transportation go up. Cost of construction materials will also rise, affecting your initial budget.

Force Majeure

These are unavoidable catastrophe sometimes termed as acts of God. It causes a project to slow down or not take off. An example is the coronavirus, contractors had to reduce the number of workers on-site to reduce chances of contraction slowing down the process of construction hence taking a longer time than expected.

The supply chain was also disrupted following the lockdown order. The demand for raw materials has become high and supply is low increasing the cost of the materials.

These disruptions have impeded progress of construction works

Type of Building Contractors

These are the professionals you will come into contact with throughout the building process. They include the architect, contractor, quantity surveyor, structural engineer, electrical engineer, plumber, carpenters, painters, and landscapers. These professionals are very important. They should be consulted at every level.

To cut on costs use the most important licensed contractors and what you can yourself, for example, painting.

An architect is an important contractor as they help in designing the house and get the project approved. Another important person is the contractor who will help you source materials and supervises the subcontractors to make sure your requirements are met.

A structural engineer is also important as they work on the foundation and structure of your house. A civil engineer will make sure the building codes are followed and the materials used are of good quality. These contractors must be licensed. If any of the regulations are not met they will be held accountable. BORAQS  has the list of all the licensed contractors in Kenya.

Many people avoid using contractors to cut on costs but end up spending more trying to fix a shoddy job. Unless you have experience in construction, do not go at it alone. Avoiding these professionals could cost you a lot in the long run. For example, your building could collapse due to a weak foundation or your wiring could be done wrong leaving you with huge electrify bills

Regulatory Requirements

Kenya has been using the British standards of construction since 1969.

The construction sector has been faced with a number of issues such as collapsing buildings shortly after they’ve been put up. In an effort to curb this Kenya is adopting the eurocodes. European standards that have been adopted globally.

These set of rules and design codes bring uniformity in engineering and construction products. The codes will vary from country to country. The codes will be adopted in kenya by January 2021.

The new codes will pave way for use of safe commonly available building materials such as the coral stones that are readily available at the coast. The materials will only be used after standardisation under the law is done and the materials pass the safety test. This is expected to cut down the cost of construction.

There will be a transfer in advanced technological methods. If implemented in a cost-effective manner, these methods will lower the cost of construction. Methods such as porotherm smart bricks, walling materials that are designed for all building formats like villas, individual houses, and commercial complexes. They are a great way of saving construction costs.

In conclusion, to determine the precise cost engage a professional quantity surveyor and to get the best value of your investment capitalize on certified architects, engineers and construction managers throughout the project.

The cost of construction can be reduced by recycling building materials or buying second-hand construction materials that are cheaper and of excellent quality.

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