“What’s the average cost of construction in Kenya?” is one of the most frequently asked question to various professionals within the industry.
Indeed knowing how much finances you need to set aside for a project will determine whether you can proceed or not. The good book summarizes it well: If a man wants to build a house, does he not first sit down and estimate the cost? (Luke 14:28 )
The most accurate costs are established by a quantity surveyor (QS) after the building designs are ready. However, one can still get a conservative budgetary estimate once you lock down on the specifics of where and what you will construct.
It is important to note that construction costs will vary greatly depending on factors such as location, size of the house, type of building (residential, commercial, industrial, etc), topography, and the material/finishes specifications.
The cost of construction varies between urban and rural setup. The general trend is that it is more costly to build in more remote areas since you may incur a greater cost to transport construction materials to such places.
Size of the house
When describing the size of the house many people like referring to the number of bedrooms. However, in construction, the plinth area is what defines the size of the house.
The plinth area or built-up area is simply the entire area occupied by the building (including internal and external walls) and is normally given in square meters. This is important because we have rates of construction given per square meter that have been developed by organizations such as Construction Costs Information Services Kenya (CCISKE) to serve as a cost guideline for major towns.
What you need to do is establish how big your building would be in square meters, then multiply that by the rate given. For example, it costs around KShs 35,000 per square meter to build a modest house in major towns of Kenya. Therefore if you have a three-bedroom house with a plinth area of 130 sq mtrs, the cost of construction should be around KSHs 4.55 million. Note this does not cater for the cost of land and can be higher or lower depending on site conditions.
Construction costs in Kenya can be divided into 3 categories: Low, Middle, and High cost. The main driver of this is the finishes. Finishes refer to the internal and external surfaces of a house.
Wall finishes can either be paint on plaster or wall tiles, Ceiling finishes can be gypsum ceiling or PVC ceiling, Roof finish can be either mabati (corrugated iron sheet), clay roofing tiles or Decra (stone coated tiles), and so on and so forth.
High quality finishes significantly increase construction costs. The building cost for a high-end home will cost upwards of KShs 60,000 per square metre.
There are certain elements that tend to increase your construction cost. Flat roofs for example would typically be more expensive than the normal pitched roof mostly because of the additional cost that come with concrete works and water proofing.
Full length windows (floor to ceiling windows) that are common in many modern houses overlooking stunning views, would cost more than the regular windows with a sill height.
In conclusion, there are no standards to construction costs and every project is unique. This is the reason why you should always engage a professional to guide you based on your budget and advise on how you can save on costs.
*This article first appeared here
Cover image by Square space