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21 Things You Experience When You Build Your House In Nigeria – Part 2

11. You Soon Start Talking Like A Construction Pro
Now you know that a German floor is not made in Germany, Concrete biscuits are not made of flour and 1-2-4 or 1-3-6 is not a football formation but a mix ratio for cement, sand and granite. It feels good to understand and speak the engineering lingo, as it makes you negotiate better with construction pros or sellers. Over 90% of residential construction in Nigeria are self managed, and chances are you are directly involved in your project. Being involved may lead to more cost savings and better quality of work. Most of that experience may be lost though if you are not building another house soon.

12. Losses Are Guaranteed
There is always that Mr. nobody who takes everything from the site. One day it is the wheel barrow, the next day it is 100 bags of cement that walked away, then to make it worse the wood planks which you used for foundation formwork and had been planning to reuse for decking gets missing-in-action. You still can’t explain how the painter finished the 6 buckets of paint, or how two cartons of tiles went on French leave. Only the gods can tell you what happened and in most cases you just have to move on. Losses are bound to happen.

 

13. See No Evil, Say No Evil
Bricklayer lays block and makes a mistake by leaving a hole as big as half a block in the kitchen’s wall, the plasterer plasters everywhere there is block, and leaves the hole “as is”, painter paints only the plastered wall and you come back after a week seeing the entire kitchen from the gate through the hole. You wonder why in this era of Ben Bruce’s common sense revolution, 3 people would be competing for the “most silly person” award . Workers are only after the money, and rarely correct the mistakes of others if it would mean extra work.

14. Ghana Is Going Nowhere
Chances are that good plastering work you saw in Lekki and that well laid tile in your friend’s house in Ajah were done by a Ghanaian. If not a Ghanaian, then it is probably a Togolese or a Benonoise. It is a joke in construction that if you see tiles that are well laid and properly grouted then they were laid by Ghanaians, if it is a shoddy work then it is a Nigerian. It is a generalisation, but youths no longer fancy such technical skills and those who find themselves in it are rarely that detailed. We are fast loosing core technical skills in the construction industry and this has opened the doors for our ECOWAS brothers who admittedly do a better job.

15. There Is Always A Wuruwuru To The Answer
It is easier for you to dream at the beginning, as your project runs to a close it makes more sense for you to move in and complete it while there than to keep paying house rents which would further set your finances back. Your house may not be painted, some rooms don’t even have doors, you have not tiled the floor, but it doesn’t make you less of a landlord. Monkey no fine, but him mama like am. Not even Buckingham palace looks better than your house presently.

16. You Now Appreciate the ‘Economics’ Behind the Thatched Roof Your Ancestors Used
“What! One point five gini? For roofing of this small building? Will the roof cover the sins of me and my family?. How much did they build my grandfather’s house in my hometown?” That was the story of an apparently emotionally, and of course, financially-exhausted and frustrated chap who was building his first house. He had just gotten to the roofing stage when he received quotations from his builder that the roofing will cost close to N1.5 Million. After the roofing, finishes is another issue. It probably took you 8 months to raise the building and word is already spreading out that you work in the oil company. People are surprised to pass by your house in the next 1 year and from outside it seems nothing is going on, but you know you have spent so much more.

 

17. You May Even Suddenly Start Thinking of Painting as ‘Luxury’
…..And then your children ask you one day “Mummy/Daddy, what will be the colour of our new house?’’. You realize you had been so engrossed in other major expenses that you didn’t give much thought to the painting. Looking at how much you have left in your bank account and some already accumulated debts you start asking yourself if painting is really needed. “Maybe painting is a luxury after all”. We know where the thought is coming from, be encouraged, the struggle is almost over, the painting will be worth it and you will be glad you coloured your dream.

18. Now You Are Sure Of A Permanent Address
If you don’t own your own house, you don’t have a permanent address. There was a time when you till had to use your father’s house address in Ketu even though you now live in Festac because you don’t know where you will be living in the next 2 years and you don’t want your letters to keep going to your old address. Now you are proud to write your new address and have it for keeps, no longer will your delivery from Konga end in your old address because you had forgotten to change the address on your Konga account.

19. People Start Asking Questions
You used to change your car every 2 years, you always paid your house rent 2 months before it expired, you paid school fees per session not even per term, you wore Sandino Cementino long sleeves (don’t worry, we made the designer up) and even the lady who normally supplies you shirts knew you always picked at least 2, you always took your family out on Saturdays – you were the example other families followed, now all of a sudden things have changed. Infact if you had not been going to work everyday, they would have assumed you have been sacked. Some eventually get to ask you, and you had to let them know your castle is moving from the air to its permanent site.

20. Dollar And Construction Are Like Bread And Butter
Dollar is rising and you are laughing because you don’t do online transactions, wait till you hear about the latest price of reinforcement, cement, sanitary wares, tiles, and fittings. When the price of dollar goes up, know ye that things are about to change. Don’t be shocked when you see a future landlord gathering used cement sacks and wood planks to sell to the ‘Northerners’ and mama buka who come to site to buy them. Anyone who has built a house in this Naija of today knows that every kobo matters oh!

 

21. Housing Is Hot Cake
You have just completed the roofing and estate agents are already around you lobbying to bring in their own people to rent the house. You are there telling the agent that you are gathering the money to finish your house and you will call them when it is done, only for the tenant to tell you they are willing to complete the project with their funds and you can deduct the money from their house rent. Now you know why landlords hardly bargain – there is more demand than supply.

22. (Bonus Point) – You Become the Landlord You Detested
Remember how your last landlord was always a pain in the neck. We both know you are not Ballotelli, but whenever you complain to him that another tap is broken he asks “Why always you?”. By October he is already sending you reminder for the house rent which is due in December, and he has a dedicated parking space that leaves other tenants with no option but to park outside. He is the mini-devil and the black sheep of his house.
So you finally finished building the house and bagged the coveted honorary title of LFN (Landlord in the Federal Republic of Nigeria). Your new tenant who just came back from US told you his tap ran dry and you asked “which movie is that?”. He insists it is your responsibility to replace it as it is done in the US, and reminds you Fashola said tenants should only pay for one year. Well your answer is simple, “go and live in Fashola’s house”. When you know how much it costs to build a house and how insignificant yearly rents are in comparison to the total cost except in high brow areas, you might soon be the next black sheep.

 

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