According to Mr Muriithi, Managing Director & CEO at Pacific, the most important thing is engaging professionals in every aspect of your building. Unless you are a seasoned developer, he strongly advises against managing the process on your own or, like many people do, leaving the construction site under the supervision of a relative.
Many people avoid construction firms in an effort to cut costs, but they end up losing money due to pilferage and shoddy work. “If you decide to build on your own but you don’t know what you are doing, there are chances that you’ll end up paying a contractor more money to fix your mistakes,” says Mr Murithi.
People who put their relatives in charge at construction sites have been known to lose up to 40 per cent of the total construction costs due to pilferage, while construction companies charge only 5 per cent of the total construction cost .
A major advantage of using a registered firm is that such companies shoulder a significant proportion of the risks and liability. “We usually go through the building budget with the client before the construction starts. If we agree, for instance, that a three-bedroom, single-storey maisonette will cost Sh2.7 million and then send the client an invoice for Sh3.5 million, he/she has the right to seek legal redress and be compensated for the excess money used. On the other hand, if you put a relative in charge of a construction site, the building costs may run off the charts and the you will have nowhere to seek redress since you shoulder all the risks,” explains Mr Murithi.
Dealing with a reputable construction firm like us not only saves you money, but also saves time because you do not have to make frequent visits to the construction site. Many of our clients live abroad and cannot afford to travel home frequently just to check on a project.
We handle all the logistics and only send them photos regularly,”
Another trick that a builder can use to save money is sourcing for materials on their own, as opposed to giving the responsibility to those manning the construction site such as the foreman and fundis.
“The reason I decided to start building budget homes as a business,” Mr Murithi says, “is because I once owned a hardware store and would see foremen brazenly scamming their bosses.The foremen would collude with hardware store owners to deceive the home-builders by marking up the prices of supplies and backing them up with fake receipts.
“At Pacific Reality, we bypass hardware retailers and source for building materials directly from the suppliers at the lowest prices,”
Sending the construction workers to get materials for you can also prove extra costly as these people have a tendency of looking for the cheapest materials in order to save money, thereby compromising the quality of buildings.
For instance a builder who sends his foreman to look for construction blocks at a nearby quarry. Upon arriving at the quarry, the foreman learns that the stones come in four grades, ranging from grade A to D according to quality. Since all the stones look alike at a glance, the foreman buys blocks of inferior quality so that he can pocket some of the cash. But then,during the construction, nearly half of the Grade D stones end up chipping away or breaking easily, rendering them unfit for construction.
“In as much as you are trying to cut costs, never compromise on quality as it only turns out to be more expensive in the long run,” warns Mr Muriithi, who has spent his entire adult life in the construction industry.
We go for Grade A construction stones, whose wastage rate is less than 1 per cent. When buying construction materials, beware of cheap bargains. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Using sand as an example, a 21-tonne lorry-full of sand usually goes for Sh21,000, but a supplier might come to you saying he can sell you the same amount of sand for, say Sh18,000. If this happens, be cautions, beware because such lorries usually have false bottoms that unscrupulous suppliers exploit. And because of the false bottom, you end up receiving only 14 tonnes of sand instead of the 21 tonnes you think you have received.
Another cost-saving measure is renting or re-using certain building materials instead of buying new ones for every project. For instance, timber posts and trappers that are usually used to provide support during construction can be rented from construction firms and re-used several times before becoming unusable.
Being in touch with modern trends and using new building technology are also cost-effective. Pacific Realty Investment recently started using hollow interlocking blocks, a technology borrowed from Thailand. Although the blocks are relatively expensive, the company still manages to make considerable savings since the blocks require little cement to hold them together, and require less labour. Thanks to the adoption of this technology, a project that the company had set out to undertake for Sh9 million shillings ended up costing Sh5.2 million.
Then there is the issue of labour. If you pay your workers a flat rate daily, they can deliberately work slowly to extend the construction period so that they can be on the job for a while longer.
To avoid such a scenario, you should work out a system that allows you to pay the workers according to the amount of work they do.
But perhaps what contributes most to exaggerated construction costs is pilferage and outright theft by construction site workers. It didn't took us long to discover that workers steal materials such as bricks, cement, and even wheelbarrows.
Acknowledging that such thieving is rampant at construction sites around the country, is not only criminal and immoral, but also compromises quality as workers end up using substandard materials.
We provide a complete solution to all these dynamic challenges of construction at Pacific Realty Investment.