For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? – Luke 14: 28 – 30
You’ve come a long way as a tenant and it’s time to build your house. You’ve started searching for designs, calculating how much you need for the project. Look no further, this post is for you.
I will try as much as possible to demystify the cost of building a house in Nigeria. It was a bit difficult getting accurate information from builders as no one will want to reveal his ‘trade secrets’. However, to help us in arriving at a good enough estimate, I sampled three cases of 3-bedroom houses built in 3 locations: Nasarawa, Lagos and Kwara. The building process will be broken into stages and the amount spent will be included.
A list of price of building materials will also be added. This is to help in cost estimates particularly since tastes are different. At the end of the post is included some additional web resources to help you in planning. But first, let us see what is involved when getting a land in Nigeria.
Buying a land
For Lagos residents, Omonilelawyer specifies some things to watch out for when buying a land. These are;
- Certificate of Occupancy
- Deed of conveyance
- Survey plan of land
The above list is so you don’t fall into the hands of land scammers. These same requirements apply all through Nigeria and it is advisable to include a lawyer in the buying process.
Land price is dependent on location. It is not out of place to see various plots of land within the same state having steep price differences. Locations on the outskirts of the city are cheaper than those in central city areas. High-brow residential areas have jaw-dropping prices while waterlogged and conflict prone areas could be cheaper. A half plot of land is enough to accommodate a 3 bedroom flat as can be seen in this project. However, we will be going with a plot of land for this post.
One plot can go for as low as ₦350,000 to as high as ₦10 million or even higher depending on the area.
Drafting your building plan
Work closely with good professionals to get this done relaying your designs for implementation. For a standard 3-bedroom house plan, design cost can range from ₦40,000 to ₦300,000.
What you need at this stage is an architect.
Price list of building materials in Nigeria
Price vary depending on location and closeness to materials. Recent increase in exchange rates has seen some prices increase over 100% of what was obtainable years ago. For materials such as cement, price is near-uniform nationwide. Below is the current price of some materials;
|Sharp sand||30 tons||35,000|
|3/8 sand||15 tons||28,000|
|Plastering sand||15 tons||28,000|
|3” granite||30 tons||220,000|
|9” block (hand mould, vibrated)||1||140, 150|
|6” block (hand mould, vibrated)||1||120, 130|
|5” block (solid)||1||140|
|2 x 2||1||270|
|2 x 3||1||370|
|2 x 4||1||470|
|2 x 6||1||700|
|3 x 4||1||700|
|1 x 12||1||1500|
For a more comprehensive list, see this 2013 price list for Lagos. Worker’s wages (AKA workmanship), varies with location and goes a long way in determining the difference in building costs. The price of labour in Abuja will be different from what is obtainable in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom state. In one of the projects sampled in this post, masons charged ₦50 per block laid. In another project, the charge was ₦40. Other workers such as carpenters, painters, labourers will have varying wages. For a guess on worker’s wages in your area, it is important to contact people around who have built recently.
I sampled three real life cases for study. All projects are 3 bedroom apartments in three different locations in Nigeria. We will use actual figures (where given) from these cases to show how much was spent in each stage of the building process.
Case 1 summary
Location: Mararaba, Nasarawa State (close to Abuja)
Building cost: ₦5,116,350 (80% completed). See Full breakdown
Case 2 summary
Location: Ajah, Lagos state
Cost of land: ₦2.5 million for a plot. Exclusive of other fees.
Building cost: About ₦7 million (95% completed)
Case 3 Summary
Location: Kwara state
Cost of land: ₦200,000 for 2.5 plots bought in 2009
Cost: About ₦8 million (Completed, main house only)
Building the house proper
For ease of explanation, I will split the process into 4 major stages;
- Foundation to flooring + soakaways
- Block work to roofing
- Finishing (plastering, electrical, plumbing, windows, doors others etc)
At the end of each stage, I included money spent in each case study at that point.
- Foundation to flooring + soakaway
Some people advice that a soil test be done to determine the type of foundation required. This is because soils generally exhibit complex properties. For a small scale project, most engineers can estimate the best foundation to suit a soil without the need for a comprehensive soil test. More especially, if there are other houses in the area.
This first stage of the project will involve digging the foundation, laying some blocks up to floor level, and flooring. German flooring is a very popular flooring choice among Nigerian builders.
Case 1: ₦1,276,650 (foundation, German floor, soakaway)
Case 2: ₦1.5 million (foundation, German floor)
Case 3: ₦1 million (foundation, German floor)
- Block work + lintel
After the flooring, the main block work begins. It is at the stage that the different rooms start to take shape. In my experience co-managing a block industry, I’d estimate a total of about 7,000 blocks for a 3 bedroom (house + soakaway + fence) on a plot of land. Could be slightly more or less. Smaller room sizes will need lesser than this figure.
Case 1: ₦1,239,450 (block work, labour, sand, cement, lintel casting, iron, wood)
Case 3: ₦2 million (block work, plastering, labour, sand, cement)
Roofing and finishing is what takes larger chunk of the total cost of building a house. There are a few roofing alternatives and they come with their pros and cons. Asbestos was well used decades ago but is fading now due to health concerns. Aluminium roof are much more popular these days. Also there are concrete fascias and parapets added to roofing to give it a modern look.
Case 1: ₦1,506,250 (concrete fascia, wood work, aluminium roofing)
Case 3: ₦950,000 (Wood work, aluminium roofing)
This is the final stage of the project involving plumbing, electrical, plastering, tiling, windows, doors and so on. The amount of money spent on finishing depends majorly on your taste. Someone putting metal doors and imported tiles in his house will spend more than another considering cheaper alternatives.
Case1: ₦705,000 (windows, doors, plastering, electrical, plumbing, POP)
Case 3: ₦1.565 million. (Sanitary wares, plumbing, tiles, POP, electrical, painting)
Apart from the major stages outlined above, there are stages that are equally important. Among these are fencing, clearing/leveling of land, erecting of gates, omonile/drink-for-community-chief, water supply, development levies etc.
Cost saving tips
Sadly, it is near impossible to 100% avoid being fleeced when building a house. Some site engineers might be dishonest in their price quotes and actions. A few have gone as far as selling building materials meant for the project. There is also the danger of buying sub-standard materials at standard price.
However, and I must add, there are honest site engineers and workers in Nigeria too. Not all are bad eggs.
From research and personal experience, here are some cost saving tips;
- Get 2 or 3 quotes before spending money on any part of the project. You’ll be amazed how much can be saved.
- As much as possible, have a trusted family member on site ALWAYS or at least most of the time.
- Visit the market to have an idea of how much materials are sold.
- If you can, be present when materials are bought
- Do proper stock-taking
From the three cases, we can estimate a total of ₦8 million will go a long way in erecting a decent 3 bedroom bungalow if well managed. This is exclusive of furniture and exquisite finishing. Factoring in land cost of ₦2 million, this brings the total to ₦10 million.
Does this mean you must have ₦10 million before building your house? Absolutely not. Building a house doesn’t have to be a sprint. The most important thing is starting and gradually building up. In one of the cases sampled, the owner started building with ₦500,000 about a year after buying the land. Start that project today and you could be a proud house owner before you know it.
Kindly, note that these figures are not cast in stone but are to serve as a guide of what to expect. With careful planning, it is possible to spend a 7th of the total given.
I hope you found this useful, don’t forget to comment and share with your friends.
Estimating and budgeting worksheet – A downloadable worksheet for building project budgeting designed for the US but can be used in Nigeria
Costtobuild Calculator – A handy calculator that can be used to estimate building costs room by room.