One of my UK-based “old boys” recently informed me about his decision to have “something” back at home. I was excited that he has finally made up his mind to own a property long after I had discussed the issue with him several times. I was not surprised when he said, “but old boy, what do you think about buying a house or do you think constructing my own would be Ok?”
I did not give him an immediate answer knowing that this question is as old as the history of property ownership itself and the decision is often personal because of its advantages and disadvantages.
The most important advantage of building your own house is that you can decide the location you want, once you have the money to purchase a piece of land in your desired neighbourhood. Imagine you have lived in one part of the city for a very long time, perhaps you even grew up in the locality, it is time to relocate to your dream setting. One of the reasons Lekki axis is enjoying such a rapid growth is that a lot of property owners there have lived on the Mainland too long, hence yearning for a change.
If you decide to build, you will have the house designed and built to your specific needs and preferences. You decide the number of bedrooms, living rooms, kitchen, dining, study, garage, verandas and their sizes. You also determine the type of building and the number of floors. All you need is to “command” your architect to design your house with his professional input in line with the latest trends in building.
Apart from the design, you also determine the choice of materials required for the building. The choice of roofing materials, tiles/marble, plaster of Paris (P.O.P), windows, doors and accessories and paints, are all yours. Besides, you decide the electrical and sanitary fittings; and floor as well as wall finishes. You may even decide to import kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, handrails, electrical and plumbing fittings.
These items will not only be new but also modern and will serve you for a very long time before you consider maintaining or changing them. You may even get one-year warranty on most of them, especially roof leakage or major structural defect warranty from a building contractor or supplier.
If you decide to build your own house, you can build in stages over a period of time depending on your income and the budget earmarked for the project. You have the option of not rushing the development and moving at a pace that is considerable and fits into your schedule. Above-all, you can determine the completion of the project to coincide with a special date in your life; for instance, your 50th birthday.
Other houses in the immediate area where you are building may also be new and of the same modern design, which may create a feeling of coherence in the neighbourhood. This is true of residential areas like Magodo and Omole where all buildings appear to be built by the same contractor with their contemporary designs and finishing. Wall fence designs and constructions are also competing in these modern residential estates too.
Building a new house comes with its disadvantages too and you may have to weigh this against the numerous benefits before you make up your mind about building or buying a house.
Funny enough, location may as well be a disadvantage as many new developments and vacant plots are on the outskirts of the major urban areas, which often, are the only location where vacant land may be available. These areas may be far from places of work, shopping centres, public transport and schools. Traffic congestion and time spent on the road may be regarded as a drawback in this regard.
Security in remote areas may also be a concern, especially where developments are just springing up. Uncompleted buildings and uninhabited buildings in your neighbourhood may harbour people of questionable characters. There are instances where dangerous reptiles hide in these structures and often creep into buildings and sometimes cause harms to residents.
There may also be uncertainty about the type, design and size of houses that will be erected on vacant plots of land around your building, which may weigh down property values. Unless you are building in a planned neighbourhood where types of developments are controlled by government agencies or private developers, you may be surprised to discover that you are surrounded by “face-me-I-face-you” houses. Can you guess who your neighbours would be?
You have to make provision for additional expenses with regard to services like electricity and water supply. Unless your land is on a “site and services scheme” where all infrastructure are already put in place, you must be ready to sink a borehole or a deep well for water supply to your house. In most new sites, property owners are often compelled to buy electricity poles before they could be connected to the national grid. In fact, some are not so lucky as PHCN poles are non-existent in their neighbourhood; they have to depend on generators and bear the extra cost on fuel. Most new sites also do not have the advantage of good road networks as it may take some years before they can have such government presence.
On a final note, there is always uncertainty about the duration of construction and final date of delivery owing to probable weather, material, equipment and labour disruptions, unless there is stiff adherence to work schedule by your contractor and availability of funds. Also there may be delays in construction or additional cost in land preparations and excavations in unusual ground formations. Above all, there may be doubt about the quality of workmanship and materials, unless you engage the services of a credible building contractor with adequate supervision from you or your representative.
Meanwhile, let me reiterate that the decision is specifically yours depending on the circumstances enumerated here.