Construction is one of the most dispute-ridden industries by far. Disputes in construction frequently result in protracted negotiations, broken contracts, contract revisions, design changes among others.

  1. Plan meticulously: It goes without say that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There is a cancer called ‘Walking by faith and not by sight.’ This is a very ignorant and uninformed. Two millennia ago, Jesus of Nazareth went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee. In Luke 14: 28-29 the great teacher said “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him”. Hire a quantity surveyor and get a bill of quantities or a schedule of materials.…/Bill_of……/basic-things…

  1. At ALL COSTS, AVOID LISTENING TO EVERY TOM DICK AND HARRY: This is by far, the biggest cause of disputes in this country. Everyone who has built a small cow shed becomes a ‘seasoned’ construction consultant. Facebook groups related to construction also have, from our observation, the most misleading information. As humans we are conditioned to want to believe lies. This is evident in how high glycemic, high sugar content soft drinks advertise with young, healthy energetic looking models looking so happy. You never see these companies marketing with overweight, diabetic and heart patients. Remember the story of a man, his son and a donkey? If you listen to everyone you will reach the market carrying the donkey. Let he and she with ears hear.
  2. Have an accountability entity/partner: Since we have made it very clear that you MUST avoid opinions from every Tom Dick and Harry and also every Nyaboke, Mwakoshi and Chebet, we opine that it is necessary to have, listen very closely, an OPEN-MINDED critic to walk with you from planning to execution of your construction project. A critic is one who will advise you on the two sides of every coin you have to choose. This entity or person should sit with you through your meetings with your architect and other consultants. This entity should be the only one who gives their opinion and views for you to deliberate over.
  3. Quantify payments of full contracts or labor works, based on quantities: Another cancer Kenyans are suffering from is ‘I just want a lumpsum figure’. Listen and listen very carefully, LUMPSUMS DON’T WORK. We repeat, LUMPSUMS DON’T WORK, LUMPSUMS DON’T WORK, LUMPSUMS DON’T WORK. Lumpsums are the surest way to arrive at a dispute. Quantify works (for both full contract or labor contract) in either per square meter, per linear meter, per cubic meter etc. This will ensure you have a yardstick to calculate cost variations in case you want to do alterations of addition or omission.
  4. Document everything in writing, in triplicate: Why do you think students go to class with a note book? That’s the exact same concept with construction. Never give verbal instructions, write them in the site book that must always be on site. Once you do so, let your contractor send a copy to your architect and a final copy remains within the site book. Before any variation works or alterations are done, your contractor must price the cost implication and communicate in writing to your architect and QS. Only then should the contractor do the amendments. If you don’t follow this procedure, the valuation will indicate a higher figure that you may dispute and work is already done and you refuse to pay. Now guess what? Your contractor will recover that cash somehow. If you think you are a mjanja, let us remind you of a Swahili proverb that was coined by the Swahili sages ‘Pwagu hupata Pwaguzi’ (One meets their match) and in this instance, you are the pwagu.
  5. Your consultants MUST vet your construction team: Most developers have mathogothanio projects unfortunately. This is mainly because when cost saving, they opt for less experienced labor that charge lower (not cheaper) than what competent labor charge. Consultants wake up every day to go to sites and can tell good contractors and fundis. Listen to them and involve them as you select your team.
  6. Do interior design AT THE BEGINNING of your construction project: If your architect and quantity surveyor recommend an interior designer then you say ‘Hiyo tutafanya baadaye’, please prepare to see birds of ng’ethe. In all honesty, how is your mechanical& electrical (M&E) engineer able to do their drawings without interior design? Your interior designer or interior architect will design and all elements they need will be incorporated and that is the only time you can do those drawings. Again, concrete in Kayole and Runda costs the same, where things differ is in spec of interiors. Your quantity surveyor can also do a proper Bills of quantities without thorough interior drawings. Our recommendation is that you get a recommendation of an interior designer from an Architect. Most ‘interior designers’ today are more of ‘décor’ designers. Interior Architecture is a discipline on its own. Décor designers assist interior designers and décor consultants can come towards the end of your project.
  7. DO NOT, DO NOT compete on how ‘cheaply’ one can build: The lies we see on these Facebook streets are baffling. Look at sausages for example, there is a ‘budget’ pack with like 26 sausages in a packet, then a medium one with about 10 sausages but the per sausage the cost is higher and then there are ‘premium’ sausages that have a much higher cost per sausage. When you take yourself to the supermarket and buy the 26 pack, you have not ‘saved’ money, you have just bought lower quality. That’s the same with construction. We have addressed this issue before, you CANNOT cheat the cost of construction, it is impossible. Even tycoons can’t with all their billions. The moment you see you are using less money than conventional cost, one of two things is happening; 1. You are accepting lower quality or 2. You are ‘losing’ money through opportunity cost (The ‘I will use my own trees for timber’ kind of logic yet you have forgotten you could have sold the trees for more money. Or I will borrow my auntie’s truck to save money, yet you are not factoring loss of business). What we also wonder is these people who claim that they can get materials at a ‘cheaper’ price, how come none of them has ever started a business of selling those materials at a profit? Anyway, maybe it’s just us who don’t know people.
  8. Avoid changing things during construction: Contractors love when you keep altering your construction project because they get loopholes to take you to the cleaners. Plan well to the last ironmongery of your doors and to the last tap in your DSQ. When your architect gives you plans, GO BUY A TAPE MEASURE and compare to spaces you know, add and subtract size if need be. Instruct your architect on ceiling height. Your interior designer will also give you internal 3Ds that will ensure you visualize your interior spaces before you commence construction.
  9. Outsource ALL SPECIALISTS works: There are items that we do not allow the main contractor to handle because of the nature of their complexity. Specialists works include Water proofing, Swimming pools, kitchens, Insulation, CCTV and other security installations, Lifts/elevators, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). If you the developer does not want the hassle of going to source for them, your main contractor will source for them and recommend one who they can work together with which is in most times the best option.