Since my last post on this series, I have been inundated with correspondence bordering on the feasibility of procuring many of the materials required for building a mud brick bungalow at the price I displayed. I must have come across as speaking with some authority as to how much these building materials costs in the market, so I will like to correct this error of judgement on my part here, by stating that what I put out though may be real costs in a case remains still, an estimate especially due to differences in time and location, and other factors such as relating to how building materials are sourced. You definitely would expect, for instance that buying building materials from the manufacturer directly as well as moulding your own blocks will be less expensive than buying from a retailer, as the case may be.
Having sorted that out, I will now go ahead to the crux of this post’s matter, which is related to addressing a few issues surrounding the structure of the mud brick built three-bedroom bungalow. I had stated in my earlier instalments that one of the disadvantages (which pales heavily in comparison to the advantages as already stated in my earlier missives) of building with mud bricks is its time relatedness- the fact that it is time bound, as the perfect time to build using mud bricks is the Dry Season. Not necessarily because the rain will melt the bricks but because it may muddle up what’s been done, and continuous beating of the structure by drops of rain may eventually distort it, though even that can be remedied, but it is better to avoid the embarrassment if one can help it.
Also with mud bricks built structures, there is the tendency to find different colours or shades of the mud bricks at different layers of the structure or building. For instance the earlier levels may appear darker in shade compared to the latter upper levels, in cases where the builder may have sourced earth from locations with different soil types, but as long as the bricks are of similar consistency, that shouldn’t be any source of concern, as it will still be plastered (which consumes more cement mix than needed with cement blocks), even painted on afterwards.
It isn’t out of place to find that most structures that have gotten to the lintel level are marked (“X” or “STOP WORK”) by the agencies of government saddled with the responsibility of overseeing land matters either at local or state government levels. This is not necessarily because they are illegal structures but rather because of the peculiarities involved in the dispensing, allocating and acquisition of land in Nigeria. In the major towns and cities, under direct purview of government, it is not out of place to find people follow extant laws (like procuring the requisite Certificate of Occupancy, presenting the Plan of the House, Survey documents, and the likes) of the land concerning the acquiring of land or property to the latter, before setting one block atop another. Many of the government agencies also hide under the cover of these markings during building collapses as alibi, stating that they marked such buildings because they considered them defective, one way or the other.
In many places in Nigeria however, where government has less direct control besides delineating land into parcels for habitation, away from thoroughfare and other future spaces for social amenities, land is usually acquired through owner-families, district or village heads and the likes. One could go ahead and start work on a piece of land, with the receipt of purchase as well as a document that specifies the location and an agreement amongst the parties involved in the sale of the land in question, as proof of ownership. It is such like these that is routinely marked as stated above, as a reminder to the owner or builder to do the needful, i.e. regularization of documents before or even after completing the structure.
Back to the structure itself. To erect a mud bricks built three-bedroom bungalow will cost between a million naira and a million, five hundred thousand naira only, depending on the part of Nigeria where the structure is to be built (adjust according to inflationary trend). This amount is exclusive of the cost of acquiring the land, or that of putting finishing touches like plastering, conduit work, plumbing, wood and metal work, frames, doors, windows, painting and the likes. I will attempt to cover much of that in the next instalment. Thank you for looking in.
N.B. The Nigerian Naira exchanges to $1 at =N=200 officially (much higher at the parallel market).