Calculating construction costs

The Maramani construction cost calculator gives you an indication of the costs for constructing your home. The calculations are estimates based on current average market prices in sampled African countries and may not necessarily give you an exact construction cost estimate. For exact construction costs you need to acquire a BOQ (Bills of Quantities) with specific estimates for your location and for the plan in question. There are many factors determining the final construction cost that we cannot incorporate into the cost calculator due to various limitations. Below are some factors to consider:

  • Your choice of contractor. Some are simply more expensive than others.
  • Location of site. The further you are from the source of building materials the more money will go into transportation costs.
  • Type of soil and terrain you are building on. Clay soil and black cotton soil will require stronger and more costly foundations than firm soil.
  • Types and quality of finishes. This factor makes one of the biggest differences as the costs for finishes such as tiles and doors can vary considerably.
  • Local taxes
  • Access to power and water. Having to ship water for construction is costsly compared to having your own water on site.
  • Duration of construction. Overheads such as security and supervision increase the longer construction goes on.
  • Changes to the plan during construction. Make sure you have proper plans to avoid having to break and rebuild any part of the building. This will greatly affect your total construction costs.

Tips to cut your construction costs

Here are some great tips to cut your construction costs without compromising on safety, beauty or comfort.

  1. Choose simple well designed floor plans: Complex shapes are difficult and expensive to construct. To cut costs, choose simple – rectangular or square floor plans. You should also avoid complicated roof lines. A well planned home will save you thousands of dollars. Think of it this way: The cost for constructing 1 square meter ranges between 300 – 600 USD depending on the market. A well designed 3-bedroom plan may be up to 20 square meters less meaning savings of up to 12,000 USD.
  2. Build small: A large house can seem a bargain when you compare costs per square meter. However, if you look at the bottom line a small house is more affordable to build and more economical to maintain. If you have a budget for construction make sure you consult your architect for cost estimates before making up your mind.
  3. Find economical building lots: You should be informed that the cheapest lots are not always the most economical. Your costs may escalate if your contractor has to excavate, clear away bushes and trees, or provide extended drainage. Be sure to factor in the cost of fixing public services. If possible, go for lots in areas which have access to electricity, gas and water.
  4. Use professionals: On paper it looks cheaper to get cheap plans off the streets and use cheap inexperienced contractors. However, this always leads to massive amounts of changes to the structure during and even after construction which will raise the costs tremendously. Make sure you have the right consultants to advise you on the best and cheapest way forward as well as provide you the fully detailed designs that you will not need to change once construction has started.
  5. Get a BOQ: A BOQ (Bills of Quantities) and schedule of materials are documents showing the exact amount of materials and corresponding costs for constructing your home. By investing in a BOQ you give yourself a safety net from any contractors looking to make enormous profits at your expense by not being well informed about the actual construction costs.
  6. Get quotations from several contractors: With or without a BOQ always request quotations from at least 2 or 3 contractors with good reputations as this is a free service from the contractors. Make sure you inform them that you are also seeking quotations from other contractors in order to get the best possible deal.
  7. Building materials: By the time you have finished with the foundations, walls and roof you have only completed about 50% of the building. The price up to this point is very standard and it is hard to make significant savings. The real cost savings come during the finishing stages with windows, doors, sinks, ceiling, floors and tiles, electrical installations, plumbing and fixtures. Always keep in mind that the price of an item does not always directly correspond with the quality. Take your time and choose your finishing materials wisely.