In Summary

  • Starting to save up for a home takes courage and determination.
  • It also requires sacrifice.
  • Lydia Kyankya shares her journey of saving to build her dream home

Lydia Kyankya Gwina is a gardener by profession. When she got the idea to build, she did not have much money but she was focussed. She made sacrifices that enabled her achieve her dream of having a home within two years.
I had harboured the idea of building a house for some time. In 2001, I had saved some money so I decided to look for land to buy. My brother Ambrose helped me locate land in Bulindo, near Kira.
The land is 120 by 100 feet and I bought the land from an individual. The land cost Shs3m which I paid up in three instalments. The first was Shs1.5m and three others of Shs500,000.

Lydia made sure that she was present at the construction site to supervise the work and ensure its what she wanted.

Like some of my friends, my initial dream was to buy a piece of land in Naguru and Ntinda but reality couldn’t enable me achieve the dream. The job I had at the time was not paying well. My salary was Shs250,000.
At the time I bought the land in Bulindo, it was still a jungle. I was tired of renting and desired to have a home. I paid Shs80,000 rent which I thought I could save. So, I decided to return home and I was able to increase my savings in anticipation of starting to build.

Starting to save
Then I was working as an administrator attached to the construction department at the workplace. One day as I left home, I met a potter from the department walking through Bukoto who upon inquiry told me he was walking to work.
He told me of shortcuts he went through everyday. I joined him and after a few days I realised I had saved some money. At the end of the first month, I had saved Shs50, 000. I also decided to save Shs150,000 off my salary. I was left with Shs100,000 for my upkeep for the month.
I made sacrifices such as not buying shoes. My sister in UK would send me nail varnish and I do my own pedicure and manicure treatments at home. I used to braid my hair in order to save more money.

Building
I built the house in phases. The first one was the foundation. I started by buying 5,000 bricks. Each went for Shs50. I bought 15 bags of cement for the foundation.
My plan was to build a two bedroom house but I later changed my mind and added another bedroom which required an extra 2,000 bricks. This cost me Shs250,000 in labour.

I took a break and saved more money. The labour up to the beam level cost Shs300,000 and 3,000 brick and about 10 bags of cement.

Lydia built her house in phases and when she ran short of money she took a break to save more money.


Lake sand was close by and it cost Shs20,000 per elf trip. The other sand cost me Shs70,000 per trip. For the roofing, I chose to build with eucalyptus which we cut into wood. It cost me Shs860,000, inclusive of transport to the construction site.
I spent Shs2.5m on buying iron sheets. The finishing was quite some work. I bough doors and windows but over time I have changed them. I have also remodelled the house as and when I get some money.

Lessons learnt
Today, I tell friends to know exactly what they want before starting to build. Because I did not have money at he start, I went in for cheap items which I have had to change which is a double cost.

The other important lesson is to be present to supervise the construction site to make sure materials are used adequately.
Builders sometimes change your idea by constructing what they think is workable. If you can, think outside the box. Take your time and build something you will be happy with. Remember that every extra wall is extra money.
For me, it was about taking risks at times to achieve what I wanted because much of what I wanted to achieve was unconventional so I had to go back to amend my plan with the district council.

Advice
Do not listen to what others tell you about building. If it is negative, you will be discouraged. People think that in order to start building, one has to have a lot of money which is not true.

rbatte@ug.nationmedia.com