In Summary
  • Andrew Mwesigwa a home owner Bira Masanafu in Kampala who faced the same challenges had to abandon his project and start all over again after being locked in land conflicts for than three years.
    He advises to buy land from genuine sellers.
  • When one decides to embark on a construction project, at the start it appears they have their ducks in a row as work is running smoothly. There is trust between the contractor and the client until things begin to move south. Collins Muhwezi takes us through what could possibly go wrong on a site, the cause, how it can be avoided and what to do when prevention fails.

Project financing: First things first, have you worked out how you will fund your project to the end? Ronald Asiimwe, a site engineer, says: “In my career I have seen clients jump in head first to start construction projects without a clear financing strategy and as result we have to close the site prematurely.”
This is a challenge because construction costs move up every now and then. He therefore advises that before anything, one needs to fully understand the cost and where you are going to get the funds from.

Incorrect custom orders
Before starting a construction project, it is paramount that the client and contractor go through specifications of the materials to be ordered. The purpose of construction specifications is to define and clearly detail materials for your job. But confusion reigns when the supplier delivers the opposite and one is locked in a dilemma of whether to accept the miss orders or not. Construction manager Marx Niyonsaba advises that: “If there are sensitive materials like tiles, glasses things that can have a huge bearing on the project, the best choice is to reject them.”
However, he notes that for items such as sand, and gravel, a compromise a can be struck to avoid delays.

Blueprint mess
It is always important for the sub-contractors and the project owner to be on the same page when it comes to the blueprint. Yes, blueprints are often updated as the project goes on, but when you do not share the updated prints with the sub-contractors, obviously there has to be a deviation.
To prevent the blueprint mess, avail updated blueprints to everyone on the site to make sure you and your contractors are reading from the same script.

Of course, every project has a timeline and if it is violated, there will be added costs because keeping the site open past the agreed period of course affects the owner’s wallet. So how do you avoid it? Ask for a work broadcast schedule from your contractor so that you can monitor their progress. Site managers often draw up a project schedule with blocks of time for each task. You need to communicate regularly with your contractor about construction delays. What are the delays? What will the outcome be? This dialogue can lead to a solution.
Unexpected costs
Unpredicted conditions, like bad soil, termite damage or dry rot, often appear during construction. If you encounter one of these problems, the only alternative to emergency spending is to stop the project. Before beginning your project, budget and set aside funds to cover unexpected costs that aren’t the fault of a manufacturer or contractor.
If your construction arrangement already addresses unforeseen circumstances, and extra work is necessary, your builder is entitled to additional money. However, when there is doubt as to whether the circumstances were unforeseen, you deserve an explanation.

Contractor upfront pay
This normally happens because contractors want assurance and certainty, but to the client’s side it is uncertainty. Because if the contractor chooses to walk away, it is the client who suffers a loss.
Therefore, it is advisable not to give the contractor full payment upfront. Only pay to the last cent when the contractor has delivered satisfactory work.
Marx Niyonsaba, a construction manager, advises that: “It is better to draw an installment payment plan that allows the client to evaluate the progress of the site.”

Design flaws
If you ask most of the contractors, they have had their share of “Can we do this again, I didn’t know it will look like this.” And it is neither the contractor’s fault nor the client but it damage done and needs to be corrected.
“There is one solution to this - budgeting or setting aside extra money for such unseen things,” advises Niyonsaba. He adds: “As the cost of your project shoots, you may decide there are certain imperfections you can live with. However, these are compromises that you may live with for a long time. Make sure you feel secure in your choice.”

Site regulations:
Failing to comply with site regulations will bring you trouble. “Majority of the people are yet to take this serious but it is a major requirement now,” says Niyonsaba.
Several construction sites have been locked down and owners penalised for not complying. Therefore, before anything, look for that approval stamp from authorities.

Material thefts
This is a common problem especially when builders are left unsupervised. This may result in shoddy work as the bigger percentage of your materials end in the black market.
Also, trouble comes when the purchase of materials is left in the hands of the builders.

One thing is bound to happen, inflating the costs of everything.
Therefore, keeping a close eye on the site is the only solution.
All in all, the agreement you put together with your builder should solve most of these problems. It should communicate the steps to follow in the event of a misunderstanding.

Poor choice of project location
The location of the project matters a lot as site manager Ronald Asiimwe, notes. “Where you choose to set up your project may alter the entire cost of the project. For example, if you choose a site in a wetland the cost of the foundation will shoot up.”
It is important to first check with authorities before anything to avoid disappointments.
Land wrangles
Many people have fallen prey to this. Very many construction projects have come to a halt arising from land wrangles.
Andrew Mwesigwa a home owner Bira Masanafu in Kampala who faced the same challenges had to abandon his project and start all over again after being locked in land conflicts for than three years.
He advises to buy land from genuine sellers.