As I sat down on a serene Sunday morning, engrossed in Donald Asher’s thought-provoking book, my mind began to wander back to past experiences. A tweet from a friend also flashed through my thoughts, promising collaboration on a future writing project. However, that is a tale
for another time.

Recently, a lively debate erupted online about the possibility of affordable housing for Nigerians.
It all started when a man shared a building design and boldly claimed that he could construct a typical 2-bedroom house of such design for a mere ₦5 million, provided the individual already owned the land. Naturally, this statement sparked intense discussions about the feasibility of such an endeavor and also on affordable housing for average earning Nigerians. While some dissenting voices questioned its reality, the majority seemed optimistic. However, as a seasoned
construction professional, I cannot help but analyze the situation from a different perspective.

A quick glance at the design, floor area, foundation, construction methods, finishes and electrical
and mechanical fittings reveals the impracticality of this claim. Now, don’t misunderstand me ₦5 million can indeed complete a construction project, depending on the client’s preferences.

However, in today’s Nigerian economy, it is unlikely to manifest the man’s vision at such a cost. I eagerly anticipate his Twitter space, where he promises to elaborates on the viability of his assertion, as knowledge is an eternal quest. Until then, I will keep the material costs I initially calculated in my mind and later jotted down on a rough paper. Instead, I feel compelled to enlighten the public about the multitude of factors that contribute to the overall cost of a construction project. Quantity surveyors do not merely conjure up a tender sum; their
calculations consider various crucial elements.

Client Taste and Budget: The paramount factor that guides every decision in a project is the client’s taste and budget. The design, finishes, and building type are all contingent
upon the client’s desire for quality, cost-effectiveness, and timely completion. Regardless of the budget’s magnitude, every client seeks to obtain the best value for their investment.

Physical Site Conditions and Location: The topography of the land plays a vital role in determining the suitable substructure for the proposed project. The foundation construction on low-bearing soil capacity greatly differs from that on high-bearing capacity soil. Consequently, the costs of strip, raft, pile, or pad foundations vary accordingly. Moreover, the soil composition of different locations, such as Bayelsa, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Gombe, and Jigawa, significantly influences the foundation
expenses for identical building plans due to variations in soil composition.

Design: The cost of a project hinges upon the intricacies outlined by architects, structural engineers, and other design professionals. Their collective efforts strive to align with the client’s requirements and preferences. Naturally, a 2-bedroom house will entail different costs compared to a duplex or a high-rise building. Additionally, the functionality and geometry of the structure, including shape, size, and complexity, exert their own impact
on the final construction expenses.

Prevailing Market Conditions: This factor encompasses the current market prices of construction materials and their susceptibility to fluctuations. In the present Nigerian
economy, plagued by inflation, the prices of essential materials have soared. For instance, cement now ranges from ₦4,500 to ₦5,200 per bag, while sand costs ₦5,000 per ton.
Granite is priced at ₦12,000 per ton, reinforcement at ₦500,000 per ton, and 9″ and 6″ blocks at ₦400 and ₦300, respectively. Additionally, hardwood price of 50mm x 75mm
is priced at ₦850, etc. Further expenses include roofing sheets, paint, tiles, ceilings, doors, windows, electrical wiring, fittings, mechanical pipes and accessories all subject to
the client’s preferences. These examples merely scratch the surface, as numerous materials’ costs are directly influenced by the country’s economic climate.

Procurement: This aspect delves into the process of acquiring products and services for the construction project. Multiple procurement methods exist, such as traditional procurement, design and build procurement, and management procurement, each offering its own advantages and considerations.

Method of Construction: The chosen contractor, work methodology, labour and subcontractor costs, machinery expenses, site maintenance and the contractor’s profit margin all play a significant role in determining the method of construction and its
associated expenses.

Paperwork and Legislative Constraints: Throughout the construction process, various
legal and regulatory requirements must be adhered to, this includes obtaining permits, licenses, approval from relevant authorities and fulfilling any other legal obligations, all
adding a layer of complexity and associated costs.

These factors are not intended to deter or dishearten anyone. Instead, they aim to shed light on
the intricacies and realities of construction project costs. Construction professionals, including
architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, builders, and land surveyors, are readily available to
provide guidance. So, instead of being swayed by lofty motivational rhetoric, seek assistance from these experts when you are ready. Even in the face of prevailing economic challenges, you can still materialize your dream house by following the appropriate procedures.

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