Construction cost estimates done by professionals appear high to the layman when compared to cost estimates done by local fundis for the same.
The reason this happens is because the local fundis do not categorise the construction cost in terms of low, middle or high cost materials.
They also do not include all the details and accessories that come with the main product.
These details tend to be easily overlooked form a layman point of view in estimating the total cost of construction.


A flush door costs approximately KES 2,000 in any given hardware shop in Kenya. When estimating the cost of a door, the fundi will advice the house owner that the doors will cost him/her KES 2,000. The house owner will then budget the cost as KES 2,000 multiplied by the number of doors in the house.


A professional will advice the house owner that the flush door costs KES 2,000. Also, the flush door comes with a door lock costing KES 1,500 which can be 2 or 3 lever depending on the security level required. In addition to the door and door lock, there will be the cost of door hinges which costs approximately KES 200. A door stopper costing KES 200 will also be required. The door will also require a door frame costing KES 1,500 depending on the design ,wood type and thickness of the door frame required. This door will also require an additional 10% to 20% of the cost as labour plus transport costs.
The same door that a fundi advises the house owner to cost KES 2,000 will now be estimated by the professional to cost KES 6,000.
This is the least it would cost to fix the door. The Fundi gives the cost of a door at the hardware shop while the professional gives the cost of a door from purchasing it from the shop until fixing it in the house.


This variance of over 200% in cost estimate is what the fundi fails to advice the house owner. The consequences are as follows;
1. If the money the house owner is using to construct was borrowed from a bank, the house will not be complete due to cost overruns.
2. The house owner would have liked to know the possible options for materials in term of costs available in the market so that they can make an informed decision.
3. In severe cases, total building construction quality is compromised due to poor planning hence building collapse.


The reason why the cost estimates vary so much is because of the fundis are generally well-versed with the actual construction techniques as opposed to cost estimation. They do not have the necessary tools and skills required to fore see construction costs hence estimate the end product costings.
On the other hand, professionals will also not be able to advice on techniques e.g how best to fit the door and door frame. It might sound easy but this requires years of training so as to know how to adjust the door to fit in within the door frame, the correct position to fit the door lock, where to place the door stopper, how to fix the door lock e.t.c.
This mis-match in skill-set can cost the house owner huge losses.


The correct use of particular skill-sets in the construction industry is very important in ensuring the house owner gets value for their money.
To avoid mis-match, an easy method is to use google search for advice or contact Government bodies that advice or regulate construction industry such as Architectural Association of Kenya or Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors of Kenya for the right advice.
The new law to regulate contractors in Kenya will go a long way to ensure Kenyans consume the best service from contractors and reduce chances of skill mis-match.

Architect Francis Gichuhi Kamau.

Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email info@a4architect.com. Telephone +254721410684


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *