I am not sure how many students at university would seriously mull over plans to construct a residential house; I mean going further than gushing over cool celebrity cribs on television. But that was not the case with Samuel Kyagulanyi, who planned constructing his dream house while a student at Makerere University.
The idea was born, natured and readied before he even knew who his first employer would be. He carefully thought about the kind of house he wanted and even had a plan drawn. As luck would have it, he had an architectural engineering friend, who helped him design his house.
"Since my parents did a lot of construction works and had so many buildings, I did not think of renting," says Kyagulanyi, currently an employee of Vision Group.
After completing a bachelor's degree in Quantitative Economics at Makerere and getting a job, he went back to his architect friend to have another plan drawn.
"The first plan was a huge mansion, which at first seemed the ultimate dream home, but I later realised I could make a six-in-one apartment and keep only the upper floor to myself. It made more commercial sense."
When Kyagulanyi showed his parents the three-storey house plan he had made, they were so impressed that they offered him a plot of land. That is when he started making bricks on the site. The plot is located on a slope, so they levelled it as they made bricks.
"I paid the brick-makers sh30,000 a week and also offered them lunch. At the time, I was working as a researcher at New Vision," he says.
From 2005 to 2008, Kyagulanyi made close to 120,000 bricks. In the end, so many bricks were made that he sold off some, and began stocking building materials. He then had the plan of his house approved and bought sand, metal bars and other building materials.
"The moment the plan was approved, I started construction within a month. That was January 2009," he says.
Choosing the right builders and supervisors was easy for him since he was surrounded by people who had handled family projects for years.
Financing the building:
The project was mainly financed by his monthly salary. "At that time, I had no family to take care of. I lived in a hostel, which helped me save on rent," explains the now married father of two, adding that his lifestyle was not expensive. His hobbies were and still are playing squash, swimming and playing chess.
Currently, the six-in-one house is roofed and the third floor, which he designed more benevolently for himself, is almost complete. The first and second floors are for tenants.
Key points while building:
"Once you start building, you will never know where money comes from. Looking at the house' progress, no matter how slow, it drives you further," Kyagulanyi says. He says building automatically makes one cut back on expenditure. Seeing that he already had bricks, sand and other building materials; the focus was on paying labourers, which made work easier.
"One should not save money to buy materials at once because prices keep rising," he advises, adding: "When buying hardware materials, I move around to get the lowest price possible, sometimes buying from the factory itself. A small difference will ultimately make a big difference since you buy in bulk."
He reveals that what supplemented his salary and still does is the Vision Group staff saving scheme. "After saving for six months, I can have enough to pay for labour."
Kyagulanyi made a decision to ignore the pressure to finish in time. For him, it is one step at a time. "I do not have a time limit, which significantly relieves me of pressure. When I save enough money, I build another floor, plaster or roof and when it runs out, I stop and builders go on recess. When I get the money, building resumes. It can take as long as I can, even if it is a couple of years," he says. As a result, Kyagulanyi says he is not stressing as much.