The decision to buy or build a house is not really a standard one. Different decisions are right for different people. For some, buying is a better idea. For others, building the house is better suited to them. It depends on the financial situation, preferences, time among other things. Consider a person who is moving to the country permanently with only a month of advance preparation. This person is better off renting to buy or outright buying. How about a person who is very specific about what they want and prefers a remote area? This person’s preferences point to building not buying. Below are a few other factors that will help you make the right decision for you.

  1. Freedom of choice

Finding yourself a house is a big deal. There is a big difference between a home and a house. Some people need to make décor and design changes to their houses so that it feels more like home. Therefore, your decision should be determined by how much freedom you want with your house. If you buy a house, you will not be able to determine the room sizes. You will not be able to decide what materials you want to use for your house. If you have a preference for open plan kitchens, you will spend a lot of money to make it happen after you have bought the house. This could even lead to a weakened structure. If you build it, however, everything will be to your specification and desire. The amount of freedom you want will be a chief determinant in this decision.

  • Cost

When you are buying, you will pay for the house of course. You will also pay lawyer and agency fees as well as other professional fees. At the beginning of the process you will do a search of the property and that costs money too. This can be done online in Nairobi though. In other towns, this service may not have been integrated into the Huduma Centre system. In the case of building, you will cover the cost of materials and labor. If you are buying land instead of using a previously owned one then you will also do a search in addition to the cost of the land. The comparison of the cost of building versus that of buying is usually inconclusive. In some cases, buying will make financial sense. In other cases, the opposite is true. Simply compare your bill of quantities to a quote from the real estate company.

  • Time

This one is actually quite obvious. A house takes a lot of time to be built. The time taken depends on funds available to speed things along by hiring more people. It also depends on how big the house is as well as the complexity of the design. The time will become a factor if you need to move in quickly. Some people like to spend a lot of time on the house as they make modifications and just generally take time. Others like to be done within a year so they can move in. However, sometimes the circumstances of life give you a lot less time. In this instance, you might want to explore the idea of buying. Both building and buying are stressful and infuriating especially with the red tape. With buying though, the stress will not last as long as if you decide to build. If time is a major factor, buying is a better option.

  • Resell

A time may come when you need to sell your house. You will need to do everything to ensure that the house is sellable. Your taste for design and décor may not exactly popular with potential buyers. This will affect how long the house stays in the market if you ever sell. If you are going to be radical in your tastes maybe apply that to elements that can be changed like the paint or a Jacuzzi. These can be easily undone. If you buy, the house is already pretty standard and it will be easy to sell it if you ever want to. This is unless you make special changes to the structure. The resell value is also tied up in the location of the home. If you buy, resell will be fairly easy. If you build in a remote location with little potential for urbanization, it could be quite hard to sell. All things considered, a bought house has better resell value.

  • Land

If you decide to build, you will need to secure land first, if you do not have it already. Buying land may take some time. It will be hard to find a  nice piece of land in the city for a good price. Buying land will take quite a bit of time and money. You will need to pay for a search as well as a broker. It is almost impossible to find land anywhere without using brokers. You will also need to pay for a lawyer and surveyor. All these are costs outside of the actual price of the land.

  • Infrastructure

Every house needs systems for sewage, water, electricity among other services. If you buy a house, all these things will already be installed. You will not have to worry that the sewage is directed the wrong way or that there is no power back up in the house. If it is then you will need to correct someone else’s mistakes. You pay, clean it up then move in. If you build a house, it will be your responsibility to make sure that these systems are placed properly. There have been reports that some developers are directing sewage illegally. This leads to contamination of the water systems. If you are not careful, the contractors may take short cuts and do a terrible job with your house infrastructure.  

  • Professionals

This issue is tiered. The first tier is the availability of required professionals. For you to build a house, you will have to find contractors and masons among other personnel who will contribute to your dream house. The point is not to merely find them but to find good ones. You will also need an architect so that they can plan the house as well as guide you on the materials needed.

The second is the time it will take to supervise said professionals. Fundis in Kenya are an unreliable lot. It does not matter the kind, all of them need lots of supervision and pushing from tailors to cobblers to masons. You will also need to make time to check that your materials are not being skimmed off. You may hire a foreman but you may not be lucky enough to find a trustworthy one.

When buying a house, you will need a lawyer, a real estate agent and maybe one or two other people. These professionals will probably not be unreliable as they are bound by professional ethics. This is, therefore, one upside to buying.

  • Research

Before doing anything, it is important to do your due diligence. If you are buying, you need to find out the price range for houses in your preferred neighborhood and size. How much would you expect to pay? How much would maintenance cost you? If you are building, you need to find out how much it would cost you. You should research about the right materials and designs that best utilize your resources. For this research, you cannot rely only on google and books. You need to talk to professionals and people who have been down that path before. In both cases, you need to do some research on due process. What do you need to do and what office do you need to visit?

  • Presence

To buy, you will visit the house several times just to have a feel of it and make inspections. You might have to meet with lawyers among other professionals for some of the procedural requirements. Your presence will not be required as often as it would be if you were building. In fact, if you have a good lawyer, they can buy property on your behalf. You will only lift a finger to transfer funds. When you have a construction project going, you will need to show up quite often. You might find yourself spending more and more time at the site as the project starts and approaches completion. You will need to personally check on the procurement of materials. You will need to show up at the site often so that the contractors and masons do not misbehave. Showing up to the site also makes sure that some of your wishes are not ignored. Like if you want gold plated power outlets instead of the generic white ones.

The decision to build or buy is a personal one. Different people will also be suited to different options. You should take a lot of time to weigh your options. You should also consider that buying has better options for financing than building. Though, with building, you can do it slowly over time and remain debt-free. Do what is right for you and favorable for your wallet.