Project 1: Serie A.The Diary of A Building Contractor.



This is a serie of projects written in stages to help you have an idea of what to expect or experience when you are executing your next project. This serie is stage one of a 4 bedroom project designed and built by me for a moderate income earner.
Other projects will also be brought to you susequently. Enjoy my diary and
I hope you’ll be able to learn from my personal experience and mistakes. The other series will be posted in due time.

My client,his friend and I went to meet their former neighbour today
that also has a building around where we are to buy land.
Infact he introduced us to someone close to the “Baale” (traditional king
of the area).He is popularly called “Baba Legba”

We met the “Baale” and he pegged the price of the land at
1.2million but we were able to negotiate it to 1million naira. We promised
to pay N700,000 as installments the next working day. After that we had
pep talk and word of advice from ‘Baba Pamilerin’ our contact man and his

Another issue was raised by me concerning Government stand on the land but
the Baale wade in that practically all lands in lagos at one point or the
other were Government acquired, but they do sell some of these lands based
on the facts that the moment the entire space is built, then is easy for
them to request for excision (given out back the land to the villagers)
from government, so the onus was left to us to go ahead or stop for
further investigations, but we went ahead because the area is built up.

But we later discovered that the area was not part of the exempted portion
from the government.

lesson no. 1– when you are ready to buy a land it won’t cost you anything to contact a good land surveyor to accompany you to the site, let him come back the next day with his compass to double check.
Though we had a feeling of the plot being in Govt acq. area but we weren’t 100% sure,
probably that may have influenced our decisions wether to still go ahead
or take our time or bit down the price of the land e.t.c

Client sent N700,000 to pay for the initial deposit, hence early in the
morning next day tuesday, myself and “Akeem” -(clients friend) went to pay
the money. We went there with “Baba Pamilerin’-our contact man. Tried to
still negotiate the price down but met stone wall.”The baale-(traditional
ruler) called the owner of the plot of land if he will agree for N700,000
as the installment and for us to pay the balance by end of october the
seller agreeed for end of semptember.
Prayer were made we signed and collected the receipt from Baale. He made us to realise nobody sells the land in their domain without their knowledge, obviously so that they would continually collect commission on any exchange of properties from one hand to the other, this was also expressly stated in the receipt they gave us.

We organised for the clearing of site, gave “Baba Legba” N6,000 to pay
Hausa people to cut the overgrown grasses.


I went to the site measured the existing foundation with “Baba Sunday”-my
bricklayer. We used his bike to the site and we both made suggestions on
how best to carry out the project and how we can adjust the structure on
ground to blend with what we have in mind.

Surveyor Kayode came to site to look at it, we went round and I asked him
if the site is not probably in Government Acquired Area. He brought out a
gazzete (government publication that shows that parts of the village has
been given back to the villagers but for now he can’t really determine the
exact space, so he may need to come back to measure and use GPS -Compass to determine that, asides that he can’t
guarantee us for now but advised that people do appeal to government
concerning some areas where you may have plenty of buildings around.

I called in Baba Sunday our bricklayer to look at the site with the sketch
plan I gave him and take inventory of what is on site vis a vis what we
are trying to achieve. Then I asked him to go through and tell me what he
will take for his fees to lay the entire blocks of the building.

Baba Sunday came with a quotation reflecting N115,000 to get the structure
to dpc level, that is the level before you have the ground floor.
The initial thinking from me was for him to estimate for all but I think
he smelled a fish and decided to make it piecemeal, well this has both its

advantages and disadvantages.
i, I can afford to terminate his contract after the DPC level (ground
floor level-foundation)

ii,This can also give me room to once again study the expertise of the
bricklayer with possiblities of terminating his appointment.

iii,We can afford to suspend the construction at that stage untill economy
improves without any obligation to anybody.

i,The bricklayer has the right to also reject and stop working after
completion of the first phase.

ii,Negotiating in piecemeal may make the overall cost of building to be
So after much deliberation we settled for N75,000 fee to get the building
to dpc level (ground floor level).

Day 7
The client gave me N500,000 to pay for material to kickstart the project.

We got a geepee 3000liters tank for N30,000 plus N1,000 accesories and we
were lucky to use the hilux jeep from surveyor Kayode to carry it to site,
this could have caused another N2,500-N3,000.
The surveyor took dimension with his ball boy and placed the beacon round
the building. The building is a cornerpiece so we had 5 beacons (concrete
element used for marking out building plots) . Each beacon costs N100 to


Myself, Akeem( client’s friend) went to site one Mrs Chikwe approached us
that she supplies sand so we asked her to supply us sharp sand
“kasabubu”-20 tonnes at N36,000, other quotations we got were higher.
Gravel Sharp sand Soft sand
Baba Sunday’s friend- 45,000 38,000 25,000
Mrs Kema- 36,000 23,000
Alhaja- 19,000 38,000 22,000
“Alhaja” gave us 5 tonnes gravel for N19,000 and we also asked her to supply
soft sand.

The next day sharp sand of 10 tonnes and gravel of 5 tonnes were delivered
to site. Additional 10 tonnes from Baba Sunday’s friend was delivered a
day after.

We went to see Baale to pay for for “omo onile foundation money” we were
asked to pay N25,000 but we went back to give him N20,000 which he still
insists we must pay the remaining N5,000. We also went along with 2
bottles of schnapps one for Baale, the other for “Olori ebi” an elder to
the baale. The most senior man or the eldest among the baale’s family(
though we h

aven’t giving him his own at the time of writing this report).

We met the owner of the house beside site to help connect the tank to his
borehole which he agreed to, so we called plumber to help do the
connection, and he was paid N2,000 to buy the accessories and for the


Work commences , we just discovered that the building on site was not
“squared” it wasn’t properly set out so the blocks have to be removed and we have to dig a new foundation all round retaining just one straight wall by the right side of site to serve as our point line. Every other line
were dug 600mm or 3ft. The stumps on site was removed by Hausas for N4,000
“Baba Sunday”-my bricklayer accompany me home around 2pm to collect
money for the suppliers of sand. I was to pay him N38,000 for sharp sand
and N25,000 for soft. But on getting home we took his okada and when I
asked him how much I am to give him he said N70,000-N45,000 for sharp sand
and N25,000 for soft sand. I gave him the money quickly without thinking
(the sharp sand was supposed to be N38,000 as formerly priced) . Why? you
may ask, I was very hungry I only discovered this mistake after I had
eaten so I quickly called him I was only able to get back N5,000 out of the

Lesson no. 2-Don’t negotiate a business when you are hungry.Don’t give out money when you are hungry as well.

DAY 10
Casting of concrete -14 bags were expended, this is quite short of
ordinary calculation for a standard construction which you were expected
to cast 150mm or 6 inches thick concrete slab. We could have used more
cement and gravel with this.
This area is another place local bricklayers will cheat you if left to do
everything on their own the average thickness of the foundation we did was
100mm or 4 inches thick 50mm less than the normal paper design.

We couldn’t get the next door neighbour concerning water issue , it was on
monday and everybody have left home . so someone had to fetch the water we used in drums for us at the rate of N250/drum.
I took 10 liters of diesel down to power the neighbours generator so that water can
be pumped into our tank for the next assignment.

DAY 11
Block work started destination to foundation or dpc level.
Stacking permit guys came with okada and I was told they’ve been around
before. So we chatted and they said with N20,000 they will help out( this
is an area that is still under government acquisition) I gave them N1,000
which I called okada money and I agreed to pay N10,000 ,that is definitely
a topic for another day.

In conclusion to the ground floor level stage for the plan above we have
expended N650,000. Though some blocks were still left which we used to
raise some portion up -(pictures will be added later).

However do not let your heart be troubled because of this amount, the
foundation area is one of the most money consuming part, apart from that
for the low earners there are still more you can do , you can build yours
piecemeal, I mean you can decide to raise up just one room and a kitchen
but you have the plan of the entire structure mapped out, this you can
seek the advice of your architect friend,if you don’t have one, look for a
Also notes that the plan shown above can be the bogus type for
an average low income earner, you may have to reduce yours and streamline
your budget.

An architect with decades of experience


  1. this is what we need,people that will be willing to open up and let youngsters like us in the building industry get informed b4 we ger engaged. bros thank u oh!

  2. I presumed you didn’t get the proper documents and building permits for this project or did I missed something ?

  3. Your diary is very informing, thank you so much. I am presently planning to execute a project. I am at the material pricing stage. I notice a very wide gap between the price of your sand and the price I was given. Can you please give me the contact of your sand conractor? You also did not say anything about, cost of blocks and iron rods. Nevertheless, it is a very insightful piece. Keep it up. We love it and it is really helping some of us.

  4. Anonymous,
    Yes you are very right about not getting the permit, in as much as you may persuade anybody not to buy in Govt. Acd. portions, Lagosians have already made up their minds on acquiring these lands, after fully developed, they will now apply for village excision(getting the ownership from govt. by appeal). So you may be right to say I was involved in socially acceptable illegality.

  5. @owoeye,
    The difference in cost of sand may be the quality or place where you are getting yours. Sands from Ikorodu and Lekki are always costlier and better than others gotten elsewhere around. Mine was brought from Ogun state, the site itself is not too far from there, you can get sand around ifo-down to Abeokuta area but you can’t compare them to the ones from the 2 places mentioned above.
    The site has relatively strong soil and is a bungallow, not all buildings requires iron rods, 9″blocks were N150. But if the case is not of the reasons stated above then I’ll mail you with the contacts.

  6. Thanks for your response, I really appreciate it. The site is somewhere in Ikeja. They are giving me Sharp Sand (5 tonnes) for 18,000; (20 tonnes) for 55,000; Gravel (5 tonnes) for 20,000. Do you think the price is fair?

  7. hey thanks alot man, keep this up
    when u say moderate income earner, what range are you talking about?

    and how long does a normal building takes to construct in lagos?

    waiting for pics too,ive always wondered why nigerias are secretive about pictures for prospective buyers when they are advertising


  8. Jubril,
    Moderate income earner, for a young guy-N85,000 monthly should be able to save and build this house.
    Nigerians are terribly secretive about pictures because they are afraid somebody may shortchange them especially when it is selling of properties.
    I’ll post the pictures of progress on this project soon.

  9. @Owoeye,
    The price for those materials are ok, at the time of writing Lekki sand is no longer available for now so you only have the ones from Ikorodu which is now costlier.

  10. You are just one in a milion to be dishing out information like these. May God bless you real good. Please the pictures in this topic is not showing please can you send them to me?

  11. May God bless u a whole lot for dishing out this information for the younger ones. Pls send to my mail box no. Of sand, bag of cement and no of chippin that will make a good concrete

  12. Thank you for this information you shared. Please I will need more insight on how to carry out a building project from start to finish as a contractor. From the design to planining and execution stage.

Leave a Comment

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