Making a decision to buy or build a house in Kenya depends on ones financial status. Years back it was common for people to rent houses built by the government, city council, housing finance and a few individuals who owned houses.
Most houses were bungalows and maisonettes were only one storey. In those days you would find one house in a compound or if there was any other building it was the servants quarters.
However with time and rapid population growth in the city, demand for housing increased, and more buildings started coming up. People started building flats with more storeys to accommodate more tenants.
Before this happened, Nairobi was very clean and neat, with houses in each estate built in one style. Other estates like Buru Buru came up with different designs for its 5 phases, those days it was considered one of the posh estates in Nairobi even the Queen visited when she came to Kenya. Other estates that were clean and neat are Umoja 1, Olympic, Fort Jesus, Madaraka, Otiende, Woodley, Makadara, Uhuru, South C and Kimathi etc. with good roads and tarmacked courts.
Suddenly things changed, flats and all types of buildings started coming up, in all kinds of style within these estates. People also started building extensions behind or in front of their bungalows and flats. Some compounds were small and one would not imagine it could accommodate another building but people built flats on those small compounds.
Other estates mainly composed of flats started coming up in lands that were vacant. Like in Kayole, Zimmerman, Embakasi, Highrise etc… People bought land and built in all kinds of style. Some flats are so slim and tall one would think they could come down if something strong shook them.
I believe city council has rules and guidelines that dictate the way buildings are supposed to be built in a city, especially a capital city like Nairobi. They also have to inspect tall buildings to approve that the structures are built according to architectural standards and are safe. However this has not been the case in Nairobi until buildings started falling down even within the City center.
Anyway back to my subject, whether to build a house or buy. Many people find it cheaper buying a plot and building a house slowly or within a short time depending on their income or financial ability, others take loans to build houses. Co-operative saccos have helped people buy plots and build, same as banks.
There are those who do not qualify for bank loans and are not members of Saccos, so they have to work hard to buy a plot and build a house. This is why many people have moved to out skirts of the city to homes they have built. Many are still buying vacant plots or pieces of land in places like Ngong, Athi River, Ruai, and Embakasi etc.
One thing that many people long for is to own there own piece of land and a home.
Whether it is built of mbao (wood), mabati (iron sheets), mchanga (mad) or mawe (stones). Just the thought of not having that ka landlord or lady demanding money at the end of the month is very satisfying.
Some people are very inpatient and decided to enter their houses after putting up the structure and roof. Some would enter their houses after putting windows and glass without plastering, the inside looks like a cave. I have even seen people in town and rural areas who put boxes on the windows and curtains to cover the windows to get out of a life of paying rent or to move in their own home.
With the congestion in the city, high cost buildings with no compounds. I prefer moving to my own home away from the city, not having to worry about paying rent every month, nosy neighbors and some fresh air.