Top construction services in Kenya

Planning to construct? Learn about Ranmac construction consults here and how their services will help you in the process.

Who are Ranmac construction studio?

They are construction consultants who mainly focus in detailed design of buildings in Kenya and also give accurate cost estimate from the designs plus materials needed to complete the building.

Services from Ranmac construction studio

All ensuite 3 bedrooms plan PDF

 

Below are services offered by this building experts in Kenya:

  • Residentials and commercial Architectural designs which include house designs and floor plans
  • Structural designs, these designs mainly focus on strength and safety of building
  • Preparation of bill of quantities which gives the expected cost of the construction mainly focusing on materials and labour cost.

How helpful are services from Ranmac consultants

To understand the importance of the above services, we will look at the process of construction and in the going see how they apply and why any one putting a building needs them.

Process of construction in Kenya

The construction mainly involves two teams, one is involved from the predesign stage to the final stage of the building. The other is only involved when constructing, below is a look at the two teams.

  • Consultants- the team is usually made up of various professions such as architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. The main work of construction consultants companies is to come up with suitable designs, estimated costs and analyzing of the site where the building is to be put so as to give the best material to be used. During the construction process, the consults will make site visits to make sure that everything is been done as required.

Ranmac construction Studio follows on the above category

  • Contractors- the contractors is another team which mainly focuses on putting up the building as directed from the designs. The team comprises of both professions and none skilled labour. The contractors will also have adequate machinery to get the job done.

GTC construction

Construction of GTC by a Chinese contractor

TIP: In order to end up with the best services and building, its better to go for a separate contractor and consultants instead of a company that offer design and build services. This makes sure that the consultants keeps the contactors in check preventing you from being exploited while maintaining quality. On the other hand, if the consultants made a mistake, the contractor will easily make the  correction.

Stages of construction

When you designed to build, you will have to go through the following stages;

  • Preconstruction stage
  • Construction stage
  • Post construction stage

Pre construction stage

precontruction

source

This is the very first stage, decisions you make at the point should be very good because there are what will determine the type of building you will have and the cost to be incurred.

When you decide to come up with a building, you will need quality advice, the first thing you should hence do is look for a consultant. The consultant will serve as your adviser till every works are completed, these calls for the best you can get based on previous projects they have handled and their capacity in relation to your project.

Now that you have gotten the consultant, you will create a clear picture of what you have in mind to the consultant. Even before anything else, a team from the consultant should visit the site or the land where you want the building to be put up. The main purpose will to ensure that the idea you have is viable on the location of your land.

The first thing to be considered is whether the project in mind can fit in the piece of land or the land is small. From there the type of soil will be considered, the soil type is very important since it will determine the type of foundation to be used and if the building is a storey one, how many floors it can go. Added to this, the right excavation depth will be determined by the type of soil, at times, imported soil may be required.

The topography of the land will also be determined, the topography effects the excavation and also can call for use of various foundation types such as stepped foundation.

After determining the above parameters, other things will be considered such as availability of common services and items that will be used. This includes items such as water for construction, electricity, access roads and if materials such as quarry stones and sand are easily available.

The consultant will now suggest for changes or improvements to be done based  on information corrected during the site visit. Once an agreement is reached on what to include or not to include, an architectural design will be brought, this will only be a draft kind. Once you get the draft design, you will have to point out areas that you will want improved or omissions that you think might have been done. From there, a final design will be produced.

So what is an architectural design?

This is usually a design done by the architect mainly, it usually give the external and internal appearance of the building including the environment where it is going to be in. Added to this is usually a floor plan that clearly shows the sizes of the rooms in the building how they will be partitioned and they arrangements. They will also design of other parts of the building such as the roof.

 

all ensuite 3 bedrooms layout

There are different  classification of these designs as examples below;

  • Residential designs- these are house drawings made with the aim of being homes. There are different kind of residential designs such as bungalows and maisonette . Bungalows can be further be divided into different kinds e.g 2 bedrooms, 3 bedrooms, 4 bedrooms or even 5 bedrooms. maisonette too can have different types such a six bedrooms etc.

Residential houses will include other types of rooms that are needed for home leisure and basic life requirements. The bedrooms can also be all ensuite, meaning they all have wc/shower or just some can be ensuite.

  • Commercial designs- in commercial, the designs are made for business purposes, such include residential rental house designs, apartments and business rental buildings. The considerations to be made are different with those of  residential houses. These kind of buildings are at often used by different people and might be even open to the public.
  • Institutions designs- these are designs made for particular institution such as schools, hospitals churches and more. Each of the above will have its own design outline and the final design made will definitely make it easy for one to tell what institution it is  by just looking at it with no explanation.

Above are examples are of architectural plans. It is important to note that the architectural plans usually form the basis of any other work to be done, these makes the architect the head of any building team.

Structural drawings

structural drawing example

From house design and floor plans, the next thing you are going to have from a consultant ltd is the structural drawings. Just like the name sounds, these are focused on the structure as opposed to the appearance of the building.

The drawings are produced by an engineer often referred to as a structural engineer. They are provided to ensure that the building is safe or do not have the risk of falling through out its service life while making sure that the cost of archiving this safety is kept at its minimum.

They will include detailed information on how the foundation is going to be laid out, information on materials to be used on each part of the building. and how these materials are going to be laid out in order to form a safely joined structure.

Here are some of the building parts and information on how materials to be used are determined by the engineers.

  • Foundation- being one of the most important part of the building since it handles all forces from above, accuracy is a high requirement when designing it. The information collected about the soil and topography of your land is mainly applied here. The kind of building and how large its is also considered. From this information and analyzed forces coming from the superstructure, the materials to be used in the substructure (foundation) are determined. This includes the type of foundation such as strip, pad or raft foundation, the mix ratio of concrete to be used is given and the size plus number of steel bars provided.

Other materials to be used for the substructure such as hardcore, DPM or anti termite treatment are given and the particular quality required indicated.

  • Walling- in walling, the structural engineer is concerned with the quality of materials to be used. This includes the quality of building blocks(building stones), mix ratio of mortal to be used on the blocks joint and for plastering.
  • Columns, beams and slabs- these are other important parts of any building. The drawings will give detailed information of the steel bars to be used including their sizes, numbers and spacing, added to this will be the concrete mix ratio. The size of each structural component is also given and the cover of concrete provided depending on various design parameters.
  • Roof- the materials to be used on the roof and how they are to be joined are also included in the structural drawings.

Its important to follow each information given by the structural engineer to the later since taking shortcuts may lead to failure of the building leading to increased expenditure and at times loss of lives.

Information to be used during the design of the structural part are largely obtained from the architectural designs, however, an engineer might suggest for improvement of the architectural plan if some components are wrongly positioned with regard to the forces being transmitted.

Bill of quantities

bq example

source

This is yet another important document provided by consultants companies, the main aim of this document is to give a correct estimate cost of putting up the building and is provided by the Quantity surveyor. The QS will analyze each work to be carried and each material to be used in construction of the building and at the end come up with correct costing of the project.

A bill of quantities is important since it gives a clear stipulation of each work to be done and the cost of each material ensuring that you are not exploited in any way by the contractor when putting up the building. Its is also from a BQ that materials to be used are gotten from giving a clear materials schedule.

Above are the main services you get from construction consultancy companies and added to them is a site follow up from each profession. An architect should makes site visits during the construction to ensure that every thing is being done as indicated in the architectural design, all other professionals involved should also report to the architect and take written orders only from the architect.

The structural engineer will also visit the site regularly to make sure that each material is of the stated quality in the designs and that everything is being laid out as given in the structural designs. Just like the other professions, the Quantity surveyor will ensure that the materials used reflect the indicated cost in the BQ. For example, if two coats of paint were to be used the QS will confirm if this was done.

In complex/big projects, the consultants will employ clerks of works whose responsibilities are ensuring that each work is carried out as required from the designs and design information. The clerk of works will write reports frequently to the consultant on the progress of work.

Importance of construction consultants in Kenya

As you will note above, services offered by various professions in this category are very important and will have a real impact. Here is a look at some of the instances that the services come in handy.

  • Proper planning, for anything to succeed, a good plan is needed and a construction consultant will help you with this.
  • Chance of perfecting your idea, after getting a design and advice from the consultant, changes will be made on your design, this is very helpful as to compared to where you would go on with construction without a design and the only chance of perfection is demolish what is being constructed.
  • Chance of seeing how realistic your idea will be. If you were to dive into construction without a design, you will only be imagining on what you want but won’t have practically seen it.
  • Safety of the building is guaranteed when you consult professions in its entire design life.
  • Proper budgeting can be done when you have designs, adjustments can also be made on the designs without compromising anything to fit your budget.
  • You are also protected from exploitation by the contractor and substandard work from the contractor.
  • The consultants can also assist you pick the best contactors based on their capacity to handle the project and service charges.

Above are just but some of the advantages of using construction consultants services.

At times, some consultants will specialize in offering services in a certain field such as architectural plans, structural plans of bill of quantities service.

The preconstruction stage will also involve getting all necessary approvals from various bodies and governments, for example county governments requires you to seek approval from them before starting the construction. Other bodies include NEMA, NCA and more, we will look at these bodies later in the article.

Construction stage

breaking ground for construction

Breaking ground for River estate construction in Nairobi. source

After getting the designs, approvals and a good contractor, the construction will begin. This is maybe the most complex stage of the project. You can either allow the contractor to order the materials for you but in this case make sure that the QS will be involved in the valuing the project or else,  order materials by yourself.

With the materials on site, the contractor will now start the job. The contractor usually have both skilled and none skilled labour plus construction machinery.

Most of the work is done by both skilled and none skilled employees from the contactor. Skilled labour include supervisors, carpenters, masons, steel fixers,welders and more. Each of the above specializes in a certain work, for example, a carpenter will carry out all timber work on the site such as formwork and timber roofs, a mason on the other hand is responsible for building using stones and other works such as plastering.

The none skilled labour is normally required for the purpose of assisting the skilled employees, for example, a mason will often require someone to put the building stones closer and another one to give them to him/her. Other works such as digging of strip foundation trenches are also done by the none skilled employees.

The contractor might also employ professionals such as engineers, architects and quantity surveyors depending on the complexity of the project. The professionals will help in various works on the site, for example, testing of materials can be done by engineers, quantity surveyors will help the contactor value the work done on different sites and also in preparation of documents necessary when applying for a tender/contract.

The contractor is expected to carry out the project within the stipulated time while adhering to quality and within the cost agreed at the time of being awarded the contract. However, the timeline and cost might change depending on various issues arising during the construction.

Post construction stage

This the last stage of construction, in the stage, the construction is completely completed and ready for handover. The post construction time is usually limited say for two months. The main purpose is to give a chance to check for any errors that need to be collected or any items that need to be optimized in terms of performance, the contractor should also be ready to make repairs where necessary.

Professions in constriction and their roles

There are a lot of professionals in the construction industry, however, there are those that are common in most building works. We have mentioned them above but below, we will look at what they do in detail.

Architect

Just like we mentioned before, the architect is the head of any construction project, everyone answer to the architect and the architect answer to no one except the client.

This project leader  is responsible for coming up with the building design and the floor plans and ensure they are followed to the later. The main focus for architects is usually the appearance(aesthetics) of the building which should be of course beautiful.

Everyone takes order from the architect during the construction stage, however, these order must be inform of written instruction from the architect.

In different cases, changes might be needed for the project. For example, the engineer might notice that some structural information or requirement need to be changed after making a site visit, in order for the changes to be implemented, the engineer will write to the architect informing them on the proposed changes. If the architect approves the changes, they will write to the contractor informing them to apply the changes, however, if the architect declines or fails to give written instructions, the changes will most likely fail to be implemented.

As a client, it is very important to note the following from the information above. If at any point you will require changes to be done, you can not go the site and give orders, instead you will have to communicate the changes to the architect and from there, the architect will give written instructions for your proposed changes to be implemented.

In an example, if you wanted a door position to be changed after noting the current position on the plan do not suit you best and the construction have began, you should inform the architect. If you tell the contractor or the site supervisor to implement the changes, they will not do that and they are legally correct.

The architect is expected to make regular site visits and be always available incase the contractor or the building team needs any assistance about the plans and designs. It is also the architect who will inspect most work carried out especially on the finishing part to ensure that they are done to his/her satisfaction. For example, if two coats of paint are needed, they should be done to the architects satisfaction, these means that if the architect is not satisficed, the work will be done again.

It is the architect who will approve payments to be done to the contactor in terms of work done. Normally, the Quantity surveyor will value the work done on the site. If the amount reflects what the contactor is asking to be payed, the QS will write to the architect approving that the work done value is equal to what the contactor is requesting. The architect will then write to the client requesting them to make the payment.

As you will note from above, the architect plays a very important role for the success and smooth running of the construction process.

Engineer

This is another very important profession who can not be ignored in the construction process. As we will see below, engineers plays various roles in construction and in most cases, more than one engineer is required and also engineers from different fields are required.

The very first engineer who can not be ignored is the structural engineer, as we mentioned before, the structural engineer is responsible for coming up with safe and sound structures at the lowest cost possible. They usually determine what materials are going to be used in each part of the building, their quality and how they are going to provided/cast/layed.

In order to determine the above, the engineer will have to look at various parameters. He/She will also use various design standards that have been established Nationally and Internationally. In design of structures, Kenya have been using the British standards of design for a long time but by 2021 Kenya is expected to switch to the Eurocode. There are also other various standards search as The East Africa Standard design code. To archive uniformity, every engineer is expected to use the nationally approved code, in this case, Euro code.

The engineer will not only produce the designs but also engineers are expected to collect information about the site where the building is to be put up. This includes the soil condition, environmental conditions, wind strength and possibilities of earthquake in the area.

From the above information  combined with the purpose of the building and other parameters such as need for fire resistance materials and putting into considerations of the self weight of the part of the building, the engineer will come up with a safe structure. For example, when designing an external slab, the engineer will consider the purpose of the building, the environmental conditions in order to to know the cover and quality of concrete, self weight of the materials to be used and with that, the design will be done.

The above is not the only service of engineers, they are also responsible for supervising works in most construction projects, also they will test materials, carry out surveying works and assist the builders with the relevant information as they do their work.

A part from the building/structural engineers, other engineers will also be involved in the construction of buildings. For the purposes of lighting and electronics to be used in the building, an electrical engineer will be required. For items like lifts, mechanical engineers are used.

From above, we will see that engineers are very important persons in the construction industry and they are a basic requirement in every construction stage.

Quantity surveyor

These is an important profession in the building industry in Kenya although there at times under estimated. One thing that you will require for success in life is good money handling. When putting up the building, the Quantity surveyor is there for you for this case.

The very first step a quantity surveyor does is prepare a Bill of Quantities. This is a very important document that gives a correct estimate of what the building is going to cost till completion. The QS is best suited for costing since they make accurately measurements of each quantity of material to be used in the building plus labor. Just like engineers, the Quantity surveyor will use standard established methods and information, some of the standards are gotten from SMM (Standard Method of Measurement for building Works) and Building and construction cost handbook.

The Bill of quantities will show you the expected cost of each material, the quantity and the measurements units, the rates given include labor and materials. It will also give total cost of various construction processes or building parts. For example, the foundation is know as the substructure and its total cost is given, the upper part of the building is the superstructure, it can be divided into various parts such as the roof, walls etc cost of each part will be given.

The BQ(Bill of Quantities) is also one of the main document used when choosing the contractor to put up the building. Each contractor binding for the work should indicate their charges on each measured quantity on the BQ. The best pricing contactor will be awarded the contract if they have the capacity to handle the project based on their financial capabilities, the labour force and  machinery.

The QS will also do cost valuation and variation when the project is being done. The valuation involves making sure that the work done value is equal to what the contractor claims to have done while  variation involves modifying the construction cost to be paid by the client based on modifications during the building process.

These are not the only duties of the QS, they are also the main dispute settlers in any construction work, they are in most cases work as arbitrators.

We can not hence underestimate the purpose of quantity surveyors in any building works since they are responsible for ensuring the best possible way of proper financial management.

Every profession mentioned above should be registered with the following bodies that regulate their services and ethics in Kenya.

  • Architects- BORAQS (Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity surveyors also check, Architectural Association Of Kenya (AAK).
  • Engineers-EBK (Engineers Body of Kenya)
  • Quantity surveyors- BORAQS

Bodies regulating construction in Kenya

There are various bodies in Kenya that are responsible for construction regulation, the larger the project, the more the bodies that will be involved and you will have to get approval from them. For example, larger buildings might have environmental effects, these calls for review and approval by NEMA, this might not be the case for small residential buildings.

Below is a look at different bodies that might get involved in your construction.

County government approval

This is the most common approval required, each county have its own set of requirements in order to approve your project. Most counties will however require both architectural and structural drawings, land ownership documents, a copy of the professions involved practicing license, land rates clearance certification documents and at times more documents will be required depending with the county.

NCA Approval

NCA

The National Construction Authority(NCA) is responsible for streamlining construction process in Kenya. The body registers and trains different professions in the construction industry. When carrying out construction, you should ensure that the project is registered with this authority.

Professions from the authority might also make surprise visits to the site to ensure that safety is being observed and total compliance of building requirements including having approved architectural and structural drawings.

NEMA Approval

NEMA

This approval is provided by the National Environmental Management Authority(NEMA). The purpose of the approval is to ensure that the project does not have negative effects to the environment during its construction and after completion. A research is done about the project with regard to the environment and a full report given, it is from the report that the decision on whether to approve or not to approve the building is reached.

There are more bodies that will also be involved in the project approval and monitoring process especially when it is large. It is highly recommended to get or all necessary approvals before starting your project and also to ensure complete compliance of all requirements.

Tips for your construction in Kenya

There are various things you can do to ensure that you end up with a beautiful quality building and keep the cost at its minimum. Here is a look at some of them.

Get a house plan– these is the very first and very important requirement, like we mentioned before, plans are the basis of a quality building. Plans will help you know the budget needed to complete the building and assist you make modifications so as to be within your budget plan. With plans, you will have a clear picture of the house appearance and you can hence request for changes to suit your taste. Its also the plan that acts as the map during construction ensuring the builders do not keep on making mistakes.

Get a profession to do your plan- while getting a plan is the first requirement, a profession doing the plan is the second. While anyone who has been in the building industry might come up with a plan, it is advisable to get one from an architect or an engineer since they have the right knowledge to give the best plans. Qualified professions will always give quality while ensuring cost is at its minimum. Some things will include proper room arrangements, proper room sizing, correct analysis of the site and giving the right foundation to be used, recommendation of use of right materials depending on various site factors as mentioned before.

Get a qualified supervisor or contractor– if you opt to get a supervisor to do the project (in case it is not too large) you should make sure their are qualified to handle the job and have an experience with similar works. Still in the case of the contractor, they should have the capacity to carry out the construction and also be registered with various bodies such as the National construction authority.

Source quality materials– if you agreed to source the materials yourself instead of the contractor, you should ensure that you get the best quality in regard to the information provided in the design, if you do not have the knowledge on some construction material, you should not hesitate to ask your consultant(where you got the design from)about it.

Never take shortcuts– this is perhaps the golden rule of construction, most clients will think taking shortcuts will save money or in case of the contractor, increase profits. This is however wrong, once any shortcut is done, the quality of the work is compromised and the building is likely to fail hence your money will have drowned. At times lives will be lost when the building fails. The building might not fail but will require regular maintenance, for example if proper curing or poor mix ratios are used, cracking will be eminent in the building.

Managing building cost

The cost of putting up the building is usually one major consideration to put in place. Just like we mentioned before, a quantity surveyor will in most cases help with this, however, there some things that you can do to ensure you do not have to dig very deep into your pockets. Below are some of them.

Adjust your plan to remove unnecessary items- at times, the floor plan might have too many partition walls or even walls not serving any purpose, if they were to be removed or adjustments made, the cost will drastically go down.

Use of modern construction technologies- various technologies are available in Kenya, most of them are usually to ensure that the cost of building becomes pocket friendly to everyone. They main focus is on use of cost effective materials, for example EPS panels is a method of construction that greatly reduce the construction cost. There are of course more materials available out there that will help you reduce spending.

Keep it simple- to reduce the cost, you should consider making your building design choice simple, for example, a flat roof will reduce the amount needed. Simple finishes will also help you budget and save a lot.

One important thing is that you should never compromise quality while trying to cut the cost of construction, instead make sure that the building you are putting up is within your budget.

Above is look at construction in Kenya and an overview of where Ranmac construction studio plays an important role. We hope you gathered something from the article, Cheers!!