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Building a House in Gambia

Architectural Drawings
The first procedure for building a house in Gambia is to get a property plan drawn up by an architect. You can of course get an architect outside the Gambia to do this for you.

However, you must remember that there are special techniques, regulations & specifications for a tropical climate and the construction materials may also differ.

Building Permits
The second step is to get your house plan approved by Physical Planning Dept. in Banjul which should includes the area of your land. You should take at least 3 copies of your plans when submitting your application form. There is a fee payable based on the number of square metres of your house. The law requires that you get a permit as well for your fence and 'Boys Quarters' (accommodation for maid and watchman).

Build Your Fence
The third step is to build your fence around your land. This is necessary for security and establishes your physical boundaries according to your plans. You don't want to start your bungalow and find out half-way through that you are partly erecting it on someone else's property. Please note that you should build your fence exactly according to your plans and that there is a minimum distance allowed where a road separates two different plots. You can find this out the minimum legal distance from the Lands Office in Banjul.

Build It Yourself
If you are building your own home then make sure that the 'Boys Quarters' is build first. This allows you to have several rooms in which to store your supplies and tools for security. You could of course buy a container and keep your materials there. This is perhaps the best option and you can always sell the container when you have finished building. Containers can be purchased from the Gambia Shipping Agency.

Employ a Watchman
Do take care to photocopy the watchman's ID card and make sure you know where he lives and that he is residing in The Gambia. Only employ a watchman who has been recommended to you. Don't give him access to any of the rooms and make sure to count items left outside such as steel re-enforcement rods at the start  and end of the day which you should confirm with him.

Bill of Quantities
Try to get the house plans quantified by a quantity surveyor. This will give you a rough idea as to the quantity of materials you need to buy to build the structure of your house. It should give you a rough idea of the cost of constructing but it doesn't usually include finishing like fans and bathroom fittings. This you can easily do yourself by visiting several building materials suppliers and shops.

Prices of materials are always rising in The Gambia's construction industry so try to buy in bulk. You don't always have to take bulky the items, such as cement, with you the same day. Just make sure you keep you receipt and you can collect what you need when you need it. CAUTION: Please note that you should only buy from large reputable companies who may perhaps give you this facility. Also note that the company may also go bankrupt and you could lose your money.

If you don't intend to employ the services of a 'labour & materials' contractor who buys and provides all the necessary aggregates and tools then builds the house for you, then you might want to consider employing a 'labour only' contractor. Whatever you do make sure you get a contract drawn up by a solicitor and signed by both parties.

Do make sure that you employ the services of a store keeper who records all materials coming in and all building supplies coming out on a daily basis. Make sure that all deliveries are signed for.

Employ a Contractor
(Labour & Materials)
If you wish to employ a full turn-key contractor then get a contract drawn up by conveyance solicitor in Gambia. This is vital for your own protection and make sure that you tender the contract out to a number of interested contractors first.

Be aware that Gambian builders will often try to load most of the costs of the construction at the early stage of the agreement's Bill of Quantities. Avoid this if you can as the finishing phase tends to be the most expensive and should he or she fail mid-way through you can minimize your potential losses.

Note: Please read the disclaimer. The owner of does not accept any responsibility for any damage, misunderstandings or losses of any kind arising out of anyone following or not following any of the information above. Get legal advice first before inspecting any property or making any real estate decisions.

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