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Street urchins and louts almost frustrated my building project – Man laments

A man (name with-held) shared his experience and journey to becoming a landlord in an exclusive interview with Nigeria Real estate hub. He recalled how street urchins and louts almost frustrated his efforts(building project) but he kept pushing and built his house successfully.

Please read his interview below.

How long did it take you to build your house?

First of all, building a house is not an easy venture and requires a lot of patience. The building itself took about 4 years but I bought the land in 2009, traveled for my masters, and got back in 2011. It wasn’t until 2013 that I started building and completed it in 2017.

Did you apply for any loan for the building process?

The total building cost me about N28 million. I took a loan of 7million from my place of work and the rest of the money came from me.

Did you consider other options aside from building? (e.g. buying)

The house is in Port-Harcourt where real estate is not as developed as what it is in Lagos so you hardly see people buying houses. The narrative is changing now though, I had to build instead of buying. I would have even preferred to buy because the hassles of building are too much. When you buy a house for speculative purposes, you can sell after some time and make more money. You even make the money faster than renting it out.

Personally, I would advise people to buy if they can but the problem with buying is that it is quite expensive. Unless you see a property you can buy and pay in installment, let’s say you deposit like N4-5million and spread the balance over a period of years. If you can’t have that, it is advisable to buy land and build to your taste.

How long did the processing take? (Land title and all)

The processing of the documents took me about 2 years.

Any issues with site workers?

When building, you’ll definitely have issues with site workers. Some will be very dishonest. Mine was more pronounced because I live in Lagos and the building was going on in Port-Harcourt. The help of my family members became handy though because some of them have experience in building so I used that to my advantage.

Any Omo-onile issue?

The issue of Omo-Onile is not as pronounced in Port-Harcourt as it is in Lagos.
The issues we had were with local government officials who invaded our property asking for one paper or the other. Street urchins and louts were the bigger problem. They came, seized our working equipment, and also harassed our workers.
The community and youths were not also left out. They also came with their list. Those were some of the sacrifices we had to make when the building was under construction. The rest is history now.

Do you think you could have built your house earlier if you knew what you know now?

If I had known what I know now, I would have gotten my house earlier than this. When I got the land I didn’t know I would be able to build a storey-building. I was just thinking I would build a bungalow because my cash-flow as at then was not that much. I just thought to myself, why waste this plot of land on just a bungalow when you can take your time to build something with great value? It is better than rushing it and building something with less economic importance.

After thinking through, I had to change my building plans but it took a lot of courage and faith. There was no particular time I had up to N5 million in my account when I was building but I pushed through with it because I believe building is an investment that needs a lot of sacrifices. You might not see the benefit immediately but in the future, you’ll be glad you did.

What mistakes will you advise our readers to avoid haven gone through this experience?

Procrastination. It is one key thing everybody should avoid.
The time to invest is now. The time to buy that building is now.

Another mistake to avoid is waiting to have all the money before you start building. Start with the little you have. When I started, I didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t even know I’d be able to build a storey-building. I thought with 6-7million I should be able to complete my building but along the line, I had to change my mind and of course, I got encouragement from my family. I finally built a block of 4-flats; 2bedroom flats each.

Another advice I would give the readers is not to wait to buy in a well-developed place because real estate appreciates. You can hardly get it wrong when investing in landed property.
I got my land at the rate of N2million when the place was not developed at all. Today, there are major roads, fuel stations, hotels, markets, e.t.c. The roads are tarred and the place is lively.
The cost of land in the area now is close to 40 or 50million. That was what I bought for just 2million in 2009. You can see the appreciation.

Do you have tenants?

Yes, I have tenants. All my buildings are occupied by tenants. I have 4 flats; 2bedroom each and an additional self-contain. I am also a tenant in Lagos. The house is just for investment purposes. I gave it out to estate agents to manage.

There is this sense of fulfillment that comes knowing that I have a property somewhere and that I built my house in my mid-thirties. I believe at the age of 40, everyone should have at least one building to their name.

So what does it really feel like having your own house?

It feels good when I see the alert in my account. I get close to N2.5m as rental-income every year and there is this joy that comes when I see the money knowing it’s a reward for my sacrifice and hard work. The money helps me to pay my rent in Lagos and my kids’ school fees every year.

Now that you have a property for investment purposes, what next?

The next plan is to build for residential purpose and I know I will achieve that soon by the grace of God


  1. Very interesting interview. I enjoyed it.

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