What a Diasporan should know before undertaking construction investment in Kenya


By Roy Maina

Preliminary Stages you need to take when preparing to undertake your construction investment in Kenya

Many Kenyans in Diaspora find themselves wanting to invest back home, in a project that will generate income.

The real estate industry is one of the lucrative options.  Once the construction is over, managing of the asset is predictable and easy;  one can even make long term plans based on anticipated revenue to be generated by the asset.

So what are the steps that one needs to take to ensure a successful project?

pic 1. Select a credible and trustworthy Architect.

Having a credible and trustworthy architect is crucial as this  is the person who will represent your interests in the entire process. The architect will also co-ordinate all the other parties involved in the project. As a professional, the architect is liable for prosecution upon any negligence, or failure to perfrom as per the expectations. I always caution those living abroad to desist from mixing family in the process as they may not be competent to handle the project and more often than not the end result is acrimony, broken trust and wasted resources. This is a good example:

 2. Possession of the land

The investor must own a piece of land in order to build. The suitability of the land on which the construction is to be made has to be verified as well. The following is a good check-list in order to achieve this:

  1. Check the permissible land use;  if not compatible with the intended use, a change of user has to be conducted by a registered physical planner to suit the intended purpose
  2. Beacon verification needs to be conducted on the existing piece of land
  3. Market survey study / feasibility study will need to be conducted to determine the viability of the project on the proposed piece of land.

Alternatively, the land can be purchased if not in possession already with the above factors in consideration.

  1. Preliminary report

Once the market survey study has been conducted, the findings are presented to the client with most the appropriate option(s) suggested. For example, if the investor wanted to do residential apartments for sale yet the market survey suggest an office block for sale would produce better return on investment, then this report would give such a recommendation.

  1. Direction from client

With the investor aware of the situation on the ground, and armed with the alternatives, he can issue instructions on the way forward.

  1. Assembly of the consulting team

Once the client has given further instructions, the architect assembles a team based on the complexity of the project.

The selected team must be made up of individuals duly registered by the relevant respective bodies. This gives additional assurance to the client  that in case of professional misconduct,  he can take remedial measures through their respective professional bodies.

The client can confirm this by cross-checking the same through the following links:

in addition to the above, the selected members must also demonstrate a compliance with government regulations and to this end they have to supply the client with:

  • Tax registration certificates
  • Tax compliance certificate &
  • Professional indemnity covers, from reputable insurance companies.

Once the team has been presented to the client and approved, the design work can begin in earnest.

Roy Maina is the Director and principal designer at Wanda Synergy limited: www.wandasynergy.com



  1. This is a very good guideline.

    There are other details of a more technical nature, but my experience is that without a feasibility study, what we call an architect’s brief, control over project scope, benefits, quality cost time and risk is left to the wind and massive losses – monetarily, relationships and so on – follow.

    The architect’s brief is really the design and everything that follows is its graphic and technical translation. Omitting it as a cost saving is similar to a southpaw cutting of his left arm to make the weight on the eve of the fight.

    Depending on the project, there are 8-12 other sequential steps to be followed – outline and submission designs. People frequently do without the former and go ahead and construct with the latter, which, with all the dotted lines, technical symbols and dimensions in mm, they can barely understand…until the walling starts coming up…

    Anyway, cost overruns of 25 % are guaranteed and can escalate to beyond 100 %.

    At this point nobody is talking to anybody except a lawyer or two and life, hopefully, continues.