• Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Margaret Anne Wampamba is a retired civil servant and author who lived in the United States (US) before retiring to Uganda. While in the United States, Margaret Anne visited Satar Homes, a residential design firm specialising in luxury custom homes, to select a design for her retirement home. 

Up on returning to Uganda, she chose a recommended constructor and shared the US home design with them. 

She explains, “The measurement of spaces was American, but the builder recalculated them to British standards, and the house turned out to be huge.”

Margaret Anne would have to spend a lot of money to demolish her house and start again. So, she accepted Mason’s error in interpreting the space measurements, but it was still a costly mistake. After that, she resolved to closely supervise all aspects of the construction. 

Margaret Anne‘s sizable retirement home now sits on half an acre of land in Bugiri-Bukasa Village, Wakiso District, close to Lake Victoria. Her choice of residential area was based on the desire to build a peaceful, and quiet home, free of traffic noise. From her balcony, she is able to enjoy the the pristine view of Lake Victoria, and the cool breeze that blows off the freshwater body to her home.

She purchased the land for less than 100 million Ugandan shillings, and its value has now risen to about 700 million shillings. Margaret Anne reminisces about the time she purchased the land and narrates, “I was lucky to repurchase it then.” It was during election time. Someone was in a hurry to sell because they needed money to invest in their political campaign. And there, I had just returned from the United States and needed land. I guess it would have been more expensive had he not been in a rush to sell.”

Margaret Anne’s house style reflects the American style of building, with modern, open-plan spaces such that her kitchen and living room enhances interaction. She has embellished the house with artistic wall hangings, a staircase leading from the living room to her bedroom, and a terrace with pictures depicting her life story.

Margaret Anne’s favourite spot is the master-bedroom, which is so spacious that it could easily be split into multiple fairly sizeable rooms. She chose to utilise some of the abundant space for a library and a workstation. The Master’s room has a corridor that leads to the balcony, which has a beautiful view.

Margaret Anne
Margaret Anne walks into a large open master bedroom area. Image courtesy of Edgar R Batte

She explains, “I have my office there, within my bedroom. I have bookshelves there… I am going to create my living room there. There is a lot of space there because they made the room much bigger than it should be.”

Margaret Anne built a home that suited her needs, but she says constructing her two-story structure was difficult.

“If you come from the diaspora and settle to build a house, it is a real hustle of being cheated and sold wrong stuff, to being demeaned for being a woman, and because of that builders think they can get away with all sorts of stuff. It is not easy at all,” Margaret Anne narrates.

Margaret Anne Shares How to Supervise the Construction of your Structure

Be Present

After the measurements fiasco, Margaret Anne decided she wanted to avoid any further dramas with the construction, so she finished one room and lived on the site until the completion of her home. She became the foreperson, supervisor, and engineer of her construction site.

“I did it all, and I am proud of achieving it.” I would buy the supplies myself. Whenever they would ask for materials, we would go together, and I could choose the best because I had people to ask for advice and comparison. I belong to a WhatsApp group of people who have lived in the diaspora, some of whom are professionals in areas such as construction, as engineers,” Margaret Anne narrates.

Margaret Anne ‘s presence on the site helped her avoid the challenge of being cheated by builders, who would initially raise the prices of construction materials.

Identify Honest People to Bring Your Home to Life

Margaret Anne highlighted that because someone from the diaspora is almost like a foreigner, they may be unaware of the many tricks up the builder’s sleeves which they can use to cheat the unsuspecting and trusting people.

“If you are naïve, some builders are not shy about cheating you, and there are many stories I had heard before I went into construction. A site engineer could easily ask you for 100 bags of cement when he actually needs 50 bags. He will then use the rest to build his own house or sell the cement to another site. It is the labourers he brings in to work who will tell you, you are being cheated,” Margaret Anne elaborated.

Get a Work Plan

Margaret Anne advises those planning to build their own homes should have a work plan.

She said: “You have to become a builder, but that doesn’t mean you don’t hire professionals. However, be a supervisor and procurement officer of your project. Be rigorous with the team you hire to enforce accountability. You learn as you go along. Ask questions and pay attention. I am lucky to have people I can confide in and ask for advice.”

Margaret Anne finished her home in a year with the help of her friends, who recommended places to buy construction materials. She says that the foundation and roofing were the most expensive parts of the construction.


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