Building a House in Gambia
| • Architectural Drawings
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
• Building Permits
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
• 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
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
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 (see construction companies) 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
• 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.