construction costs in kenya

Construction Costs in Kenya 2021 – Average Costs Across All Regions

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All things considered, construction costs in Kenya are influenced by numerous economic and technological variables. And going by the multiple projects we’ve handled so far, one thing’s for sure- there are no standard building costs in Kenya.

So, you might not find an accurate construction costs calculator. The rates vary considerably across different Kenyan regions.

On the bright side, however, we’ve done the math for you. We took the time to compare the rates for labour and construction materials in major urban areas in Kenya. Plus, we’ve sampled a range of contract bills for various projects, as well as figures published by the Joint Building and Construction Council, and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya.

Using the information, Integrum systematically worked out the numbers to establish the average building costs in Kenya in 2021. And to help you estimate how much your construction project might eventually cost, we’ve broken down everything into building costs per square metre for the three main Kenyan regions – Nairobi (including Mt. Kenya), Western (Including Nyanza and parts of Rift Valley), and Coast (including lower Eastern).

But, for the sake of clarity, these construction cost averages reflect the final project sums- from the approval process to the foundation and the subsequent project milestones, to the finishes level.

We’ve also factored in contract bill contingency sums and construction labour, including professionals who are typically engaged in Kenya – architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, clerks of works, project managers, etc.

In a nutshell, the average cost of construction in Kenya ranges from Kshs 33,450 per square metre for a standard private house in Nairobi, to about Kshs 72,400 per square metre for a luxurious high-rise office block in the Coast region of the country.

Here’s a breakdown of all the building cost details… (For the average building materials prices and labour rates in Kenya, check out our in-depth Construction Costs Handbook. And while you’re at it, you might also want to find out the Cost Percentage for Each Building Element.)

Building Costs 2020 vs Building Costs 2021

After comparing 2020’s building rates with the building costs in 2021, we’ve established that, overall, construction costs in Kenya have increased by 0.3% in some areas to as much as 4.29% in other areas. 

If you’re planning to put up a standard residential house in Nairobi or Kiambu, for instance, it’ll now cost you between 1.34% and 1.44% more than last year. In the Western region, the same has increased by 1.11% to 1.96%, while builders in the Coast region will pay up to 1.36% more. 

The margin for apartment blocks, on the other hand, ranges from 1.19% – 1.62% in Nairobi, to 1.95% – 4.17% in the Western region, and 1.13% – 2.26% in the Coast region. 

The biggest losers in Nairobi, however, are luxurious developments, as their construction costs have increased by about 3.73% between 2020 and 2021. 

And why is that? 

Why Building Rates In Kenya Have Increased In The Year 2021

While there are several possible reasons why it costs more to build in 2021, increased pressure on the Kenya shilling has had the biggest impact so far. 

In 2019, the Kenya shilling was trading at 101.4 per US dollar. Then over the 12 months in 2020 and part of 2021, it progressively plunged to a ten-plus-year low of 110 against the US dollar. 

Consequently, it now costs more to import even basic construction materials and fittings. So much so that even Kenyan manufacturers in the construction industry are complaining that raw materials – like steel and iron – are getting more expensive by the day. 

And it doesn’t stop there. K.R.A’s recent tax increases compound the problem even further, despite numerous petitions from manufacturers and retailers.  

Building Costs Per Square Metre Across All Regions in Kenya

Nairobi Region Construction Costs 2021

building costs in kenya 2021 nairobi region
Building costs in Nairobi Kenya.

Residential Construction Projects

  • Standard Private House: Kshs. 33,450 per sq. metre
  • Middle-Class Private House: Kshs. 37,700 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Private Dwelling: Kshs. 46,350 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Maisonette: Kshs. 53,500 per sq. metre
  • Standard Low Rise Apartment Block: Kshs. 37,650 per sq. metre
  • Upper Middle-Class Apartment Block: Kshs. 42,250 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Apartment Block: Kshs. 52, 900 per sq. metre

Commercial Construction Projects

  • Standard Low-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 40,080 per sq. metre
  • Standard High-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 49,750 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious High-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 68,550 per sq. metre
  • Business Park: Kshs. 46,870 per sq. metre

Retail Construction Projects

  • Small Scale Shopping Complex: Kshs. 37,480 per sq. metre
  • Standard Urban Shopping Centre: Kshs. 43,100 per sq. metre
  • All-Inclusive Shopping Mall: Kshs. 47,070 per sq. metre

Industrial Construction Projects

  • Double Storey Factory: Kshs. 33,950 per sq. metre
  • High Tech Factory/Lab:  Kshs. 55,360 per sq. metre
  • Warehouse: Kshs. 34,000 per sq. metre
  • Cold Storage Centre: Kshs. 38,500 per sq. metre
  • Administration Office: Kshs. 41,330 per sq. metre

Western Region Construction Costs 2021

construction costs in kenya 2021 western region
Building costs in Western Kenya.

Residential Construction Projects

  • Standard Private House: Kshs. 36,300 per sq. metre
  • Middle-Class Private House: Kshs. 44,200 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Private Dwelling: Kshs. 53,650 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Maisonette: Kshs. 54,780 per sq. metre
  • Standard Low Rise Apartment Block: Kshs. 39,250 per sq. metre
  • Upper Middle-Class Apartment Block: Kshs. 46,950 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Apartment Block: Kshs. 53,260 per sq. metre

Commercial Construction Projects

  • Standard Low-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 48,440 per sq. metre
  • Standard High-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 64,050 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious High-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 70,000 per sq. metre
  • Business Park: Kshs. 54,670 per sq. metre

Retail Construction Projects

  • Small Scale Shopping Complex: Kshs. 41,400 per sq. metre
  • Standard Urban Shopping Centre: Kshs. 47,600 per sq. metre
  • All-Inclusive Shopping Mall: Kshs. 54,310 per sq. metre

Industrial Construction Projects

  • Double Storey Factory: Kshs. 34,100 per sq. metre
  • High Tech Factory/Lab: Kshs. 59,700 per sq. metre
  • Warehouse: Kshs. 44,120 per sq. metre
  • Cold Storage Centre: Kshs. 39,150 per sq. metre
  • Administration Office: Kshs. 40,740 per sq. metre

Coast Region Construction Costs 2021

Building costs in Coastal Kenya.

Residential Construction Projects

  • Standard Private House: Kshs. 35,410 per sq. metre
  • Middle-Class Private House: Kshs. 41,830 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Private Dwelling: Kshs. 52,570 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Maisonette: Kshs. 49,080 per sq. metre
  • Standard Low Rise Apartment Block: Kshs. 35,000 per sq. metre
  • Upper Middle-Class Apartment Block: Kshs. 42,200 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious Apartment Block: Kshs. 54,760 per sq. metre

Commercial Construction Projects

  • Standard Low-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 49,920 per sq. metre
  • Standard High-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 56,800 per sq. metre
  • Luxurious High-Rise Office Block: Kshs. 72,400 per sq. metre
  • Business Park: Kshs. 56,640 per sq. metre

Retail Construction Projects

  • Small Scale Shopping Complex: Kshs. 37,500 per sq. metre
  • Standard Urban Shopping Centre: Kshs. 44,120 per sq. metre
  • All-Inclusive Shopping Mall: Kshs. 55,500 per sq. metre

Industrial Construction Projects

  • Double Storey Factory: Kshs. 34,240 per sq. metre
  • High Tech Factory/Lab: Kshs. 61,350 per sq. metre
  • Warehouse: Kshs. 27,800 per sq. metre
  • Cold Storage Centre: Kshs. 36,430 per sq. metre
  • Administration Office: Kshs. 40,055 per sq. metre

It’s worth noting, however, that these are just construction cost estimates. Your actual project expenditure might turn out to be different.

And to understand how, here are the factors that will ultimately affect your project’s economics.

Factors Influencing Construction Costs in Kenya

Design

This entails not only the architectural design, but also the accompanying structural, mechanical, electrical, interior, and landscaping designs of your building. Combined, the resultant overall design influences pretty much everything in your construction project- from the type and amount of materials to the level of finishes, as well as the type of expertise required.

So, in a way, your building’s design is the ultimate cost determining factor. The simpler it is, the less you’re bound to spend during construction.

That said, Integrum sampled a wide range of building designs in every single region for the sake of accuracy. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it revealed that the construction of classical or traditional architectural designs is predominantly costlier than contemporary styles.

Make no mistake though. That’s not always the case, especially because a large number of contemporary designs come with sophisticated finishes.

So, if you’re seeking to minimize your construction costs, you might want to stick to simple designs that utilize local materials plus labour. And while these are both elements of sustainable architecture, the whole concept of sustainability doesn’t necessarily translate to cheap building costs.

But then again, it’s worth noting that sustainable architectural designs lead to low building maintenance costs, plus of course, minimal environmental impact.

Construction Process

How you choose to approach your construction process determines the cumulative expenditure by the end of your project.

In other words, which work methods do you plan to use? What type of contractor are you proceeding with? Are you acquiring proper scaffolding or you’d rather use timber trestles? Will you mix the concrete on-site, or purchase ready-mix concrete? And if you happen to mix it on site, will you do it at a central point, or supply each individual crew with a mixer?

Even the seemingly smallest stuff, when you come to think of it, considerably affect the overall construction costs in Kenya. Take masons for instance. There could be a huge cost difference between a four-man and a six-man crew, depending on their output, the project scale, as well as the corresponding payment structure.

Now, the most cost-effective system here is, of course, working with certified contractors and professionals.

Well, admittedly, this option might seem costly at first. But when you consider all the factors accordingly, it turns out to be the most economical option.

Apart from the fact that they indemnify you against the bulk of the project’s liabilities and potential losses, certified professionals will shield you against possible fraud (find out the common forms of construction fraud in Kenya here). Plus, they’ll help you apply plus maintain solid cost control and quality assurance framework throughout the construction process.

Construction Site Conditions

Apart from your building’s overall design and its corresponding construction process, construction costs in Kenya are also heavily influenced by site conditions. This entails:

  • Physical Aspects: Site elements like slope gradient, soil type, vegetation, water salinity, road access, groundwater proximity, location, and many other physical variables come into play. Construction projects in the Coast, for example, incur additional costs while sourcing for freshwater. Otherwise, using the widely available salty water could compromise the compressive strength of concrete.
  • Weather Elements: Since construction is significantly dependent on weather, extreme conditions can hugely influence your project costs. The best temperature for pouring concrete, for instance, is between 10 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius. Therefore, if your project is in Mombasa or Garissa, you might want to avoid concreting when it’s extremely hot. And since the curing process needs to maintain an internal relative humidity of between 80% and 85%, construction projects in hot areas typically spend more on concrete wetting.
  • Neighbourhood Factors: Construction costs in Kenya also depend on neighbourhood factors like the supply of utilities (power and water), local legislation, security, etc (read the harsh realities of construction materials theft in Kenya here). Construction in some gated communities in Kenya, for instance, takes longer due to restrictions during weekends. And that subsequently results in increased building costs.

Conclusion

While we’ve studied a wide range of projects to come with the building costs per square metre for the three principal regions in Kenya, let’s face it- If you use these figures to calculate your construction costs, you’ll only end up with a rough estimate based on similar buildings constructed in the past.

So, think of these construction costs in Kenya as basic guidelines.

Now, to determine the precise costs of your project, you should go ahead and engage a professional quantity surveyor. Then to safeguard everything and achieve the best value from your investment, remember to capitalize on certified architects, engineers, as well as construction project managers throughout your project period.


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15 thoughts on “Construction Costs in Kenya 2021 – Average Costs Across All Regions”

  1. Thank you for sharing the insightful post. I have a quick question. When measuring plinth/build-up area of a house to estimate the cost of construction, is it necessary to include areas such as the front/back porch & cantilevered balconies? Kindly advise.

  2. Pingback: Google

    1. Hi Benson,

      You can get the official Construction Costs Handbook 2020 from the State Department of Public Works and IQSK. JBCC also publishes its own catalogue of building materials, complete with their current market prices- you can use such to appraise your project’s contract bills.

      1. Hello.
        Thank you for the very insightful information. I have done a construction of a contemporary design structure upto the roof slab including walling. What is the percentage cost of finishing vs a vis what i have used already for a middle class private 4 bedroom ensuite house?

        1. Hi Joseph,

          Expect to spend almost just as much as you’ve already spent.

          Labour alone will be costly because of the level of specialization required to put together the intricate stuff.

          Also- most of the materials you’ll use are imports, and the shilling isn’t doing very well against the dollar.

          That said, we wish you all the best in your project.

  3. Can you comment on cost of constructing a ground plus one floor and calculating plinth..

    Where can does one get a list of reliable contractors

  4. The construction cost per sqm,does it include the cost of land? What if someone has a land and wishes to build on it, what percentage of the approximate should be considered to exclude the cost of land?

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