The construction costs in Kenya – as we’ve established after handling multiple projects – are influenced by numerous geographical, social, economic, legal, and technological variables.
As such, the unit rates tend to vary extensively from one place/project to another – which means that, in essence, there are no standard building costs in Kenya.
So, you might not be able to find a construction costs calculator that’s capable of accurately generating a single all-inclusive per square metre/foot cost figure. It’s impossible to cover all the regions in Kenya, plus the different types of construction projects today with just one standardized rate.
It’s not all bad news, though. You see, although there are no standard construction costs in Kenya, it turns out you can work out your project cost estimates from past completed building projects. You just need to break down the rates of a completed project into its construction costs per square metre or foot, and then use them as guiding estimates for similar upcoming building projects.
Now, that’s more or less the type of math we’ve done for you.
The exercise itself took us months, within which our project cost control team not only compared the rates for labour and construction materials across the major urban areas in Kenya, but also sampled a range of contract bills for various construction projects.
What’s more, we took into account the market figures published by reputable professional bodies in Kenya’s construction industry – including the Joint Building and Construction Council, and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya.
Using the information gathered, Integrum systematically worked out the numbers to establish the average building costs in Kenya in 2021.
Then to help you estimate how much your construction project might eventually cost, we proceeded to break down everything into the building costs per square metre for each of the three main regions in Kenya– Nairobi (including Mt. Kenya), Western (Including Nyanza and parts of Rift Valley), and Coast (including lower Eastern).
Please keep in mind that these construction cost averages we’ve compiled are inclusive of all the elements and fees that go into a typical building project – from the planning stages to the subsequent construction activities.
We also factored in the contract bill contingency sums and the accompanying construction labour charges, including the fees levied by Kenya’s building professionals – architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, clerks of works, project managers, etc.
Ultimately, our detailed analysis established that:
The average cost of construction in Kenya ranges from Kshs 33,450 per square metre to about Kshs 72,400 per square metre.
And in terms of feet, the average building rates in Kenya stretch from Shs 3,135 per square foot to about Shs 6,785 per square foot.
(Compare these findings with the more recent 2022 roundup of Kenya’s construction costs plus the building rates in 2023. )
A standard residential house in Nairobi, for instance, will cost you about Kshs 33,450 per square metre if you’re constructing with basic technology and finishes.
The same building in the Coast region of Kenya, however, might have you paying Kshs 35,410 per square metre in construction costs, while areas like Kisumu tend to push this class of building costs upwards to about Kshs. 36,300 per square metre.
That’s pretty much the standard deviation trend across all the construction project classes in Kenya. So much so that there are now distinct variations in the average construction costs for each category of buildings across the regions.
And to help you make sense of it all, here’s a breakdown of the building cost details for each project class in Nairobi, Coast, and Western regions of the country.
(Otherwise, for the average building materials prices and labour rates in Kenya, be sure to 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; or maybe The Cost of Construction Permits in Nairobi County; The Corresponding Building Approval Fees in Kiambu County, as well as the precise professional fee rates you should expect from Kenyan Architects. )
2021 Building Costs Per Square Metre Across All Regions In Kenya
Kenya’s Nairobi Region Construction Costs 2021
Nairobi Region Building Rates – 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
Nairobi Region Building Rates – 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
Nairobi Region Building Rates – 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
Nairobi Region Building Rates – 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
Kenya’s Western Region Construction Costs 2021
Western Region Building Rates – 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
Western Region Building Rates – 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
Western Region Building Rates – 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
Western Region Building Rates – 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
Kenya’s Coast Region Construction Costs 2021
Coast Region Building Rates – 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
Coast Region Building Rates – 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
Coast Region Building Rates – 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
Coast Region Building Rates – 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
Kenya’s Building Costs In 2020 vs The Building Costs In 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 Costs 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.
With that said….
It’s worth noting that all the building rates we’ve revealed here 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
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.
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 – What To Do With These Construction Cost Estimates
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.
Interesting read on the variables across regions.
Many thanks for sharing your neat web site.
I love perusing your internet site. thnx!
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.
Yes, of course, Paul. Those are all constituent parts of the build-up area.
Price of online copy of your construction costs handbook 2020
Would appreciate cost of building 3bedroom with a small shop cost?
Location Mombasa kisauni mwandoni
how can I get the The Construction Costs Handbook 2020?
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.
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?
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.
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
Here’s the list of registered contractors in Kenya > https://nca.go.ke/contractors/search-registered-contractors
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?
No. It doesn’t include the cost of land.
Thank you for this work, whose accuracy I have no reason to doubt. However, it helps along during preliminary design stages.
Your site is a goldmine! I really appreciate the information sharing. Do you have figures for hotel development costs?
Thanks for the kind compliments.
To estimate the cost of your hotel construction project, we advise you to break it down into various units and then evaluate them separately.
For instance, you could use the apartment block rates on the accommodation areas, factory & cold storage rates on the commercial kitchen, administration office rates on the admin block, and so forth.
Kindly compare the cost of flat concrete flat roof against pitched roof with standard sheets
Noted. Coming up!
This great ,well informing