Top Essential Documents You Need to Have When Building a House

Building a house is an exciting milestone in anyone’s life, and if you are planning to build a house in Kenya, you need to be prepared with the necessary documentation. Building permits are a crucial requirement for any construction project in Kenya. Without proper approvals, you risk facing legal issues, higher costs, and potential demolition of your structure.

To ensure a smooth and compliant construction process, it is essential to understand the step-by-step process of obtaining building permits in Kenya.

So, what documents are required?

Below are some of the documents that are required when building a house in Kenya. Check them out!

  • Title deed

  • Encumbrance Certificate

  • County government approvals

  • House plan approval

  • Land use certificate

  • No objection certificate

  • NEMA approvals

  • NCA registration documents

  • Commencement certificate

  • Sale deed

Land Title Deed

The first and most crucial document you will need is the Land Title Deed. This document proves your ownership of the land on which you plan to build your house. Ensure that the Land Title Deed is valid, up to date, and in your name.

Building Plan Approval

Before you can start construction, you must obtain approval for your building plan from the relevant authorities. This involves submitting your architectural and structural drawings, along with other necessary documents, to the County Government or the Nairobi City Council for review and approval.

County Government Approvals

The first step in obtaining building permits in Kenya is to seek approvals from the County Government. Each county has its own approval process, but most have implemented an online platform called the e-Development Permit System. This system allows architects to submit their drawings to the County Council electronically.

Required Documents

When submitting a new application to the county government, several documents are required. These include things like –

  • Architectural drawings from a registered architect or firm

  • Structural drawings from a registered structural engineer or firm

  • Copy of land ownership document

  • Land rates clearance certificate

  • Land search document (not more than three months old)

  • Survey map from the Survey of Kenya

  • Payment of submission fees

Submitting Drawings Online

To begin the process, architects must submit their architectural drawings to the County Council. These drawings should be prepared by an architect or a firm registered with the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQs). The architectural plans must be accompanied by structural drawings prepared by a structural engineer or a firm registered with the Engineers Regulatory Board (ERB).

In addition to the drawings, several documents are required to complete the application. These include a copy of the land ownership document, a land rates clearance certificate, a land search document (not more than three months old), and a survey map obtained from the Survey of Kenya. The submission fee payment, which is determined by the design, must also be included.

Architectural Plan Approval

Once the application is successfully submitted, the architect will receive an approval notification. However, it is important to note that even with online submissions, hard copies of the plans still need to be physically stamped by the County. Therefore, the architect must submit the hard copies after receiving the approval notification.

Structural Plan Approval

After the architectural plans have been approved, the structural engineer can proceed with submitting the structural plans. These plans will also need to be stamped by the County before construction can commence.

With the approved drawings in hand, you can begin construction while the building permit application is being processed. However, it is crucial to obtain all the necessary approvals and permits before starting any physical work on the site.

Construction Commencement

Once your architectural and structural plans are approved by the county government, you can commence construction while the application for a building permit is being processed. However, it’s important to note that you must still obtain the necessary permits before proceeding with any significant construction work.

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Approvals

If you are undertaking a commercial construction project, you will need to obtain approvals from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). NEMA is responsible for ensuring that construction projects adhere to environmental regulations and do not have any negative impact on the environment.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Study

To obtain NEMA approval, you must conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study. This study is carried out by a licensed environmental expert who is registered with NEMA. The expert will visit the proposed construction site and assess its potential environmental impact. The findings of the study are then compiled into an EIA report, which is submitted to NEMA for evaluation.

NEMA Approval and Registration

To complete the NEMA approval process, you will need to submit the approved county drawings along with the EIA report to NEMA. Officials from NEMA will review the documents and may conduct a preliminary site visit before making a decision. If your application is accepted, NEMA will issue a project license, indicating that your construction project has been authorized and meets the necessary environmental standards.

National Construction Authority (NCA) Project Registration

The final step in the building permit process is project registration with the National Construction Authority (NCA). The NCA oversees the construction industry in Kenya and ensures compliance with construction regulations and standards.

Contractor Registration

Before proceeding with project registration, it is essential to ensure that the contractor(s) selected for the construction works are registered with the NCA and have valid licenses for the current financial year. This ensures that the contractor(s) meet the necessary qualifications and adhere to industry standards.

Project Registration Process

To register your construction project with the NCA, the contractor must fill out a project registration form, which can be downloaded from the NCA website. The form requires various documents, such as;

  • Approved architectural and structural drawings

  • NEMA certificate

  • Bill of quantities (BoQ) summary

  • Signed contract documents between the client and the contractor

  • Contractor’s registration certificate

  • Quantity surveyor’s practicing certificate

  • Architect’s practicing certificate

  • Engineer’s practicing certificate

  • Client’s KRA certificate

These documents provide the NCA with the necessary information to register and approve your construction project. Once the application is submitted, the contractor will receive a temporary certificate acknowledging the registration process.

After a thorough review, the NCA will issue a compliance certificate, indicating that the construction project meets the required standards and regulations.

Occupation Certificate

Once your house construction is complete, you will need to obtain an Occupation Certificate from the County Government or the Nairobi City Council. This certificate confirms that your house is ready for occupancy and meets all the necessary building regulations.

Utility Connection Approvals

Lastly, you will need to obtain approvals from utility companies such as the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company for the connection of electricity, water, and sewerage services to your house.

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