Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The many hoops you'll have to jump through before you build your house in Ghana

Be warned. This is a rant. I notice i'm complaining a lot about life in Ghana now. I guess the scales finally fell off from someone's eyes:)

For the past several months I've been trying to get proper documentation for a piece of land, but it is taking so long, and there's not a thing I can do about it.

First I had to find a surveyor to come do his magic so he could give me some paper showing the land and its location in latitudes and longitudes. I pay this guy but it takes him 3 weeks to produce the document because he has to get it signed in some head office and things take a while there.

Finally i get this document. Then I pay someone else (the chief's relative) to get me a registered indenture and that takes 3 weeks.

Then the indenture has to get signed by the chief and all who co-own the land with him. Some of them live far away in Suhum. But all the signatories must sign and they all want their cut so I have to pay them all. sigh. I've done this, but a week has gone by already and still, only the chief has signed. Thankfully I've only paid half the money so hopefully they'll speed it up since they want the rest.

Next, I have to get a land title certificate. I don't even know where I need to go to get this. Does anyone here know? Is there a way to do it quickly?

Following that, I'll need to get a building permit. Will I be able to do all this in the next month? Someone said it will take at least 3 months to get the land title certificate! I'm already tired. Why does it have to be so hard? Will I have any money left to build that hollywood crib once this is all over?


  1. he he. welcome to one of the facets of living in Gh. I'll advise you to be patient, and vigilant, keep your eye on the ground, otherwise they will toss you till... And also look out for landguards. It's quite disheartening these days. Go to the lands registry and see if you can get help there to speed up your project. and I'll be looking out for that Hollywood crib. he he, and pls let's see ur face!

  2. First, you're lucky that you get to take another step every 3 weeks :-)

    Secondly, the location of the land (which you did not give) determines where you register the land. If it is in the GAR, then the Land Title Registry is your destination. You will get a Land Certificate which is the highest assurance you'll get that the land (or at least the interest you have in it) is really yours.

    Third, the "indenture" you get must be "stamped" at the Stamp Office which is located at the Land Valuation Board. This involves paying a tax (known as Stamp Duty) to the State. It is a percentage of the value of the land. Will be between 0.25 and 1% (have to check).

    Fourth, do not think about a building permit in 1 month. That is why so many people take the risk of starting the construction of the building before they obtain the building permit. I toiled day and night for 4 months, last year, to obtain a building permit for a diplomatic mission (and they are supposed to get special treatment!).

    Fifth, my bill for this advice is $150, but for the wonderful friendship we have, you can order pizza from Frankies and have it delivered to me at work.

  3. Esi,have the patience and get your papers right.i really do not think it is no different gettin any permit for land or permit to do an add on to your own house even here states ie California it took me 2mths just to get a permit to do some work at my crip...The real fun will start when you start the building it can be a crazy ride dealing with ghanaian builders.My advice do not try building a storey building..it is pure hell.keep us posted on the progress peace to you...

  4. lol...Hollywood crib paaa, it better not be the size of a hotel like some people build(50+ rooms for a house!...ridiculous!) Otherwise you know the "akronfo" will be paying you a visit for a tour! Anywho, good luck! I hope you find the right people to talk to before all your money is siphoned out of your pocket...

  5. @ Maxine, the comment about the akronfo made me laugh.hehe. Funny right, how we spend half of our lives trying to acquire property and once we have them, we spend the rest of the time protecting them. But you know the 50-bedroom houses are owned by abrokyire people or coke dealers.lol. or sikaduro. haha. Ghana deE if someone gets money small a, someone will say it's drug money or sikaduro. haha.

    Patrick, no, no abansoro. Actually let me think about that again. Maybe i have to build the abansoro to show sE me too i dey.

    @Nii Sackey, who/what are landguards? Should i be afraid?

    @Nana Yaw, thanks for the info. really helpful. Expect the pizza before this year is over. I still have your book. When will i see you again? I miss you a little.

  6. Oh, and Nana Yaw, where can I find the Land title registry and Land valuation board?

  7. @Esi ..this abansoro is pure hell..lololol,and a least yu dey ghana so can keep an eye on the builders,these guys are pure stupid for real..Please keep it very very simply and keep in mind some form of minimalist and sustainability..i tell you i suffer paa..tryin to build in ghana and i am not even done...Check this ghanaman house for ghana he an architect..

  8. Esi, I will call you and give you directions, ok?

  9. Oh my God! talk about coincidence, Patrick! My architect took me to see a house that looks just like the one u sent in the link before designing mine. It may even be the same one. The one he showed me was at East Legon, on El Shaddai street. I loved it! The back wall has a laterite design and there's an old skull barrel at the back for storing water that is to die for. We think alike huh? Good thing we're already doing this...a lot of wood, sunshine, nature... Thanks, u convinced me i'm on the right track! You're new on this blog? Pleased to meet you. Come find me the next time u're in Ghana.

    1. You are right about Joe Addo's house being close to El Shaddai Lane. He is my neighbor and former school mates as well. I hope you are enjoying your eco-friendly home.
      Peace, Kwesi in Cali.

  10. @Esi,thx for the shoutout..please do check yur email i will be sendin yu some links later. ..peace y'all....

  11. Good story! In terms of Ghana versus other African countries, Ghana is very progressive for NOT making it easy for people to buy land. In some African countries it is relatively easy to buy land. What that tends to mean is that foreigners can come and buy up land and take over the place. The thick layers of bureaucracy in Ghana are there for a reason--ultimately, to protect the weaker and less affluent members of society and enable them to maintain some modicum of local control over land ownership (however imperfectly that is accomplished).

  12. Godspeed Esi! I'm curious about using wood as a primary building material though; I have always been under the impression that termites make it an impractical choice in Ghana. I recall their handiwork on our chicken coops growing up...

  13. @John, It's not perfect but it does protect the people on the ground to some extent. Unlike Cape Town where I live where real estate prices are ridiculous. It's very difficult to buy or think about building your own home in one of the preffered areas..

    Good luck Esi, hope you get everything sorted out and well done on building your own home.

  14. Oh yeah, I'll hopefully be bulding a house back home in the near future. I really like the thinking of the architect Joe Osae-Addo. I think that's his house in the pic. His inno-native approach could mean lower costs, sustainability, ecologically friendly building in Ghana. There was another woman architect who tried to start to commercialize building using adobe bricks. I know she passed away in the last couple of years but can't remember her name.

    Esi, good luck with the bureaucracy. I hope that helps you savor the end product even more!

  15. Esi, I came upon your blog by chance, but how interesting it's turned out to be! (actually too interesting I was meant to be working on an assignment way past its deadline, and you've set me back even more. Please update on your building progress. We've just started ours, long-distance, and it ain't a joke. Plus I'd like to know about using solar panels - any experience, folks? and other environmentally sustainable tips would be very welcome.

  16. There are always a lot of things to consider when you build a house, especially in that place. Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences. I really find them interesting.

    pest exterminator