Thursday, July 16, 2015

Budgeting to build a high-end 5 Marla Home (Samra Zulfiqar)

Once your children get married and busy with their lives, the once roomy and lively house becomes empty, echoing with memories of the days when the big house was a blessing for you. A place where your toddlers could run around, play hide-and-seek and have fun while you were sure of their safety. But once the nestlings have grown up and moved on, folks with big, lavish houses often find smaller homes to be cosier.
In addition to that, management and maintenance of smaller houses is way easier, which has given birth to the increasingly popular idea of building a smaller house for personal use and renting out the bigger one to generate additional income. With the upper and upper-middle class drawn to living in smaller houses, these smaller houses are no longer cheap. In fact, many of the recently built expensive designer houses in upscale areas are 5-marla ones.
While it depends entirely on one’s budget and aspirations regarding a smaller house, this article will give you a pretty detailed estimate of the money required to build a small yet beautiful and cosy 5-marla house. Since folks shifting from bigger houses to smaller units are unlikely to compromise on quality, I am going to discuss the construction cost of an A-category 5-marla house.

Covered Area
In established housing societies of Pakistan, a certain amount of area has to be left uncovered in the form of side and back alleys, as well as a front yard or lawn. These construction bylaws are followed stringently in many posh residential communities. Out of the 1,125 square feet (5 marlas), approximately 1,000 square feet of land can be used as covered area. Therefore, the following rates and material presuppose a covered area of 1,000 square feet. Let’s also assume that you already own the land and the plans of the house are already approved by the authority concerned.

Labour Costs
The labourers who work with contractors usually stay with a project from beginning to end. For them, working on a project comes with job security and they are unlikely to charge extra. Their direct dealings with the contractor suits both parties and this partnership is most likely to work for the sort of construction quality you aspire to see in the house.
Labour cost is highly dependent on the construction period. While it suits the labourers to prolong the work in hopes of continuing to make more money, the builder has a deadline to meet. This deadline commitment allows the builder or contractor to make sure that work is completed on time and according to the standards they promised.
When labourers are hired through contractors, their wages are decided per the agreement, which, in the case of an A-category 5-marla house, expires in 3 months.
Total Cost: PKR 500,000

Grey Structure
Approximately 50,000 bricks are required to build a 5-marla house. These bricks would be enough to build the grey structure from foundation to rooftop. The rate of bricks is dependent on their quality and prices range from PKR 6,000 to PKR 9,000 per 1,000 bricks.
For A and A+ category houses, high quality bricks are preferred by the owners. Additional bricks are required to erect the boundary walls of the house.
Total Cost: PKR 500,000

Oddly enough, gravel (bajri) is measured in square feet when it comes to construction, and around 600 square feet of gravel would be required for a 5-marla house. The per-square-foot price of gravel is PKR 75. There isn’t any specification of quality in gravel so its rate is roughly the same all over the country.
Another form of gravel (bajjar) is used to form the base of floors. Bajar is made from broken up bricks, which acts as a firm foundation for tiled and/or marbled flooring. The contractors sometimes use the leftover bricks and have them broken up into smaller pieces to make bajjar, which is also measured in square feet. About 1,000 square feet of bajar would be required for a double-storey, 5-marla, A-category house. The per-square-foot rate of bajjar is PKR 40.
Total Cost: PKR 45,000 (bajri) + PKR 40,000 (bajjar) = PKR 85,000

The price of cement is PKR 500 per sack. Around 600 sacks of cement are required to build an A-category house. The rate of cement is set by the government and no brand can sell their product at a higher rate. So, no matter which cement brand you choose, be sure to pay the cost prescribed by the government.
Total Cost: PKR 300,000

Like gravel, sand is also measured in square feet, but contractors and builders calculate it by number of trucks. For a 5-marla house, five trucks of sand would be required.
Total Cost: PKR 30,000

The rate of rebar (sarya) is PKR 85,000 per ton, and about 2 tons would be required for a 5-marla house.
Total Cost: PKR 170,000

Once the grey structure is complete, it is time to do the electrical wiring. In many cases, the electricians work independently and are hired by the contractor. Two types of wires are used in houses, 3/29 gauge and 7/29 gauge. The former is used for the wiring of low-consumption appliances and the latter for high-consumption appliances.
Around 20 coils of 3/29 gauge and 6 coils of 7/29 gauge are required for the complete wiring of a 5-marla house. The average rate per coil of 7/29 gauge wire is PKR 4,300, and that of 3/29 gauge wire is PKR 2,300. The service charges of the electrician and the total cost of the wire together constitute the wiring expense.
Total Cost: PKR 100,000 (including wire cost of PKR 71,800)

The floors of an A-category 5-marla house are mostly done in tiles. Please note that although marble is cheaper, cutting, grinding and polishing makes marble flooring an expensive deal at the end. Good quality China-made tiles are preferred in high-end smaller houses. These tiles are mixed and matched with the more expensive Italian tiles in the form of patterns that add curb appeal to the floors. The cost of flooring the entire house includes bathrooms (3 attached, 1 powder room) as well.
Total Cost: PKR 500,000

Flooring is followed by woodwork. Wood is used in various parts of the house in the form of wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, doors, false ceilings, bathroom cabinets and decorative racks in the living room and drawing room. The rates may vary from vendor to vendor, but it is generally advisable to buy wood and let your carpenter carve it into cabinets and doors, rather than to purchase prefabricated ones from the market since you can’t be sure of the material.
Total Cost: PKR 350,000

Windows and Glass
Aluminium and glass work in houses includes windows and window frames, wire mesh, metal frames, grills and glass panes.
Total Cost: PKR 150,000

Sanitary Fittings
Sanitary fittings include wash basins, commodes, taps, showers and kitchen sinks, etc. An A-category 5-marla house is supposed to have high quality fittings. Please note that smaller houses often do not have bathtubs or shower cabins, so these fixtures are not factored into the price.
Total Cost: PKR 300,000

Assorted Fittings
Assorted fittings include doorknobs and locks, cabinet handles and switchboards.
Total Cost: PKR 100,000

The paint job should be done ideally after installation of switchboards and light fixtures. Painting a newly built house is tougher since it requires careful application of the base coat. The grafi, which is done on the exterior of the house, has an additional cost as it is weather-resistant and keeps the exterior from falling apart.
Total Cost: PKR 300,000 + PKR 100,000 (grafi) = PKR 400,000

So there you have it, a rough but detailed budget (of PKR 3,485,000) for building a high-end 5-marla house. If you are planning to build a house rather than buying one, you can be sure of saving around PKR 2 million. So, dear readers, don’t let the small hassle of monitoring the construction of your house make you pay extra, and enjoy the anticipation of shifting to a new home where you can make new memories!


  1. Anonymous12:49 am

    Excellent piece of advice, informative and well written

  2. Anonymous8:27 pm

    does the covered area of 1000 sqft include a second story and if yes whats the total build area in sqft including both floors?

  3. Anonymous3:46 am

    Since he has planned for 3 bedrooms it is obvious its a double story house.