Tricks TBEN use to build cheaper, unconventional houses


Building a house can be one of the most expensive ventures in Kenya due to the high prices of building materials and labor costs.

However, many homeowners are turning to new technology, which allows them to build homes with unconventional designs and materials.

From building sheet metal mansions to living in refurbished buses, here are some of the homes TBEN are building today to save time and money.

Images of a house made of iron sheets in Naivasha as posted on Jan 11, 2023.

Twitter/Let’s Discover Travel

Mabati mansions

Homeowners are converting simple iron sheet houses into luxury mansions with lower production costs compared to brick and stone houses.

The cost of iron sheet building varies depending on the size of the house, with a standard three bedroom house costing Ksh550,000.

The final finish can cost between Ksh 120,000 and Ksh 300,000 depending on the design desired and the manpower used.

The common designs have normal ceiling slabs serving as ceilings, mahogany or pine wood serving as doors, and plain concrete, tile, or wood used for the floors.

For the kitchen, toilet and bathrooms, using tiles on the walls and marble countertops or installing a glass shower cubicle can give an elevated look.

The bathrooms have glass shower cubicles, while the kitchen, toilet and bath have tiled walls and marble countertops. The dimensions and materials of the windows and doors vary.

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The refined finish of the houses gives them the appearance of an ordinary stone house from the inside.

Container houses

As a more affordable option, shipping container homes are becoming increasingly popular among TBEN.

Shipping container homes are easy to customize by combining multiple containers to achieve the desired designs.

One can also combine multiple containers to create a larger home with a living room, dining room, additional bedrooms, a second floor or even a container guest house.

They can be built quickly. We believe a shipping container home can be built in less than a month Master class.

“However, it can be more expensive to pay a specialist to build your dream container home,” Masterclass noted.

When designing the house, one can choose to make the walls of the house heat resistant to minimize the thermal heat from the sheets.

Used containers can be bought for as little as Ksh 500,000, while some are sold for Ksh 800,000.

Sammy Nyiri, is one such homeowner, who benefited from shipping containers, a building of Ksh3 million house from shipping containers that he acquired at auction.

“Building the container was accidental because I went to an auction,” Nyiri said.

Photo collage of shipping containers converted into modern mansions

Photo collage of shipping containers converted into modern mansions.

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The constructor and CSCS builders

Bus houses

Refurbished buses are increasingly being used as homes and restaurants in Kenya, with many choosing to use them for holidays or to lease when they travel.

An example of such a house is the cognac bus house in Nairobi, Kenya. A double-decker bus converted into a two-story tiny house that can accommodate up to six people per night.

Known as the bus, is another bus house in Naivasha. The bus is made from an old matatu and can accommodate two queen size beds and a couch.

TBEN journalist Ian Wafula explored the concept of building his house on top of a truck.

“I initially wanted to build a container house, but later decided to buy a truck and build around it,” explains Wafula.

It is also equipped with a kitchen with basic necessities, a bathroom and running water.

Another bus house in the bus stop cafe and bar, located along the Gilgil-Nyahururu road. The restaurant features wooden floors, chairs and tables and customers can enjoy the view of nature.

Houses 2

(Left) An image of the interior of the bus stop cafe, (Right) An image of the interior of the cognac bus cabin.

Twitter/Jordan Kyongo, Airbnb

Wooden houses

Most TBEN steer clear of wooden houses due to their short lifespan, termite infestation and inability to keep out the cold.

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However, in today’s digital age, wooden houses are becoming more common as new techniques make them warmer and last longer.

Speak against on Wednesday, January 11, Arnania Ogutu, a real estate expert, explained that there are so many misconceptions about wooden houses, especially regarding cost.

According to Ogutu, the houses that are thought to be too cheap and uncomfortable to live in can be designed into beautiful spaces with a few extra coins.

However, the real estate expert noted that the cost of wooden houses was high as the price of wood had risen in many parts of the country.

This clarification was in response to a debate sparked after Mboya Kevin, a digital media consultant, shared an image of his wooden on Twitter on Tuesday, January 10, which he stated had cost him Ksh800,000.

TBEN are also turning to building A-frame houses to cut costs.

“In most cases, an A-frame house has no interior walls separating the house, as the houses are mostly open space.”

“Building interior walls can be costly and you can imagine how much money you save by cutting out the budget of burning bricks and cement for the interior walls,” said Arnania Ogutu, a Nairobi-based architect, speaking to

A phototimbre house built for Ksh800,000.

A photo wooden house built for Ksh800,000.


Mboya Kevin