Down to Brick Level: Benchmarking Housing Construction Costs in Africa

The costs involved in delivering an entry-level housing unit varies substantially from city to city, across the continent.  While construction costs (materials and labour) comprise anywhere from about 35% – 72% of the total housing cost, other categories, such as land, infrastructure, compliance, and other development costs also add up.  Interrogating these in detail, from the cost of labour, to the cost of a basic brick, or the impact of sales taxes, is an important exercise and can help both policy makers and developers, as well as financiers, all work towards improving housing affordability across the board. 

To begin to explore and benchmark the cost of housing construction across South Africa, CAHF developed a detailed breakdown of housing construction costs in sixteen African countries. Using a standard house design and Bill of Quantities, we asked a professional Quantity Surveyor in each country to provide a quotation for building the house in the main city and in a secondary city.  The full report, comparing findings from fifteen countries was released in May 2019, and an summary of the differences is also available in our Benchmarking Housing Construction Costs in Africa dashboard .

In this dashboard, we explore the detail, all the way down to brick level.  It will be interesting to consider how labour contributes to housing affordability in different countries, or where compliance costs feature.  The price of the basic brick is also an important indicator.

The data illustrated in this dashboard was collected by local quantity surveyors in each country, as part of a study undertaken by the Affordable Housing Institute and overseen by David Gardner, for the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa. Data was collected, analysed, interrogated and revised over the course of 2015 and 2016. A full report will be available soon. The project was funded with the support of FSD Africa, and UKaid.  We welcome engagement on actual figures and invite practitioners to send us their BoQ for housing they’ve developed so we can compare.