By Dennis Isong
Something happened in the last week of April 2023 when the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, and Lagos State Building Control Agency went to Ajao Estate to demolish houses.
Approximately 13 houses were affected, and I want to educate you on what you should do to avoid falling victim to a similar situation. It is a terrible experience to buy a house or land only for the government to come and destroy it.
Let me provide you with a brief background on these demolitions so that you can have a fair idea. I don’t like to make conclusions without critically examining the situation.
This particular land is owned by the airport. FAAN is the governing body responsible for the airport. Around 2015, they discovered that some people had encroached on the land.
They communicated with the community and asked them to evacuate the area. After everything was said and done, about 200 affected houses were dealt with by the government, and the residents were allowed to use the land.
However, among those houses, 13 were located in a critical area where the gas pipeline was supposed to pass through. They were given notice in 2016 not to build or do anything in that location.
Despite the warning, some individuals, including speculators, went ahead and sold those lands to unsuspecting buyers who were unaware of the situation. Consequently, these buyers constructed houses, which eventually led to the demolitions.
Now, let me tell you what you can do to avoid such incidents from happening to you.
Before buying a piece of land, make sure to hire a surveyor to visit the site and confirm that the land is free from any government acquisition.
This is the first and most important step to take before making any payment. Obtain the coordinates of the land and verify that it is not government-owned.
Anyone can build a house as long as they have the financial means. However, having money doesn’t mean you should proceed to build without following the correct procedures. It is crucial to adhere to the right procedures.
Therefore, it is advisable to follow the right procedures before constructing any structure, even if you have the funds.
You must confirm if the location is suitable for your intended purpose. As the saying goes, “A building begins with a surveyor and ends with a surveyor.” Check the master plan of Lagos to ensure that the place is legally approved for your desired use.
It’s possible for a place to be free from government acquisition but designated for a different purpose.
Keep in mind that what happened in Ajao Estate could happen again in 20 or 30 years, even after obtaining the coordinates and confirming the land’s suitability for building.
The next step is to obtain a planning permit. This permit will confirm that you have the authorisation to carry out any construction on that land. After obtaining the planning permit, you can proceed to get the building approval.
It is essential to involve professionals. You will need a lawyer, an architect, and a building contractor to ensure that you encounter no problems during the construction process, such as collapse or government interference.
Once all these measures are in place, make sure to adhere to the specifications outlined in your building approval. For example, if you are approved to build a 10-storey building, do not go ahead and construct a 30-storey building, as it could lead to a collapse, similar to what happened in Ikoyi.
If you observe what happened in Ikoyi, you will notice that the building collapsed on the left-hand side, not from the top. This indicates a structural defect resulting from not using the right proportions as approved.
I strongly recommend that you hire professionals and strictly follow the approved specifications.
Please, do not cut corners because sooner or later it will backfire.
Dennis Isong is a top realtor in Lagos. He helps Nigerians in diaspora to own property In Lagos Nigeria stress-free. For Questions WhatsApp/Call 2348164741041