PART 2: Other costs of home building you should not ignore

Pit toilet. The slab is soil cement and a bit of grass.

After the other two blog posts, I got overwhelming responses from those who had done it and others who are about to decide.  I thought I should  talk about the other costs involved in building a home in Papua New Guinea.

The biggest costs, obviously, are the  materials. When you begin, the material list is simple. You will be buying (if you are building with timber and stilts)

  • cement bags,
  • posts, bolts
  • bearers
  • AND… very important gravel and water.

I’ve added water because, if you are not near a water source, you need to truck in your own water. We used at least two 44 gallon size plastic drums for the initial mixing then we had to refill.  It cost us K10 to refill the two drums and K100 to pay for transport to the building site. Also bear in mind that cement is caustic and gets very uncomfortable on the skin, so you need to wash it off after working. This  brings me to the next cost.


Transport is one cost that many people don’t pay attention to.   My suggestion is to build relationships with drivers and vehicle owners who are able to transport your supplies.  Pay them well.  K20 and K50 won’t do. They pay for fuel and maintenance plus food for their families so take all that into consideration.  Always pay above the normal price. You don’t want to create unnecessary disagreements. We made it a point to also buy them lunch or drinks.  Simply because these guys work hard and their income is irregular.


Drinking water and food are a daily cost.  During the initial building process where a lot of hard physical work is done, you will note that the amount of water  and food consumed is phenomenal.  You WILL NOT get by with a bottle of water a day and you need a large Esky. It will cost you K500 but you will not regret it.

This was our daily consumption rate:

  • 4 crates of pure water
  • 2 plastic bags of ice
  • ½ carton of snacks biscuit
  • 3 packets of rice
  • 4 cans of dolly tuna
  • at least two large cabbages
  • cooking oil

I cannot stress the importance of ice in the nambis heat.  Buy blocks of ice. NOT ice cubes. The reason is that ice cubes melt quicker and you don’t get the freeze you want.   Ice water keeps your core body temperature down during and after you put in the hard yards. You find that you can work longer if your core temperature is cooled.

That’s the science of it.

This is what you want. 


One 10 cubic meter load is more than enough for a small house.  I’m talking about the small (or big…) construction tipper trucks.  We needed two loads. The foundations are done but we still have the left over from last year.

This size. 


Sanitation on site is… like… I shouldn’t even be saying this…IMPORTANT! SUPER IMPORTANT!  First thing. DIG A PIT TOILET!  We dug out toilet hole at least 4 meters. Then we built a  soil, grass, cement slab and placed it on a foundation of hardwood timbers. I’ll post the instruction later.  Don’t use soft wood. You don’t want to end up in your own… ****.  Unless you prefer to squat,  go  buy a plastic Tuffa toilet seat from KK Kingston.

And get a good supply of soap every month.

Reason why all of the above is  important is that you don’t want to be dealing with sick brothers, uncles, friends who get typhoid or dysentery. Your costs go up.

I’ll post part 3 later when I get my act together. 😀

2 comments on “PART 2: Other costs of home building you should not ignore

  1. Very practical advice! thanks!!!


  2. Before buying materials, ask your builder to provide a materials list. Once you have the list, get quotations from several hardware shops, compare their prices and go for the cheapest but quality materials.

    In terms of transport, always ask the hardware shop that you’re buying your building materials from if they’re providing delivery. They are likely to charge less than K50 delivery fee. Its cheaper that way instead of hiring a truck which will cost you more than K100.


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