The Must Have Approvals When Building in Kenya
Before beginning any construction project in Kenya, it is crucial for developers to familiarize themselves with the various requirements and regulations that must be met. This includes conducting thorough research and due diligence on potential challenges and obstacles that may arise throughout the entire building process, from the initial architectural design phase to the final commissioning of the completed structure.
Obtaining building approvals is a crucial aspect of developing a construction project in Kenya. To ensure that the approvals process runs smoothly, developers must fulfill a range of requirements, which include obtaining the necessary documentation, needed to file for approvals requests.
The three most crucial approvals are those from; the county government, National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and National Construction Authority (NCA).
Other approvals, which may vary depending on the location of the project, are also required in order to proceed with a construction project. These approvals and their requirements are discussed in detail in this article.
1. County government approvals
County government approvals may vary depending on the location of the project and the specific regulations set by the county government. Some examples of approvals that may be required from the county government include:
a) Building Plan Approval.
This is required to ensure that the proposed building adheres to the building codes and regulations set by the county government.
b) Land Use and Development Permit.
This is required to ensure that the proposed building is being constructed on land that is zoned for that particular use. Therefore when buying land you should know what it is zoned for.
c) Water and Sewer Connection Approval.
The county government will review the proposed water and sewer connections and ensure that they meet the necessary standards and regulations.
d) Road Access Approval.
Some county governments might require approval for access to the proposed building through the public road.
e) Fire Safety Approval.
This is required to ensure that the proposed building meets the fire safety regulations set by the county government.
To obtain building plan approval, developers are required to submit a set of documents and make the necessary payments as prescribed by the planning office. These documents include
Â· Architectural and structural drawings,
Â· Land ownership documents such as the title deed,
Â· A land rates clearance certificate,
Â· A land search document that is less than three months old,
Â· A survey map obtained from the Survey of Kenya.
Once the submission is complete, the architect will be notified. If the architectural drawings are approved without the need for any changes, the structural drawings will be submitted for review.
2. NEMA approvals
The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA
is the government agency responsible for the protection and management of the environment in Kenya. It is mandatory for any project that may have an impact on the environment to have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from NEMA.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process that involves evaluating the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project and identifying measures to mitigate those impacts. The EIA report includes the following:
a) Description of the proposed project
b) The potential environmental impacts of the project
c) Identification of potential mitigation measures
d) Conclusion and recommendations
Once the EIA report is prepared, it is then submitted to NEMA for review. NEMA will review the report and assess the potential environmental impacts of the project and will either approve or disapprove the project based on the environmental assessment.
In addition to EIA approval, NEMA may also be involved in other aspects of the project such as monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations. They may also issue other specific approvals such as waste management plans, air, and noise pollution control plan, and so on.
3. NCA approvals
The NCA is responsible for regulating and controlling the construction industry in Kenya. NCA approval may be required for construction projects, such as the registration of contractors and the issuance of construction licenses.
For example, if a construction project involves the use of a contractor, NCA would need to review the proposed contractor and ensure that they are registered with the NCA and that they have the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out the work. They would also need to ensure that the contractor has the necessary insurance and that they comply with the safety and labor laws.
When planning to construct a house or any commercial building, it is mandatory to obtain permission from the relevant authority by registering the project with them. This is a legal requirement for all construction projects.
Other approvals that are necessary depending on the location of your project include: –
4. KCAA approvals
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is responsible for regulating and controlling the aviation industry in Kenya. KCAA approval may be required for construction projects that may interfere with the navigation and communication systems of aircraft, such as the construction of tall buildings or towers near airports.
5. WRMA approvals
Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) is responsible for the management and protection of water resources in Kenya.
WRMA approvals may be required for projects that may have an impact on water resources, such as:
a) Construction of dams, irrigation schemes, and water treatment plants
b) Dredging or excavation in waterways
c) Development of wetlands or other sensitive aquatic habitats
d) Discharge of pollutants into waterways
Failure to obtain WRMA approval if your project is in such an area may result in fines, penalties, or even legal action against the developer.
6. KENHA Approvals
The Kenya National Highways Authority (KENHA) is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and management of national highways and roads in Kenya. KENHA approval may be required for construction projects that may impact national roads and highways, such as road realignments, access points, and other changes that may affect the road infrastructure.
7. Kenya Wildlife Service approvals
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is responsible for the conservation and management of wildlife and protected areas in Kenya. KWS approval may be required for construction projects that may impact wildlife habitats or protected areas, such as buildings within or near national parks or wildlife reserves.
8. Kenya Forest service approvals
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is responsible for the conservation and management of forests and tree cover in Kenya. KFS approval may be required for construction projects that may impact forested areas, such as logging or clearing trees for building sites.
It is important to note that this list of approvals is not exhaustive and may vary depending on the specific project and location.
Additional special building permits/ approvals may be required for certain construction projects such as
a) Those within or near Kenya’s gazette-protected areas.
b) Those that violate the area’s zoning and land-use laws.
c) Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects.
d) Those that involve the engagement of foreign contractors.
It’s essential for developers to be aware of all the necessary approvals and permits required for their specific project to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations in Kenya.
Building approvals in Kenya are a necessary process to ensure that construction projects are carried out in compliance with the laws and regulations set by the government.
These approvals are required to ensure that the proposed building adheres to the building codes and regulations and that it does not have a negative impact on the environment, water resources, airspace, and the public at large.
It’s essential that developers work closely with all the relevant government agencies to ensure that they comply with all the necessary approvals, in order to avoid any legal issues that may arise from non-compliance.
In addition to the standard approvals, other government agencies may also be involved in the building process, depending on the location and nature of the project. Therefore, it is crucial for developers to conduct thorough research and due diligence at the outset of the project to determine which other agencies need to be involved before beginning any major construction work.
We hope this article has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of the building approvals required in Kenya. We would love to hear from you about your experiences with obtaining building approvals in Kenya. If you have any suggestions or tips for other developers, please share them in the comments below. Additionally, if you have any questions or are unsure about any aspect of the building approvals process, please don’t hesitate to ask and we will be happy to assist you.