Approvals required when building in Kenya

//Approvals required when building in Kenya

Approvals required when building in Kenya

The process of building in Kenya requires a developer to be aware of various requirements that need to be fulfilled before undertaking the building process. Any developer needs to carry out due diligence on the issues that are likely to be confronted in the process of construction, right from inception of architectural designs, to the commissioning of the completed building. One of the key areas of developing a building project in Kenya is the whole process of receiving building approvals for the said project.

Building Approvals required when building in Kenya

arcade building in Kenya

public buildings require building approvals

Two main areas of involvement in approvals while building in Kenya is in seeking approvals from the municipal councils and from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). Several requirements must be fulfilled in order for the processes of approvals by these two main approving authorities to be fulfilled. A developer needs to seek to acquire the necessary documentation in order to successfully file requests for approval for construction from either of these bodies. It is also vital to be aware what particular requirements may be in force for particular kinds of development while others may have separate requirements all together.

Approvals from municipal councils for building in Kenya

The municipal authorities require a developer to furnish them with several key documents for them to be ready to commence the approvals process.

First they require a developer to provide them with certificates of registration from the registered professionals who are going to be charged with supervising the construction of the building project. This includes the registration certificates for the architect and structural engineer, who ultimately are charged with enforcing quality control and ensuring structural stability of the building as it is being constructed.

These professionals also complete an indemnity declaration that indemnifies the municipal authorities of any claims in the case of faulty construction or mishap that can occur in the process of building in Kenya, thus taking upon themselves full responsibility for ensuring that buildings are constructed according to the building codes and relevant design standards.

Other documents that need to be furnished to the council for processing building approvals include

  • ownership documents for the property,
  • latest annual land rates receipts, in addition to
  • the completed application for approval for building permit.

Charges for this process varies accordingly, however the main areas that the councils charge for include plan inspection fees, occupational certificate fees, fees for site signage that accrues annually, infrastructure development, and other relevant fees that are unique to each county.

Approvals for building in Kenya from NEMA

Approvals for projects and building in Kenya need to be undertaken by the National Environmental Management Authority in accordance with the Environmental Management and Coordination Act. This statute was passed into law and led to the creation of NEMA, which is charged with the responsibility enforce environmental management. This also includes ensuring that developments in the course of building in Kenya are not harmful to the environment and ensure that developers mitigate on harmful untoward effects to the environment due to construction of their buildings.

NEMA requires an environmental impact assessment preliminary report to be undertaken on a project prior to its construction. Only consultants registered by NEMA are allowed to provide environmental impact assessment submissions, whether as an EIA project report or a full EIA study. The lead environmental expert must be registered with NEMA.

The environmental consultant requires to provide a complete set of architectural drawings to accompany the compiled EIA project report.

Very importantly, a payment of 0.1% of the estimated project cost or a minimum of ten thousand Kenyan Shillings must be made with the submission of the EIA reports.

On the basis of this submitted report, the authority undertakes to prepare a summary public consultation supplement, which is printed on public newspapers for input from the public, especially regarding Environmental Impact Assessment Studies. Project reports may not be required to be printed in the dailies.

After the stipulated period, the authority evaluates the project, and issues conditions for approval of the project. It may reject an application for approval with valid reasons, or call for the project to carry out a full detailed environmental study if it deems it fit, especially for sensitive projects.

Should the project be approved however, the Environmental Impact Assessment License is issued, after the project developer or proponent has accepted the conditions for approval in writing. Thereafter, it is the responsibility of the project developer in consultation with the environmentalist and other consultants to ensure that these conditions are fulfilled in the course of developing the project.


One may find that certain other specialized projects may require the input from other public bodies for their consideration and approval, especially where these developments fall under their jurisdiction. A good example is if a developer is constructing buildings in the vicinity of airports or documented flight paths, in which the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority will require to give approval. However for most projects, fulfilling these two main areas of approval forms the main issues regarding building approvals when building in Kenya.



By |2011-12-09T16:25:51+03:00August 9th, 2011|Architect Practice|16 Comments

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  1. amos investments January 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks very much for the informative guidelines. I have one question. Does it mean that EIA must be conducted for all construction projects or do we have thresholds e.g.. one storey, 2 storeys etc…

    • Sam Long January 31, 2013 at 9:06 am - Reply

      Yes it does mean that all construction projects currently need EIA’s to be done, just the type of EIA required differs for certain projects. For example small projects such as houses require you to simply file a simple EIA report and accept the conditions given by NEMA as a prerequisite for approval. Larger projects such as estates, office blocks, or even projects that touch on sensitive natural resources like conservancy areas, etc, these require for a full EIA study to be done, which is a more complex process. 

  2. Poha February 20, 2017 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Thanks for this, NCA as come into play what are their requirements for house owners?

    • Arch March 7, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hi Poha,
      NCA has a number of requirements for different people in the construction space. I’m not sure what requirements you need to know. Why don’t I direct you to their website for further reading?
      I hope you find the information you are looking for.

  3. G.maina July 25, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    Do I have to take my plan for approval while building a semi permanent house ( bricks house)

    • Arch July 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      It totally depends on your location and the county government guidelines there.

      Every county has its own regulations that are different.

  4. Gilbert January 3, 2018 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for the well elaborated details on house design and the necessities. I am now aware on the pros and cons. God bless.

  5. thomas January 16, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    how much will i pay to get he nema construction number

    • Arch January 18, 2018 at 9:39 am - Reply

      Hi Thomas,
      I think you can Google to get their number. Try and let us know if you got through to them.

  6. Shilla August 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    In racecourse what are the maximum floors an apartment block can go

    • Arch August 13, 2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Hi Shilla,
      This is a question best answered by the county government. They come up with zoning regulations that define the number of floors and other factors for high rise building in a particular area. The other way to get an idea is to look around and see what others have done in that general area.

      Pay a visit to your county government offices in charge of construction for all your answers.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

  7. SUSAN February 20, 2019 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Do you need to pay county government when constructing greenhouses?

    • Arch March 20, 2019 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Hi Susan,
      You need to inquire on this from the county government. I’m sure there are some requirements and regulations that would apply.


  8. Rob Smith May 3, 2019 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Is it correct that “non permanent” buildings do not require permits? For example a (mainly) wooden house built on stone columns?

    My rural neighbours surely didn’t get any approvals for their dwellings so I’m curious as to what the rules are.

    • Arch May 14, 2019 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Hi Rob,
      It totally depends on the location. If you are in a place where the country government controls then you will need a permit even for some non-permanent buildings. If you are deep in the rural areas then you may not be required to get approvals and permits.

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