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.