The Process of Obtaining the Construction Permit and Estimate Durations

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January 23, 2018

The Process of Obtaining the Construction Permit and Estimate Durations



The building permit or CP (Construction Permit) is a document provided by a Local Authority to authorize the construction of a new building, or in a situation to amend or renovate an existing approved building.


The City Council of Nairobi (CCN) has embarked on an ambitious project of automating Construction Permits. This has several Key Benefits to the Industry


In order to open and run a successful construction business or Undertake a Building Project, it is important for one to understand the process that goes into obtaining business permits. Obtaining a Construction Permit is one of the Key Indicators of the Business Environment in a Country.

Those economies with an easier and less laborious process are deemed to be More Competitive. Singapore, Hong Kong(China), Singapore and New Zealand all have more favorable environments than Kenya. Though Kenya is a regional Best Pwerformer in the ease of obtaining Construction Permits, there is still room for improvement in two aspects:

1. Reduce on time taken from 159 days to Global Best Performer (27.5 Days- Korea Republic)

2. Reduce on number of Procedures from 16 to Global Best Performer ( 7 Days – Denmark)

3. Reduce the Cost as a percentage of Project from 5% to Global Best Performer (0.1% – 5 Economies)

Globally, Kenya stands at 124 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of dealing with construction permits.

Generally, the Process is as explained on Page 12 of Doing Business in Kenya Report.


The Procedures for Obtaining a Contruction Permit Are:

  • Obtain a Survey Plan from Survey of Kenya – 1 day
  • Optain a project report from an environmental expert and submit to National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) – 5 days
  • Obtain approval of the environmental impact study from NEMA
  • Submit and obtain approval of the Architectural Plans – Up to 45 days.  The structural engineer submits all the structural and architectural drawings
    to be approved using an online platform The required documents to be submitted are the following:
    i. The proposed development;
    ii. A survey plan from Survey of Kenya;
    iii. Ownership documents
    iv. Up-to-date rates payment receipts.
    v. Structural plans

The fees are as follows:
(i) Building plan approval fee: 1% of the estimated cost of construction
(ii) Construction sign board fee: KES 25,000
(iii) Application fee: KES 5,000
(iv) Inspection of building le: KES 5,000
(v) Occupation certi cate: KES 5,000

  • Submit and obtain approval of the structural plans. – 10 days
  • Obtain stamps on architectural and structural plans from the Nairobi City County – Development Control Section.- 1 day
  • Apply and received the Project Registration Certi cate from the National Construction Authority (NCA) – 7 days or Less

The following documents must be provided for the registration application
1. Authenticated architectural plans (original)
2. Authenticated structural plans (original)
3. Nema approval (Simple copy)
4. Bill of quantities (Simple copy)
5. contract/agreement (Simple copy) It should be duly signed by both the
contractor and the client
6. Contractor’s registration certi cate (Simple copy)
7. Quantity surveyor’s practicing certi cate (Simple copy)
8. Architect’s practicing certi cate (Simple copy)
9. Engineer’s practicing certi cate (Simple copy)

  • Notify the Nairobi City Council of commencement of work and request and receive set out inspection – 1 day

Areas for Improvement:

1. Reduce non-official costs to the process including Diligence of Officers dealing with the process, transparency and elimination of all forms of compromise on the process

2. Increase or consolidate processes that can take place simultaneously

3. The official costs for obtaining the Construction Permits should be kept at a minimum. Setting a goal to reduce this cost will force the Local Authorities to be more innovative and remove costly redundancies in the process.

4. Automation and embracing Click-through-Procedures which can be executed online

Further Reading:

1. Doing Business in a more Transparent World, World Bank, IFC : 2018 PDF ( )

2. Construction Permits, City Council of Nairobi (

David Nahinga
David Nahinga
Quantity Surveyor | Owner and Director: Ujenzibora Investment Limited | Tel: +254 720578632 |

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