Gadzama Bukunola, MD/CEO, BuildCon Global Services Limited, is set to lead in the Nigerian real estate terrain with her compelling mix of breathtaking structures says FUNKE OSAE-BROWN.
Her Ikota office is swathed in silence as I walked through the gates. A white building with its frontage casted in stone, the design of the building tells of the nature of the business that goes on behind its four walls.
Seated at the helm of affairs is Gadzama Bukunola whose vision birthed the emerging BuildCon Global Services Limited, a real estate solution service company.
BuildCon is a company she started from the demand for quality homes from the clients she serviced at a company she once worked at Ikoyi. “I used to work in a real estate firm and I left for personal reasons. Afterwards, I started a party pack business for children including selling Aso ebi and event management. However, my clients in my former place of work kept calling for real estate consultation about their needs and all that.”
Encouraged by her husband, she decided to venture into full time real estate consultation to service the needs of her loyal clients. “The main reason I left the real estate firm was because I needed time to attend to my children whom I only see at weekends at the time. I said if I do this on my own and satisfy my clients, I will still have my own time to be with the children. That was how BuildCon started.”
With a tough start in 2013, BuildCon has grown developing estates around Ajah and its environs. “It was tough at the beginning, but we are doing well right now. We started doing well a year into the business. I will say it has been miraculous so far because of what we have been able to achieve in a short time.”
Her company has developed three Pracht Gardens Estates two of which are located at Ikota (before VGC, Lagos) and the third is located three minutes from Lagos Business School, Ajah.
“We are developing Pracht Garden in Ikota, an estate of 39 units, directly behind it is an extension which is twice the size of the first one. We also have mini projects here and there where we are doing terrace and detached houses.”
With a target market of middle income earner, Gadzama is focused on bringing affordable luxury apartments to the working class.
“There is a lot of housing deficit in Nigeria. However, we have a lot of luxurious homes that are highly priced. What BuildCon is trying to do is to focus on the middle income earners, even though we will till give them the luxury they need. If are targeting people who are willing to spread the payment or who can afford the houses if allowed to spread the payment over a period of time say two or three years. These are people who would also not mind living in terrace houses or who would not mind living after the Ajah axis. However, we also have clients who prefer living before Ajah and can afford the higher rate. So, we service these kind of clients because they come to us, but our focus is middle income earners.”
In addition, she says she was set out to provide affordable real estate solutions to the middle class. “For instance, the building we are having in Ikota Villa, our4-bedroom fully detached houses are going from N45 million, and in that same environment, you have fully detached buildings going for N60 million to N65 million. We have been able to achieve that because we are building in numbers, and also because we try to make our buildings more functional. Clients have everything they want and we have been able to maximize all our spaces. So, you have a fully detached house that can park three cars.”
And so, she has put in place a convenient payment structure for her existing and prospective clients. “Clients are expected to pay the 20 percent initial deposit. After that, we try to work with their cash flow. Some people work in some organisations that at certain time of the year they have huge amount of money and sometimes they don’t. So, we work with their cash flow. As long as they finish paying before we are scheduled to deliver the estate.
“It works because you are not under pressure to pay for everything at once. We allow people to get involved in the construction. For instance, when we are done with the foundation and block work, you get involved in your finishing. We always encourage that because in my experience I found that a lot of people that are buying houses always have to change things in the house and end up spending more money.”
She has made it possible for her clients to be a part of the building process making it easier for them to make input on how they want the finishing to be. “We encourage you to come around, we show you our finishing, you can change whatever you think is not okay for you, and give instruction on how exactly you want it done. You cannot change the plan because we have approval from Alausa, but you can tell us how big or small you want the kitchen or store to be, access to the rooms, visitors’ convenience among other things that will not affect the structure that Alausa has already approved.
“But you can determine your finishing. You can tell us the kind of tiles you want us to use. You can decide you want marble everywhere, that will increase your price, you pay us the difference. If you decide you want something cheaper that can work within your budget, rather than what we want to use for your finishing, we can do that as well for you.”
No doubt, BuildCon offers bespoke service to suit the needs of each client’s when it comes to finishing. “In our bid to make our homes affordable for people, we always let our clients choose. So, we have the best kitchen space and a client may just tell us just put in the shelves, I am fine. We will do that. While some others will want a fully fitted kitchen.”
Happily married to Ayuba Gadzama, from Borno State, Gadzama dares to trod a path largely trodden by men. She can be termed successful in the real estate business and one would not be wrong. With her giant strides, she believes the best is yet to come for BuildCon as her honesty as a woman has placed her ahead of the pack.
“Well, these days, there is hardly any job you can say is particular for men or women. I have heard of the lady mechanic, so if a lady can go into mechanic, why can’t I go into construction? I don’t do the construction myself. But as a woman, this is where I think we have an edge over men in construction. As women, we have an eye for fine things, and we have an idea of what other women want in their homes. Though I am not biased, most of our buildings have big kitchens because I am a woman and I know what women want. Funny enough, most of my clients buy into the business when they discover that I am a woman. They believe I will not run away with their money at the end of the day. The trust is that she is a woman, she is married, she has a family. They buy based on this trust. They also believe I will know good things, I will have an eye for fine finishing and all that.”