It takes more than the years spent on campus for you to become a competent and recognized professional in the built environment. What you may not know is that earning that degree in engineering, architecture, quantity surveying or real estate is only the beginning of the actual professional journey. In Kenya, like in most leading economies, there are institutions established by various laws that serve to regulate the practice of professionals in construction. As a developer, this feature will be helpful to you as you plan to assemble your professional team of construction consultants to handle your real estate investment. If you are a student seeking to pursue any of the courses offered in the built environment departments, this article will inform you on what the journey ahead of you looks like. In fact, you will realize that competence in real estate consultancy is also tested through exams and continuing professional development (CPD) sessions.
Today we shall cover the professional registration bodies of various professionals and entities that operate in Kenya’s construction industry.
ARCHITECTS AND QUANTITY SURVEYORS – BORAQS
Architects are usually the lead consultants in most developments in Kenya – they spearhead the design process of most projects in Kenya. Some developers also prefer to engage an architect at the level of a project manager. However, other consultants are gradually specializing in project management. As we had discussed in our last feature on professionals, most architectural studies are two-tier. Graduates, for example at the University of Nairobi, will graduate twice – after 4 years and then two years thereafter after completing the full six-year program.
Enter BORAQS – Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors. This is the body mandated by Chapter 525 (CAP 525) ‘The Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act’ of the Laws of Kenya to regulate the professional practice of architecture and quantity surveying in Kenya through setting standards and approving courses or training programs for its members.
CAP 525 creates the board and sets out the rules regarding its composition or membership. The act also sets out all the required qualifications for one to qualify to be registered as an architect or a quantity surveyor in Kenya. Furthermore, BORAQS sets and oversees the qualifying examination that you have to sit and pass before you are registered. BORAQS maintains a register of architects and quantity surveyors who have undergone the prescribed training requirements and passed. A registered architect or QS is basically anyone whose name is in the register maintained by BORAQS’s appointed registrar. You can be suspended or reinstated especially where disciplinary actions are taken.
In order to qualify to be registered as an architect, you would need to undergo a training of not less than 5 years. Usually, this is 6 years in the University of Nairobi. This must be followed by at least one year of practical experience. For you to be a QS, on the other hand, CAP 525 stipulates that you must have at least one year professional experience. Above all these and other requirements, you must pay a registration fee prescribed by the board.
Finally, there is a registration certificate and number issued to every architect and quantity surveyor who has been registered by BORAQS. The board also registers consultancy firms in the two fields.
ENGINEERS – EBK
Civil engineers. Structural engineers. Mechanical and electrical engineers. These are the engineers you will most likely interact with in your typical housing development. Civil engineers are usually involved in the heavy infrastructure projects although their services are critical in the external works of fairly large or complex developments. Structural engineers are the engineers tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that buildings are structurally sound. Mechanical and electrical engineers are involved with plumbing, drainage and electrical works within a building.
Like architects and quantity surveyors, the practice of engineering is governed by the Laws of Kenya. Previously, the now-defunct Engineers Registration Board was established under Chapter 30 (CAP 30) of the Laws of Kenya of 1969.
The current board, the Engineers Board of Kenya, replaced ERB through the Engineers Act of 2011 which was assented on January 27, 2012. Like BORAQS, the EBK has been empowered by the act to register engineers and engineering firms, regulating the practice of engineering in Kenya and setting standards among the professionals in Kenya’s construction sector.
EBK has been making headlines with respect to approving and accrediting engineering courses in both public and private institutions of higher learning in Kenya. This role also extends to the foreign universities programs. Here is a list from their website of accredited courses.
The board also plays a great role in the determination of fees that registered professional engineers and consultancy firms charge for the engineering services to their clients. This scale of fees is in the public domain and it can be accessed by all. The categories of engineers registered by the board include:
- Consulting and Professional engineers
- Graduate engineers
- Engineering consulting firms
Each of these categories has its own qualifications and modes of application in order for you to be registered.
REAL ESTATE CONSULTANTS – PROPERTY VALUERS
Valuation is a profession within the Kenya’s real estate sector. In business, there is a constant need to establish the actual or true value of an asset. Insurance companies may need to know the worth or value of your building and everything inside it. Before you secure a loan, your bank will often provide you a list of valuers they work with. Before you take a mortgage from your bank the services of a registered valuer will be important. In short, all types of property – commercial, retail or residential – require valuation services to be carried out for many reasons.
The profession is regulated by the Valuers Act, CAP 532 of the Laws of Kenya. The Valuers Registration Board has been constituted as per the act and it is responsible for the regulation of the practice of the profession in Kenya. Typical of the other professional registration bodies we have covered so far, there are prescribed conditions for one to meet in order for them to qualify for registration. An interesting requirement touches on membership of professional association [we shall cover this in the next feature on professionals]. In order to be registered by the Valuers Registration Board, you must be a full member of Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) or a corporate member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Alternatively, you can be in possession of a diploma or degree from an accredited institution. There are other application requirements expected by the board from applicants.
Like BORAQS (for architects and quantity surveyors) and EBK (for the engineers), the VRB has a registrar appointed to maintain a register of qualified members. The board has the powers to suspend or register or reinstate members as per the requirements of the act.
REAL ESTATE CONSULTANTS –ESTATE AGENTS
Most of us have dealt with ‘house agents’ who have set up ‘offices’ in various corners of our neighbourhoods. Some will charge you a viewing fee. Others will even charge you a percentage of your rent as a fee for their services. We are not talking about these agents.
Estate agency is a profession whose practice is regulated by the Laws of Kenya, specifically, CAP 533 – the Estate Agents Act. Real estate agents in Kenya are registered by the Estate Agents Registration Board (EARB).
What do real estate agents do? Imagine you have a commercial property: a residential property to rent out, or an office space or a retail mall space. An estate agent professional (individual or firm) will help you come up with a leasing plan suitable for your business. Getting a tenant is not enough. Retaining a tenant requires skill and strategy in order to enable your real estate business grow or relocate. Estate agents in Kenya are also involved in the business of property or site acquisition, property development and consultancy.
It is, therefore, important to note that a crooked agent might cost you and your business a fortune.
Here in Kenya, whenever a building collapses, the topic that will get tongues wagging is that of ‘rogue contractors’. When the National Construction Authority (NCA) act was assented, the phrases ‘the days of briefcase contractors are numbered’ or ‘we will rein in all the rogue contractors’ filled the real estate columns in our newspapers.
Anyway, contractors and sub-contractors are involved in the actual process of assembling different materials and erecting structures. Previously, contractors were registered by the now defunct Ministry of Roads and Public Works. Currently, all contractors are supposed to be registered by the National Construction Authority which came up upon the passing of the National Construction Authority Act No. 41 of 2011.
In 2012, there was a bill that was proposed to review the CAP 525 The Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act in order to recognize other professional services providers. The other experts that were to be included were: construction project managers, environmental designers, landscape architects and interior designers.
There are also ongoing discussions on The Quantity Surveyor’s Bill, 2012, which seeks to establish a separate registration board for the quantity surveyors. If the proposed bill sails through, a Quantity Surveyors Registration Board would be formed.
How would this affect the cost of property development?
We talk more on the contractor registration process in Kenya here.