Thursday, September 30, 2010

Again on cost of construction

If you go to a shop selling rice and ask for price of rice for a Kg,you will get an answer from the seller who might have been selling rice for many years.If you ask him what will be the price of rice after a month,possibly the rice seller will look at you with a smile or contempt in his face(depending upon his mood) and will ask you whether you are mad to ask such a foolish question.If you continue to press for an answer saying that you have been selling rice for many years,why cant you tell approximate cost after a month,the shop fellow will tell you to get lost.

People keep on sending mails to me and say that he is planning to construct house and what will be the square feet plinth area cost of construction.They add these words of praise to me some times:”You have been designing and building houses for so many years.So you must be able to tell”

Rice seller is not able to predict cost of rice after a month.Then how can any one predict cost of constructing a house which may  get completed  after a year or more? House construction involves not one material but hundreds of material and different types of labour.How can any one predict cost of a house to be constructed?

.Everyday price of materials and labour keep going up continuously.If any contractor quote a firm price,to keep his margin he will have to compromise somewhere and if that is not possible,he will be forced to leave contract mid way  as no body will be willing to build your house by spending money from his pocket.All estimates are sort of guesses.

Trouble with those who go for house construction in Kerala is that they have lot of wrong and foolish ideas and concepts about house construction.First and fore most is the thinking that if some one has money to build house every body related to house construction will come running for the cake.Those who come running will be crooks in the field.They know how to cheat  the client and run away with profit.
Another important wrong concept is that if you simply know square feet plinth area of a house cost can be known by multiplying square feet plinth area in to that "rate"
I have directly built more than 200 houses ,designed and acted as consultant for many more.All through this work,I have never come to know about that magical"rate"
There is no such thing as square feet plinth area rate which will be known before construction starts.Only way of finding it out if you are so much fond of finding that "rate"will be to add up all your expenses after completion of your house construction and divide by your square feet plinth area.Even then it will be the "rate " for your house construction and any body else building house will have a different" rate"
If you have decided to build your house,first important cost reduction exercise is to get a professional design,assistance and guidance through out construction.That will save you lots of money , better utility,lesser wastage and maximum facilities for money spent.
There is an Engineering Estimate method by which we calculate quantities of each item of construction and multiplying such quantities thus obtained with unit rates currently used ,you will get almost near cost of structure of building.

For finishing work there are umpteen options now and the options will change and innovations will come even during the progress  of construction. of your house.
Time of construction also depend upon many ifs.Funniest part is that nobody knows answers for all those ifs.If everything goes well smoothly you may be able to finish structural work within 6 to 8 months depending upon favorable answers to hundreds of ifs

For any good builder of house in Kerala ,there are more work than  they can handle and hence there is no need to quote low price and get work some how.If some one is willing to quote lower price and get work by talking nicely and sweetly to you,that is a clear indication that you are being led to danger taking advantage of your greed to pay less and get more for less money.

Earlier there were only Thiruvalla and Kottayam people who were happy to cheat others by not paying or paying less.They get sort of thrill in cheating others and they consider it as their capability,being able to avoid payments   legitimately due to some one.For such crooked minded people Indian rupee has different values, if it is their money and if it is some body else’s money.Their money is more valuable and other man’s money and his efforts have no value.Now this sort of thinking is spreading to even other parts of Kerala.In my native village we used to call this as policy of Thoompa(spade).A spade can only take things.It never gives away anything.

Once we start respecting value of other man’s efforts and pay others what is legitimately due to them you get  quality work,loyalty,sincerity and dedication from  the man at the receiving end.That will definitely help you a lot in life as well as in building construction.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pictures on my way

I am just giving pictures taken while travelling on work.This house in a place called Kozha(I never knew there can be a place called Kozha meaning corruption in Malayalam.I wonder what the people there will refer to actual bribery,Kozha).This old house has got beautiful Mukhappu.That is why I have taken the picture.Kozha came on my way from Ettumanoor to Muvattupuzha.


These pictures I have taken at Kuttanad on the way from Chengannur to Cochin.Real good picture of lotus flower in bud stage and pictures of duck kept for sale on the road.They charge Rs.200/- for a duck including dressing charges and to those who cannot differentiate between male and female duck,they will give only female which may not weigh much after all those eggs given.Green or black colour above the head will indicate male duck and the meat of “Pachathalayan Kuttanad Tharavu” is supposed to be real good and delicious.



A house which I used to notice on my way from Thiruvalla to Chengannur seems to have lot of good  architectural elements with it.Due to lack of time,I could not so far try to enter the house and see it.




That Mukhappu done in wood seems to be impressive.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Room sizes

I have come across several cases where the client ask for larger room sizes without realising what can be or should be the ideal room sizes

A Bed room with size,300 cm(10 feet) and 270 cm(9 feet) is more than sufficient to keep the largest normally used cot of size,180 cm(6 feet) x 155cm(5.5 feet).This room size will leave sufficient space on either side of the cot.There should not be any toilet door opening to this bed space as it will take passage space from this.So you have to have a space where toilet door can be opened.This space is normally indicated as dress space in plans even though the space may not be used for dressing.

If you want to keep a table on one side of cot,you will have to increase that side length by another 90 cm.So your bed space now goes up to 300cm x 360 cm.This size is normally considered as comfortable space for a bed room with dress and toilet nearby.Most of the apartments have bed room size as 300cm x 360cm..If you  want to increase the bed space ,maximum you need to go in case of a villa can be 420cm x 390 cm(14 feet x 13 feet).Bed space above this is simply a wastage.

When you look at formal living room where you entertain your guests you have to see how many persons will visit you at a time.In a normal house not more than  five people will not be using formal living room at a time.So there is no point in having very large living room.

Members of the family require a living space where they can sit and relax,watch TV,work on your lap top,listen to music away from place where guests sit and thus a space called as family living space is required.You can have Dining room on one side of this family living ,Pooja,access to stair also close to this space.There can be another family living space where you reach by climbing up stair in the case of two storey house.This space can also be combined with Home theatre even though some people prefer Home theatre space closed to avoid disturbance to other family members who does not want to watch TV or listen to music.Home theatre can ideally have a size of 450cm to 600 cm in length to 390 cm in width

When the room size or (loading span in structural engineering language) increases structural cost will increase due to more steel reinforcement required.So unless you really need it,do not increase size of rooms.Apart from structural cost,over all cost of house will also increase unnecessarily if you increase size of rooms without any reason or justification.

For keeping all necessary gadgets of Kitchen in workable distance is very important in Kitchen.If you have an unnecessarily large Kitchen,the person working in the kitchen will find it difficult as she will have to walk around kitchen a lot adding to her strain.I have observed that Kitchen with dimensions 270 cm x 240 cm(9 feet x 8 feet) is more than sufficient to keep all Kitchen facilities at a comfortable distance allowing lesser running around for the Kitchen user.You need to add to these dimensions only if you want to add an eating place inside Kitchen or an Island in the Kitchen just like in western houses.Check on possible dimensions required for adding a small dining space or island and then suitably increase dimensions of Kitchen in consultation with your Architect.

There has to be a utility space in the house where you can keep washing machine,ironing table,grinder etc.Keep it nearer to Kitchen and Family living space.Unless you live in Village areas,you do not require a firewood Kitchen or  so called work area.

Guest bed room is rarely used these days as with increased availability of travel facilities and faster life nobody would prefer to stay overnight in the house of a relative.So go for guest bed only if you can afford it .

In the beginning of construction when you prepare plan of the house,you may feel like adding one more room though not essential and increasing sizes of rooms unnecessarily.But all cost indications given by your contractor and Architect can go wrong and construction cost can only go up in Kerala Conditions.So plan a house with dimensions of rooms just sufficient for your needs and definitely not bigger than required.Your Architect can guide you  after understanding your needs in selecting ideal room sizes for your house.