Friday, December 31, 2010

Question mark still looms

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A year has passed since I posted “Happy new Year?” here on the same blog.

Well, I still can’t comprehend the idea about the prominence of the stroke of midnight moment that people celebrate so passionately. As pointed out in comments to my above mentioned   post, some knowledgeable readers said it is the celebration of new beginning and farewell to an eventful year .It was said that the greetings we exchange are ways of expression that remind and reassures our friends that they are thought of and we are with them in the journey of life.

Not that I have anything against the celebrations or against those who decide to rejoice and party in grand style with all fervor. The issue is, as the curtains are drawn on a year is it just   another reason for bash?   Instead shouldn’t the year end be the moment of retrospection and introspection for what we have got or lost and what we have learned through the journey of a year.  These moments of introspection truly give meaning and purpose to the life and help us do the suitable adjustments to rudders of our flight to stay on course so that we become the person, we think, we were meant to be.

Another year goes into annals of stupor but the life goes on and the tryst to accomplish unfilled dreams continues.Wishing you everything that brings fulfillment in your life, I leave you with this beautiful verse of kahlil Gibran

"Yet the timeless in you, is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today's memory
and tomorrow is today's dream.
But if in your thought you must, measure time into seasons,
let each season encircle all the other seasons,
and let today embrace the past with remembrance
and the future with longing."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tips on house construction I : Stone work

Your house is manifestation of your thoughts and your life style. It should be built to suit your needs, requirements and budget and that sometimes may not be in harmony with the way people say it should be built. The first step is to make a chart of the requirements that you have in mind, in terms of number of rooms and the minimum size that you find acceptable for different rooms.
After this, decide whether you would like to have a basement or semi basement in the house. The cost of land, type of soil, vicinity condition and Governmental laws shall be the deciding factor for this decision. For example In Jodhpur the corporation does not allow construction of the basement due to the problem of rising ground water level. So it is always better to check if the authority will approve your house plan for given depth and height parameters. Having a semi basement is advisable if the cost of land is high and if one is planning to have an office at home which can save on commutation time. A part of basement can also serve as cargo space if your business necessitates one. If you decide to go for basement pay attention to water proofing and lay- out of sewerage line. In my opinion it is advisable to have the whole semi-basement as a singular entity where walls and partitions can be created later, as per one's requirement. Another advantage of having a semi basement is the plinth level becomes high and thus the elevation of the house looks much better.
Next decision that you have to make is about the type of structure. Two common structures in RCC are wall load bearing structures and frame structure. The basic difference between the two is in the first type, walls bear the load and pass it on to the soil directly where as in frame structure slabs and beam transfer the weights to columns which in turn bear the load instead of walls. Frame structure is suited for multi storied buildings and if you envisage changing space requirement. Besides, wall thickness will be lesser in case of frame structure. Cost wise frame structure cots roughly 25 % more than the wall structure.
Next step is to get a map prepared from an architect and its approval from the local authority of your town. Make sure that the map is in accordance with the criteria laid out for minimum drop out area that is to be essentially left in front and rear side. Many people will make you believe that getting approval is a very difficult and time consuming task. Almost everyone I know, suggested me to go through some agent and pay him hefty fees for that. Believe me; I got my map approved within 24 hours without paying a single extra penny. If one is determined not to bribe and be party to corruption way is not difficult. Just pay and obtain receipt for whatever are the laid out charges by local governing body and along with the receipt submit your plan to corporation or development authority of your town. You generally get the approval within two days .They will be giving you a copy of approved map and a letter. A Xerox copy of it should be given to your contractor/ supervisor so that it can be shown to the municipal authorities coming for snap check. In case you face any problem go to the officer in charge instead of wasting your times with clerks who will give you all wishy- washy answers.
Along with the map also have a working plan made that has the dimension of doors, walls and columns. This gives you a clear cut idea as to what will is the exact wall to wall space that you are going to get. The masonry is done in accordance with this work plan. In case you decide to get a lay out plan for electrical wirings and sanitary be specific about your requirements. For example you should have provision to switch off water pump from inside the house. The socket of coolers should be outside but the on/ off switch should be in the room. The provisions for split air conditioning should be done before hand so that there is no drilling and plumbing required after finishing.
Next comes the choice of contractor, It is very important to get all the quotes in writing with specification of mix for various works. For RCC work insist on M-20 grade that has a ratio of 1:1.5 :3 for cement, sand and coarse aggregate . A simple material calculator is available on this link , all you have to do is type in the dimensions of your construction and that gives you requirement of cement bags. Make sure these many bags go into the RCC mix. In most of the constructions mixing is done manually and there they take smaller heaps for cement and larger heaps of aggregates. Though it does not amount to huge savings for the contractors but most of them are deceitful by nature and not by need, as is said 'old habits die hard'. Companies like 'Gujrat- Ambuja' cement do the RCC testing free of cost. All that you need to do is tell them the place time and date of RCC. Their representatives will come in the van and take the sample and will notify you about the strengths of sample after 7 and 28 days.
It is essential to understand and negotiate about various other expenses. See that the contractor in his quote covers as to who will bear the cost of filling to raise the land , the cost of underground tank ,water browsers and whether the contractor will give you hardened or loose floor after stone work. These areas generally lead to dispute.It is better to make it clear to the contractor that there should not be any hidden cost involved and you are not liable to bear any cost besides what is quoted as per square feet cost for stone masonry.
The next decision that you have to make is about the elevation. I personally went for stone elevation because in this area of India stone is available for reasonable price and we have very good craftsmen who do a wonderful grinding and cutting job. The best thing about stone elevation is does not require and maintenance like paint or weather coat. Stone elevation though are far more costly then cement elevation . Vitrified tiles have good exterior range available and one can go for that also. Exteriors are matter of individual choice and the cost can vary drastically depending on designs you choose.It will be a good idea to  get quote for all the grinding and finishing in advance or you will be surprised to see the bill later , I can promise you that it won't be a pleasant surprise.
Though all the work and supervision is done by others, as most of us do not have the time to be present there all the time . I think it is better to know what is going on so that no one can cheat you easily.

"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do".

  Contd …….in part II : Finishing

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back to blogging

It has been a long gap of ten months since I last posted on this blog. Indiblogger ranking of my blog has nosedived from 82 to  46  and I have not been able to keep constant touch with some of my blogging friends.

The reason that kept me away from writing was my preoccupation with construction of new house . The idea of custom built house by builder did not appeal to me for two main reasons . First ,I wanted to built it the way that suited my requirements . I wanted a floor of the house for my classes , desired  plenty of natural  light and air and wanted optimum utilization of space . Second, I am a firm believer of value, so, did not want an exponential  relationship between quality and price.  I did not compromise on quality of material used , yet  managed to keep the price under check.

It was quite a satisfying  experience , with a series of lessons learnt that I  would like to share with  you in forthcoming posts under the heading "Tips on house making". I intend to do it in three parts namely 'stone work' , 'finishing' and lastly 'furnishing'. Hopefully the information will be useful to the people planning to get their house constructed in near future.
In the mean while I would like to share some pictures of my house .


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