Building an economical and durable house (part 2)


In the last article, we had focused on aspects related to reinforcement steel, concrete, material consumption, structural design and choice of plot to achieve economy an durability. In this episode, we shall consider some more ways that can help in attaining economy during construction without compromising on strength, durability and beauty of the house:
Choose wood laminates: Many brands of decorative laminates are today available in the market to touch the aesthetic sense of the customer who rather finds himself lost in the highly attractive, smooth and shiny world of laminates. Commonly known by the first brand names of Formica or Sunmica, wood laminates are today available in such beautiful wood finish that once applied on the surface of wooden items, it becomes hard to judge whether those items are polished or laminated. Use of laminates not only helps in avoiding the messy and time consuming wood polishing but brings significant savings as polishing of wooden items is much costlier than their lamination cost. So prefer to choose laminates for all the wood work in kitchen, cupboards, LCD panels, bathroom vanities and other wooden items inside the house.
The wooden surfaces finished with laminates keep looking new for years together. Even in case of doors, use of laminated wood panels can be considered instead of polished panels while the rails, tiles and frames of doors can be craftily got finished in wood look paint or polish.
Choose vitrified tiles: Choosing vitrified tiles instead of marble for floors helps not only in saving cost but time also as all the time consuming muddled and chaotic grinding and polishing work of marble gets avoided. Vitrified tiles are durable, impervious and available in marble look. The floor is ready for use as soon as the tiles are laid and grouted. Their perfect finish makes it difficult to differentiate whether marble or tiles have been used in the floors as now, significantly large sized tiles are available. As bigger sized tiles have higher cost, the cost comparison with marble flooring including its grinding and polishing cost should be done before deciding the size of vitrified tiles selected for the floors.

Choose simple POP design: The present trend in houses is to provide false ceiling in rooms or finish the ceilings with Plaster of Paris (POP). Normally, a mix of false ceiling and POP work is suggested by the Architect. While the Drawing Room and lobby are provided with attractive false ceiling, beautiful ceiling designs are prepared for other portions of the house.
Provision of false ceiling and POP work in rooms is a costly affair. Architect allows his imagination to run wild to finally come out with highly attractive and glittery designs. Abundant use of wood, decorative paints and concealed lights is prevalent. All this adds to the cost of the house. Prefer to choose less colorful designs in false ceiling and POP. Avoid use of wooden items to cut cost. Simple geometric designs keep looking attractive for years together. Save cost as much possible here as these are only decorative items. Choose optimum openings size: Bigger is the size of doors and windows in a building, higher is the cost of the building. Masonry work and plastering cost lesser; woodwork and its painting or polishing cost more. So always choose optimum sized doors and windows keeping in view the minimum width of doors essential for movement of occupants and the luggage. Similarly keep the windows and ventilators of optimum sizes to have good ventilation and natural light and avoid oversized windows. Mega sized windows are prevalent these days but not good from earthquake resistance point of view. These also tempt the burglars and intruders. Providing thick glazing and grills is a costly proposition. By not keeping the size of openings as too large, you can save on both the counts.
Choose optimum storey height: Increase in the storey height of a building increases its cost. With the increase in height of walls, quantity of masonry work also increases. Not only this, the increased height increases the load of walls on slabs and beams and on foundations, making them thicker, wider and heavier. Thus choose an optimum storey height. 10 feet height for a storey is good enough. Check the locally applicable building byelaws and stick to the storey heights prescribed in them. This will also help in avoiding dispute with your neighbor if a common wall is involved. Often, Ground level storey height is 10.6 feet while upper storeys have 10 feet height.
Chandeliers, if at all: Though chandeliers are in fashion these days but these may cost a fortune to you. Make a good market survey and you’ll find really beautiful and stylish chandeliers available at unbelievably low prices. Choose these, satisfy your urge for chandeliers and save!

(The writer is a former HOD and Engineer-in-Chief, Civil Engineering Department in a Punjab PSU)