Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trip to Punnayurkulam,land of Madhavikutty

I went to Punnayurkulam to see proposed site of a Khathar based NRI for design and construction of his future house.It is near to a place at Punnayurkulam called Aalthara which really has an aal tree  by the side of the road with a boundary around it constructed so that people can sit and chat under the shade of the tree.

After the site visit I started enquiring about the old tharavad of famous Malayalam and English writer Madhavikutty who is also called as Kamala Das,Amy and Kamala Surayya.Unlike in other places where people were fond of directing and welcoming some one coming from outside to have a look at old place of a person who made their place famous,people here were sceptical about showing me the place.They looked at me as if I am mad to go in search of Nalappat house .Some body on the way told me that there is nothing there except a snake pooja place(Pambu kavu)

On the way I saw a good looking house with good slope roof with tile  and Mukhappu.Here is the picture.


When I reached the place where Nalappat house of Madhavikutty once remained with all majesty of traditional Kerala architecture there was only an old well of the house about 140 years old with plastic glasses thrown by alcohol drinkers inside.Some body is constructing a new house just behind the place where Nalappat house once remained.All that remained as property of Madhavikutty recently handed over to Kerala sahithya academy for construction of memorial for her is only what you can see in picture below.Just 17 cents of land.A nearby large pond possibly the one used by Nalappat family is there .This was sold to sahithya academy for memorial by a nearby land owner.



Then I saw a house nearby with a good charupady.I took this photo of the house


Then owner of the house came out in search of the person who took photo of his house.He was the only person whom I met at Punnayurkulam talking  with reverence about “Amy Oppol”He is the one who sold that pond to sahithya academy for adding space to the memorial building.He said that heirs of Nalappat family purposely sold the old house for dismantling as they could not stomach the idea of some lower level people buying the house and staying there.They decided to end the story of that old Nalappat house with traditional Kerala architecture works rather than keeping it as memorial of one of the greatest writers of Kerala.

He said he was willing to buy the house and keep it as a memorial of Amy Oppol.Picture below show closer look at his charupady and front door of his house




On the way back I got down at a place called Aanathavalam where they keep elephants used for temple festivals.Lot of people and foreign tourists come there simply to see elephants




Desire for lower price for construction

Desire for obtaining lower price for construction from the builder is very common among people who attempt to build house. It is due to a common belief that the villain causing higher cost is the builder. It implies that the person who comes forward to arrange material and labour for construction of your house pockets a good portion of your money. So the person trying to build house keep on enquiring “square feet cost of construction” from all those who approach him for the work without realising the fact that there is no universal square feet cost of construction for building a house.

Cost of construction will vary from place to place and also depending upon soil nature and even level of land. Cost will vary depending upon design of the house. In clearer terms we can say that cost simply do not depend upon square feet plinth area of the house to be built. It depends more on material and labour cost inputs for the house which in turn depend upon design of the house. Thus by suitably varying design of the house (and definitely not simply square feet plinth area of house) cost can go up or down. This is where role of the Architect become important or crucial in deciding cost of construction. So it is not the person who takes up construction contract (builder) who has the key to construction cost. The key to lower or higher cost of construction is with the Architect. He uses this key right from designing the house.

Builder is not going to reduce your construction cost by deciding to forget or part with part of his profit. He is in the business of building houses simply for profit. If he cannot get profit by doing construction work in the most appropriate manner with good quality he will naturally  compromise on quality of construction to obtain his profit probably while trying to pretend in front of the owner about his “quality of work”. Hence for you to get a good quality construction with a bit of sincerity from the builder,you should be gracious enough to allow him to have profit for constructing your house properly.

I remember several occasions when owner of the house for whom I was building house,found it difficult to hide his happiness when input raw material costs for construction was going up thereby cutting my profit and pushing me into loss having committed for a fixed price  or rates for construction.As I was unwilling to compromise on quality of construction,I had no other option other than facing loss in my business.But some one like me as a builder will not be there and even my actions in keeping up my commitments even at a loss can only be treated as a foolish decision as a business man.A business enterprise incurring losses can only look forward to closure and nothing else.So later I changed my billing practices linking the rates of construction to input costs.Whenever input costs go up I increase rates and when it goes down I decrease rates.Even in this scenario,I give firm rates just before each stage of construction to be kept firm till completion of that stage of construction.

Recently I have come across a lady settled in Mumbai.She approached me for designing a house for her parents at her native village in Kerala.I visited the site and found that they have large area of land in a village atmosphere.So I designed a house suited to the land and village.Like many of my other clients she has decided in advance that the house should have a prefixed square feet plinth area and the Architect has to somehow adjust his design to suit that prefixed plinth area.This insistence on prefixed square feet plinth area for the house is simply due to wrong belief of cost directly related to square feet plinth area.With the same square feet plinth area,you can build houses with different cost and your Architect can guide you on cost control by suitably managing input costs while designing the house and monitoring each stage of construction.She was adamant on reducing plinth area of the house by 200 sft without knowing that 200 sft difference is not going to change construction cost much as I can advise her many ways of controlling cost during progress of work.

When you go to a doctor for treating your disease you are willing to listen and follow his advices.Similarly in house construction,when you hire a professional you should  follow instructions of the Architect.But many people think and talk as if Architect is some one who should follow his instructions and demands.”After all,I am spending my money.Architect should do as I said”If this is your attitude my advice will be that you should not simply waste your money on Architect.A professional should be given freedom of functioning.If you have budget limitations tell him openly about your limitations and he will suitably design the house for you within your budget constraints.If your requirements cannot be met within the finance available,he in turn will tell you about it.You can either postpone the project or better still,you can avail of long term housing loan which will give you house at today's price and payment after 10 or 15 years.By that time your property price would have appreciated many multiples.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why you need professional guidance for house construction

Even though almost everyone has a dream of building his own house preferably in his  own native place,mainly to show his local people about his newly acquired economic status,not many really make a study of how to go about for  constructing a house

When he makes initial enquiries in his native place usual reply he gets from any one and every one nearer to him is to approach a local builder usually called in Malayalam as mesthri.

“That mesthri has constructed many houses.He will do it well.Just be careful about money you pay him”

This is the usual reply.So just by approaching that mesthri who will supply men and tools and scaffoldings for construction,you can start construction.Then what about the plan?Answer is again simple-“You know what all rooms you want.Tell that draftsman about it.He will draw a plan and get papers ready for approval from Panchayath”

It is that simple.Where does Architects and Engineers come in this picture?Again usual reply is like this-“They are for bigger buildings  and not for ordinary houses”

This is how houses improperly designed and constructed come up every where without proper architecture or structural engineering.

Recently I went to meet a prospective client at Cherthala.They were having a plan of the house prepared by the local draftsman.I was sent by the daughter working away “for a second opinion” on the plan.The plan which I have seen has not considered any of the architectural and structural engineering aspects forget about proper utilisation of space,Vasthu factors and appropriate design and better appearance.

I was amused to notice that they were talking as if the plan prepared by local guy is the only plan possible suiting their requirements and budget.Most important factor according to them is square feet area of the house.They simply think that square feet area is the most important deciding factor for construction cost.





Look at pictures above.Mr.Saseendran working in gulf has called me to NIlambur about an year back for design and construction of his dream house.Pictures above are that of his completed house and he sitting in balcony charupady.

He called me not because he was aware of importance of proper architectural design and need for proper structural engineering factors to be ensured while constructing his house.But today after completing his house he is aware of all these factors and he also knows for sure that he got the best possible design,workmanship and proper house about which he cannot feel bad at any time.That is because he was wise enough to have professional guidance in every step of construction right from beginning to end.

When you have professional expertise available which will not only save you lakhs and lakhs of money otherwise spent without any proper scheme or plan,you will get the right and best considering all aspects of engineering,vasthu,latest architectural features and above all best value for your hard earned money.

First you have to get the best possible plan suiting your plot,requirements,budget,dreams without spending money unreasonably.

Just see pictures of the plot where house shown above now exist when I first reached site before even preparing plan of the house.



See how the place has transformed.Old house seen in the picture was really the old house of Mr.Saseendran where he was born and brought up.

Look at what all you require step by step for constructing your house.

1.A plan prepared by a qualified professional well experienced in designing and building houses(With each house construction I study continuously and my expertise and knowledge grows and the next house is going to be better designed and better constructed compared to more than 200 houses I have directly built)

2.Local authority submission drawings

3.Detailed item wise Engineering Estimate giving you a clear picture of expected cost for each item of construction

4.Foundation engineering details based on modern Structural Engineering ensuring proper stability for your house.

5.Set out or drawing plan in your plot in presence of the Architect  and client so that any last minute changes considering plot conditions can be made.

6.Monitoring of foundation work with professional assistance

Like these several steps are required to reach your dream house properly just like how Mr.Saseendran has reached his dream house working in gulf.

In short you need proper professional assistance and guidance for every step of construction.Workers engaged in construction however close or familiar to you will always make compromises to make their work easier and less trouble some while smiling and assuring you that “every thing is done properly “knowing very well that you do not know exactly what is right and proper.

I will put some more pictures of house of Mr.Saseendran at Nilambur.





Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Worrying on past and future,careless on present

Every living moment,our mind worries about many things.Worrying is a habit to us.Can you remember a moment when you do not worry about anything? May be when sleeping.On all other moments our mind continuously worries.If you look at face of most of the people,the face has always got a worried look.Some of them have even developed wrinkles on forehead due to continuous worrying  thus  turning wrinkles on forehead in to regular lines on forehead.

What are you worrying about? Mostly about mistakes committed in the past,opportunities missed,wrong decisions made and worrying lead you to unhappiness,despair and calling yourself as a fool,incapable person who has not done what should have been done at the right time , suffering and missing many good fortunes due to wrong moves,wrong decisions.
Worrying does not end with past.We always worry about future.What will happen to me in future? What all miseries,unhappiness,bad luck,wrong decisions,painful events wait for me in future? As if worrying about past is not sufficient we find many reasons to worry about future.
In this continuous story of worrying about past and future we forget to act properly in present.We simply do not worry about what we do in present till it become past.Once it become past,we start worrying about what could have been done about just passed actions of ours.
Ideally one should think about present,act intelligently,properly,correctly about whatever we are doing at present ,calmly without carelessness without allowing our mind to wander into past or future.Once we do everything in the present in the best possible manner within our capability and limitations,naturally we will have less to worry about our wrong actions in the past.Once we make less mistakes in the present,we get more confidence about doing everything correctly,properly,to the best of our ability in future.
This command over present which we normally throw away carelessly can change a lot.That will make our past more meaningful and less worrisome.Proper management of our present activities and present time will definitely give us more successes and rewards and we will definitely get more confidence and courage to face and manage future.
So live fully in present without worrying about past and future.Remember,no one has gained anything by worrying about past and future which are not in your hands.In fact such worries have caused failures in the present .As well managed present will turn out to be proud moments of past,your proper management of present will make your past look rosy and  future definitely cannot look bad,as your confidence level increases about your ability to manage correctly giving you hopes instead of worries about future.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Your dream house in Kerala

One day a young lady came to my office without any advance information and caught hold of my hand unusual for a Kerala lady and said-“I am coming from New York.I want to build a house.Can we discuss about it?”
That is how design and construction of house at Irinjalakuda started.Problems with her in making her dream house were many.
1.She has nobody except a retired father in law to look after construction.Even he is quite new in the place where they plan to construct house and hence cannot do much about construction other than watching in silence.
2.Father in law has already located a local builder and made a plan of the house.She is not so confident about capability and trustworthiness of that builder.
3.Communicating with that local builder from USA will be a problem and for monitoring and observing progress of work,she will have to depend solely on telephonic reports from father in law
4.Even she or father in law is not aware of technicalities involved in construction and hence there is no way to monitor or ensure quality of construction.
5.Accounting for work done needs a proper transparent arrangement which the local builder cannot ensure.
6.Just by looking at plan of the house made,she is not able to make out how the house will come out when finished and what features and facilities the house will have.
in short she is simply searching for a reliable professional who can guide them properly,manage finance for construction reliably and someone who can be fully trusted to make her dream house a reality.
After completion of the house ,she told me that many NRI malayalees like her really want to buy land in Kerala and construct a dream house where they can come and stay for few days of their vacation and come back and stay after retirement if they come back to India or sell at a later date at a good price if they do not want to come back and settle in Kerala for retirement.
But she also told me that in spite of having money most of the NRIs are not daring to venture into buying land and constructing house in Kerala as they are not hopeful of finding some one reliable to make their dream house a reality.
We have been trying to become this non existent reliable professional group who will fully take care of converting your dream house into reality with communication through blogs and emails making you feel like seeing your dream house coming up right in front of your eyes sitting in any far away corner of the world.
We have done many projects like that.For a Delhi based person working with a MNC without time to come and monitor construction of house at Kalady,for Dubai based persons at Ranni and Nilambur, for Botswana based Engineer at Cochin,For USA based persons at Cochin and Perumbavoor and the list go on .
We have recently started construction of  a house at Koratty.Husband is director of a pharmaceutical MNC based at Delhi travelling around the world and wife senior official of a foreign bank.Even though they are originally from Kerala,they were not having own land in Kerala and was nurturing a dream for a land and house in Kerala.
We have located land for their future house in Kerala.Did all documentation for land purchase,designed house,obtained building plan approval and now started construction.Sitting in any part of the world they can see pictures of work in progress of the house almost on daily basis through blog,communicate easily through emails and transfer funds through net and receive periodic bills also through net.
For doing all these,we are just billing clients practically on cost basis and quality of construction is strictly the best you can hope for with professional guidance and monitoring ensuring latest technology and best quality standards followed in each item and activity of construction.
Every house we design and build is normally offered for sale at almost double our billing amount by prospective buyers and we continuously get enquiries for purchase of houses which we have designed and built even though we always advice our clients not to sell the house as it will be practically impossible to get a similar house at the same cost.
Speciality of our design is that we have carefully chosen a  unique style of design which always give a bigger and appealing external appearance for the house as every malayalee client hope for.At Irinjalakuda we were building a 4000 sft house when a film star was having a 6000 sft house nearby.Half jokingly my client asked me-“Is it possible for our house to look bigger than that house with lesser area?”
I said –Yes and I kept my word.House really looks different,big and unique in its appearance.A still better looking design with 1000 sft less in plinth area is coming up at Cherthala.
So we are improving and reaching new heights in architectural excellence,quality of construction,better communication with client and definitely much much more value for the hard earned money of our clients many of them living and working in different parts of the world.
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