Monday, May 23, 2016

Foundation and Structure

Three months after the Bhoomi Pooja started the foundation work.  Digging started full swing and once ready, the iron rods are woven(I use the word 'woven' because it looked like a work of art by itself) and placed for the belt and the pillars.

Now, in Hinduism again, we were asked to add a 'thari' of gold dust when the concrete is put along with the grains and flowers handed over from the bhoomi pooja time.  This is as offering to the Goddess Earth.  Reasoning maybe that it is an offering of thanks and request for blessings from mother earth who is bearing us and our home So, we added that just before the concrete was to be poured in.

It is a time when you really start building hopes for your home.  Reason is, what was abstract till now is physically starting to take shape.  Also, the sleepless nights start off.  Everyday after that, we were present at the sight morning or evening to check if it was properly cured.  Despite the supervisors words and their assurances on schedule followed, we were present to check it up.  Without a strong foundation, nothing will stand - be it your home or software.  Laying the foundation also brought in an idea of the size of the house.

On the side, payments start too.  In case you are funding on your own, then you would have bought the material.  However, payment towards labour is a substantial amount.  With a builder, he is going to ask you for the phase wise payment.

Following this, was a period of quiet till work progressed on the ground for the foundation of the rooms.  We walked around with the plan and bought a tape.  In our case, we found a bed being laid where our car park was.  When we reasoned with the supervisor, we were told that they have been given the drawing from the office and that is exactly what will be followed.  Further, there was an area laid out similar to the bathroom foundation.  That was sorted out by the supervisor who checked in his file and said, yes, that has been laid extra but no problem, we shall not build up - it will be covered by the flooring.  For the car park area, when we realized that we might get an extra room that we didn't want or will have to lift the car and park it on the raised flooring, we rushed to the office of the builder who was sure there was no mistake.  After a few words and calls to the site office, supervisors were sent to check measurements on site.  That made them realize someone had goofed up.

The lesson we learnt from our experience early on is that once something is built, pulling it down is a nasty business.  Nasty because the finishing may not be the same(especially in the later stages) or structural issues may come up, it wastes time and three, it is wastage of resource - no matter who pays.  Sand, brick, water and cement are all products obtained directly or indirectly from earth and once used cannot be returned back.  It may cost the builder or you a few thousands, but multiplied by the population of the earth is a waste of resource.

Lessons learnt :

1.  Carry the plan with you all the time - in paper and your phone.  Paper is better because labour on the ground work better with paper.  Phone works for you and as a backup.  Over time you will remember the measurements by-heart.  I could never get it, though my husband did all the time.  He could imagine room sizes from measurements, not me.  So, we will measure and stand on opposite sides for me to visualize the room size.

2.  Buy a tape.  Keep measuring things yourself.  If you are building your home for the first time, it is fun and a learning experience.  If you are experienced, you will measure by experience.  However, measuring with tape will bring the supervisor to site, telling you that he has measured everything and that you can trust him and the builder completely.  Know a way of assuring them of your confidence at the same time needing to know things are going to plan.  It is a fine balancing act you need to acquire.  Thankfully, our interactions with the supervisors at the time was very cordial.  We learnt a lot from them and they grew to understand us being hands-on and appreciated it sometimes.  We had fun going to the site and sitting there nibbling on food and generally trying to know and own the place.  Many a time, we ordered and packed extra snacks knowing the labourers would be working at the site.

We had visitors, but one of the first we had was this one.  He watched the proceedings for a long time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bhoomi Pooja - The Start

We lived in a flat(for the first time in our lives) and were comfortable with it.  However, the need for companionship (meaning a dog) and the attitude of the house owner in our first flat got us to think of owning our own house.

After months of searching and checking backgrounds, we zeroed in on what we thought was a decent house for a high amount (given the locality) in a gated community.  We booked the site in advance before it went for approval.  Then, the long wait started.  Given the state elections in  2011, approval got delayed and we waited.  Finally, after changes in the layout from initial design, the approval came through late 2012.

January, 2013 we finally did the 'Bhoomi Pooja' (paying respects to Mother Earth and getting her blessings to build a house) - just the two of us with the Pujari and his assistant.  For the two of us who are firm believers in a higher power but not so much in the rituals, the pooja was a simple one.  The pooja was by itself not uneventful as the pujari's arrived late as do VIPs, to my utter disbelief.  I was told by my family to follow one rule and that is as you know, do it in the good time (nalla neram) and not in the bad time (rahu kalam).  My sister was on the phone convincing me to cool down and keep smiling and not get upset and angry.  My thoughts - they who know and believe in it arrived 10 minutes before timeout and lit the lamp just in time.  Further, they convinced me that you need to start it in good time - that is more important.  They had their valid reasons too - the day being auspicious, the events at the temple took longer than expected.  Reasonable reason - you cannot abandon one and go to another carrying godliness.  So, it left me reasoning out with myself about what it all meant - whether 'choru unnu' (first meal) for kids carried precedent over 'bhoomi pooja - answer was a firm 'yes'.  With that the matter was settled in my head.

For the two of us, it signaled the start of a journey and hopes.

Lessons learnt :

1.  Pre-approval.  If you book a house wherein approval is not yet received you are taking a big risk.  The money is locked in and you might be left waiting for approval to come.  The latter is dependent on a lot of factors which are independent of you.
2.  Post approval.  So, if you are looking at a house within a time frame, book a house that has got approval and construction is going on.  In such a case, cost maybe higher but tradeoff is time.
3.  Check the soil.  Certain soil has the capacity that over a period of time, houses sink.  It is better to be knowledgeable and check whether the foundation planned suits the same.
4.  Site Selection.  When given an option of selecting a site (like in a flat or layout) look at multiple factors.
    i.  Vaastu, especially if you are a believer.
    ii. If it is a flat, pick one which does not have a door opposite you - in terms of vaastu as well as comfort (as you can never have your door open without compromising your privacy).  Pick one where the balcony looks out to the garden.  Check the direction of wind and see if you have windows that will enable air flow.  Else, your flat will never have fresh air given that most flats have common walls.  Pick a flat away from the park if you are someone who likes quiet as kids will be noisy when they play and you may not have the heart to ask them to quieten down.
   iii.  If it is an individual house, then look at the placing of the house, closeness to the house next door, privacy with relation to other houses.  Check what will be built on all sides of the house in the future.  I remember my husband's cousin complaining about the noise that came from the club house next to their house which housed various events for the community.  You can change the window and door position to suit ventilation needs but not the things that are coming around your house.
5.  Size.  How big a house you need is based on the size of your family.  We wanted a house having only a ground floor with two bed rooms.  Deciding on your own is possible when you build by yourself, but in communities, the builder has basic types and you need to pick from it.

Shall continue in the next post.........  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Making a house 'home'

This blog was created when we started building our house.  However, the intention of writing down on a blog about construction did not materialize given the frenetic pace of work and managing home.  Today we are still in the process of making it a home.  It took us very long to reach here and we learnt a lot in the process.  We met people, nice and not so nice.  We got duped - royally and sometimes a bit.  We made mistakes - some rectified, some not yet.  However, this is life - through all its lessons, its highs and lows and most importantly, its imperfections.

So, here I go as I finally get to put down on to the blog lessons and experiences of building our house and the making of a home.