Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I am Dad now :)

Ohh I can't believe am Dad now. Am I so old ... ahem not really !

We were blessed with baby girl on 2nd Nov 2010. She is changing our lives now. She is center of discussion now.

I am planning to start a blog for her. That will be my gift to her when she is ready to pick up blogging ;). She will have a legacy from birth for her blog ..

Another astonishing thing happening is most of my friends have become/ are becoming parents this year. So we are all creating generation now. I am really excited about this..

Congrats to my following friends for becoming new parents:

  1. Anil - Aruna
  2. Sushma - Gautham
  3. Sridhar - Shailaja
  4. Dhruva - Sri Lakshmi
  5. Sunil - Rekha (My BIL)
  6. Rudresh
  7. Kiran (2nd one)
  8. And more ..

Friday, October 08, 2010

My first experience with Android

Wow its a big world. After working with my new Android phone, i really started loving it. Thanks to my wife Sowmya for gifting it.

One first thing i observed and loved was the standardization and stabilization of apps.

I will write more abt mu favs. Currently i am using blogger client from my Android samsung galaxy 5 phone. This is my first post
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.2

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lost and found

Oh my God! I don't know how to express this. My sister is a lucky ? Or Her honest trust in God ? Or really efficient police department ? What ever it is she got back her stolen car after 9 weeks

She had given complaint when an early morning theif broke into the car and stole it. Till then there was no clue where it was. It is Tata Indica car. Suddenly day before yesterday she got call from police station saying that they found a car in some other police station and asked her to go and identify. She went and identified that that's the car. Wow! Seems to be filmish right, but it just happened in my own family. We were all so happy for her

What she did during 9 weeks: She just believed in God and did not worry too much about the lost one. She followed up with police and also enquired whether insurance amount will be obtained. She found she would get 80% of insured amount. She had to wait for 3 months and get certificate from police that they could not find it, so that insurance company would make payment. Every day she used to pray God asking him to give more courage and energy to handle situations. :)

Where had actually car gone: Thief was a Kerala based muslim who had stolen many cars from bangalore and sold to an Andhra guy with AP registration and fake RC book for 2.6 lakhs. My sister had given complaint in Chennammana kere police station. Few weeks back JC nagar police station got a complaint from a priest of a temple that his Indica is been stolen. With their informers' help police could trace that car has gone to AP. While searching priest's car they my sister car in the new owner's garage. It was cleanly maintained with emision check and all the things. As it was stolen car, police had to siege the same. They could also trace the thief and as per him this car was stolen near my sister's place. JC nagar police informed Chennammana kere police regarding the same. Then these police told about my sister's complaint and tried to match the chasis number. They tried to tamper the last digit. But it was very evident that that's the car.

She will be getting the same in next 10 days after paper work. This episode really adds more trust to our police department. Kudos police

Karthik C Sunil

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Leaf Eater..

Leaf Eater..
Originally uploaded by Karthik C S

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two of Five - Multimedia..

I have been thinking from quite some time regarding REAL multimedia system. We all know we have five sense of organs. Namely Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue and Skin. We have five ways of sensing through these organs- Sight, Sound, Odor, Taste and Touch. We are really thankful to God that we have got ability to feel these senses.

We think human being is very intelligent. Yes we are, but we have scored only 2 out of 5 with respect these senses. I think REAL multimedia is that system, which can have all five senses :) As of now, we have conquered only Sight and Sound. Till now we have devices only for audio and video capabilities. Other 3 senses yet to be conquered.

Assume of a website which describes preparing a Dish. As of now people can only see how the dish looks like. If we had devices which can also produce aroma, taste and touch senses, we could have effectively presented how to prepare the dish, and how it tastes and smells.

Assume of online catalog for buying a cloth. As of now, you can only see its picture. If we had a device that give a sense of touch. You could have sensed the material of the cloth before buying the same. Online shopping becomes much more effective.

Assume of an album of your friend in a party. As of now your friend can only share you the photos and videos. If we had devices which can sense and re-produce the odor, you can also feel how your friend smelled, what perfume she used etc :)

Let's see what do I mean by conquering senses. Life cycle of senses are Sensors, Converters, Storage, Transport and Reproduce.
  1. Sensors: We have devices like Still and Video Cameras to capture Sight. We have magnetic tape recorder and voice sensors to capture sound. We do not have devices to sense and capture Odor, Touch and Taste.

  2. Converters : Once sensed, we need devices which can convert feeling of senses into a form which can be stored. For example, light sensed by a digital sensor, converts it into electronic form which can be then stored on a memory card. As of now we do not have converters which can convert Odor, Touch and Taste into storable format.

  3. Storage : We have memory sticks, Tape drives and secondary hard drives. These devices should be common for all multimedia forms, including odor, touch and taste

  4. Transport: We have wired and wire less transport mechanisms. Again, these should not be different than what we already have for odor, touch and taste.

  5. Reproduce: As of now we have CRTs, LCD displays and projectors for re-producing light data. We have DVD players, Cassette players, MP3 players and grama phone kind of devices which can re-produce Audio data. It is a huge challenge as of now to produce a feel of Odor, Touch and Taste.
We have a wide range of area where our scientists need to put there brains and research on sensors, converter and re-producers of Odor, Taste and Touch.

Do I make some "SENSE" ?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Build and make - Part 9 - Go Green

Prequels -->>

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

It is very important from aesthetic, social, health and financial perspective to go green while you are making your new home.

Let's see what are the things that you can do to be eco friendly.

Solar water heater and solar cells: Go hot water is a must for any home. Bescom has any way made it mandatory to install solar water heater before they can grant you power connection. You can think and provide connections from solar so that you can use it easily. While installing the same, you can also go for solar cells that can charge your batteries and can be used for your lights and fans. It really reduces your monthly cost with some one time investment. It is definitely value for money. I think after started using solar I think I am easily saving about RS 300 pm.

Rain water harvesting: There are 2 ways to make it happen. One, is to let the mother earth absorb as much rain water as possible. Way to do is to have a pit where big stones, small stones and other filtering objects are put and collate all the rain from your roof and directed to the pit. This will increase the water bed. If you have a bore-well, it will definitely help you

Two, is to have a water tank/ sump to collect the roof water for re-use. You get a lot of good filters which can be installed and move the roof water to the tank for re-use.

I have gone to the second option and re-using rain water for my garden/ car washing etc. There are some high end filters which will enable the water for drinking purpose as well.

Provide space for Garden: It is important to have a small garden within your compound. It gives a lot of energy with you see green in your house. You can grow simple flowering plants, fruit plants etc. It becomes a great weekend activity and good exercise as well.

Indoor garden, Roof top gardens are also great options.

Use Natural Light and Ventilation : Use Sky lights in your roof which will reduce lot of power usage in day time. I have implemented sky light in Living, Pooja and a corner of Bath as well. Sky lights not only give commercial value, also they add great aesthetics to the interiors. Light and Shadow makes it more beautiful.

Use bigger windows and vents at the top levels for hot air exits. This will enable natural ventilation. Also use cross ventilation concepts so that air circulates in correct directions. This will reduce usage of fans and also feels very natural.

Use Clay and Stone Material: Use hallow clay blocks instead of bricks. Preparation of clay block does not use fire burning, they are dried in sun light. They require less cement and no paint on them. As they are hallow, they act as heat and sound proof. :)

Use clay tiles for flooring or may be you can use granite as well. Instead of vitrified. Preparation of Vitrified is not eco-friendly. Advantage of clay tiles are: They absorb water fallen on them and provides great grip while stepping on them. And slowly evaporates the absorbed water. Vitrified will only make it slippery.

Stone is great material for walls. Very less maintenance cost. It looks great. Great aesthetic appearance and very natural.

Use roof clay tiles, which gives nice terracotta look to the ceiling and as well as helps to reduce the concrete thickness. It also acts as heat resistant during summer.

Lessen steel usage: As much as possible avoid, beams and pillars. Go for foundation construction.

Lessen cement usage as much as possible: No need to put all round concrete along the watts. Leave it with mud. You can then use some path way using natural stones.

Try to go for different designs of compound which uses less cement and concrete, you can simply erect stones as compound. Think out of box.

Instead of cementing entire car porch, think of going for stone or lawn. It looks beautiful

Try to GO GREEN while making your new HOME

Karthik C Sunil

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mysterious Path

Mysterious Path
Originally uploaded by Karthik C S
During my recent visit to Dharmasthala

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Energy conservation

I was thinking about energy shortage in the current situation. Also thinking fuels which are short term like petroleum etc. I understand we are using solar, tidal, wind and other non-conventional ways to generate power but not in high volume. What could be done at root levels to tackle power shortage.

We have learnt in our school days that energy can neither be created and not be destroyed, it can only be copnverted from one for to another. Having this as background, I had some wiered thinking few days back.

We have seen in recent past that people have become very health conscious and do a lot of exercise to excert energy and burn a lot of calories. This is energy expended and getting lost as heat or some kind of energy which can not be used in constructive manner. Is there a way to pouch these burnt calories into one of the useful forms?

What can be done:
1. Can we dynamos fixed under thread mills and cycles in gyms

2. Special mats which can sense step imapct and convert into electrical energy,  in pathways of parks where milliions of people walk every morning

3. Many more sensors and energy converters in fitness centers !

What you guys feel !!!!
Karthik Sunil

Monday, May 31, 2010

Our vendors - Build and Make part 8

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

There were so many vendors that we searched for different purposes. Other than civil work by my brother-in-law almost all other materials we have bought from multiple. vendors. Vendor selection was through many criteria like - availability of materials we liked, quality, referral, cost and reliability.

Let me try to list down the same ans some information, which might be useful for others.

Wood: This was our first purchase. We bought most of wood from vinayaka timbers mysore road. All wood was teak and we also bought a lot of around 42 cft. Cutting log was an amazing experience. It costed me around 1550/_ per cft. Cut pieces was around 1800/- . In total we purchased almost 150 cft of teak wood.

Note: you need to have sufficient time for seasoning especially if you go for log. At least 3 to 4 months

Granite: The second important purchase we made was granite stones. We roamed almost every place in bannerghatta road for our choice of stones. We liked few stones like amba white, chickoo pearl, madhura gold. Out of which chickoo pearl was most favourite. But it was tooo expensive, around 180/- per sft. So we went for madhura gold which we got at 125/- at Natural Granites. We bought around 1000 sft

Ceramic tiles: just above natural granites they have their own ceramic showroom, with the name of south india ceramics. We bought most of tiles there. We liked kajaria brown and cream (our most loved combination) a lot. We selected that for our bath room. Selected a white tile for pooja and a grey combination for mom's room. Average cost for tiles was around 60/-. Pooja tiles were around 79/-. Flooring tiles were around 40/-. We wanted to buy wood looking ceramic tiles for kitchen which have non-skid surface. We could not get in natural granites. We searched a lot in many places and at last found in tile print near lalbhag west gate. But it was too expensive. 120/- per sft.

Attangudi tiles: These were our favourite tilies which we bought from village in tamil nadu called attangudi. These tiles are hand made clay tiles which usually come three basic colors and some patterns. Red, green and yellow. We bought red tiles which gives us feeling of red oxide. They are 26/- per sft. We bought around 500 sft. The company is called as shivan shakti tiles and contact person is called as ayyappan. We did money transaction over internet and material was dispatched through KPN. It was very prompt and neat service. But you need to have skilled labourer for laying the same. Point to note, its better to buy 10 to 15 percent more as there might be some wasteage and its difficult to re-ship few more tiles.

Wood fittings: latches, handles, locks, curtain brackets rods, gate hooks etc. We bought all these items in mahaveer hardware at kathriguppe. He was having good quality and good price. More over he has good consulting capability. Expenses for wood fittings were around 60000/-.

Plumbing fittings: All our plumbing fittings were bought from mahaveer hardware, katriguppe. They include commodes, wash basins, jaguar wall mixers, spouts and taps, mirrors and other accessories. Only bath tub we bought from tile print. Plumbing fittings alone costed me around 50000/-

Interiors: Most of the materials for interiors were purchased from maruthi glass and ply wood at chandra layout. The materials cost was around 2.0 lakhs as a whole. This includes 2 wardrobes, 1 library unit, TV unit, crockery unit, shelves and few drawers.

Electrical fittings: We bought all our electrical fittings from JP lights in BVK Iyengar road. It included wall brackets, drop lights, bulk heads, ceiling roses and all fancy lights. All costed us around 20000/-.

Clay products: clay tiles, henchu for chajjas, clay floor tiles and for mural work. For all these things, we went to clay shop near JSS circle banashankari.

Few more places: Metro hardware city market, Town hardware beside metro.
Karthik Sunil

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interiors - Build and make - Part 7


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I am back with next part of build and make series. Its about interiors.

The idea: It's always better to think about the interiors very early in the game. May be during civil design itself. Atleast an idea of what you would like to do later. That helps a lot in making arrangements during each stage. Like keeping an opening during wall construction, providing an electrical or water point, paneling etc. I know it is not so easy to think about finishing during early stages. You would have multiple other things to worry. But still if you can spend some time to make an idea it would help later and avoid breaking walls :)

The concepts: Once you have some idea in your mind try to conceptualize. May be you try to visualize on a particular position or wall. May be you have make some provision for electrical socket, water outlet or may be you need wall hole or inner finishing for some art work. Advantage of conceptualizing early is that you can any provision during civil work itself. You have workers available for doing things. You can think about pros and cons very early. And over all above you reducing a lot of rework later for interiors and hence saving a lot of money.
Karthik Sunil

Monday, March 15, 2010

Variances should I worry - Build and Make Part 6

After a long break I am back on the series .. Take a look at previous posts of this series
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

In this post let's see the options of tracking and controlling the project of building your house.
There are several things you need to track as construction is started. For anything to be tracked we need to have some baselines. So first thing is establish the baseline with your builder as well as your Architect. Am I sounding too technical here. Yes! may be, but things to do are very practical and needs basic common sense. No big deal!

Following are the areas you need to establish the baselines
  1. Time lines
  2. Cost
  3. Quality
Talk to builder and architect and come up with high level schedule. Define few stages. Like Foundation, Lintel, Roof, Flooring, Plastering, Painting, Interiors etc.. Ask them whats the best shot and worst case when these can be achieved in terms of time lines. And map it with your and your and your family's expectation. This is your schedule baseline. Most of the project dont have this. If your builder can not give this, its ok. Not mandatory, unlike cost baseline.

On cost, its a little different and more stringent. Depending on the type of contract with the builder (Discussed in Part 3 ) he should provide cost estimate per item or per square or per labour. It needs to be agreed by all the parties upfront to avoid any conflicts later. The agreed cost estimate would be the cost baseline for your tracking.

Calculating the variances:
You being the sponsor/owner of the project it your responsibility to have eagle eye on the project. You dont need to do micro management if you had given for full contract, but still it is needed that you know where it stands in terms of Time, Cost and Quality (However, it's not so easy to perform quality checks by you alone, you architect might pitch in for help).

For time, you have review your baselines where you builder had committed to finish stages in certain time. Review the same and see if he could achieve the same. If not see if there were any change in plans or he is really stuck in getting things done. You need to talk to your builder highlighting the slippage. BUT
Maintainign time lines in construction area is not as same as Software or any other area. Your builder tend to slip the timelines. If it is really ok to you, and time is not that you are looking for, DO NOT make a big mess for this. Just inform that he is slipping and get more practical date and update the baseline. Pressurising builder usually have adverse effect on your cost and quality. What you need is a good home, you can wait for a while for the same :). If work has really stopped and you observe no labourers working, you can make it a scene :)

When it comes to cost, I suggest you to be little stringent in tracking. Review the bills provided by builder/ architect yourself for any errors and correct it then and there itself. You should not wait for final settlement. Most of the times you may have to make payments in advance even before work is done. It's ok to do that. But once the next bill is raised, adjust the advance payments. DOCUMENT all the payments made and bills provide separately. It will help you to consolidate later. Also document any corrections to be made if not done immidiately.

If you are overpaid, talk to builder and explain that you have overpaid as per estimate provided by him and you can make next payment after some stage is completed. Always measure the payment with respect to work done rather than with respect to time consumed. This was you are benifited.

Bottom line:

Overshooting Cost: you are overshooting budget by 5 to 8 % its OK. Dont worry. We all overshoot :). But make sure you get what you have paid for. Anything beyond 10% is a RED flag.

Overshooting schedule: Dont not worry too much. Make sure they progress and not stuck

Monday, March 01, 2010

600 Comments to my Photoblog

Thanks to all friends and co bloggers for commenting and supporting me.. I started my blog in Aug 2008.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Capturing Autumn

Capturing Autumn
Originally uploaded by Karthik C S

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leaves Weaved

Leaves Weaved
Originally uploaded by Karthik C S
Captured during drive back from Tirupathi.. Near Chittoor

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where things can go wrong - Build and Make Part 5

Hello folks,
Welcome back for Build and Make series, an experience sharing posts for home makers.

Link to the prequels
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

You have an architect, you have planned everything with him. You have short listed a builder who has done miraculously great job before. So you think there can be nothing to go wrong. There can be many stages/ situations where things can go wrong. So be cautious and alert and monitor.

  1. Make sure that communication is established properly.
    * Avoid phone meetings
    * Giving instructions over phone.
    * Make sure your builder has understood the drawing provided
    * Make sure builder and architect are in touch instead you being the interface between them, after all you are a layman
    * Make sure that only final versions are given to the builder. There are lot of chances that multiple versions of the same drawings are released due to changes/ corrections
    * Always have a copy of drawing with you. I am sure your laborers or contractor himself might lose or carry old versions of the drawings
  2. Make sure that thorough quality check is made by the supervisor/ builder/ architect at time to time.
    * This should be enforced by you and also make sure that they are doing at right time.
    * Should be done at all various stages like - After marking has been done for earth excavation, Plinth, one course brick work, Lintel, during roof, during plastering, during flooring, After marking of the electrical points and conduit, water points and conduit,
    * Ask questions thinking they have not done quality checks. Be pessimistic, to find as many defects as possible at the early stages. It saves you time and money
    * During roof, if concrete is prepared with a mixer machine, make sure that you know the ratio and you count number of bowls sand/ cement/ jelly mixture. It is always better. It's not that you are not trusting builder, it is just to make sure that no human error happens. If it is RMC (Ready Mix Concrete) Make sure that you get have computer reports for mixture which was loaded in the vehicle.
    * Be aware that you can perform lab tests for concrete which tells you the accurate strength.
  3. Think many steps ahead as in the chess game
    * Always think ahead, think big picture during execution
    * Think if certain work happening is going to spoil something later, is going to have a problem to something else.
  4. Set the expectations with Architect/ Builder with respect to your schedule. When you need your home ready.
    * Don't surprise them by saying you need it in 6 months. More the time they have neater the work they do.
    * By hurrying things, your schedule may be met, but not the cost and quality. So be informed and keep all stake holders informed
  5. Review your electrical and plumbing drawing with electrician / plumber at site
    * Civil work is usually done without much problems by the builder. There is not many inputs that you might have to give to the masons. But its electrical/ plumbing you need to review all switch points, taps, think about 2 ways needed, out lets you need, traps you need. You might have discussed the same with Architect offline. But when u are in the site, you might get more ideas and you will have accuracy.
  6. Always think that your masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers are not co-coordinating their work
    * There are hundreds of scenarios where there should be absolute coordination between these folks and please don't assume they will always coordinate. They always think about their job. They don't have big picture. Your supervisor/ builder should have it. But make sure that they are coordinating in time. Otherwise raise flag.
    * There is usually trade-offs between schedule and coordination. :)
  7. Make sure one's work is not spoiling others'
    * Usually there will be delicate items, make sure they are properly protected or covered. May be the flooring, fittings etc. Masonry work may spoil them. You can protect granite / marble with POP, and cover plumbing/ electrical/ wood fittings with covers/ tarpaulins etc. May be you can instruct carpenter to put a ply wood sheet where ever he is working. May be you can instruct painter to put a soft bush to the stool he is using.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Recent updates in my life - Grihapravesha

Wow.. Its done.. I had been constructing my house from past one year and I just completed house warming last Wednesday. What an experience. What a relaxation now.

We started planning in Nov 2008 ; did Bhoomi pooja on 5th Feb 2009; House warming was on 3rd Feb 2010. I can say we have taken almost a year to complete the project. It was a looong way during construction of our sweet home, dream home. We have really spent a lot of time energy thought process to make it happen.

Now its all done but the interiors. I would take this opertunity to thank each one of them who have helped in making our sweet home.

I have learnt a lot during constructing it. I dont want to use the words "Build" or "Construct", rather I would prefer "Make". Homes are Made, rather built I think!! I have started a series to share those learning. Hope it helps some one.

Series of Build and Make

I would share you the Photo Album of my friends who helped in capturing the House Warming function. Please have a look..

MS Anil's Album

Gauthama's Album

Monday, February 08, 2010

Services Architects offer - Build and Make Part 4

This is the fourth post of the series.. You can access the previous ones by clicking links below

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

There are many services that an architect can offer to you. I think few are on-demand and few you can customize as per your requirement. Let me list down services my architect rendered.

  1. Preparing Concepts - It's nothing but your house plan. What comes where, which materials to use, and all other details
  2. Providing SOQ (Schedule of Quantities ) - Providing list of things to be done with quantities. For example - 900 cft of brick wall masonary, 1200 Sft of plastering with 1:4 mixture sponge finish, 1000 Sft of flooring with granite etc
  3. Checking the quality of the work being done - This is done at many stages. Before earth excavation checking the markings, at plinth level, at sill level, lintel level, before roofing, plastering, flooring, finishing.
  4. Providing working drawing for:
    * Masonary work
    * Structural work - Beams, Roofs, Pillars, Stairs
    * Wood work - Doors, Windows, Frames etc
    * Electrical work - Piping, Light and heat points etc
    * Plumbing work
    * Fabricating work
    * Elevation
  5. Checking the bill provided by Builder - At all stages
  6. Providing consultation/ suggestions on various approaches
  7. Providing valuable consultation on ventilation and light - Options for hot air exit, sky lights etc
Hope this helps you while discussing/ negotiating agreement with your Architect


Friday, January 08, 2010

Types of Contracts and Agreements - Build and Make Part 3

Links to my previous posts
Part 1
Part 2

It is very important to know different types of agreements and contracts while building house. You need to have agreements with Architect and builder. And with any other parties if you directly deal. It is preferred to have all the agreements in writing. Few small agreements can also be oral. But with architect and builder I suggest to have a written agreement. Following are the high level items to be taken care in the agreement.
  • Scope of work - What is covered and what is not covered in the work
  • Time - Schedule deliveries
  • Total cost or item rates or estimations etc
  • Payment modes, payment frequency
  • Criteria of completion - When do you consider the work is completed

With builder there are several types agreements

  • Full contract (Turn Key contract) - You tell builder to build your house as per your basic requirement. In this case you have very less options or choice. Builder has all the risk of managing cost, scope, schedule and any type of coordination. But at the same time, builder has highest profit margin. Owner has very less control in this case and as well as very low risk. Usually this kind of agreement is suitable, if owner is not in the town of construction or if owner is not too specific about the way how this are built. Another situation where builder has built similar houses (may be flats or something like that) in prior. In this case builder takes care of all the major areas of construction - Civil, Carpenrty, Flooring, Electrical, Plumbing, Painting, Fabrication etc
  • Labour contract - In this case, builder provides only Labour. It might include all areas of construction as mentioned above but only difference is that, owner has to provide all the raw materials like - Sand, Brick, Cement, Pipes, Wires, Fixtures, Wood and other fittings. In this case owner has medium risk and builder also has medium risk. But the problem would be of coordination. If owner is new in this construction industry, it might be a big challenge in buying raw materials. Negotiating quality/ cost / supply with suppliers will be again a challenge, if owner is newby in this industry. There might be a lot of chances of getting cheated by suppliers, middlemen sometimes also by contractors.
  • Blend of above two : In this case, you give full contrat to the builder but not turn key. Owner keep few areas for choice during the final stages. Major areas of Civil, Carpentry etc would be done completely by builder and he gives options for owners for selecting colors, quality and others for fittings, paint colors, vinear/lamination selections during final stages. Any differencial cost will be adjusted later. Here owner gets benifit of "his-choice" during finishing stages with some "Cost" invovled.
  • Item rate billing: In this case, arhcitect plays a major role. Owner and architect have multiple sittings/ meetings during planning stage and arhictect provides a exhaustive list of specifications of each areas. This is called as SOQ - Statement Of Quantities. He gives a complete list of items and quantities to be used for building. Builder quotes his price and provides estimation for the entire house for the provided specification. Owner can get the quotation from multiple builders and select the best preffered one based on cost, prior experience or any other factors.
    Once the project execution is started, its Architect responsibility to check the quality as per specification and approve the bill provided by Builder. Once approved, the payment would be done to the builder by owner at multiple stages.
    In this case cost would be more. In terms of Architect fees etc. But highest quality levels are achieved, with lowest risk to the owners as well as builder. Builder also can have his profit transparent so that it is a WIN-WIN situation to all.

Mine was Item rate billing. I figured out a new risk of clashes between architect and builder :). I had to smooth them several times. But over all I am very happy with this model, as well as with my arhictect and with my builder.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Its all about planning - "Build and Make" Part 2

Welcome back folks. This article is continuation of my series of posts regarding experiences of building house in Bangalore

Link to Part 1

It is very important that you spend very good amount of time for planning your house. Better to get it planned by an experienced Architect. Finding a good architect is again a challenge. Better is through reference, as if happened to me. One of my good friends and colleague Harinath suggested his Architect - Sathya Prakash Varanasi. My wife and I just called him and got an appointment and met him one fine day. We had still not decided when to start building. It was Oct 2008. Sathya gave a big list of houses he had built and asked us to go and visit them. This was before even discussing what kind of house we need. It is very important to apply your mind and imagine your self in the new home starting from day one to D-day. Better you can imagine, greater will be the output. Its all about thinking and a lots and lots of common sense.

Any architect will ask you few basic questions without which he will not be able to design a house for you.
  1. What is your budget - Usually you dont know what he is talking about. Its tooo early to decide. Isnt it ? But you should definitely know what is the maximum money you can spend on it
  2. What do you need in your house : This is mostly like - A living, A drawing, A Dining, A Kitchen, A Foyer, A court yard, A pooja, A Car porch, A Garden, A swimming pool, A Library, A Study room, A sit out, A jagali, A stilt, A Balcony, A rental unit and a number of Bed rooms and bath rooms. You need to really think what you definitely need and what your really don't need. Usually an Architect will study your lifestyle, your needs, your site characteristics and designs accordingly. But its YOU who should make him design what YOU need. As per me- An Architect is a facilitator for planning, executing the project of making your home. If an architect forces you to accept his design, he is a very poor at his profession. Good designer gets into an interrogation mode and asks you a lot of questions before even starts to write any lines on paper. Few questions really put you into too much of deep thinking that you have to really think for days and discuss with all family members to answer him.
  3. Observe: Have you really observed what is compound design of your neighbor ever? Have you really seen deeper what kind of flooring that your friend has done? What could be the dimension of your cousin's bed room ? I am sure, if you have never built a home, you would have not observed them. You have to observe a lot before planning your home. Building a home transforms you, for sure.
  4. When do you need your house: This is another important factor. Time. If you have a deadline you need to discuss during planning stage itself. But I would suggest to have no constraint over time. Mine took almost a year starting from execution. More than a year starting from planning
  5. Any other constraints and Discussion: THINK about any other constraints, like - Cost, Schedule, Number of rooms, Rental unit, Income from your home, Home loan, EMI pay backs, Parking lot, Garden.
  6. THINK about site conditions: Less light, less Air, Water, Slope on wrong side, Un-even dimensions, Uneven surfaces, Corner, Dead end sites. All these factors your should keep in mind while designing
  7. THINK about what materials to use. Whether you need to use bricks, cement blocks, hallow clay blocks, wire cut bricks, stones, mesh walls. What kind of doors and windows you go with - Wood, if so which wood. Fiber, Steel and many new materials that are coming up in market. Discuss about flooring options - Granite, Wood, Marble, Clay tiles, Ceramic tiles, Vetrified tiles etc. You need to discuss pros and cons of all.
  8. THINK of 6 factors always -> Cost, Aesthetics, Safety, Durability, Maintainability, Usability
  9. As a ball park estimate keep at least 3 to 4 months just for planning. And have as much discussions as possible with your family members and your architect. Be a THINKer, OBSERVer, MANAGer
During planning stage, there are few other things that comes into picture.
  • Agreement with Architect and fees: There are many ways that architect charges you the fees. Better to fix the amount based on ball park estimate and agree to it on paper. I suggest that it should not be based on the total amount of expenditure. If that is the case, there might me chances that architect tries to enlarge your cost so that he can make more money. My architect did a ball park estimate and fixed 5.5% of that amount as his fees. There were 6 parameters he considered to arrive at the figure. It is pretty accurate, I am realizing now :)
  • Selection of Contractor: This is another important stage. Most of the times architect would suggest the contractors that they have been working before. Its good to choose one. So that they both are in synch. But the risk is, both can make a team and deeply fry you by increasing the cost. If you have another contractor the risk would be that Architect and Contractor might not go well.
If you know Edward Deming's Quality model, apply it.. PDCA - Plan Do Check and Act. Planning is everything about building new home. Because it reduces a lot of re-work.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Build and Make - Experience sharing

There is a saying in Kannada - "
Mane katti nodu, maduve maadi nodu
which means, Experience building home and Perform a marriage function. Both are not-so-easy tasks in India.

I started the project of making our sweet home a few years back. Spent more than a year in search of good plot and finally got a plot in Padmanabhanagar. But I can say at that moment we had nothing in our mind regarding our home. We just bought a plot.

After around two years when our finance got little stabilized, many close relatives forced us to build a house. It took around 4 to 6 months to decide whether to build at that moment not. It's in Oct 2008, that we decided to build and make our new home.

Now that our sweet little home is almost ready, I wish to log all my experiences during making of the same. It might be useful for some of you who want to build and make your new home :)

It will be a series of posts that concentr