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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- THINK of 6 factors always -> Cost, Aesthetics, Safety, Durability, Maintainability, Usability
- 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
- 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.