Friday, September 26, 2008

Square feet cost of a building

There is a general mistaken notion that there is something called square feet cost for construction of a building irrespective of location, site conditions, soil conditions, difference in design and input costs.
No professional can predict cost of any building simply on square feet basis.
We have to first prepare a plan of the proposed building.
Prepare an Engineering estimate for the proposed building after considering site and soil conditions, based on structural design of the building to be prepared by a qualified structural consultant.
Only after these steps an approximate figure of costing can be arrived at.
Without even preparing a plan, only non professional contractors can talk of square feet cost.No such contractor has ever completed construction of any house within that promised cost except in cases where he has kept the figures comfortably high thereby extracting a bigger margin. Otherwise he will compromise on quality standards and input material and labour.
Only after preparing the plan we will know the exact area of the house to be built.Square feet area is not directly proportional to the cost.It is only one of the several factors contributing to cost of building
Engineering estimate is not based on square feet plinth area of a building. It is based on quantity of each item of construction like brick work, concrete, plastering etc.To make it more clear to you, 20 feet by 20 feet hall is of 400 sft in the carpet area. It will be about 500 sft in Plinth area. In the same square feet area, if you build two rooms, cost will be high as the material and work input changes. Square feet plinth area is not the deciding factor for cost. If you have larger rooms, cost per square feet decreases and if you have smaller rooms, cost per square feet increases. A person who has taken up construction of the house simply based on square feet plinth area as basis of costing will find it difficult to follow instructions of structural consultant to use steel reinforcement as designed by him for all concrete components of the building. Similarly he will find it difficult to comply with demands of the Architect for the building as per architectural detailed design to be developed by the Architect.
After the structure work is finished we will have better picture on the finishing works for the house.For items like Electrical, Plumbing, Flooring, Painting usual contractors talk of certain type of material as their standard and for anything better extra charges will be applicable .
Initially data will be available only for the structure work. That too only after finalisation of the Basic Plan.At this stage, without even preparing a Basic Plan, we will not have any data to predict cost of a building.Non professional contractors give some figures and try to adjust on quality of construction to obtain profit within the price quoted, in cases where client insists on paying only based on plinth area costing. Otherwise he will go on demanding extra charges and rate revision due to price escalation and “special and extra works”.
Major cost saving and better utility of the house is obtained from proper design of the house. A good experienced Architect can provide you the following at the design stage itself and a well designed plan can save you substantial amount of money and proper utility for every inch of your building.
1. Utilization of available space of building in the most appropriate manner without any wastage.
2. Modern architectural design.
3. Proper ventilation for each room and scientific placing of rooms and other areas to get maximum utility and better appearance.
4. Compliance to Vasthu principles.
5. Multi dimensional elevation, giving you bigger appearance from outside and attractive views from different sides.
6. Cost effective design which reduces cost without compromising on quality.
7. Complete professional structural, architectural design and interior and landscape design.
If you go for cheaper designs, such designs can be extremely costly during construction and you will have to live with inconveniences and sacrifice many advantages you could have obtained with a professional design.
While designing your building you should not simply go to a personally known architect or even a relative. You should go to a better professional even if his charges are a bit high. May be by charging you high he can save you many lakhs of rupees by proper design and remember that an improper design cannot be wished away after construction. You simply will have to suffer it for the sake of a few rupees saved towards design charges

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Features of Kerala architecture

23. Interior wood work with carvings
Traditionally Kerala houses had interior wood work done with wood carvings by skilled artisans. In the earlier days house was built with wood, brick and clay tiles. Content of wood was very high as the cost was not high.Arappura, Pathayam, Machu (sealing between tiled roof and Room space) were all done by wood and mostly teak wood. Verandahs and living halls were having round pillars in woodof rosewood or teak with decorative carvings on top and bottom
Even today this wood work and carving work is used in high cost houses being built in Kerala with all the beauty and splendor of yester years. Some of the wood work now being used can be classified into following types
1. Charupady for sit out and balcony (Fully covered and partially covered)
2. Wood paneling of wall on either side of main door which can be opened as two parts to either side with carving work and possibly with pictorial lock like manichitrathazhu
3. Wood paneling for round pillars inside the house
4. Wooden flooring
5. Wood paneling with top carving work for inside room walls
6. Decorative cots in wood with designs similar to cots of old Kings
7. Stair case posts with carving
8. Cup boards and sofas with carved back rests
9. Modular kitchen with wooden cabinets for storage and proper keeping of kitchen utensils and tools(This is a modern day addition)
10. Wood carved Mukhappu above tiled slope roof
11. Wood carved Thoomanam
12. Aattu Kattil
Kerala Architecture has rich tradition and there was never an attempt to collect valuable details and traditional styles and methods used by Kerala Architects of olden days. Anyone with more information on features of Kerala Architecture and practices earlier used by Kerala architects may please write to us with details to be included in this website. Corrections or additions to details already given are also welcome
You can email to us at or

Features of Kerala Architecture

21. Clay tile laying on roof and floor
Traditionally clay tiles were used for floor of the Kerala House and Kerala houses or rather Kerala style of roof is supposed to be slope roofs with clay tiles laid over wooden reepers and wooden koodu with wooden thulam,kazhukkol etc properly installed by old asaris with precision
As wood became costlier and when concrete roof became popular, Kerala Architects tried to give similar old Koodu appearance with slope roof concrete as roof which will later have clay tiles laid over it complete with old Mukhappu and Thoomanam. Mukhappu comes at the top of the sloping portions of the slope roof and sometimes in the middle of one side of slope roof. This appearance is also achieved by using steel fabricated koodu structure with tiles laid over steel reepers
Thoomanam used to be made by wood at the bottom end where clay tile reaches at the bottom. Rain water falling on the slope roof will flow down fast due to the slope and when water reaches the bottom of the slope roof, Thoomanam will act as a diverter to direct water directly towards ground instead of it flowing inside to wall of the house
In the earlier days plain or carved with picture design wooden Thoomanam used to be fitted by traditional Kerala asaris, usually painted dark blue. As wood is now costly, precast concrete Thoomanam with attractive designs are now being used in place of wooden Thoomanam
Now clay tiles of smaller dimensions and of different shapes are available. I can give website details of one of the clay tile manufacturers in
Even on floor we can use these clay tiles which are healthier to use as they do not have negative energy unlike other normally used flooring materials. Here again different models and designs are available of course with better strength and practically wear and tear resistant. If you give an antifungal exterior paint over these tiles it will go without any fungus for about five years. Costly baked with antifungal paint claytiles are also available which will last longer fungus resistant
22. Wooden flooring
Earlier we used to have wooden flooring in Kerala houses with less finish and without modern wood polishing. Now different type of wood in small to slightly big pieces arranged neatly to give good appearance with good polishing which last longer is available for flooring. As wood cost is now going up, cost of wooden flooring is also on the rise. But wooden flooring is really comfortable and healthy also

Friday, September 5, 2008

Features of Kerala Architecture

17. Car porch
Current trend is to go for car porch which can accommodate two cars. Car porch is generally considered as a show piece or status symbol showing to others the type of car the house owner has. Hence in some cases it is kept in the front in the middle, possibly with a slope roof above car porch with decorative round pillars. To add elegance, four pillars in the front and back with long steps in the back is also provided. Two front pillars can come on either side of the car porch portion. Similarly for the rear side of car porch
More convenient arrangement will be to provide car porch on any one side of the house with a side step access to the sit out so that after getting down from car porch, one can go to the house through side steps to front verandah and from there to the house
As per Vasthu, there are desired positions for car porch depending on to which direction the house faces. Unlike in the west, car porch is never closed in Kerala
18. Aaattu Kattil
This feature was quite common in old Kerala houses. Generally the old houses used to have a large Hall like portion, with Nadumuttom in the middle. Attu kattil is a swinging piece of wood tied to the roof on all four sides with rope. The person or persons sitting in the large piece of wood can swing to and fro while sitting in the Aaattu Kattil. This feature is added to modern houses with more decorative work for the sitting piece of wood and ropes holding it to the roof
19. Chitra thoonukal
Pillars in wood or rubble with carvings or decorative works used to add elegance to the Hall portion of the old Kerala houses. Even though adding wood pillars is quite costly, this feature is being added to modern houses also. Pictures are carved into such pillars of Rubble In the case of wood pillars generally it is plain round pillars with polished surface
20. Mural paintings
These paintings used to adorn old Kerala building walls. Generally these paintings depict stories from epics of India.
Present houses have these paintings as decorative piece of art and not used extensively covering all walls as in old houses