To build a home from scratch

To build a home from scratch

To build a home from scratch
Before the construction process of a house can begin, a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration. Purchasing a plot is the first step that needs to be taken when one plans on building a house. Aside from just choosing the right location on a macro scale, it is important on a micro scale as well.

Purchasing land
Checking the surrounding area is as important as surveying the particular location. Also, the location should be free from land-related issues. Vastu compliance may also be checked for, while purchasing the land. Terrain conditions should be taken into consideration.

Ideally, the site should be situated on an elevated place and also levelled with uniform slopes from one end to the other so as to provide good and quick drainage of rainwater. The land should not be prone to frequent flooding or earthquakes.

The ground soil of the site should be good enough to provide economical foundations for the intended building without causing problems. It is important to check the village map, zonal map and land use as per city master plan.

The land use and zonal regulations need to be checked, as they would be a deciding factor for whether or not a house may be constructed on the land. They would also govern the specific aspects of the house such as the height, floor area etc.

Once the plot has been selected, a clear title for the land or plot must be obtained. Clear title ensures that the property is clear, marketable and it traces any charges or encumbrances created on the property and its present status.

It enables the buyer to know the chain of holdings, transferrings over time and checks any dispute on the ownership of the property.While deciding to buy a property, a basic check can also be done by the buyer, by pulling out the Encumbrance Certificate from the local sub-registrar office to check ownership/lien status of land.

Once the plot has been finalised, professionals such as architects, engineers, contractors etc. may be employed. The professionals must be registered with the concerned authority like Council Of Architecture or local development authority.

If a contractor is being engaged, then the terms and conditions need to be specified in writing to him. The construction schedule, payment terms, quality of work, quality of material etc. must be detailed in the contract specification.

The designing process
The proposed sizes of rooms, their function, and the needs and activities of the occupants will determine the layout and dimensions of the house. Listing possible occupants would help determine what spaces would be required for their activities. Listing pets, livestock, buildings for vehicles, equipment etc, would allow for additional requirements to be taken into consideration. Approximate total square footage of required living areas may be derived by this method.

Circumstances particular to the family that may affect design (physically challenged people, medical needs, noise considerations, lighting, air quality, temperature control etc.) must also be specified so as to include it in the design.

Apart from the functionality, aesthetic aspects must also be specified as they would add to the experience and comfort level of the home. The view, amount of natural light and ventilation required in different spaces and privacy requirement are some of the things to think about while deciding on the design.

Home automation, if required, must be specified as it would need to be incorporated in the drawings. Materials and finishes to be used would need to be decided on keeping in mind durability, cost, skills required for installation, availability and maintenance.

Designs are reviewed multiple times and changes are made, if necessary. The next step requires an approval from authorities for sanction of building plans/ building permit under the provisions of building by-laws, master plan and local body Acts. The building approval comprises the building plan and the layout approval for the construction of the building.

Local development authorities like the BDA, BBMP, BESCOM, BWSSB, pollution control department, airport authority if coming under airport zone must be consulted too.

Budgeting & estimation
Estimates will depend on the actual design and drawing of the house, market rate of materials and labour. However, an approximate estimate can be done before that. Construction cost depends on the quality of construction and the finishes.

Construction practices
Construction planning is a fundamental and challenging activity in the management and execution of construction projects. It involves the choice of technology, the definition of work tasks, the estimation of the required resources and durations for individual tasks, and the identification of any interactions among the different work tasks.

Requirements for construction to begin on site
Access to water (underground/tanker/well etc)
Access to electricity for night time activity as well as for equipment to be used (if any)
Ease of transportation of material to and from the site
Equipment for various construction activities both manual and otherwise
Labour force both skilled & unskilledSafety precautions and emergency contingency to be set in place

Foundation work: For designing strong and economical foundations, soil testing is very important. Bearing capacity of the soil, also called soil strength, has impact on the way the foundation should be laid.

Steel reinforcement: Reinforcement through steel rebar is one of the best forms of reinforcement to take care of all kinds of stresses generated in the structure. It is advised that the same type and grade of steel be used in a structural member. Make sure to obtain the steel reinforcement detailing from the engineer. It is called bar bending schedule (BBS). This schedule contains all the details of size, shape and dimension of rebar to be cut.

Here is a checklist for steel reinforcement:
It should be free of loose rust, oil paints, mud etc.
It should be cut, bent and fixed properly
Fixed in a position by using cover blocks, spacers, supporting bars, and laps etc.
It should be placed and tied such that concrete placement is possible without segregation, and compaction is possible by an immersion vibrator.

Concreting: Proper grade of concrete should be developed using adequate quantities of cement, sand, stone chips and water. A mixer should be used to ensure uniform distribution of the material.

Concrete pouring should happen within 30 to 60 minutes of preparation. It should be poured in layers without breaking the continuity with maximum free fall of concrete not exceeding 1.5 metres. Lastly, compaction around steel bars and the corners of the structure should be carried out using vibrators.

Curing is the final step in completing a reinforced cement concrete (RCC) structure. It prevents moisture loss from the concrete or mortar and maintains the required humidity for reaction of cement in achieving its strength. It should be started after 12 to 24 hours on drying surfaces and should be continued for a minimum of seven to 14 days.

Upon the completion of the building construction, application for the ‘Building Completion Certificate’ followed by Occupancy Certificate must be submitted to the local authorities.

If the building construction is completed as per the building approval plan and if it also meets other building standards like distance from road, height of the building, if rain water harvesting system is in place etc. the civic authorities issue the Completion Certificate. Once the Completion Certificate is received, Occupation Certificate needs to be obtained from the civic bodies, before you can start residing in your home.

(The author is project manager-associate, KGD Architecture, Bengaluru)