Building a house your way

TRENDS

Building a house your way

Greater flexibility : Independent houses mean you are in control, from the planning stage to decor. Photo by the author

“Is it your own house, or is it rented?” This was the most common query when you told someone where you lived. Telling them that it was an ‘own house’ would elicit a response of awe combined with envy. And for those with ‘own houses’, it became a matter of pride to say that they owned a piece of land in the city, and the house they lived in bore their names in official records.

That was many years ago. Somewhere down the line, things changed. Apartments became fashionable, partly due to lack of available land within the city, and partly due to the ‘glamorous’ facilities offered – who wouldn’t want to live in a swanky complex, with hired security guards, swimming pools, badminton and squash courts, a gym and sauna? Now, for a variety of reasons, some people are choosing independent homes over buying a flat. The major factor in this decision seems to be the fact that with an independent home, all of their preferences can be met, right from materials used for construction to the paint, fixtures and fittings.

Different strokes...
Mitesh Gandhi, a software specialist, recently moved into his own home in Jayanagar. He says that his being a huge joint family, an independent house seemed the natural choice. “We are a family of 16. We wanted to live in one single house, and not be scattered across different flats. Earlier we used to stay in a duplex house with five bedrooms, but as the family grew there was a need for extra space. We had to decide whether we would build an independent house, or buy three flats. The decision was unanimous because we all wanted to live together. So, building an independent house made more sense.”

For Aparijith Bhandari too, it was an easy decision. “It depends on your lifestyle. We are a family of four, with two live-in maids, and always have at least four or five guests staying with us. So an independent house is better suited for our lifestyle. We have a green patch, can keep pets, and our home is suitable for entertaining visitors – all these are not always possible if you buy a flat,” he says. The Bhandaris moved in to their house on Sarjapur road a couple of years ago.

More options, flexibility
An independent house offers a variety of options: right from the planning stage, to choosing your own materials and customising it to suit your lifestyle. Davis Moses, an architect, says that this is the biggest plus. “Even if you have a small plot, you can always provide for all of your needs and preferences. Some people want a library; some others want a music room. If you have many clothes, you may want a walk-in wardrobe. With the same amount of space, you can build either a big bedroom with no study, or a smaller bedroom with a study attached. You can choose the number of bathrooms and balconies, and their sizes too. Houses are custom-made and reflect the character and personality of their owners,” he explains.

Soumotri Ghosh of Mathew and Ghosh Architects agrees. “A house can be customised 100 per cent, while an apartment is only five per cent!”

Do it yourself
It is the flexibility and ability to customise that makes many pick an independent house, though it comes at a price: building your own house requires higher investment, both in terms of money as well as time and energy that the homeowner needs to put in. “Yes, it is more expensive than buying a flat. But then, you own the piece of land. And in the long run, a house will fetch you higher return on investment than a flat,” points out Hariprasad Ranganathan, who has just obtained the clearance for a 1600sq-feet duplex house.

With not much land available in the heart of the city, people are moving towards the suburbs. Like C S Mahind, who built his own house in HSR Layout a couple of years ago.
“Commuting is not such a big issue for me. If you look at it that way, there are many gated communities that are located on the outskirts, and people continue to live there.
“I prefer an independent house because it suits my lifestyle, and I have shaped it according to my preferences and convenience. Builders sell apartments by focusing on the aesthetic aspects. For me, those don’t matter as much as utility does. I have small spaces in my house that I have used well. The net cost is more expensive because you have to pay for land and buildings. But if you evaluate the flexibility and convenience in terms of money, it makes for a very good economic proposition.”

Flats: Options limited
Moses says that structurally, flats have to have specific kinds of columns and grids, which do not allow for odd sizes, limiting the design. “Builders also save a lot of money by cutting corners.

Toilets are made tiny so that bedrooms can be made bigger. There are fewer windows because it increases the expense. The builders want to maximise their profit by settling for cheaper alternatives. At the same time they try to make the building look good and glamorous. It’s only after you live in the building for a few years that you realise what the problems are,” Moses says.

Others say that building your own house ensures that you don’t have to face the problems that flat-owners have to deal with. “The project’s progress totally depends on your payments and the builders’ commitment to keep the promise. There are cases (for flats) wherein you pay all your dues but the project will be on hold or your flat will be completed, but you will have to wait to get the occupancy certificate because of factors driven by other owners,” says Hariprasad.

But owning a house brings its fair share of issues that many flat-owners do not have to face on a daily basis. The onus of maintenance, security, repairs and upkeep are all the home owner’s. “Maintenance requires personal attention and has to be taken care of over the years in cycles,” says Ghosh. But many see this as a minor problem. “Yes, apartments have the advantages of security and maintenance.

But then once you take a decision, you can put in some effort to take steps. Now you can even hire someone for security, maintenance etc., so it’s alright,” says Mahind.
That said, most of these people say they receive the biggest return on their investment when they are actually living in the house. For there’s nothing like returning home after a hard day’s work, to a warm, inviting home that caters to your every need.

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