Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Foundation of the building

Having built houses in different parts of state of Kerala,I have come across different beliefs in different areas about foundation work for a building.

Kerala is yet to reach a situation were professionals are sought for design and construction of a building.Professional Architect and structural Engineer is considered to be ornamental requirements for those who build large costly houses.Most of the professionals of Kerala are also responsible to a great extent for this alienation from the majority of their possible clientele ,as they never tried to make themselves easily accessible to their possible clients.

People of Kerala have this peculiar behavior where they try to avoid making payments to professionals for their services.I have come across several people who ask “Why you want to take thousands of rupees for drawing some lines as plan of the house?”They will not bother about spending lakhs of rupees but spending few thousands will be extremely painful to them especially if it is design charges or consultation charges.For such services they expect the professional to be happy with whatever they may please to pay without specifying any specific fees or charges.

In different locations of Kerala  people are following certain practices for doing foundation of a building without bothering to check with a qualified professional to see whether that procedure is the right ,technically correct way of doing foundation of a building.

In most of the places especially in southern Kerala people believe that excavation for foundation of a building should be at least six feet deep.Soil in most of these places are quite strong and in some places it is even hard laterite.There is no point in breaking this solid soil strata to have “deep excavation”.Technically depth of excavation do not matter much if you have a stable soil.Of course having wider excavation helps to increase strength of foundation.

After excavation in most of the places people use dry pack rubble foundation.Instead of doing rubble dry pack foundation carefully with good tight packing,rubble is simply thrown into the deep excavation area leaving lots of gap in between rubble pieces.This actually weakens foundation.In stable soil conditions you do not need more than two feet depth for excavation.It is better to make it about 45 cm so that foundation when done with careful dry packing of rubble will have about 15 cm projecting up.This 15 cm or slightly lower projection of foundation due to ups and downs of ground level can be used to raise ground level slightly higher.

Once the foundation dry packing of rubble is done fill the gaps of rubble work with crusher sand  using water forced into the foundation as can be seen in the pictures below





Force fill crusher sand into rubble foundation till water will not go down any more thus making your foundation rubble work one monolithic  water tight rubble work. You can  then be sure of strength of your rubble foundation.

Above proposed ground level rubble foundation is called Basement.You can either do it again with dry pack rubble work(which I recommend)or Rubble work in cement mortar.In case you do daypack,point outside of basement with mortar to fill gaps between rubble pieces.Again fill inside of basement with red sand for filling and force fill this sand into basement rubble work using water forced inside as in the case of foundation this time from inside basement.Top of basement may be given a plastering with mortar.See pictures.



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Is Architect just a drawing worker?

When I see the behavior and reactions of some of my clients I get a feeling that they consider an Architect as simply some one to draw plan and Elevation of building as per some cranky ideas they may have.

Quite often I have come across situations caused by highly inflated ego of the client who thinks and demands that Architect should simply follow his orders and as the person spending money , Architect should simply act as a paid employee  and nothing else.

In this modern age a paid employee is not supposed to be a simply yes man obeying by word even foolish directions given by the boss .Employee today is supposed to be more informed than the boss possibly due to his knowledge and expertise at least in a field of knowledge.As a person who knows better ,employee is supposed to advise his boss  and direct him to better course of action using his better knowledge and intelligence.

When I was building house at Ootty from the very beginning,my client was simply vetoing most of what I advised him based on my knowledge and experience simply citing the reason as he working as Vice president of his company managing much bigger budgets than What I am managing.That is no reason to allow him to go on doing blunder after blunder simply because money involved is his.In spite of my mild reminders he was insisting on making wrong decisions over ruling my suggestions,with the argument that when he spends money ,things should be done as he pleases.After few reminders I will leave matters to his choice and I will simply watch him doing mistakes after mistakes wasting his own money in the process.On quite a few occasions I reminded him that there is no point in hiring an expert if he is not willing to follow his advices.

Another client of mine who came to me for designing his house after not satisfied with work done by other Architects earlier gave me a list of his requirements and when I gave him the design he was quite pleased with it and expressed it.Suddenly he realised that square feet plinth area of the house is higher than his expectations as he happened to be one of those persons who think that cost of a house is simply dependant on square feet plinth area and nothing else.He then asked me to cut down plinth area drastically without reducing any of his requirements for the house.I said that it is not possible.Then he started literally abusing me and told me that Architect is supposed to  obey whatever client asked him to do.

In another rather funny case an NRI client of mine approached me for design and construction of house at Cochin attracted to me after reading my blogs.He has a six cents land with lot of restrictions.When I put down his requirements into a drawing,the land was not sufficient to meet all his needs.When Vasthu compliance is brought in it reduces flexibility of the Architect as certain positions for a particular type of rooms are essential to comply with Vasthu.After using all my creative and experience capabilities,I came up with a plan which was a compromise on his demands and requirements within the limitations of land ,vasthu and building rules.He was very much upset and started demanding me to do impossible tasks.I had no option other than saying bye to him.There are several such stories basically due to ignorance  and highly inflated ego of the client which I do not want to go on narrating.

Basically you hire an expert to get the best.Of course you are spending your money and you have every right and reason to put forward  your wishes and demands.But when an experienced expert advises you,you should have the wisdom to listen to him.No professional is going to insist you to accept his advices.It is for you to try to understand why he is advising you possibly against your demands.If you chose to ignore his advices and go on with satisfaction of your ego,finally when you realise the mistake,it will be too late and you can only suffer your losses due to wrong decisions.

In my work sites,I listen to practically illiterate workers and try to accept their suggestions wherever i feel that it is worth it.I never keep my ego between their suggestions and my acceptance of it.By experience they may have so many valid suggestions worth examining.Unless I am clear that it is wrong,I try to accept it for the benefit of better work.I have learned a lot through interactions with practically illiterate workers.So it is the idea which is more important not the man who put it forward.