All talk of low cost house construction in Kerala starts with talking about a foreigner Architect,Mr.Lawrie Baker who lived and died in Kerala.He propagated a certain type of house construction as Low cost House construction about twenty years back.
Though house construction technology has grown in his absence In Kerala,most of the materials for house construction available about twenty years back are either missing or have turned in to costing too much to afford for low cost house construction.
Salient features of low cost house construction introduced by Architect Lawrie Baker were the following:
1.Walls using good quality red bricks with very good finish in appearance
2.Reduce use of concrete and steel for concrete reinforcement
3.More use of Arches
4.Environment friendly design allowing better lighting and ventilation inside rooms
5,.Different,attractive external appearance for the house using better masonry work
6.Avoid plastering to reduce cost
7.Reduce use of wood
He had a different outlook to methods of construction and he trained quite a few Architects of Kerala in his style of design and construction and few of them still follow his methods in construction.
If you look at Kerala House construction before Ar.Lawrie Baker ,you can see that earlier “Asaris’ who acted as architects considered wood as most important material for house construction.House construction in those days were practically work of wood workers assisted in parts by masons working with laterite stones.In those days both material like wood and labour were very cheap
.When it came to days of Lawrie Baker material was considered costly and hence to be saved even at the cost of increased labour charges as labour was cheap and easily available those days.A good mason used to get daily wages of about Rs.50/- for working about ten hours! Apart from lower wages construction labour was running behind house owners for work with fake respect!
Today we stand to face almost disappearing materials for house construction.Even if available you have to pay whatever fancy figures the supplier may demand.Labour is equally costly and extremely difficult to get.House owner will have to run behind labour these days to get their services at terms demanded by them.Because of the earlier running behind of construction labour for work,even today most of the people think all those related to construction including qualified experienced architects should treat it as a favour for giving work to them and I face this mentality almost everyday.In this situation,how do we reduce cost of constructing a house in Kerala?
In present day condition,both labour and material are costly and difficult to get.So we have to find ways to reduce cost of both labour and material.As both labour and material suppliers are not ready to reduce their costs,we can only try to reduce use of these for construction.To do it without compromising on quality of construction,we need services of experts.How do we find out experts in house construction?
Any one who have simply passed out of Engineering college cannot be treated as an expert.Our system of education is such that our educational institutions do not bring out people who are capable of doing the work well.
With my experience in designing more than 1000 houses in Kerala and directly building from beginning to end more than two hundred houses in different parts of Kerala,I can tell you that each new construction poses new problems to me and I learn from each new construction.I naturally correct my mistakes in earlier project in the new project.In fact each new project make me more qualified and experienced to give you a better design and better management of house construction.
Most of the people think that any one who can draw a plan of the house is good enough as long as he demands lesser money for the plan or nothing! Nothing is definitely better!
Plan of the house is the most important critical document which decides or avoids unwanted cost in construction of a house.A more qualified more experienced professional can give you a better design as experience might have taught him to make use of the available space for better use, avoiding wastages in space and cost.So ,do not go for that low cost plan of the house if you want lower cost of construction.To save a few thousands to an Architect,you will be loosing lakhs in cost of construction and finally you will end up with a house with lots of inconvenience,improper unwanted spaces in the house.Quite of lot of people realise the defects in plan and design of the house after they spend many lakhs and reach structure completion stage of a house construction.Many people call me to correct mistakes at that stage of construction.I express my inability to do anything to correct it at that stage.
Some people or most of the people also think that getting a plan and Elevation from a qualified person is all that is required.They think contractor will manage everything afterwards.Yes.He will manage to save his money and increase his profit in doing the construction.To save your money and to get quality construction,a qualified experienced construction professional should give continuous detailed drawings,instructions and supervision at every stage of construction from beginning to end.Naturally contractor may increase his rates if such professional monitoring of work is brought in by you as he cannot do many of those adjustments to save both material and labour costs, not for you but for increasing his profit.
Apart from all these construction technology is rapidly changing bringing new construction methods ,technology and trends.A professional if associated with the work continuously can guide you on this saving you money and getting better quality and utility for your construction