Careful house planning pays rich dividends. Never rush to finalise your house plan. Concentrate over it many times, visualise each room and space planned in it. Visit a few recently completed houses, get ideas and examine the house plan critically. Once groundwork is started, it becomes difficult to make too many changes. Here are some points that must be kept in mind while planning your house:
Basement to the rescue
Most urban estates offer low-lying plots these days. Plan a basement instead of filling earth in a low-lying plot. Basements serve as a good area for storage, home theatre, gym or office. These also save the floors from settlement caused by the earth filled below floors. Plan good illumination, ventilation and drainage for basement.
Design windows and doors carefully
Large-sized windows are preferred these days with the sill almost at the skirting level. Choose a window design that allows proper ventilation of rooms. Add openable shutters at the sides and provide central panel with fixed toughened glass. Provide wire mesh shutters and glazed shutters in double rebate at sides and let the air flow in. Have wire mesh doors for all outer doors as per requirement of the Indian climate.
Watch for staircase headway
Check the staircase flights to provide enough headway below them and avoid putting the signboard ‘watch your head’ later on. If a flight passes over a doorway, check that its soffit is clear of the top level of door.
Avoid multiple flooring levels
Keep same floor level for all rooms. Multiple levels can lead to accidental falling during night hours. The floor level of the bathroom, however, should be half inch below the main floor level.
Provide for water filter & piped gas
While designing the kitchen, plan convenient space for water filter and dish washer. While water filter is essential, you may like to add dishwasher anytime later. Also the future belongs to piped gas supply. Make necessary provision to connect to the mains whenever piped gas arrives in your city.
Bedroom in the front
Gone are the times when kitchen used to be essentially in front of the house. ‘Kitchen time’ has reduced dramatically these days, thanks to the availability of multiple kitchen appliances. So plan a bedroom in the front and feel in control of the house. Plan walk-in-closets next to the bedrooms. These prove to be great wardrobe organisers. You’ll get ample space to dress up. Make provision for multiple mirrors in the walk-in-closets.
Access to back courtyard
If it’s a corner plot, plan an entry to back courtyard from the side wall after getting permission from the authorities. If it is not a corner plot, then plan a side passage to reach the back courtyard from the main gate. It will be a useful addition.
LED panels for effect
Avoid hanging LEDs directly on the walls by drilling holes in them. Make provision for LED panels. Hide any loose wires behind it and create space for remotes, audio and video accessories.
Invest in solar power
The future belongs to solar power. Make provision for solar unit on the roof and connect it to bi-directional meter. Earn savings after one-time investment.
Plan cutout area safely
A cutout is planned to provide ventilation to the toilets. Use a cut out by adding green plants and a washbasin to it. Plan the roofing carefully and make it safe from burglary. Cover the cut out with iron bars grid and a polycarbonate sheet. This will make room for ventilation through verticals as well as keep the place safe.
Go for RCC slab only
Avoid using RB (reinforced brick) slabs howsoever your mason insists. Go for RCC (reinforced cement concrete) slabs designed by a competent engineer. These prove cheaper and are much more durable.
Use tiles in face work
Sleek tiles in the facework give a unique and attractive front elevation to the house. The tiles are mostly maintenance free and lend character to the house. Combine their use with plastered and painted surface to create a striking front elevation.
Make it roomy
Don’t cram the house with too many rooms and dingy washrooms. Plan lesser number of rooms with the right proportion. Go for good-sized bathrooms.
— The writer is former HoD and engineer-in-chief, Civil Engineering Department in a Punjab PSU