Sunday, January 30, 2011

Query on landscape and House Construction for USA based NRI


Dear Mr. Thomas
I was going thru your website and found very interesting.
I have got an enquiry/advice;
Last 3 years back I built my house, there is no compound wall.
Now I want to construct compound wall with gate and a very good landscaping with tiles.
What is the economical but yet stronger and lifespan models available. What will be the approx. cost.
Do you have any contractor who can do this job for me.
I am residing at Thevalakkara near Karunagappally.
Manu Alex

My reply

It will be better if I can visit the site.I can assess house construction work done,suggest ways to improve utility and appearance,check Vasthu compliance and suggest on landscaping and gate construction.We can also consider deputing our people for the work to be done after site visit.


Hi I have my old house in the land where I am planning to build my new house. I need to demolish that and make new one - my plan is for a 2-storied house, with 3 bedrooms on the 1st floor and two on ground floor. Rest of the things I would like to discuss with you on phone. Please let me know your convenient time so that I can make a call.

Martin of Massachusetts,USA


Yes.I can take up design and construction of your house with the best you can expect from a professional qualified and experienced in house design and construction in Kerala

I have to start preferably with a site visit and study in detail about your requirements,dreams and hopes for your house

You can call me in the evening our time in India

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Query again on square feet labour contract rate


sir                                                                                                   I am planning to build a house in Trivandrum.while giving for labour contract which area is to be calculated is it plinth or carpet area?


My reply

Labour contract or square feet rate contract are basically crude methods of engaging work on contract basis and is not approved or recommended by any good professional.

Non professional contractors use these crude methods  like some one trying to catch a fish by offering a bait of food by hiding the steel hook inside food.These rates are just a lie  given to you initially by the non professional contractor to get you inside his arm.Once you are caught you cannot escape.After you start work,no other contractor will come to take up work even if you feel compelled to do away with original contractor.

As the work progresses  contractor will start demanding extras and you will end up paying much more than original agreed rates as you have little or no alternate way of completing your construction.
In any labour contract,non professional contractor will try to reduce labour content in the work to increase his profit even at the cost of quality of construction for which he will pay only lip services.
He will continue to misguide you and will try to convince you that wrong practices of construction adopted by him to increase his profit are the right way of doing the work.
If you have an independent qualified and experienced professional to provide drawings,specifications and instructions for the work continuously then situation can improve.In such a scenario,the contractor will either leave the contract or ask for increased rate
Whether the contractor considers plinth area or carpet area for calculating amount payable to him is for him to answer.Mostly they consider plinth area  as measured by them which again will be higher than actual plinth area.

If you need professional guidance, design ,detailed drawings for the work,we can be of assistance to you

Friday, January 28, 2011

Query again on square feet cost


Hello Sir,

I came across you blog while searching in the net for the current labor contract rates in Thiruvananthapuram. We are planning on renovating our home. The plan was prepared by a qualified engineer but due to some personal issues on the engineer's part he could not take the work. So we decided on giving the project to another person based on labor contract. The square foot rate he has given us seems a bit unreasonable. The property is in Vellayambalam Thiruvananthapuram and the rate given to us is Rs. 300 per square foot. When I enquired around I came to know that this is indeed really unreasonable. Could you please give me a fair idea about the current labor rates per square foot in Thiruvananthapuram? Hope to get a reply soon.

Thanks and Regards,


My reply

People are obsessed with square feet rate! Even for remodeling and renovation work ,square feet rate contractor comes!

First of all you have to understand that every non professional contractor who take up work on square feet rate for labour contract tries to do the work with as little labour content as possible.Even when there is a qualified experienced Engineer to supervise the work he will try to save labour cost even at the cost of quality of work.When there is no professional involved contractor will try to teach you that the way he does the work is the best method and procedure.

Best option especially for a remodeling renovation work is to fix unit rates for each item of work to be done in consultation with an expert.

In your case I can visit Trivandrum site, study work involved and suggest on work to be done, check Vasthu compliance and fix up labour rates for each item if the contractor is willing to co operate.If contractor is not a reasonable person,he will not do anything even if I tell him that his square feet rate is high

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Queries on septic tank,Overhead tank,waste pits,clay tile polishing


Hi Sir,
   While surfing i got a chance to visit your blog, the site is informative and content rich.
I'm planning to construct a house I've a couple of doubts about septic tank capacity,
I'm planning to use two 750 liters overhead tank 
My house is having 3 bedrooms with attached toilet and a common toilet. In addition to this there two sinks one in kitchen and work area
The soil is good and normal rubble foundation is what recommended after soil testing
How can we arrive @  the capacity of septic tank, since drainage facility is not yet available in our area
  - What is the capacity of septic tank required for my house
- Do we need to construct separate septic tank for kitchen/work area and bathrooms
- Which one is better a ready made septic tank or to construct one.
- What is the maintenance period of a septic tank, i.e in what interval we need to do the cleaning
- Is there any other points to be considered before constructing a septic tank
Please advice me on this. When you are free .
with regards
Lalu George

My reply

You need professional guidance ,drawings and supervision from beginning to end of house construction and you picking up little bit of information on house construction from many people combined with misguiding you by contractor to save cost to increase his profit  will give you a house with lot of  quality problems,and insufficiencies.

There is no substitute for professional guidance and you will save lot of money by having  professional guidance even after considering fees payable to a professional

Three bed room house does not require two  750 liters over head tank.A normal family of four people will not use more than 500 liters of water in a day.So you need to go for only one 750 liter tank.

Septic tank with brick walls and plastering will be costly and over a period of time tree routes may damage brick walls.So use only Ferro cement  septic tank and underground water storage tank.Your Architect will select appropriate size septic tank in consultation with the manufacturer for your house.

For disposal of waste water from kitchen,wash basins and bath rooms waste pit is required and not septic tank.Here again your Architect will advise you on specifications of such waste pits.Septic tank cleaning may be required after ten years or more.At present live bacteria is available which when poured as per instructions through closet can clean septic tank within a few months.Use of such a product available in market can help clean septic tank without any hassles.


I read an article in Kerala Architecture and House construction on clay
tiles for indoor use.I am already purchased and installation of terracotta
tiles in my home is under progress. However manufacturer/installer has
given different opinion on polishing. Please clarify.
You are suggesting polyurethane coating on terracotta flooring. This
coating needs any special care?
How it apply.
what is the commercial name of this coating.
Is machine cleaning is required after installation of tiles.
How it apply.
Where it is available.
please give your suggestions
Rajasekharan Pillai.G

My reply

Clay tile is manufactured  by using good quality mud only by reputed manufacturers.Others use low quality mud which in turn can affect strength of clay tile.With lesser strength,clay tile used in floor can get damaged by wear and tear over a period of time.

You should never do machine cleaning over clay tile.It will damage and remove the top coating on clay tile.After laying  of clay tiles you should cure it with water for few days.Thus mortar joining clay tiles will get strengthened.After curing period of at least seven days are over wash surface of clay tile laid with heavily diluted acetic acid.Leave it for drying for few days.

After the tile is dried  apply polish by hand.You can use polish material like mansion polish.After this polishing surface of clay tile will become moisture resistant.As an additional precaution you can apply poly urethane coating which you can buy from any paint shop.

It is available in Cochin,Coimbatore etc.In small towns it may not be available.Poly urethane coating is not essential if polishing is done well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Query on Elevation for house under construction


Dear  Mr.  Thomas,

I have seen your blogs in the internet.

I am constructing a house and the construction has reached up to the lintel level near Ettumanoor.  I did not finalise the Elevation of my house.

Can you please design an elevation and 3D view if I send to you the Plans. You can charge me for the above. If you would like to visit the site I can arrange.

Awaiting your valuable reply.

Best Regards,


My reply

Lot of people have a mistaken notion that Elevation of the house is something independent of Plan of the house.If you need a good Elevation ,Architect who prepare plan of the house will have to prepare plan of the house in a manner by which a good Elevation is possible.

Having finalised plan of the house and construction reaching lintel level,there are of course constraints in designing a better Elevation.With a site visit I can study the matter,comment on work so far done,check Vasthu compliance and suggest changes that can improve on external appearance of the building.You will have to send me plan of the house before site visit so that I can  come prepared during site visit

Monday, January 24, 2011

Queries on Kerala Style house in Chennai,Modular Kitchen and square feet cost


Dear Sir, We have a G+1 floor house at Chennai, we wish to construct one more floor using wooden structure of Kerala Heritage house. Is it possible to relocate? we can discuss all details, in case you see a possibility. regards,

Chidamber PL

My reply

There are people in Kerala who buy old houses with lot of traditional wood work,knock it down and recreate it anywhere.Even though they buy at lower cost,they charge very high.

So It will be better to do the work using new material keeping all good features of traditional  Kerala work.If interested we can work out details.


Dear Thomas,
Surfing through the NET in search of someone to provide technical advise on Kitchen designing , came across your web site and felt you can help me to get my Kitchen designed and arranged in a proper manner. Based in Vypin, my house is now under construction and wish to get your professional advise for my upcoming house's kitchen. My kitchen's plan would be as per the attached photo (it is from your own site) as its entrance from West and the window side is East and the out door is towards South as it is opening out to a work area room .
Hope to hear from you soon to discuss more details.
Thank you for your time.

I can visit your house under construction and give my suggestions on pending works and comments on work already done.I can also do a Vasthu evaluation of the house
After the visit,I can give you offer for design and construction of modular Kitchen and other interior work.I can get the work done with professional care and quality with my workers and professional team.


I have 7 cents in an housing plot.Again the reliability, management style of your company, man and material active reference from your list, all are important  factors for my decision making process. Also the budgeting part for a medium house 2500 sq. feet is very essential. I will be visiting Kochi, during the month of March. I can make a deal,  Why don't give me a figure, which you have already constructed from your list.

.Again I am well aware no body can pin point the right figure with respect to material handling of house constructions.. But as a marketing point of view, there is a figure. 1+ is always two ?  

My reply

Unlike non professional contractors who try to get contract by telling lies ,I do not have to tell lies to get business.As a qualified and experienced professional in the field,after directly constructing more than 200 houses in Kerala,I can tell that if some one talk of a square feet cost of construction without studying site conditions and without a design of the house,it can only be a lie
If you are  going to give work related to your house only if I tell a lie,I do not want that work.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Farm House in Andhra Pradesh-Query and reply


I am totally impressed with your designs and I need a farm house design from your side for which I need your commercial terms...The design need to be mediocre in a south facing plot of 146 ft. x 150ft..

On hearing from you we will proceed further
warm regards
Ravisankar Ch.
Andhra Pradesh INDIA

My reply

I require more details like what exactly do you require in the house and your dreams for the house.So,write in detail.

I can design the Basic Plan of the house and all detailed drawings required to complete the design and required during progress of construction work

Friday, January 21, 2011

Queries on remodeling of house and water storage


Dear Mr Thomas ... i am keen on remodeling my old house at Manjeri in Malappuram dist. , have a limited budget and seek your advice ...

My reply

A site visit by an Architect is essential for remodeling/extension of your existing house.

He has to take measurements,prepare drawings of existing structure,discuss with you in detail about your needs and then give you a modified structure plan to be discussed/revised and finalised.

Modifying existing structure will require shifting the people staying there during work and it will not be that easy to calculate expected cost as lot of unexpected problems and expenses may crop up during modification work.Professional guidance can save you lot of money and  give you proper directions to get maximum utilisation of money spent.







My reply

It is better to go for Ferro cement underground water storage tanks.It will be less costly safe and will last longer without problems.Even for over head tank it is better to use Ferro cement tanks.But it may not be that easy to get people for supplying and erecting such overhead tanks.
Constructing septic tank or underground storage water tanks  with brick will be costly and it is likely to get damaged within a few years.For over head tank you may have to go for double layer plastic water storage tanks..Over head tank should preferably be kept at a height of about five feet to get better force of water in shower and also to facilitate provision of solar water heater
If you have an Architect/Construction Engineer, he can guide you on all these.

Construction labour contract-Query and reply


I am resident of Thodupuzha.  I have purchased a plot in , Mattoor, Kalady. This plot is a sloping land and to avoid filling it up with mud to the road level we have decided on having half the plot , i.e. the front portion of the plot filled up with mud, and the other part we have decided to construct a basement and hence avoid filling the whole land and also we can use this land. our plan is for a 3 story ie, basement, ground and first floor with only two rooms. I am attaching the plan of the basement and the ground.

Now my question, the house is total of 2200 sq. ft.  The constructor has given us a rate of 275 /sq. ft. for labor with us providing the material and him building the structure.  There are rates of 180 to 200 /Sq. Ft. in Kalady area for structure building on flat land.  This rate is so as there is work in the foundation part.

I am not sure if this rate is too high or if we are being taken for a ride in this case. I kindly request you to provide me with your valuable input.

Waiting for your reply anxiously.

Kind regards
Asha Suresh

My reply

For a three story building construction you should not simply leave the work to be done as he pleases  to a  mere contractor.There has to be a professional Engineer to design structure work.
When you build a three storey building it will have to be a column beam construction if the soil is stable.If the soil is not stable,you may even require  concrete piling.
Nature of foundation,column , beam and roof steel reinforcements will have to be properly designed by a Structural Engineer and before concreting it has to be ensured that the contractor has done steel work as per drawing and as per instructions of the Engineer.
Any contractor taking up work on square feet basis without involvement of a professional Engineer will try to do the work with as little labour input as possible.You may not be knowing about right practices of construction and he will make you believe that whatever he does is the right way of doing.
I do not know whether you have got the plan prepared by a  qualified experienced professional .I could not open your attachments.Can you send these plans in pdf form?
In any case it will not be good if you do the filling before doing foundation work.Land filling and leveling  can be done after completing foundation work for the building
Labour rate of 200 per sft is more reasonable for the type of work you are talking about.If you tell the contractor that he will have to do the work as per drawings and instructions of an Engineer,he may not be willing to do the work even at  Rs.275.
Every non professional contractor wants to make more  profit .Proper Engineering standards and correct construction practices  will increase his labour cost and he will  talk and convince you that it is not required
When you build ,you should have professional guidance from beginning to end.No Engineer can rectify  or suggest ways to correct mistakes done during construction, after the work.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Type of foundation-Query and reply


I plan to construct a house on a land which was once a Karapadam.
The soil is good laterite at a depth of 6 feet. What type of foundation do you advice.
Joseph D

Sent from my iPhone

My reply

For any professional to give proper advice/suggestions adequate data/information is necessary.Just by telling that good laterite is available at six feet depth I cannot advise you on foundation work to be done.

Preferably I should see the plot and surroundings.I also have to see plan and other details of the house you are going to construct.After these inputs are available to me I can suggest you appropriate foundation for your house

After structure work-Query and reply



i have got information about you from the website. Ma Name is Raoof, working in Abu Dhabi. My house is Under Construction and Structure Finnish. But i want reduce the expense in the Finishing works. So i wish to get advice from your side. Please provide if u can

Abdul Raoof
Abu Dhabi

My reply

After completing structure work of the house, much more complicated work which may require even more amount of money are pending.
You need advice and guidance of a qualified and experienced person to know various options available to you, latest trends and ways and means to decrease cost while improving utility and appearance of the building.
Look at some of the pending works:
1. Putty finish for walls and painting
2. Flooring
3. Plumbing and sanitary works
4. Electrical wiring and fittings
5. Interior woodwork and Interior lay out design
6. Vasthu compliance of building constructed
7. Structural /Architectural correctness of construction done
8. Land scape design, arrangements and much more

So you require a visit by a qualified experienced professional to the site. After the visit you will get a detailed report on assessing work already done and suggesting how to go about in the case of future works
I can visit your site and give you these details, information and guidance
Please let me know whether you are interested. After the visit, we can also provide our expert workers for the balance finishing works in the house under construction

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Commencement of house construction at Kainakary,Alleppey.Query and reply


Dear Mr. Thomas
I am planning to start the construction of my House. Its in Kainakary village - Alappuzha. The plot is beside a small branch river of Pampa.
Can you tell me is there any issues for using M-sand for concreting also for brisk wall ?
If I send you the plot diagram, can u tell me the aspects of Vasthu and location of the house should be etc. ?
Which will be the cost effective and strong foundation - with Black stone ( Karinkallu) or concreting belt and pillar from the bottom of the ground ?
I hope you will have little bit time to answer my queries.
Cleetus Antony
From Afghanistan.

My reply

1.Manufactured sand is better than river sand if made to correct size.It can be used for concrete and brick work.River sand available in Kerala in many places have many impurities in it  which may be harmful in the long run for the building.For plastering you may have to use river sand with appropriate size.

2.It will be better if I can visit your site to study site conditions,Vasthu aspects etc.If you send me the plot sketch I can tell Vasthu aspects related and applicable to the plot

3.After studying site conditions,soil nature and architectural design for the house,a structural consultant will suggest  appropriate foundation design for your house.Type of foundation cannot simply be selected or decided by you.Leave such decisions to the experts..

Sunday, January 16, 2011

House for middle class-Query and reply


hello sir
i have seen your projects pictures and articles in internet.very excellent. congrats.
but i did not see a project which is suitable for middle class who is looking for low coast house.i want to construct a low coast i hope you wil and can advise me.
my name is Rajesh and my place is Adoor.
my plan is a 3 bed room hall kitchen pooja bathroom and toilet.single story with interlock bricks.and as per vasthu.area required 1000 plus and a verandah. flat roof above that sheet roof.(this can do latter)bed room to be accommodated a double bed almira and a computer table.after that room should be little much is the minimum size required.
in kitchen tables for gas can be constructed with highly polished kadappa or kota stones.
to reduce coast floor of hall kitchen and bath room with  tiles and other place with red oxide or clay tiles.external electrical wiring preferred.exterior and interior with water proof paints.what are the advantages and disadvantages of interlock plan is to start after 6 - 8 months.for this project how much will be the approximate coast.
please advise
My reply

An architect or professional experienced in design and construction of house need not necessarily work only for large houses with high budget.

I have designed and built houses with plinth area as low as 300 sft to 6000 sft.Most of the people with lower budget some how has a wrong impression that it is not worth taking professional guidance and assistance for designing and building their house.It is due to this reluctance of clients with lower strata of funds  that Architects tend to do more of high budget houses.

We can only work work for those who approach us and cannot go in search of those who think that we are costly and avoid us.Charges for professional services naturally will be less for low budget houses and hence more and more people should come forward to have professional services for design and construction of their houses.

It will be better to leave finding out ways and means of reducing cost to the professional rather than you own your own decide what all you should do to reduce cost of construction.Your part knowledge and wrong impressions may land you in trouble without professional guidance and assistance.You can always tell frankly to your Architect about your funds availability so that he can work out a house for you within your funds restrictions, if any.

Three bed house-Query and reply


My name is Satheesh, working in Dubai, planning to build a house in Kannur District.
Im looking for a good house plan to construct a house in My 15 cent land. My budget is 12-15 lakhs & total sft. 1500 to 1800 sft 
I need 2 bed room (approx. size 450x400)  in downstairs 1 bed room in upstairs (approx. 300x360). Kitchen I don't need big size. 300x180 is enough for me. but I need big hall including dining.
I am planning to make the house in black stone (karinkallu) and bricks and lot of arches. there is no sunshade around the house. only arches in above the windows. Is this reduce the cost..?
Instead of wooden windows if possible to use aluminum windows with glasses..?
Sir, please e-mail me some good plans, elevations and your valuable suggestions for this.

Waiting for your reply in my e-mail id.

My reply

Plan of the house will have to be specifically developed  to meet your requirements,budget and site conditions.It require consideration of following aspects and hence just any plan of the house taken from a website or given by some one without considering following aspects will not be useful or suitable for you.
1.       Information provided by you on your needs, desires and hopes for the house.
2.       Vasthu aspects
3.       Traditional Kerala Architecture features
4.       Modern architecture features
5.       Structural engineering aspects to reduce cost of construction
6.       Kerala Building Rules.
Cents is area of the plot and it does not give any idea on dimensions of each side of plot.Without knowing dimensions of each sides of the plot and directions,plan cannot be prepared.Position of roads near the plot is also very important.So information on site conditions also should be known to the designer
Requirements as indicated in your mail indicate an approximate plinth area of 2500 sft and even with cost of present day,you cannot complete that house with just Rs.15 lakhs.So you will have to cut down on your requirements or find extra funds.
Building entire house with rubble(Karinkallu) is unnecessary  and it will cost more and take away lot of space of house.In Kerala conditions,sunshades are essential.Without sunshades your rooms will be flooded with water.Arches above windows are good if done properly with workers who know how to do Arches.But arches cannot substitute lintel concreting on the structural stability aspect.
300 x 180 size Kitchen will not be workable.
Aluminum windows will not reduce your cost and cannot be as good as wooden windows

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Purchase of land at Cochin and house construction.Query and reply


hi, I am Tintu, an NRI. i read all the information about u from your site. i like to entrust u a project.. Find min 5 cents of house plot in Ernakulum district(can be in outskirts of the city) and construct a house for me. we will give u the basic plan of the house.if u r interested please inform me. i will give u further information so that and i can get the quotation from u

My reply

For buying land in and around Cochin, there will be several options available at any point of time and plots available keep on changing depending upon transactions taking place
So for purchase of plot,you have to visit Cochin
Without knowing outer dimensions of the plot,directions,roads near plot you cannot simply use a plan prepared by you/obtained by you  without considering any of these factors and Vasthu factors if you require Vasthu compliance.
Without any of these preliminary design details available,we cannot simply give a quotation.
So first step will have to be your visit to Cochin

Friday, January 14, 2011

Query and reply on construction cost


i have seen your web site and informative information
could you please advice me the approximate building construction cost in Trivandrum district


My reply

If you do not need to hear a lie on building construction cost,please understand that building construction cost depends upon several factors and I cannot give answer to your question just like telling the cost of a Kg of rice in today's market.
It will be good if you  can go through my blog entries and answers to queries I received from others earlier at following blog.
After reading those you will get a better picture on cost of construction in Kerala

Queries and replies on land purchase in Cochin,construction of house and flooring options


Further to the discussion today morning, pls. give more details on laying of  interlocking tiles and the interior floor tiles.

. Bennet Raj

My reply

You can have details on flooring options at my blog entries on the topic.

Links  given below:


dear sir,
greeting to you. We are in the middle of a construction of a single
storey house with. it is located in Enathu, near Adoor. Do you have
representative offices in our area so that we can meet and go for a
deal in completing the house. waiting for your reply at the earliest

Mini Koshy

My reply

My office is at Cochin
I can visit your site,assess work so far done,study site conditions,take measurements,check vasthu compliance of the house work and suggest  you how to proceed on further work
I can act either as a consultant visiting your site occasionally and guide work or I can take up balance work completely
All that you have to do is, inform me exact route to your place of work.I have visited nearby places on work related trips earlier.
Please call me on 9388701702 to fix up a mutually convenient date and time for site visit.
We will give complete professional guidance and assistance to help you reach your dream house with  lower cost and better quality and facilities.


Dear Thomas,
Greetings...! Hope you are doing fine.
I am looking for a plot with house in and around Ernakulum within the budget of Rs. 25 to 30 lakhs. If you have any offer, please provide the details with some snaps.

My reply

Buying house with plot in and around Ernakulum at Rs.30 lakhs will be impossible as land prices even in suburbs like Alwaye and Tripunithura also will be around Rs.3 lakhs or more.

Buying house plot in and Ernakulum can be done only if you are willing to visit Cochin with prefixed date of visit so that we can show you house plots available for sale on that day.
No one is going to keep their plot for sale expecting your arrival and hence there is no point in we sending few plot pictures to you.In fact plot picture will not give you  clear idea on the plot features
So tell me when you can visit Cochin to look around for plot for purchase
We will provide following services related to your land purchase
1.Giving you options of purchase
2.Technical evaluation of the plot and suitability for construction of  house with respect to Vasthu and Kerala Building rules
3.Legal evaluation of documents of plot
4.Documentation of land purchase with complete professional guidance and related follow up
5.Building design
6.Obtaining permit for building permit from local authority
7.Complete construction with transparent procedures and professional guidance and management

Monday, January 10, 2011

Single storey or double storey?Query and reply


Just to get your opinion....considering the hotter seasons that are becoming hotter in Kerala, what is your opinion on building a one storey house instead of a 2 storey house, do u think that a two storey house will be cooler below.

We would like to build a one storey house with sloping tiled roofs, your opinion please, this house will be in a 2500 sq ft house in a 2 acre 'jathi tree' plot. what are your tips on making a one storey house cooler by using architectural skills.


My reply

If you have a large plot in a Jathi plantation you can as well go for single storey construction

Single story house may look less impressive if not suitably designed

I have done several single story houses with  good appearance and other good features.Single storey house will cost less if the plot has stable soil conditions compared to double storey construction.

Yes. There are ways to make the house cooler by design and by construction methods.

I am not simply going to write in detail about how to make house cooler.

Apart from this there are several aspects of house design where a qualified experienced professional like me can guide you during design and execution of work.

Let us first start with development of design for the house

You have not even told where you intend to construct house.

Square feet plinth area of the house will be known even to the designer only after finalising the design.But you seem to be knowing it in advance.As I have told many times in my blogs, square feet plinth area is not directly proportional to cost of building house.If you have budget constraints there is no harm in telling  frankly to your designer about funds that can be raised by you during construction ( own funds and borrowed money.)

But in reality almost all clients tell me a lesser figure than they can manage thinking that Architect will have some magic wand to bring down cost while not compromising on requirements.

Plan of the house-Is that so simple?Query and reply


Dear Mr. Thomas,
Went through your interesting website, I would be obliged if you can you send me by email a plan for a 3 bedroom one storey house around 2500 sq ft. 
R. Anto

My reply

Plan of your house  to be built is not as simple as something I can send immediately after getting a mail request from any one like this.

Before preparing even an initial plan of the house to be built for discussion with client and Architect the following steps are to be completed.

1.Preferably a site visit by the Architect

An experienced and well informed Architect can see and observe many factors essential to be understood from the plot and surroundings before attempting to work on plan of your house.Plot dimensions  of all four sides and directions have to be obtained.For consideration of Vasthu aspects directions,position  of roads nearby ,river or any other water body nearby will have to be considered

2.Studying your requirements for the house

An Architect will have to get many information from you on your needs,hopes and dreams for the house and also your budget limitations if any.He may also have to discuss with other members of your family to understand their individual needs and dreams for the house

3.Just any plan prepared for any one may not suit your needs,your plot limitations and Vasthu factors.So never simply copy a plan from any website for your house

4.Plan preparation for your house by a qualified experienced Architect will call for all the expertise and knowledge of the Architect.A wrong plan can make you loose lakhs of your money and you will understand problems and shortages of the design only when you start living in the house.By then it will be too late.

So never try to save that few thousands payable to an Architect as design fees.If you save that money you will loose in plenty and will be left with a house with all sorts of problems about which no Architect can do anything after construction to correct or improve.

After structure work-Query and reply


I have read your article on clay flooring . Due to my budget problem I intend to go for clay flooring for my 2 bedroom and living room which will not be more that 700sq feet . Total area of the the house would be 1300sqft .My house is in Tellicherry . Do you do only flooring job or can u suggest any contract who specialise in this flooring in Tellicherry .This house is for my aged parents .
Your advise in this matter is highly appreciated.

My reply

After completing structure work of the house, much more complicated work which may require even more amount of money are pending

You need advice and guidance of a qualified and experienced person to know various options available to you, latest trends and ways and means to decrease cost while improving utility and appearance of the building.

Look at some of the pending works

1. Putty finish for walls and painting

2. Flooring

3. Plumbing and sanitary works

4. Electrical wiring and fittings

5. Interior woodwork and Interior lay out design

6. Vasthu compliance of building constructed

7. Structural /Architectural correctness of construction done

8. Land scape design, arrangements and much more

So you require a visit by a qualified experienced professional to the site. After the visit you will get a detailed report on assessing work already done and suggesting how to go about in the case of future works

I can visit your site at Tellicherry and give you these details, information and guidance.Please let me know whether you are interested. After the visit, we can also provide our expert workers for the balance finishing works in the house under construction

Friday, January 7, 2011

Review of plan prepared-Query and reply


I  have a plan to construct a home bounded to low cost. Fortunately I've reached in your blog and that was very informative.
I am hereby attaching a part-plan of bed room to get your valuable comments on the "bath room door position".
I would like to go for an arrangement which is indicated and I have seen an arrangement of its kind in hotel and apartment bed rooms.
I wish you would send me an advice to get an idea to finalize.

My reply

A plan of house is prepared considering several aspects including Vasthu
As per Vasthu there are certain positions for bed rooms.
Without knowing directions I cannot comment on suitability of bed room position
In any case total plan has to be seen to decide on various aspects


Thank you very much for your reply. I am attaching herewith the site layout for your review.
Please note that, home positioned as East at front side.
As I indicated in my previous mail please advice me on merit & demerits of bath room entrance as positioned.

My reply

Following are my comments on the plan sent
1.Dining space 300 x 300 is insufficient
2.U shaped stair is old fashioned and 15 threads will not be sufficient to reach top.Such old fashioned stair arrangement will produce a dark underutilized space below stair
3.263 x 140 space for toilet will be inconvenient.140 cm width is insufficient and 262 cm length for such a toilet will be  too much.Proper arrangement will be difficult
I can revise the plan  and give you modified better plan which will not only give you better facilities  but also lesser cost of construction

Toilet you have shown can have a closet at south side wall and rest entire area can be used only for bath with a shower on long wall.If re arranged same or lesser space can be utilised better

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Solid concrete block instead of brick-Query and reply


Please send me your advice on using solid cement  blocks for the construction of residential building  or using bricks.

My reply

Solid block or hollow block can be used for construction instead of Brick.This will reduce cost of brick work at least by 30%
Both solid and hollow block is manufactured by using concrete without reinforcement using 1/4 inch" metal".Thus the material is basically concrete and hence proper mixing of materials in correct proportion and water curing for about 15 days after manufacture with hydraulic pressing is required.
How far the purchased block will confirm to these quality requirements will be doubtful.
Most of the manufacturers use less cement and they hardly water cure it for more than one or two days.
If properly manufactured these are strong enough for walls and 8 inch size block should be used for load bearing walls.
I have used these solid blocks for construction of a Nalukettu type house at Kuruppampady by ensuring proper quality of block used.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cost expected for house construction-Analysis given and my comments


I would like to build a house in Trivandrum. Appreciate if you can correct my cash flow / budget break up t get an idea prior to start
Land area : 5.5 cents
Floor area : 1700 - 1850 sft
1. Project Design, Mobilisation & local authority approvals 5%
2. Excavation, Foundation and Basement  8%
3.Structural Concrete - Framing & Block work  33%
4.Windows and Door frames  8%
5. MEP - 1st fix (Electrical conduiting, cable pulling & plumbing piping works)10%
6.Masonry & siding works 5%
7.Floor & wall coverings (water proofing, Tiles, skirting, counter tops etc)6%
8. Internal & external painting works 5%
9.Boundary wall & external works (inter lock tiles, soak pit, garden, gate, man holes etc) 6%
10.Trim Package ('Cabs, Counter, Doors, Millwork, hand rails etc) 6%
11.MEP - 2nd fix (Wiring accessories, sanitary fixtures, appliances etc) 7%
12.Final Grade1%
Anjana Shine
Quantity Surveyor

My reply

Being a Quantity Surveyor you must be having your own data back up and other reasons to support your Analysis.
Having designed and built more than 200 houses in different parts of the state,my experience shows such classification  of expected cost has not much meaning.
There is no substitute to following  these steps for designing and building house In Kerala
1.Site visit by Architect to study site conditions
2.Initial design and obtaining local authority approval and other such statutory permits
3.Engineering Estimate
After taking Engineering estimate which gives item wise quantity and costing based on finalised plan,you will get a feel of cost involved provided the rates are obtained from some one who is regularly involved in construction activities  in Kerala.
But the actual cost in a place like Kerala where all input cost keep on increasing without any pattern can be known only when you complete house.

Do you require our services for design and construction of your house at Trivandrum?

Room sizes and Vasthu-Query and reply


I have one doubt, 8x11and 9x11 room size is better or not as per the vasthu.I have two bed rooms with this measurements, if its wrong how can i rearrange this.Please guide me.I expect your valuable replay.

My reply

Vasthu books which are prepared after careful study of Vasthu knowledge available is not talking about a specific length and width requirement for a room or a house.
However I have come across Kerala local carpenters talking  about such dimensions and about so called "Maranachuttu"
In my opinion there is no scientific basis for such" Maranachuttu"
You can have more details about this at my following blog entries links of which are given below:

Purchase of land at Cochin,Query and reply


I am S.Ravi from Ernakulum (DT) would like to buy land for making house near Chotanikara Temple or Puthencruze.
I am in search of 20 to 30 cents land suitable to make a house –road side or second plot from road.
Is it possible to help me for finding land and what will be your service fee?
Please reply.

My reply

Buying land   in Cochin area require your presence to go and visit various options available.
As you can understand real estate availability changes fast as buying and selling take place continuously.Unless you see the land and finalise the deal,the same land may get sold to somebody else.
Hence please contact me on mobile and fix up a convenient date and time for your plot visit.
I can advise our real estate division persons to do needful.
We not only provide real estate assistance.We will also assist and guide you on technical/legal assessment of property,documents and also will guide and assist you for fool proof documentation and other formalities related to property purchase.
Later we can also design and build your house with professional care ,guidance and assistance

Vasthu clarifications-West facing house,Query and reply


Hi Thomas,
Just few minutes back I just had run over thru your website. looking at projects you have done and the way you blog is running, looking very good. There i thought to have a word with you on few clarifications regarding vastu. We have a west facing(main road on west) plot and a well in NE Corner, and planning to construct a small house of 2 story. Could you please tell me where should i have my main entrance, kitchen and car shed? Would like to know cost /sq.ft in Kerala, ( mostly planning to use ceramic tiles and green furniture)--- Thanks

My reply

Well in North East corner is good.But when you start constructing house,north east corner of the house has to be fixed in consultation with a Vasthu consultant so that well in North East corner will continue to be auspicious for the house and you.
For a West facing house,main entrance can be at north side of frontage.More towards north will be better.Kitchen should be at Agni Konam(South East).Car porch also has to be at Northern side of frontage
It will be better if you can read my blog entries at following blog  to get some idea on cost of construction of house in Kerala.Apart my blog entries I have also included queries I received from many like you and my answers to such queries

You can have a look at few pictures of houses designed and built by me at Facebook page. : You can even add me as a contact in Facebook so that you will get continuous updates on my blog entries and interactions with clients.
Here is the link!/profile.php?id=531348963&sk=photos

Flooring and other finishing works in house under construction-Query and reply


I had read your blog and found it be very informative.
Like others i am also very confused on flooring.
I would like the entire house (3400 sq.ft) to have a uniform color and look and feel. I was planning for granite slabs from Bangalore, but have heard comments that it does not add to the look and feel.
I am currently abroad. If you need to discuss, my father can call you. Our house is in Chengannur.
Kindly advice.
Thanks and Regards,

My reply

You really require a qualified and experienced Architect to advise and guide you not only on flooring but also other finishing works for the house like the following:
1.Plumbing and sanitary fittings
2.Electrical wiring and fittings
4.Selection of toilet wall and floor tiles
5.Interior design and Interior wood work
On all these aspects of building construction there are technology changes and change of trends .Your local contractor ,friends and relatives may know a bit about these but definitely not on every aspect.
By obtaining consultancy and guidance from a professional you not only get advice on best options for your house meeting your budget,dreams and expectations ,but also get proper guidance to save quite a lot of your money.
For your house under construction at Chengannur I can visit your site and guide you on all these aspects and also assess work so far done and check Vasthu compliance.

Are you interested?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Log wood house-Query and reply


I went thro the palace at Kayamkulam but what i am discussing about is a log house made entirely of wood ,walls,floor and shingles on the roof top. These log houses are common in Canada and other cold climatic places. If u go to Google and type log houses you will understand what exactly I am talking about These houses can be imported as a kit according to your design. This is made of kiln dried pine wood with tongue and groove system with humidity less than 15%. I am based in Kuwait and hence ignorant whether these log houses are available in India.Kindly reply

Dr.Thomas Thomas


First of all you have to understand that wood is very cheap in places like Canada and wood they use there like cedar can withstand snow conditions there easily.
Even in Kerala we import such wood from other countries mainly due to the cheap and large size in which wood is available.But when it reaches Kerala,wood mills here sell these wood at comparable cost  to other local wood  gulping down profit,even though these imported wood are not good in our climate.Pingoda is one such wood commonly imported.To effectively market it here mill owners re christened Pingoda as "cheru Teak" even though it has nothing to do with teak.
Even if you import those log wood house as a kit,it will be difficult for such wood to withstand our heat and humidity.
So over a period of time such imported wood will get brittle and tend to break.
Trees grown in Kerala like Anjily,plavu,teak etc. can easily withstand our climatic conditions.But you cannot even think of having a log wood house using our tree wood due to their exorbitant cost

Query on house with wood


Happy New year to you. What is your opinion about wooden log houses in Kerala. Can it withstand our torrential rainfall . I have some land in Vagamon where i want to build a custom made wooden log house but my friends are discouraging me saying its not an ideal construction material for Kerala climatic conditions but my argument is log houses are more prevalent in extreme snowy countries where snow accumulates on the roof top. What is your opinion about this.

DR.Thomas Thomas

My Reply

Traditionally our old houses in Kerala were mostly made of wood.
Just click on link below where I have written on a Pathinaru Kettu house of erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore in Kayamkulam where he used to say during his vacation
If you look at the pictures you will notice that majority of building parts are made of wood
So there is nothing wrong in using or building a house with tree logs.Good seasoned wood will easily withstand our rains
But wood has become extremely costly in our place now.That is why use of wood has gone down.
Basically I would suggest you to plan a trip with your chosen Architect to the site and discuss in detail with him about your dreams for the house.
A qualified and experienced Architect can convert your dreams into reality and advise you properly
Of course,we can  also act as your Architect if you are interested