Saturday, July 5, 2014

Knowing The Person Named Home!

Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?” ….Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins is an American author, known for her many best seller books & one small sentence above is enough to identify the power of her writing! During my work I have come across many quotes about a home; rather it’s my hobby to collect various quotes about the home. It’s for two reasons, one is it’s my work & second, home is not just another commodity product. Most of the people buy a home to live within those walls & do not look at it just like a commodity like a watch or Air Conditioner. Obviously I personally think that home is not a concrete brick made dead structure. Right from the planning to construction it’s a feeling which makes a home & when something has a feeling then how it can be a dead mass! Here is where Stephanie’s quote appealed me most as it makes you think of the home as a living person & not just mass of concrete or ornamental collection which we call interior!

Here is where our today’s subject comes in picture i.e. when we say home is a person then how much we know about this person called our home? Many a times especially after taking the possession we starts understanding this person a bit closely as we starts living with it but still as we have never tried to know him while it’s in making, I have seen many conflicts between the builder & the flat holders, which like in any relation are due to just misunderstandings.

Here many will ask how to understand a home then? Well first of all accept it as a living being then you will realize many things which you are ignore about a home. Same as a human being it’s very much important how is upbringing of the home & what are its physical limitations & for that you need to talk to its makers i.e. the builder! Like while a child is growing, a home while in making needs lots of attention. Its ingredients & the workmanship does matters same as a pupil in the hands of a good teacher. Remember this person named home is going to be part of your family for at least 50-60 years & it has to be strong enough to be along without being ill in this time span. Then only you will be able to enjoy its company more better way. And for that you need to understand its making as well as its inner self. Also one has to know what kind of illness it’s going to face with the passing years; in easier terms we call it maintenance of the home!

Most common maintenance which has been observed in recent times in Pune is cracks along the walls inside the home. Many a times these cracks has been observed one year after the possession & people does get worried with them as one it looks ugly & second it gives you insecure feel with health of our home. The reason is multifold for the cracks. First is one has to look for the pattern of the cracks. There are three types of cracks which occur usually depending upon the construction practices & workmanship. Type one are surface cracks on the walls & the pattern is random. These are not deep & usually only on surface i.e. paint & plaster. These are mainly because of clay percentage in the sand as well thermal stresses. Most of the sand which we get here in Pune is river sand & contains clay i.e. fine soil particles & it’s this clay which shrinks after getting dry & forms the cracks. Another reason is in single day in summer the temperature variation is from 15 degree Celsius in night to nearly 40 degrees in noon, so the expansion contraction of the structure does creates such cracks. These are harmless & yes their percentage can be reduced depending up on the techniques adopted at the time of construction. Mainly the sand should be washed & filtered through the sieves to minimize the clay content before plastering. Then the curing i.e. watering of the plaster is also important. Now days we get many chemicals which we call admixtures which are mixed in the mortar & which helps in reducing thermal stresses making the mortar more flexible. Even after taking all such precautions there are every chances of occurring such cracks as the reason is in the technique we use to build the current frame structure. We build RCC frame i.e. columns, beams & slab first & then add brick/block walls in them. It causes slight sagging of the beams & the sagging moment is restricted by the walls below thus creating stresses in the walls. This also can be reduced by making a special layer at joints of beams & walls. This layer acts like a cushion & takes on the sagging moment of the beam, which is hidden to human eye but its there.

Type two cracks have a pattern & it’s usually at joints of columns & walls or beams & walls. This is mainly because of jointing of two different materials i.e. RCC & brick/blocks which combine makes a home. Here the proper workmanship can reduce these cracks such as applying a binding chicken mesh (a steel fine steel wire mesh) along all the length of the joint before plastering. This mesh holds the joint between columns & walls & helps in reducing the cracks along it. These cracks usually needs to open up & filled with putty or plastic materials before painting.

Type there cracks are serious as they are through the walls & these may be because of poor jointing amongst the wall or poor quality bricks or even poor structural stability. These cracks are needed to be shown to the experts for any repairs. The first two type cracks are not any way threatening to the structure & if we repaint the home after three or four years with opening them & filling with putty then don’t occur in later years. But the type three cracks have to be dealt with proper care & cause behind them has to be analyzed & remedy has to be worked out under consultant’s supervision. A home like any human being has many illnesses & these cracks is just one amongst the most common illness.

Another popular illness is seepage from the walls. There is a difference between leakage & seepage. A leakage is usually through the slab & it may be because of fault plumbing on overhead or adjoining flat’s toilet or wet area. Another form of leakage is through terrace or roof. But seepage is the wetness along the outer walls which is felt & seen from inside. This is only because of rainfall on outer walls & through the joints of walls & beams or columns it percolates inside the flat. Many a times even the walls absorbs water through the surface cracks from outer side & once they get saturated i.e. can’t absorb no more water then this water filters inside the walls. Here again the workmanship matters a lot. If the external plaster is double coat & done by using admixtures as we have read above then there will be minimum cracks on outer surface thus reducing the seepage. Also good quality paint too helps in repelling the rain water & reduces seepage. Another important factor is the outside has to be repainted at least after five years as the paint also has life & it peels of due to weathering action. Most of the time we get repainted interior of the flat but rarely the flat holders come together & repaint the building from outside periodically! Remember no walls can be made waterproof but proper workmanship can make them good water resistant & especially when in city like ours it rains continuously for days then that are when the real test of quality is there!

Leakage is probably the worst illness of any home; it’s like cancer when compared to human beings. But as an engineer I can tell that leakage is easy to handle, rather in first place it’s possible to avoid it totally. Unlike cracks or seepage on which you have no control but leakage is something you can manage with proper technique as well with some careful workmanship. Seepage is also of two types, one is caused due to faulty plumbing & another is due to faulty water proofing. The first & very basic principle to avoid leakage is not allowing the water to get stagnant at one place & drain it off with proper slopes. Stagnant water is sure cause of leakage as it will always find its way out then may it be flat below or through the walls in adjoining room! Mostly people are afraid of buying top floor home just because of possibility of leakage from roof but a good concreting & some careful water proofing with proper slopes to the roof slab definitely can restrict any leakage is my experience. Many a time wet areas i.e. toilets or bathroom floor slopes are not proper & water remains on the floor which eventually cause leakage. Also pressure testing of all the water lines mainly the concealed ones is important to avoid the future leakage from these lines.

There are many more such small things which one should know about the home & a little bit of curiousness can make you understand your home much better. Instead of just going by the brouture go & do visit the completed projects of the developer & speak with those homes & their residents. That will give you fair idea of upbringing of your own home which you are looking for. Its same like when we are looking for a new relation like marriage we check up the relatives & friends of the bride or groom; it’s to know about the surrounding in which he or she has be brought up! Once we consider the home as a living person then the procedure is same.
 And it’s equally important to get knowledge how your own home has been made & who are its makers!  

And even when the home becomes part of your family then don’t neglect it; remember like your other family members it too needs your attention & affection. So do spend some of your time & money on the home with which you are living as then only it will become your best companion & share its feelings with you. And I think then that will become your true home, like a living talking person, sharing your privacy & not just four walls to separate you from the outer world!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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