Aesthetics, functionality and economy are all crucial factors in building a house. And designers have their task cut out

Form follows function. This has been the cardinal principle associated with home building, especially when it comes to limited budget construction. In the design arena, aesthetics and functionality are crucial but both can be uniquely different. If the function is the purpose for which a design is developed, aesthetics is the response to human reaction to the artistic qualities of a sensory experience.

For modern-day architects and designers, it is indeed a challenge to factor in all three important parameters — aesthetics, functionality and economy. Influence of local culture in urban and rural areas varies drastically and hence, this factor too has to be taken into account by the designer.

Shortage of trained manpower

The construction industry at this juncture is generally passing through a crisis due to shortage of trained manpower and this has resulted in demand-supply mismatch. This consequently has pushed up the labour wages. There are quite a few other reasons too which have made construction materials cost more.

As a result of this escalation in both the spheres of men and material, it is extremely difficult to build your stand-alone dream house cheaply unless it is a scheme under mass housing. Cost of construction under mass housing schemes can be monitored and controlled due to modular construction and repetitive forms. The construction cost of a middle income category house in urban areas varies from Rs. 800 to 1,200 per sq. ft.

Any aesthetic addition to such a form will add to the cost. As a thumb rule, sloped roofs, high ceilings, split floor levels, cornices, decorative bands and facia, coloured sanitary fixtures etc. will escalate the cost. In view of this, in a limited budget house construction, it is better to avoid extra aesthetic frills and give more importance to the functionality of the building.

No superficial wrap

One of my senior colleagues, Garudadhwajan, in response to the comparison made by a reader in her question, says, “Good clothes on a person of questionable character and integrity are vulgar and a waste of money. Clothes of high quality definitely add to a person's attraction if he is of impeccable personality and honesty. Most of the people wearing designer suits pale into insignificance compared to Mahatma Gandhi who used to be dressed in minimum of clothes.”

As a guideline, an individual, stand-alone middle income category house in Bangalore with stone masonry foundation, table moulded brick walls, RCC roof, steel windows, flush doors, regular plastering, internal painting with distemper, external painting with cement paint, white-coloured sanitary fittings, sunshades without any decorative bands, two-ft. wide flagging concrete, ceramic/mosaic flooring, and simple window grills will approximately cost Rs.1,100 per sq. ft.

Cost of interiors, kitchen facilities, electrical fixtures, fees and deposits to be paid to various government agencies, rainwater harvesting etc., shall be extra.

Harmony among various ingredients including integrating the principles of different sciences, maintenance, housekeeping abilities and design considerations will result in building our dream house.

(The author is Secretary General, Association of Consulting Civil Engineers, Bangalore)

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