Watch every step of the building process

MONITORING VITAL: A house under construction.

MONITORING VITAL: A house under construction.  

PERSONAL INSPECTION of your house under construction is important. Here is a guide on what you should inspect and when.

The first point of inspection is when your site is getting marked for the dimensions. Any deviation in this may land you in litigation as encroachment of other's property will spoil your peace of mind.

The second point of inspection is when the marking is done for digging the foundation. Make sure that the marking is as per the approved plan only. Venky, a software engineer, had problems as his architect's secretary was always giving the printout of the previous version of the plan to the architect. Inspect the number of courses laid for foundation and whether the curing is happening as agreed. These days, the curing time is low due to high quality cement used but even then instead of the agreed two weeks, work would have started within a week.

When the brickwork starts, the normal practice is to use the bricks and then pour water on the construction. Insist that the bricks must be kept immersed in water the previous day before it is picked up and used for construction. Inspection of the construction after every two feet is important as any corrections needed are possible at this stage. These days, architects remove the structure that is built if it is not okay. This can be avoided.

Once the construction reaches the lintel level, pay attention to the electrical points, plumbing points, lofts etc. When the roof has to be cast, check for the iron and steel used for centering and the bamboos used for supporting. On the day of casting the roof, if you can get enough help, station one person near the place where the concrete is getting mixed to check the right proportion of sand, cement, stone and water, one person at the roof level to see how thick the concrete mixture is being put and another person to check the movement of the concrete to the roof area. Ensure that vibrators are used after putting the concrete and packing is done properly by levelling it. Water logging on the roof is very important for curing. At this time, inspect every day to find out whether curing is happening properly without which cracks will develop at later stages.

Once the roof is cast, make sure that the supporting bamboo material is not removed till the roof is cured. Take a torch and check every nook and corner for leaky roof. At some points, the roof of Venky's house was like a sieve where water was flowing down continuously and at some places it was like rain pouring due to leaky roof. This has to be corrected at this point of time itself.

Once the plastering starts, there is urgency for laying the floor, electrical points, plumbing points and the fittings. Ask for the drawings from the architect, review it and then pass it on to the engineer. Don't allow the architect to pass on the drawing directly to the engineer. Various aspects like fixing of washing slab, a sink outside, a garden tap outside may miss our attention due to the urgency. Meet the entire team who is involved in the construction of the house like plumber, carpenter, mason, electrician etc. and if possible see their earlier work.

While selecting the fittings, the architect and the engineer will always come up with the latest ones but don't be carried away by the fancy looking stuff and think whether it is practical to have it and its advantages and disadvantages. For an architect and an engineer, your house is just another house, whereas for us it is the only house. It is we who have to take time to think and decide whether it is functional or not.

Inspecting the wood and the other material used is important as the tiles that we select at the shop and what we have got at our site may vary and may not match. The tiles which are of poor quality may have been sent by your shop-keeper. Check the materials before they are used. Check for the slab height in the kitchen. If the door and window frames are fixed at the time of starting the brickwork, ensure that they are protected properly from water and human movement.

Insist and ensure that you meet the architect along with the engineer at the site every week. Discuss the progress and review it. Ask for the work planned for the next week. Ask for the requirements from your end for the next week. Document it, circulate and make them acknowledge it. By doing this, you can avoid a lot of unplanned urgent decisions which makes you feel miserable. Don't take the assurances of the architect and the engineer at the face value.

While fixing the fixtures, make sure that they are aligned properly. In my house, the shower fittings are not fixed neatly and every day I feel bad about it. While fixing, if the workers are not equipped with proper tools, they use a thread and make mistakes which are costly.

Be well informed about the materials used so that the dream house that we build once in our lifetime is worth every rupee we spend on it.

It is important have the approved plan copy with you always. There will be sudden calls either from the architect or the engineer or the electrician or the plumber and it is not always possible to remember and talk. You may agree for the contractor as suggested by the architect or you may have a contractor of your own choice. But it is important that you always meet the architect and the contractor/engineer together at the site.

It is important to inspect when your site is getting marked for dimensions.

Also inspect while digging for the foundation.

Inspect the number of courses laid for the foundation.

Check whether curing is happening as agreed.

Ensure bricks are immersed in water a day before they are used.

Inspect construction after every two feet progress.

Pay attention to the electrical points, plumbing points, lofts when working on lintel.

When roof is to be cast check for the iron and steel used.

Have one person near the place where concrete is mixed; ensure right proportion of sand, cement, stone and water.

Ensure vibrators are used after putting the concrete.

Check whether the roof laid leaks and take corrective measures.

Pay attention while fixing washing slab, sink, garden tap.


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