Nowadays, do not build castles in the air

Caught unawares: The J.W. Rajendran familly.

Caught unawares: The J.W. Rajendran familly.   | Photo Credit: Photo: G.Moorthy.

S. Sundar

Rising cost of construction materials causes concern

Madurai: Owning a house is a dream for every family.

But the rising cost of construction materials has turned the dream into nightmare for many.

J.W. Rajendran’s is a small family of three.

The prices of rice or vegetables never bothered this Central Government employee and his wife, Priya, a lecturer in a city college till they started constructing a house in 2006.

They planned to buy, renovate and expand an old house with a bank loan of Rs. 13 lakh.

Now they have a house of their choice, but not without unplanned debts.

Not only the dream project has forced the family to borrow -- from its relatives (Rs. 3.5 lakh), personal loan (Rs. 1.5 lakh) and jewel loan (Rs. One lakh) -- but it has also eroded the couple’s bank balance and provident fund.

All these and much more intangible woes for the family were there because of the unbridled increase in cost of construction materials.

The cost conscious Mr. Rajendran saw to that there was minimum demolition of the old building; bought used doors and windows and used cheaper quarry dust to costlier sand for floor filling and ordinary bricks for chamber bricks.

However, the increasing prices did him in, he says. From labourer wages to sand, from bricks to cement and steel to polishing the marble flooring, everything went out of control.

As if all these were not enough, the floating rate of interest for housing loan too shot up to 11.5 per cent from the original level of 7.5 per cent.

So, how does the family manage the burden? “We have now become more responsible in spending,” says Priya. Spending money on fuel, rice and provisions had never bothered them in the past. Now much thought goes into spending every paisa. “It is now need-based,” she says.

The family is not frequenting big restaurants, but feels satisfied with eatables bought from a nearby ‘parotta’ stall. Their three-year-old daughter, Ruthpearl Margaret, no more gets new dresses quite often as it used to be.

The couple is worried as to whether she could be put in a reputed school.

“With no bank balance, I often fear as what to do if my daughter falls sick. We feel choked by the debt burden. At one point of time, we even planned to sell the house,” Mr. Rajendran said.

But for the insurance money they got following the death of Ms. Priya’s father, the couple feel, they would have been in deep trouble. “He gave us some breathing space,” Ms. Priya says with a sense of gratitude and relief.

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