For the sake of a house
Affordability is the crucial criterion, and one can look at cost-effective options to build a beautiful structure.
Housing for all has been among the most common slogans of all political parties, especially during election times. Even if it is an election strategy, let us give them the due credit, by appreciating their efforts while being in power. While those efforts of sheltering people could have been much more transparent, participative and effective, the intention of providing houses is noteworthy.
However the challenge of housing in India is so enormous, some experts suggested going beyond low cost housing, as if we may need ‘no-cost housing’. Much has already been written about the various government schemes, their successes, shortcomings and how they can be improved.
A typical commoner living in an urban or suburban context may not be a beneficiary of government schemes, yet will have to work towards owning an affordable house for the family. Of course, people somehow find a shelter, but ideally every family should be able and can afford a decent home.
Every project faces capital expenses for site, built-up area, procedures, fixtures and gadgets. If site costs are high, reduction of built area becomes mandatory, with these two being the major components of a house cost.
Do not avoid them
Deposits, registrations, fees and charges for varied services normally do not pinch the middle class people, but people with low income tend to avoid such cost components, which is actually not advisable. If procedures and people are on our side, we not only can have peace of mind, but also get expert advice towards qualitative and financial benefits.
Areas where most owners tend to overspend are on final finishes (flooring, tiles, painting, advanced wood work), fixtures (electrical and toilet), interiors (cabinets, hardware, furniture, interior gadgets) and kitchens. Most suppliers and contractors do not suggest cost-effective options, hence personal explorations become an imperative. To that end, thinking what is needed and what is not would go a long way.
The cost of power and water during construction along with disposing of the debris, in some localities, can be so high that the estimated budget may get escalated. Reusing materials from dismantled houses like at Kachhra Mane in Bengaluru or using antique items like at Heritage Village in Manipal are equally good ideas towards affordable houses. Contrary to popular belief, using second-hand materials need not make a house look like a slum dwelling. If well done, they may be an attraction. Besides the above, operational expenses like bills, repairs, replacements and alterations have to be planned for the long term.
Despite affordability as a criterion, it is important to think of a house beyond monetary criteria, to include invisible advantages. If the project assures neither financial returns nor intangible benefits, it may be wiser to rent one, than build for self. Of course, even such a decision would be opposed when one dreams of owning a house.