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Electrical wiring for your home

'Electrical wiring' for homes is the use of insulated conductors and associated devices to carry electricity to different parts of your house so as to operate devices that work on electricity. 
Materials for wiring interior electrical systems in buildings vary depending on:
  • Intended use and amount of power demand on the circuit
  • Type of occupancy and size of the building
  • National and local regulations
  • Environment in which the wiring must operate.
Wiring systems in a single family home or apartment, are simple, with relatively low power requirements, infrequent changes to the building structure and layout, usually with dry, moderate temperature, and noncorrosive environmental conditions.
In order to install any electrical wire installation, the proper wire size for the application is needed. But how do you know what size wire to use? The installation of conductors will depend on a few factors like- the gauge of the wire, wire capacity, and what the wire will feed.
The larger the wire gauge, the larger the amperage that the wire can handle. Wire amperage is the safe amount of current that a wire can handle without getting hot or causing a fire. The following examples of devices in your home, the amperage that they are rated for, and the wire gauge, will help you determine the right size wire for the appropriate application.
There are several steps you can take now to minimize the energy used by the electric devices in your home:
Unplug It.
The simplest and most obvious way to eliminate power losses is to unplug products when not in use. Search the wall sockets in your house for hidden un-connected chargers and other devices that don't need to be plugged in. When you detach your cell phone or similar device from its charger, unplug the charger too.
Use a Power Strip.
Plug home electronics and office equipment into a single power strip with an on/off switch. This will allow you to turn off all power to the devices in one easy step. But remember to keep your power strip in an easy-to-reach location! Once the power strip is turned off, no power will be delivered to the outlets, thereby eliminating power wasted by power supplies.
Use a Power Meter.
Use a power meter to find your leading sources of energy consumption to help you to prioritize which products to unplug or to replace. Plug these devices in between a given appliance and the wall socket to see how much electricity it is using.

Is your Kerala Home Environment Friendly?

Traditional Kerala homes were more environment friendly than our modern homes, as we used building materials (like laterite stones, wood, lime plaster etc.) that were available closer to the site and created a self-sustaining system with well water sources and house ponds, had kitchen waste pits that served as garden manure sources, planted medicinal and vegetable gardens etc. Today, we rely on commercially purchased high-energy building materials like concrete and steel and depend on public energy and water distribution system for our needs. This naturally creates a negative impact on the environment.

An Environment Friendly home is one that has a healthy internal environment without adding too much impact on the environment by utilizing renewable resources. This can be achieved by the following methods-
  • Using locally available natural building materials for construction.
  • Relying less on electrical lighting and heating by having more natural sunlight and ventilation by proper placement and provision of windows.
  • Installing rainwater harvesting systems to offset some of the water needs in the house.
  • Installing compost pits to generate cooking fuel and manure.
  • Having solar panels or micro wind turbines to generate electricity from renewable sources.
  • Installing solar water heaters to minimize electricity consumption.
  • Separating Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable waste to enable recycling and proper disposal.
Apart from decreasing the harmful impact on the environment, an Environment Friendly 'Green Home' reduces operational costs in the long run by saving electricity and water; and also by maintaining a healthier internal environment.
So, how do we determine if a house is truly- 'Green'? Eco-friendly houses are evaluated on several parameters before being given a green rating-
  • Site planning and eco-friendly building design.
  • Preservation and protection of top soil and landscape during construction.
  • Heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, lighting and electrical and water heating systems.
  • Optimization of building design and structure to reduce demand for conventional energy.
  • Integration of renewable energy sources to generate energy.
  • Water and waste management.
  • Selection of ecologically sustainable materials for construction.
  • Indoor environmental quality (indoor thermal and visual comfort and air quality).
  • Conservation of soil during construction and proper top soil for vegetative growth.
  • Renewal energy-based water heating system such as solar water heaters.  
    • (Courtesy: Business Today)
    Giving due consideration to these aspects while constructing your House in Kerala; or even providing them in your existing house; will improve the 'Green aspect' of your living environment!

    Home Automation Systems in Kerala

    Home Automation in simple basic terms, mean anything that gives us a remote or automatic control of things around our home. As the world gets more and more technologically advanced, we find new technology coming in deeper and deeper into our personal lives at home. Home automation is becoming more and more popular around the world and is becoming a common practice in today’s world.

    The process of home automation works by making everything in the house automatically controlled using technology to control and do the jobs that we would normally do manually. It is much easier to install home automation in a house while it is still being built, since you have the ability to put things inside the walls to save space. Though, people who have houses already built can still have home automation done in a less intrusive way through wireless systems.

    Home automation takes care of a lot of different activities in the house. Some of these things are as simple as turning on the sprinklers at a certain time every day and detecting burglars in the middle of the night. Others are much more advanced like sensing the presence of the person in a room and adjusting light ambiance, the temperature in the room, the volume of the music, according to different factors like the day of the week and the time.

    The systems that you can control include-
    Heating and cooling, 
    Security and monitoring systems, 
    Entertainment (home audio and video), 
    Communications (telephones and intercoms, internet), 
    Lawn sprinklers, 
    Curtain movements, 
    Gate door motor, 
    Shade motor control, 
    Keyless entry etc.
    The concept of home automation is to connect all of these systems and devices to a central controller so that they can be controlled from anywhere and react to one another. For example, as you arrive home, your home-automation system can automatically open the gate door, unlock the front door and disable the alarm, light the downstairs, and turn on the TV. Or if you power on the DVD player, it might automatically dim the lights, draw the shades, and direct all calls to voicemail.

    This central controller can be accessed and controlled through interfaces like keypad, wired or wireless touch-screens (with/without video), universal remotes, mobile devices such as a cell phone or PDA, any PC, at home, in the office, or on the road.
    The central controller has various peripheral devices connected to it so that it can receive and send signals to them for appropriate controls. These peripheral devices can be Lighting Controllers, Switches, Lighting Dimmers, Wireless security transmitters, Door contactors, PIR sensors, Infrared keyfobs, Fire/smoke detectors, Sprinklers, Sirens, audio controllers, speakers, temperature sensors, thermostats, cameras, televisions, CCTV, appliances etc.

    If appropriately specified, installed, operated and maintained, advanced lighting control strategies can reduce energy costs from 15 to 55% in your home, either by keeping lights off when and where they are not needed or by lowering light levels to correspond to the task at hand. In addition, lighting controls can increase occupant satisfaction and productivity by allowing users to tailor lighting levels to their personal needs and by optimizing light levels for the work environment.
    To make sure that your new house being built in Kerala can be adapted to Home Automation Systems, have it installed with structured cabling.
    The telecommunications cabling in a modern home supports a large and growing number of applications, including voice telephony, data networking, personal computers, printers, Internet access, and other applications, entertainment equipment like TV, home theater, whole-house audio, and home automation equipment, lighting control and security systems. For ease and convenience it is necessary that the new home should have single cabling infrastructure with CAT 5 or CAT 6 cables.

    Though sophisticated Wi-Fi equipments are there in the market, yet looking in to the promising future of IPTV etc. it becomes essential to go for high bandwidth solution. Entertainment applications, such as streaming video, typically use much more bandwidth than the voice and data applications. Therefore, a modern residence often requires more bandwidth than a typical office and needs to have structured cabling.

    Benefits of Home Automation-

    We’ve all gotten used to controlling our TV from the couch; just wait until you are able to dim the lights as well. Imagine adjusting the temperature from your bed or controlling the volume of your whole-house audio system from any room. Or imagine the wall/ceiling heater in your bathroom coming on automatically on chilly mornings 5 minutes before your alarm clock goes off so that it is warm when you enter. Many of the Home Automation products also save energy.

    Automatic Gate opening systems are getting common these days, but you’ll be surprised how much safer you’ll feel coming home to a lit home and even turning on more lights from your keyfob remote upon your arrival. With a couple of basic products you can have your whole house light up when there is motion detected at any corner of your house. Imagine your house sending you an email if there is motion where there shouldn’t be any. Or you can have your security system call you if there is an alarm, which might include your typical security alarm or even a low or high temperature or water in the laundry room or basement.

    High-tech products for the home are fun to use and share with others. Whether viewing visitors at your front door on your TV or tuning your stereo by using voice recognition, you’ll find home automation surprisingly enjoyable.

    Some Home Automation companies that service Kerala are the following-

    Eloka Enterprises Kerala
    Ist Floor B Wing, 30/120B, Pranavam Tower,
    Pettah Junction,
    Poonithura, Cochin 682038.
    Landmark : Varkeys Super Market
    Mobile : +91 - 99955 87415 / 95678 62880
    E-Mail : Support@Eloka.Net

    Eloka Trivandrum
    Future Desinz,
    TC 13 / 1136, Kannammoola,
    Trivandrum 695011
    Mobile : +91 - 98470 65252 / 98472 99664.
    E-Mail : Support@Eloka.Net

    Netsys Consultants
    A51/ Mosk road
    Frazer town
    Bangalore, India
    T.  +91 80 4563787 
    F.  +91 80 4563798

    Honeywell Automation India Ltd.
    No. 2234, 23rd Cross,
    Banashankari 2nd stage,
    Bangalore - 560070
    Tel: 91-80-66146565
    Fax No. 91-80-66146566

    Controls & Schematics India
    Kochi, Kerala
    Tel: 91-98470 66638

    Preparing your Site for Construction

    Now that you have your designs ready, it is time to start actual construction. Site preparation is a process that includes the following steps-

    1. Soil testing
    2. Site-plan designs
    3. Zoning restrictions
    4. Environmental concerns
    5. Utility placements
    6. Clearing
    7. Excavation

    Each step will have to be carefully investigated and have to go through a process of approval, and finally be put into action. The final result will be the proper placement of utilities, water supply and sewage disposal and the construction of a suitable foundation.

    Soil Testing
    A soil test provides basic information on the composition of the soil and its ability to support a structure; as well as the absorption and drainage rate of the soil. It will help in determining the strength of foundation required. Knowing the absorption rate will give homeowners an idea on how well the soil will accommodate septic and water and in determining where a septic system and well can be placed.

    Site-Plan Design
    A “site-plan design” is a crucial step in site preparation. It is the step that indicates the anticipated placement of the building, septic tank, well location (or public water connections), and any other fixtures. The site-plan design will also portray current vegetation that will be removed, surrounding wetlands or protected areas, access roads for construction vehicles, anticipated location of any paved driveway or road, and curb-cut locations. All site-plan designs must adhere to local or town regulations and be brought before zoning-approval boards to be used in the permitting process. You may have to refer to the section on Site Setbacks in Kerala Building Rules to know how much area has to be left between the house and the boundary wall on all four sides.

    Clearing and Excavation
    The final steps in site preparation include clearing and excavation. Certain sites will require you to remove trees and stumps from the building site in order to make room for septic systems, wells and utilities. The process of clearing and excavation is very expensive. For this reason, it is suggested that you only clear the necessary areas. Too much clearing can be very expensive and affect erosion.

    Have a center-line diagram prepared for the foundation and perform a 'kutti-adi' or Site 'Setting-out' using pegs and ropes to determine the area that is to be cleared for the house and the surrounding set-backs and landscaping. 

    If there is extensive clearing to be done, you may have to depend on heavy machinery or JCBs for this task. Proper planning will help in efficient utilization of time and resources in preparing your site.

    The steps involved in building a house

    Simple List-
    > Design Phase -
    Step 1- Prepare Architectural Designs
    Step 2- Prepare Submission Drawings
    ~ Submit for Approvals
    Step 3- Prepare Working Drawings
    ~Electrical, Plumbing & Sanitation Layout
    Step 4- Prepare Cost Estimates
    > Construction Phase -
    Step 5- Prepare Building Contracts with Cost & Time Schedule
    Step 6- Clearing the Site
    Step 7- Excavation for Foundation
    Step 8- Building the Foundation
    Step 9- Build Ground Floor Wall with lintel
    ~Carpentry Works
    Step 10- Ground Floor Ceiling Slab
    Step 11- Floor Concreting
    Step 12- Build First Floor Wall with lintel
    ~Carpentry Works
    Step 13- First Floor Roof Slab
    Step 14- Parapet Wall
    Step 15- Installation of Electrical, Plumbing & Sanitation
    ~Water Tank & Septic Tank
    Step 16- Plastering
    Step 17- Painting
    Step 18- Floor tiles
    ~Compound Wall & Gate
    Step 19- Furnishing & Interior Design
    Step 20- Solar Panels, Security Systems & Other Enhancements

    Expanded List-
    Construction Steps -Working Pattern
    Design –
    1. Site survey, Soil study
    2. Discussion of functional requirements and budget limitations
    3. Presentation Drawing by Architect
    4. Discussion, Corrections and finalization
    5. General Architectural Drawing
    6. Prepare Drawings for Submission
    7. Submit Drawings for Approvals
    8. Prepare Structural Design and drawings
    9. Prepare detailed working Drawings.
    10. Electrical, Plumbing & Sanitation Diagrams
    11. Prepare Detailed Estimate
    12. Prepare Working Schedule, Contract conditions, Progress Chart & B O Q
    13. Invite Quotation with previous working Experience
    14. Scrutiny of Quotations and enquiry on previous projects
    15. Awarding of work and Execution of Agreement.
    16. Clearing the Site and set out of building foundation at site
    17. Excavation for Foundation,
    18. Collection of materials at site for foundation
    19. Construction of Ground Water Tank
    20. Digging of well
    21. Starting Foundation work,
    22. Procurement of wood for joineries
    23. Material collection for walls and lintels
    24. Ground Floor Masonry with lintel
    25. Fixing of door and window frames
    26. Collection of materials for floor slab
    27. Lay pipes on wall for wiring
    28. Shuttering and bar bending for floor slab.
    29. Concreting Floor Slab
    30. Curing time floor slab,
    31. Material collection for first floor
    32. Carpentry work continues
    33. Collection of materials for plastering walls G F
    34. Remove form work
    35. Start first floor masonry and continue up to
    36. Roof level including lintel and shades
    37. Fix doors and window frames
    38. Lay pipes on wall for wiring
    39. Shuttering and bar bending for roof slab.
    40. Concrete Roof Slab
    41. Wait for curing
    42. Remove first floor form work
    43. Start wood work for interior
    44. Concrete Ground floor-floor
    45. Do concealed wiring and plumbing
    46. Start plastering Ceiling G F
    47. Ground floor walls
    48. Parapets outside
    49. Plastering F F inside
    50. Water Tank Over Head
    51. Construction of Septic Tank
    52. Compound wall
    53. Land scaping
    54. Plastering Out side
    55. Design Works
    56. Leveling walls for smoothness
    57. White Cement to walls
    58. Painting Ist coat
    59. Floor tiles
    60. Fixing of Sanitary and
    61. Water supply fittings
    62. Fitting of Kitchen modules
    63. Fixing of Furniture and cupboards
    64. Roof tiles
    65. Solar panels
    66. Security fittings
    67. Exterior pavements
    68. Gardening

    House ponds and Swimming pools for Kerala Houses

    A 'Kulam' or house pond used to be an integral part of Kerala Houses since time immemorial. This is where the daily rituals of bathing, washing and even 'Sadakam' for the musically inclined was performed. Apart from providing the source of water for these daily activities, the 'kulam' also provided adequate exercise to the men, women and children of the household, one factor that is grossly lacking in today's lifestyle.
    Now, more and more home builders are opting to have a swimming pool constructed as part of their house. Swimming pools come in various sizes and budgets. Normally a residential swimming pool ranges from 4m x 8m, 5m x 10m, 6m x 12m to 7m 14m, depending on the budget and available plot size. The shape varies from rectangular to irregular. The cost of a swimming pool depends on location, design, size, materials used, permit fees, local labor costs, depth, water features, additional accessories such as diving boards, slides, pumps, filters, automated filtration, heating, electronic chlorinators, automated cleaning systems, wireless remote controls, design add-on options such as waterfalls, landscaping, decking and other such details.
    Almost any pool shape can be designed to fit your property and your specifications.
    There are three types of swimming pools commonly built, one is the standard skimmer design, second is the rimflow and the third is the infinity. Cost of each design varies from one another. 
    The swimming pool is going to be the water recreation area in your compound. A place where you will entertain friends and family. A place where children and grandchildren will meet and play. 
    You should first determine what kind/size of pool is appropriate for you and your family, in terms of shape, style, etc...It really depends on how you plan to use your pool. If exercise is the priority, then a rectangular pool that facilitates swimming laps is appropriate. If you desire a pool that reflects a backyard oasis that is the perfect setting for entertaining, relaxing and overall enjoyment then a Freeform designed pool is probably most suited.
    A regular residential swimming pool in Kerala will not cost much to maintain. The level of involvement in maintaining your pool is up to you. You can either opt to do the maintenance yourself or engage the swimming pool contractor to do it. You can negotiate a maintenance schedule with your swimming pool contractor to keep your pool in peak condition throughout the year.
    Unlike earlier House Ponds, the Swimming pool does not have a ground water circulating system. The water in the pool is pumped in and stays there until it is mechanically removed. With modern swimming pool filtration equipment now available, you can use the same water even up to 2 years as long as you follow the correct water treatment and filtration procedures. Although this may not seem as an ideal situation for us Keralites who have a strongly embedded 'fresh water' concept; swimming pool water filtration systems have been found to be efficient in maintaining clean and safe levels over an extended period of time.

    M-Sand as a substitute for River Sand in Construction

    Procuring River Sand for Concrete is one of the major problems a House builder faces in Kerala. With severe scarcity and more restrictions imposed by the government on dredging of river-beds, we have to look at alternative materials like Quarry Dust or Manufactured Sand. While Quarry dust is a by-product of stone-crushing, Manufactured Sand is made specifically to be used in Construction Concrete.

    Manufactured Sand or M-Sand, as it is more popularly known, is made by powdering hard granite rocks using heavy machinery. It's particles are cubical in shape and finely graded and hence provides greater durability and higher strength to concrete by overcoming deficiencies like segregation, bleeding, honey combing, voids and capillary.

    As M-Sand is made specifically for construction, it has many qualities that are superior to River sand or Quarry dust. The particle shape of the aggregates is very important. Sand having cubical particles provide higher tensile and compressive strength to the concrete. While clay and slit is present in River sand which may affect the strength of concrete, M-Sand is free of these impurities. Also, consistency of quality can be achieved in Manufactured Sand, while River Sand has varying quality in different batches.

    River sand has to be sieved to remove stones, slit and clay. Average wastage of sieving is about 35% in materials and extra labour cost is incurred.  Whereas M-Sand is ready-to-use-sand with no wastage since it has no organic impurities.

    Properties of Manufactured Sand-

    Greater Durability
    M-Sand has balanced physical and chemical properties that can withstand any aggressive environmental and climatic conditions as it has enhanced durability, greater strength and overall economy.  Usage of M-Sand can overcome the defects occurring in concrete such as honey combing, segregation, voids, capillary etc.

    High Strength
    The superior shape, proper gradation of fines, smooth surface texture and consistency in production parameter of chemically stable sands provides greater durability and higher strength to concrete by overcoming deficiencies like segregation, bleeding, honey combing, voids and capillary.

    Greater Workability
    The crusher dust is flaky and angular in shape which is troublesome in working. There is no plasticity in the mortar which makes it even difficult for the mason to work, whereas the cubical shape with grounded edge and superior gradation gives good plasticity to mortar providing excellent workability.

    Offsets Construction Defects
    M-Sand has optimum initial and final setting time as well as excellent fineness which will help to overcome the deficiencies of concrete such as segregation, bleeding, honeycombing, voids and capillary.

    Usage of M-Sand can drastically reduce the cost since like river sand, it does not contain impurities and wastage is NIL.  In International Construction Scenario, no river sand is used at all, only sand is manufactured and used, which gives superior strength and its cubical shape ensures significant reduction in the cement used in the concrete

    M-Sand is the alternative to river sand.  Dredging of river beds to get river sand will lead to environmental disaster like ground water depletion, water scarcity, threat to the safety of bridges, dams etc.

    Beside with the Government contemplating ban on dredging of River beds to quarry river sand, as part of the growing concern for environment protection, M-Sand will be the only available option.

    Information- Courtesy: POABS

    Advantages of Filler Slabs

    In a simply supported RCC slab, the upper part of the slab is subjected to compressive forces while the lower portion is subjected to tensile forces. Concrete is very good in compression while it is weak in tension. Hence the steel reinforcement is placed in the tension zone. The concrete in this portion is only for holding together the steel reinforcement and has no structural purpose. This 'un-productive' concrete can be replaced by a 'Filler' material which will reduce the weight of the slab and also reduce the cost by reducing the amount of concrete used. Also, since the weight of the slab is thus reduced, lesser steel is also required for reinforcement, further reducing the cost.
    • There is no reduction in the structural strength of the slab at all and it will act as a normal load bearing slab.
    • Common filler materials are light weight materials like Mangalore tiles, clay pans, bricks, waste bottles, coconut shells, thermocol etc.
    • Reduces the cost of the slab by around 25-30%
    • Creates interesting designs and patterns on the ceiling
    • Helps in better thermal insulation of the slab due to the air pockets present.
    • Reduces the load on the foundation

    Reinforced concrete
    The filler slab is based on the principle that for roofs which are simply supported, the upper part of the slab is subjected to compressive forces and the lower part of the slab experience tensile forces. Concrete is very good in withstanding compressive forces and steel bears the load due to tensile forces. Thus the lower tensile region of the slab does not need any concrete except for holding the steel reinforcements together.

    Therefore in a conventional RCC slab lot of concrete is wasted and it needs extra reinforcement due to added load of the concrete which can otherwise be replaced by low-cost and light weight filler materials, which will reduce the dead weight as well as the cost of the slab to 25% (as 40% less steel is used and 30% less concrete).
    The filler slabs also result in fewer loads getting transferred to the load-bearing walls and the foundations. The air gap in between the tiles makes it a good heat insulator and the ceiling looks attractive as well.

    The mechanism 
    The filler slab is a mechanism to replace the concrete in the tension zone. The filler material, thus, is not a structural part of the slab. By reducing the quantity and weight of material, the roof become less expensive, yet retains the strength of the conventional slab. The most popular filler material is the roofing tile. Mangalore tiles are placed between steel ribs and concrete is poured into the gap to make a filler slab. The structure requires less steel and cement and it is also a good heat insulator.

    Strength of filler slabs.
    Conventional tests by different institutions and laboratories has proved the load bearing capacity of filler slab and found it no less in performance from the conventional R.C.C. slab. Since filler roof tiles are firmly bonded to and covered by concrete, it does not collapse under the impact of say, a coconut falling on the roof.

    Leak proofing filler slabs.
    With proper supervision and workmanship, leaks can be avoided. The chance of a leak in a filler slab is much the same as the conventional R.C.C.slab.

    Saving on cost 
    The savings on cost can be from 15 per cent to 25 per cent. But designing a filler slab requires a structural engineer to determine the spacing between the reinforcement bars.
    Other favored filler materials include clay pots, stabilized mud blocks, brick or brick panel, broken pieces of cement blocks and even coconut shells. The quantity of concrete in the tension zone of the slab that can be replaced by a filler material depends upon the shape of the filler material and the thickness of the solid slab.

    Thermal insulation
    The air pocket formed by the contours of the tiles makes an excellent thermal insulation layer. The design integrity of a filler slab involves careful planning taking into account the negative zones and reinforcement areas.

    Patterned ceilings 
    Filler slabs provide aesthetically pleasing patterned ceilings. In most houses, the filler material is left open without plastering to form aesthetic design symmetry but some residents prefer to cover the space with Plaster of Paris coating.

    Thus the filler slab as the roof has the following advantages:
    • Consumes less concrete and steel due to reduced weight of slab by the introduction of a less heavy, low cost filler material like two layers of burnt clay tiles. Slab thickness minimum 112.5 mm.
    • Enhances thermal comfort inside the building due to heat-resistant qualities of filler materials and the gap between two burnt clay tiles.
    • Makes saving on cost of this slab compared to the traditional slab by about 23%.
    • Reduces use of concrete and saves cement and steel by about 40%.

    Kerala Roof Design

    In Kerala, gabled roofs have always been the symbol of a family's stature in society. Even concrete houses with sloping roofs today proudly sport gables.
    Ask kindergarten kids to draw a house and most of them are likely to come up with the picture of a triangle atop a simple square. No wonder, because this basic outline has come to symbolise home and its comforts.

    The classic gable - or the triangular façade formed by extending the top end of a sloping roof - dates back to ancient Greece and is found in almost every style of architecture, from the colonial to the contemporary.
    In ancient Kerala, the gabled roof was the symbol of a family's stature in society, a statement of style. Traditional families vied with one another to adorn their houses with highly ornate wooden gables carved by expert craftsmen. Each region in the erstwhile state of Travancore had its own style of gable.
    Diversity in design
    In South Travancore belt, the gable was designed as an extension from the top end of a sloping roof. The beak was provided with a carved triangular façade as in the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the numerous Amma Veedus dotting the heritage areas in the city. In the mid-Travancore region, the gable was curved in the shape of a boat. Further to the North, in what is now Ernakulam and Thrissur, it was a projection from the roof, angling upwards. The protruding end of the gable provides protection from rain.

    Apart from the aesthetics, the gable on a roof performs a vital function. "If the roof is the face of the house, the gable is the nose. It helps the house breathe by expelling hot air rising from the bottom level and thereby keeps the interiors cool in summer," explains B. Arjunan, director of Arjun and Associates, a Thiruvananthapuram-based firm specialising in Vasthu architecture.
    Precision work
    In the traditional style, the construction of a gable was based on precise measurements. Proportionality is the key. For houses, the sides of the triangle have to be at an angle of 33 degrees with the base. This is to ensure that the gable does not disturb the overall dimensions and aesthetics of the roof and the building in general. An imperfect gable can spoil the appearance of a house, just as a deformed nose mars the beauty of a face.

    Even concrete houses with sloping roofs today proudly sport gables. To ensure that the utility value is maintained, air holes are provided within the triangular face. Designing gables for a multi-level roof is both a challenge and an opportunity for an architect. Multi-tier gables and those facing different directions add to the elegance of a house. Again, proportionality is the key to the beauty of this design layout.


    A gable can add about Rs.2000 to the construction cost of a roof. For multi- level gables, the cost can be as high as Rs.25,000. But for an increasingly culture-conscious society, the additional cost involved in adding a gable is more than made up for by the proud statement of tradition.
    That is perhaps why the gable has emerged as the most distinguishing feature of Kerala architecture. Most new tourist resorts, houses and commercial buildings are built to flaunt this design aspect.
    Builders have bypassed the problem of providing a gabled roof for a house with a flat terrace. This is made possible by fabricating a metal framework over the terrace to hold tiles or light roofing substitutes like tile-profile sheets. Apart from the enhanced aesthetics offered by the gabled roof, the flat terrace offers another tier of useable space. The steel truss used for fabrication is a better and more cost-effective option than wooden rafters

    Kerala Building Rules- Rainwater Harvesting


    109A.  Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting Arrangements.-

    (1) Unless otherwise stipulated specifically in a town Planning Scheme,  workable rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements shall be provided as an integral part of all new building constructions for the following occupancies, namely:-
    i) Group A1- Residential (with floor area of 100 sq.m or more and plot area of 200 sq.m or more)
    ii) Group A2- Special Residential
    iii) Group B- Educational;
    iv) Group C- Medical/Hospital
    v) Group D- Assembly
    vi) Group E- Office/Business
    vii) Group G1 and Group G2 Industrial (only for workshops, assembly plants, laboratories, dry cleaning plants, power plants, Gas plants refineries, diaries food processing units and any other occupancies notified by the Government from time to time) viii) Group1(1)  Hazardous (Automobile wash stall, automobile Service Stations, Service Garages with repairing facilities and any other occupancies notified by the Government from time to time);
    Provided that the floor area to be considered  shall be the total floor area in all floors:
    Provided further that, the rainwater harvesting arrangement is not mandatory for thatched
    roofed buildings.

    2)  The components of workable rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangement as stipulated
    in Sub-rule (1) above, shall include:
    i) Roof catchment area
    ii) Roof gutters
    iii) Down pipe and first flush pipe arrangement
    iv) Filter unit and
    v) Storage tank with provision for drawing water and spillover

    3)  The minimum capacity of the storage rank  as stipulated in Sub-rule (2) (v) of the
    rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangement shall be at the rate given below:
    Group A1- 25 litres/Sq.m
    Group A2- 25litres/sq.m
    Group B- 50 litres/Sq.m
    Group C- 50 litres/Sq.m
    Group D- 50 litres/Sqm
    Group E- 50 litres/Sq.m
    Group F- Nil
    Group G1 and Group G2- 50 litres/Sq.m
    Group H- 25 litres/Sq.m
    Group I- Nil

    4)  The municipality shall enforce workable artificial ground water recharging arrangements as an integral part of all new building constructions through collection of roof top rainwater.

    5)  The component of workable artificial ground water recharging arrangements as stipulated in sub rule (4) above, shall include:
    i) Roof catchment area
    ii) Roof gutters
    iii) Down pipe
    iv) Filter unit
    v) Recharge well/percolation pit

    6)  Wherever rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements as stipulated in sub rules (1) to (3) above are provided, additional arrangements for carrying the spill over water from storage tank to recharge well or percolation pit need only be provided

    7) The owner(s)/occupier(s) shall maintain the rooftop rainwater harvesting arrangements and artificial ground water recharge arrangements in healthy working condition

    8)  The Municipality may, in exceptional cases such as water logging or impermeable subsoil conditions to considerable depths, exempt construction from the mandatory groundwater recharging arrangements.

    Designing a Children's Room

    Traditional Kerala House Architecture catered to the needs of infants and toddlers in many ways. The Kidappumuri or Bedroom had provision for an Aatuthottil close to the mother's bedside; special areas where children's toys were kept and certain arrangements in the Kulimuri or Bathrooms for bathing the child.

    In Modern House Design, these arrangements are more elaborate, with specialized rooms for children. When you think of setting up a Children's Room, there are many things to be considered like- the gender of the child, the interests and aptitude and the evolution of the room as the child grows.
    Boys and girls generally have different colour-orientations. In the west, girls are often associated with pinkish themes and boys with bluish themes. The idea is to make the room vibrant with colours, which creates an environment of fun and enthusiasm, rather than a monotonous formal colour. Specifying areas within the room for play, study etc will instill concepts of discipline within the child at an early age.
    A Play area- Play areas for younger children may include an arts & crafts center. Most children love to draw and color, so set aside a comfortable space for working on crafts. You may also want to consider hanging a chalkboard which can be used for drawing or it can be a great teaching aid for you.
    A Reading area- Most children love to read. Provide a quiet and comfortable space that will entice them to do this. If you have the space for a comfy chair, perfect. If not, an over-stuffed floor pillow or two should do the job. Also remember that good lighting is essential for this activity.
    Space to entertain friends- This becomes more important as children get older. They'll want to spend time in their room with their friends. Depending on their age, a small entertainment center, that includes a radio or DVD Player may be appropriate.
    A Display area- Children love pictures. So dedicate a wall (or use a corkboard) to display your child's favorite photographs and artwork. Pictures of family and friends will add to the comfort of the room.

    In addition, pictures of the child as they grow are interesting and will add familiarity and warmth. Children are very proud of their artwork…display it with pride! A display area for school awards and memorabilia can also be set up so as to encourage the child's achievements. 
    Safety is one aspect that has to be given the utmost importance. Avoid sharp edges and loose surfaces. Do not leave substances that are volatile or poisonous in the room. Be careful with the positioning of electric sockets or other potential hazards.
    One trend in Children's rooms is to have an animated movie theme or a favourite cartoon character theme. While this can be exciting and playful, the theme may have to be updated as years pass by. Give the child enough freedom in modifying the room, but be there to guide appropriately.

    Never let the room get cluttered as this will lead to an undisciplined mentality. The child should be instructed to properly arrange and organize the room before going to bed. The Children's room is where you instill the basic qualities of discipline and organizing skills.

    More links on Designing a Children's Room-


    Ar Shahdad Karim B Arch FIIA, graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from College of Engineering, Trivandrum (CET), University of Kerala, took his Post Graduation in Construction Management from National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR), Pune and a Diploma in Project Management from TAFE, Australia.