Thursday, August 6, 2015

Refurbishing of traditional homes

Ancestral homes are not easy to part with, for they are replete with emotional attachment and never-fading memories. But they cannot provide the utilitarian comforts and conveniences that are essential for the present generation. They were constructed for catering to the limited needs and different lifestyles of a bygone period. Being a pre-technological era, with no home entertainments or gadgets to provide information or pleasure, people gathered in large halls to socialize or for rest. There was no privacy, no well-set kitchen or attached bathrooms, and ventilation and lighting were poor. 

On the other hand, structures of those decades were built on strong foundation utilizing standard and naturally available quality materials. The higher level of ceiling provided natural weather conditioning, while their thick walls lent sound proof protection. Hence it is prudent to renovate them adding on modern facilities, while leaving untouched the traditional glow. Such a renovation demands no major breaking or rebuilding, and involves no major expenditure. 

Reconditioning ancestral homes could be accomplished in the following spheres: 

Masonry works: 

It is customary to commence the repairs and renovations from roof and proceed downwards. Water proofing for any seepages at the roof or outer walls, may be done utilizing the services of reliable contractor. Flat roofs require finishing by terracotta tiles. Despite the cost factor, it holds fast the treatment better than a concrete finish. For sloping roofs with Mangalore tiles, could get painted with two coats of terracotta, acquiring a modern look which will last for another five years. For an arresting appearance of new fa├žade, the front wall could be cladded with granite or terracotta tiles. 

After roofing is completed, flooring work could be undertaken. As per the lifestyle and taste, house flooring I could be chosen. Along with lying of flooring, other tasks like bathroom and kitchen renovation could also be undertaken simultaneously. Age-old and rusted plumbing along with concealed ones could be changed. Rearranging the two 'wet' areas namely the bathroom and the kitchen, could be completed. In the bathroom, the bathing area should be farthest from the door. In the kitchen, the work, wash and cooking areas should be arranged in a 'U' formation and the storage as far away 1 from the taps as possible. The walls of kitchen and bathroom could be tiled and all the sanitary ware and I countertops could be replaced. 

Woodwork : 

It will be advisable to put in a false- 1 ceiling with aluminium sheet or wood ply for high sloping ceilings which not only gives a neat look but also keep out rodents. This should be done before internal work is done. Woodworks like cabinets and shelves for kitchen storage, wardrobes and closets for bedrooms and built-in wall units for T.V., music system, books, curios, photographs etc., in the living room and bedrooms make the house comfortable. Tiny rooms get the look of more space and light by arranging in single-frame, single pane windows and by installing life-sized wall mirrors on the opposite side.

Electrical upgradation : 
For inclusion of modern gadgets, the altered houses need suitable cabling, circuit breakers and power backup. A three phase circuit in place is necessary if an air-conditioner, dish washer or other heavy-duty gadgets are to be used. As just minor wall breakages are involved during incorporating these changes, the outdated switch boards, plug points and shift light points could be taken to convenient spots. New wall points could be created after sealing of the old-fashioned ceiling points. For concealed lights, after creating new light points, decorative reliefs could be cast in plaster-of-paris over the existing ceiling. The bedroom needs new light points installed for bedside reading and switchboards for Air-conditioner, fan and light control next to the bed. It is necessary for the kitchen to have new plug-points for various gadgets to be used there. 

Painting : 

The renovation process culminates with painting. All old paint should be scraped away and putty to be used to cover flaws. Choosing the quality and colour of paint as per the needs, demands discretion. Oil-bound distemper, enamel paints and emulsion are easy for cleaning while emulsion has the added advantage of a velvety finish. 

If proper workforce-management and coordination is ensured, the complete renovation exercise could be accomplished within a span of three months. Then we could visualize a brand new house, studded with all modern comforts in it, and at the same time possessing and glowing with the spirit and soul of the great old edifice that once it was. 

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