Vernacular Architecture in India

Recently I visited a place in Konkan region in India.
Kolad , on Mumbai-Goa highway.
It  a lake side resort , it has a vernacular look with modern amenities.
Here are some snaps..
 Sit-out facing lake side..
Exterior face has stone cladding with lacquer finish.
All the door windows are from local wood.
 Floating room , on RCC columns .
The roofing is done in MS Fabrication and thatching is done for the elevational treatment .
It give a structure its vernacular look..and it looks amazing at night with lighting.
 It has clear glass windows from all the four side, which give a feel of openness .
Wooden bridge connects the cottage from the rest resort.

Columns with stone cladding and thatched roof  give site-out a comfortable and cozy feeling.

‘Made in China’ Development Manual Has Lessons India Can Learn

                                                           All roads lead to the city in China. More Chinese live in cities than villages now, with nearly 690 million people occupying urban space compared to 656 million in the countryside. China may have drawn flak for ignoring environmental, socio cultural, heritage and human dimensions in the rush for unscrupulous development – yet as a keen learner, we have number of ready and right pages to pick and learn from the “Made in China” development manual. For example, the pace of Chinese urbanization is faster, but an interesting contrast to India is that more than twice as many Indians live in big metropolises (>10 million) than Chinese. This may possibly have to do with advanced industrialization in rural areas and small towns in China. It has invested in growth centers provinces have become centres of highly successful industrial clusters of specialized, mainly family-owned enterprises. Dating town in Zhejiang province produces a third of world’s socks. Three-quarters of the world’s neckties are produced in the town of Shengzhou where hardly anybody in the local population ever wears one. Another town, Yiwu is the world’s largest producer of buttons. Guangdong province of South China has world’s kargest mall for furniture with towns after towns dedicated to building industry-related manufacturing and trading outlets, be it furniture, electrical fixtures, sanitary ware, floor finishes or accessories. These largely export-oriented units, set within the largest vision of simulating growth in smaller towns, have generated considerable job market and triggered amenity and infrastructure development to check migration to mega cities. Country’s overall economy has also depended greatly on these export-oriented units. For example, China volume of export is whopping 1600 billion dollars. Of which, despite hate-hate relationship with USA, it has the highest share of exports with the US at the magnitude of over hundred billion dollars. India ranks seventh in China’s export destination at nearly 40 billion dollars. Underpinning China’s export success is a combination of long term investments in automation and sport-term depreciation of the currency. Manufacturers across China are investing in labour saving equipment, reorganizing shop floor management and taking other measures to maximize production efficiency. Important to note is that is much or more than automation it has concentrated on streamlining the processes to yield maximum production with minimum waste within a mass production mode rather than customization. Even smallest component and actions are given their due for cost competitiveness, like investing in computer-controlled drill that does the work of up to eight people, or a garment company buying machinery to manufacture buttons more cheaply. These constant endeavours have ensured that despite rising labour costs the final product cost remains competitive for export and quite often cheaper than before. Central authorities have strongly endorsed stepped-up equipment investments by exporters. Labour shortages in export zones have also meant that workers have not tended to protest the introduction of more machinery. With domestic Chinese economy slowing, the government has also counteracted some of the pain by taking currency actions to help exporters. It has allowed the country’s tightly managed currency, the Renminbi makes Chinese goods less expensive in foreign markets, and makes imports less affordable in China. Urban infrastructure is constructed, operated, and maintained by separate companies set up by Chinese government with a large stake in cost recovery. While, in India, much of the time the municipal government performs these functions through its departments. Chinese cities have the autonomy to raise investment funds by monetizing land assets and to retain 25% of the value added taxes. Large infrastructure projects in China often have special purpose vehicles to get access to the debt market. Not just the fiscal system, the whole urban governance structure in India is not decentralized enough. Mayours d not necessarily have enough executive powers or accountability to the local citizenry. The chief official in policy implementation is often the municipal commissioner, a state government official accountable upwards, to the higher-level government. This is quite different from the empowered mayors in cities in other developing countries. In coastal China local business development under the auspices of local governments have contributed substantially to local revenues and building of local infrastructure. In India this is rare. With centralized system China has circumvented models to positively contribute to remote places compared to remote places compared to the so called decentralized powers assigned to federal, state and city municipalities in India.

Infrastructure Projects Stimulate Growth

                                             As the economic downturn in many nations rumbles on, politicians are turning to fiscal stimulus to generate growth. The decision to engage in major projects as a method for enhancing the economies of their regions has proved time and again to work. The resulting transport, regional investment programs and infrastructure projects have proved impressive for their vision and dynamism in their scope of delivery. The Infrastructure Investment Awards 2012 now celebrate the best of these.
                                            It’s been clear to World Finance while researching the Infrastructure Investment Awards 2012 the growing recognition of value in social infrastructure project. The creation of improved healthcare facilities has been the target for a number of governments, where the realization that overall economic growth cannot be delivered without a strategy for social improvement as well.
                                                Elsewhere, World Finance has seen the proliferation of education-based projects, tying infrastructure and social development together. Such instances have proved an encouraging reflection that investment in social infrastructure produces a benefit that spreads far beyond the building that have been invested in.
                                                For the private sector, new infrastructure project have proved lucrative investment strategies. Private projects, particularly in locations seen as areas of growth, have enjoyed the benefit of funding avenues opened by investors jaded by traditional investment markets. This has allowed some projects to progress faster than anticipated yet has also ensured that they remain within budget and deliver profit to investors.
                                                World Finance’s Infrastructure Investment Awards celebrates the successes of some of the world’s leading infrastructure projects and the people who have made them happen. Read articles from some of the winners in the September October edition of World Finance magazine, available now in retailers.
                                                World News Media is a leading publisher of quality financial and business magazines, enjoying a global distribution network that includes subscriber lists of the most prominent and senior decision-makers around the world, as well as comprehensive airport, hotel and conference site distribution.

Improving the Quality of Life Indoors Too

 Our green friends are also Good Samaritans of the earth. We humans may not bother much about their survival, but they enrich our existence through their very own. That plants in general reduce outdoor pollution is everybody’s knowledge. But few are aware of how they enhance the quality of life indoors too.
                         In highly industrialized urban lifestyle, more and more people spend longer hours indoors. It is estimated that in the cities people spend almost 90 per cent of their time indoors. Scientific studies in the last several years indicate that the air within offices, homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the air outdoors.

Indoor pollution

Contemporary homes and buildings are often tightly sealed to avoid energy loss from cooling or heating systems. The synthetic materials used in modern constructions produce potential pollutants that remain trapped in these poorly ventilated buildings, and these pollutants result in what is often called the Sick Building Syndrome (The condition in which occupants of a building experience health hazards).
Pollution sources that release gases or particles into the indoor air are the primary cause of air quality problems in buildings. Inadequate ventilation, high temperature and humidity levels can increase concentrations of the pollutants.
Many of the volatile organic compounds (VOC5), which are emitted as gases from wide range of solids or liquids, cause short- term and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of the VOCs may be ten to thousand times higher indoors than outdoors. The pollution sources include - paints, paint removers, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, televisions, gas stoves, copiers, printers, computers, correction fluids, glues and adhesives, permanent markers, wood preservatives, cosmetic sprays, tobacco smoke, disinfectants and air fresheners, wall and floor coverings, plastic products, synthetic fabrics, upholstered furniture, central heating and cooling systems, compressed and laminated wood products and so on.
 While pollutant levels from individual sources may not pose a significant health risk by themselves, most homes have more than one source that contributes to indoor air pollution. There can be a serious risk from the cumulative effects of these sources.

Health effects

There are more than 900 identified VOC5 that may pose acute and chronic health problems to individuals who live and work inside the buildings. The extent and nature of the effects depend on many factors including level and duration of exposure. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, skin allergies, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that people may experience soon after exposure to some VOCs. Some of these organic compounds can cause long term health problems such as asthma while some are even carcinogenic.

Role of plants
                      Scientific studies show that plants play an important role in cleaning the air we breathe, both indoors and outdoors. Plants are known to clean the air through their food processing called photosynthesis. In the process, they clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide, and by releasing lifesaving oxygen into the air. Plants are also proven to be effective in absorbing certain VOCs and reducing dust accumulation.
                                            A team of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists led by Dr. Bill Wolverton tested the effect of house plants on the three major indoor air pollutants - Benzene, Formaldehyde and Trichioroethylene. Formaldehyde is used in many building materials and cleaning products where as Benzene and Trichloroethylene are found in oils, paints, adhesives, inks and varnishes. Plants clean air Research has proved that certain plants could be effective in abating indoor air pollution. These are common indoor foliage plants which are easily available in local nurseries. In the NASA study, certain houseplants were found to remove about 87 per cent of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours. Scientists suggest that for the plants to be effective, it is necessary to use one potted plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. They also recommend that the plants be grown in six-inch containers or larger for more leaf area.
                                               These exciting revelations in the last few decades have helped us realize that a house plant, valued for its aesthetic value, quietly but efficiently works in the background to enhance our well­ being. Hence we can rest assured that plants within built spaces help to soothe and calm our senses and purify and refresh the air we breathe.

Countertop Materials Ranked by Stain-Resistance

Most countertop manufacturers market their products as stain-resistant or stain-proof, but there is often a major caveat. Many countertop materials resist stains only if maintained properly – and even with sealing and care, they aren’t always 100-precent stain-proof. Here is a list of the 16 most popular countertop options, in rough order from the most stain-resistant to least stain-resistant.

            Quartz countertops are really an engineered stone surface made primarily of quartz crystals with some additives. They are very resistant to stains and heat, and are anti-bacterial. If durability and ease of maintenance are more important than cost, quartz is certainly a good option.

            Solid-surface countertops, better known as Corian or Wilsonart, are also among the lowest-maintenance options available, and is typically a little cheaper than quartz. They will resist most stains, and the rare stain is easily repaired with an abrasive cleaner and scrubber or, in extreme cases, some fine sandpaper.

            Glass countertops also are very stain-resistant, but they require more maintenance and care than soild-surface. While wine or mustard may not mar glass, simple fingerprints and watermarks are quite visible.
            Stainless steel and copper countertops are similar to glass in their stain-resistance. They are technically stainproof, but watermarks, fingerprints and grease marks can be obvious and ugly.

            Richlite is a paper-based fiber composite that looks like real wood but is more stain-resistant and requires less maintenance. Like many other countertops, it can be sealed to resist most stains.

            Slate  is stain-resistant and doesn’t need to be sealed, but it scratches easily.

            Granite is rarely this far down any list of countertop options. To be sure, some high-end granite is quite stain-resistant and may not even require sealing. However, most granite on the market must be sealed regularly to resist stain-proof.

            Porcelain tile resists stains. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of most tile grout. Grout can be difficult to clean, and must be sealed regularly to resist stains.

            Ceramic tile, particularly glazed tiles, also resist stains. But grout presents the same problem as with porcelain tiles.
             Natural stone tile is a cheaper way to get natural stone onto your kitchen or bathroom countertop, but it is also a more stain-prone. Both the stone and the grout can stain, though grout lines are typically thinner than on other tile surfaces.

            Soapstone can take on surface stains, but they are typically scrubbed ot sanded away with relative ease.
            Wood countertops stain easily. Coffee, tea, wine, mustard and other foods and drinks can mar wood surface. However, stains are also easily sanded away or removed with lemon juice, a hydrogen peroxide solution or wood bleach. Moreover, wood countertops are rendered more stain-resistant with monthly or quarterly oil rubs.

            Marble stains easily and must be maintained frequently. Of course, if you must have the look of marble, there is no other way to truly match it.

            Travertine is another soft stone that is easily stained, particularly in the small pits across the surface. Also consider limestone in the same category.

            Concrete must be maintained and sealed carefully to resist stains. Lemon juice, vinegar and other acidic materials can compromise the sealer and leave the concrete exposed to stains.

            Plastic laminate earns the worst rating on our list, though the failing grade may be a little unfair. Quality laminate countertops are quite stain-resistant. The problem is that stained laminate surfaces are more difficult to repair than nearly every other surface. There is little choice but to replace or resurface a stained, scratched or burned laminate countertop.

Some Checklist Before Starting a Bathroom Renovation

A bathroom renovation is an exciting task. But before jumping to choosing the latest tile or bathtub design, there are some less exciting things to consider so your project turns out just the way you dream it. Because renovating a bathroom can be overwhelming, time-consuming and costly, we prepared a simple 15-point checklist to make sure that your project stays on track and the renovation runs smoothly.

1. Budget

If you don’t know already you should work up an ides of how much you want to spend on your bathroom renovation. Setting a budget will help guide you as you make decisions about what to include in the remodel. Once you’ve figured out what you can spend and subtracted the amount allocated to labor, you’ll have a clearer sense of what you can spend on tile, fixtures, and extras.

2. Time

Many people assume that if they are remodeling a small bathroom it will take muck less time than a larger one. This is not necessarily the case. Depending on how many items you are changing in the bathroom your contractor will have to go through all the same steps as a larger bathroom. However, planning refers not only to defining the duration of the renovation works but also certain intermediate steps such as ordering and purchasing tiles, fixtures, custom-built vanity or cabinets to make sure they can be delivered when your contractor needs them. planning time is also crucial for those with only one bathroom in their house as they will have to make arrangements where to take a shower and use the toilet while the bathroom is taken apart.

3. Works sequence

When it comes to bathroom renovation by completing the job in a specific sequence you can save yourself from a lot of clean up time and mistakes. Whether you are demolishing sheetrock or simply repainting, you always want to start at the top of the room. Remodel your ceiling first, walls second, and floors third so you can prevent damage to your new components.

4. Hidden problems

If you are doing a major upgrade to your bathroom consider doing a “full gut”. When done by a professional with expertise you end up with a zero problems bathroom that will function flawlessly and add tremendous value to your home for many years to come. Depending on the age of your home and how well it was built the biggest hidden well it was you may encounter is water damage, so look for structural deficiencies in the floor framing, not properly vented plumbing, old corroded plumbing, non-waterproof tile shower/tub surrounds, etc.

5. Design style and functionality
When first starting out start by thinking about the look you want for your bathroom. There are many factors to consider like paint color, tile choices, vanities, showers, tubs, faucets, etc. it can get overwhelming very quickly so start with some research. You can start to piece together elements that you like into what will become the final design of the bathroom or you may choose a design item you want to feature in the bathroom and then work the rest of the bathroom design around it. Design should work hand in hand with functionality so consider who will use the bathroom and who will use he bathroom and how, consider an eventual resale of the house and also take a moment to think how the bathroom design will fit in with the rest of the house.

6. Measurements

There are 3 major limitations which really make size matter in bathroom renovation: the overall size of the bathroom (usually the smallest room in the house), the location of existing plumbing pipes and electrical wiring and the typical standard dimensions of bathroom fixtures. Therefore make sure you have the correct measurements and specifications when you go to the store. More frustrating than trying to shop without measurements is to end up purchasing stuff that doesn’t fit.

7. Plumbing fixtures and features

No renovation is complete without remodeling or repairing fixtures and features, which could very well make a separate checklist themselves: shower, bathtub, toilet, bidet, sink, faucets and shower heads. You should also update or repair your mirrors and shower doors. You can also change the look of your bathroom very easily  by changing out door handles, drawer pulls and the hardware for your shower doors. If you have the budget a new set of shower doors can completely change the look of your room.

7. Cabinets, storage and shelving

Planning cabinets, shelving and storing solutions is a tricky problem in most cases. In small, irregular shaped rooms like the bathroom, it is even more so. They need to be functional and accommodate all your stuff while keeping everything easily reachable, they must fit into the available space and make the most of it and on top of it all, they need to look stylish.

8. Walls and flooring

Virtually any material can be used to surface walls and floors in the bathroom as long as it’s waterproof, either naturally or by means of an impervious finish. Depending on your budget and style, ceramic, marble, and granite tiles make handsome and highly durable flooring and wall surfaces for baths. For flooring additional options may include cement (painted or stained), sheet vinyl tiles which are inexpensive and look better than used to. Whatever your choice, always mind another key criteria for choosing your bathroom flooring durability and slip-resistance.

9. Lighting

A bathroom can be rendered impractical of downright dangerous without adequate lighting so plan for design lighting that is functional and also creates atmosphere. Plan for maximizing natural light first, whereas for artificial light it is advisable you should have least 4 watts of incandescent lighting per square foot.

10. Accessories

Although apparently insignificant in the bigger picture of the overall project, no remodel is complete without new accessories. And surprisingly enough, the small stuff like new towels, wash clothes, soap dishes, mirrors, towel racks, bath mats do add up to the final bill. If you are on a budget, new hand towels will be better than nothing.

11. Ventilation

Ventilation is crucial is a wet room like the bathroom. It is also a tricky task which needs good planning: choosing the right fan, the right position for its installation and dealing with the electrical wiring-poor ventilation can leave your bathroom damp, mouldy and can even harm your health, a well-ventilated bathroom, however, isn’t just a healthy bathroom. Continual airflow can also prevent both the decay of any wooden trim or fixtures and the saturation of building insulation.

12. Going green

Even if you personally don’t care about going green one way or the other, the market is trending toward this so it’s something to consider. And there are many budget friendly options for adding a green touch to your bathroom: a low flow toilet that uses less water and saves you money in water bills; low-VOC or no-sustainably harvested tile surface counter tops, etc.

13. Final clean

The final clean should include a thorough cleaning of all cabinetry, inside and out, ductwork, walls, floor, windows, and light fixtures. Although often overlook in the planning phase, in the case of a major renovation you may want to consider contracting a cleaning service which means additional costs that impact your budget. If you feel up to doing it yourself, you may need to add a day or two to your initial timing.

Brick Veneer Siding

Apart from enhancing the architectural style and design of the house, siding servers various other purpose. It can protect the inner structures from adverse weather conditions like harsh sunlight, strong winds, torrential rains and frost. Some type of siding can act as an insulation against heat and light too. So, choosing house siding is very important. The right siding should be suitable for the local weather conditions, it must be durable with less maintenance, and above all, must fir into your budget. While brick, wood, stone, etc, are some of the traditional options, there are numerous new siding materials from witch you can select the right one for your home. This article deals with brick veneer, which can be the perfect choice if you want a siding material with the looking of bricks.

What is Brick Veneer Siding

Brick are among the oldest materials used for masonry construction. They are made of fired clay and are found to be durable and long lasting. Solid bricks from the structural elements of a construction, as they have to support the load within the walls as well as of the roof. Usually, solid bricks, four to eight inches thick, are used in the construction of homes. Unlike such conventional bricks, brick veneer siding is a type of thin brick surface, that is used as a siding. It can be defined as a thin surface material that is applied on solid wall surfaces so as to attain the natural look of a brick wall. It can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces.

There are various type of brick veneer, that differ in size, thickness, and method of installation. While some types resemble typical red bricks, others have a more rustic look. However, these veneers are around ten to fifty millimeters in thickness, with the same length and breadth of a regular, traditional brick. They come in different colors, textures and finishes. The variations in color are due to difference in the chemical composition of the raw materials (shale or clay) and the intensity of firing. The texture difference is achieved by adopting various type of surface treatments. Thin ones are also available in different shapes, so as to facilitate their installation on sills and cornices.

Brick Veneer siding is very popular due to its cheaper cost, as compared to regular, traditional bricks. Apart from that, it is easy to install and is beneficial in providing an insulation to the house. This siding is very widely used on both interior and exterior walls, pathways, patios, fireplaces and floors. Above all, this material id found to be durable and resists fire too.

How to Install Brick Veneer Siding

Installation of brick veneer as a siding, depends on its type and purpose. Thin and lightweight types are installed on surfaces in the same way as ceramic tiles are adhered to walls. Another method is to install a brick veneer wall, covering the exterior face of the frame building. In this case, such a wall is made on a separate foundation and a small gap is left between the veneer wall and the existing walls of the building. However, the outer wall will be connected to the frame building at some points. If you want to install thin type of brick veneer siding, you have to chip the existing wall surfaces, after cleaning them thoroughly. Remove the flakes from the surface and apply the adhesive mortar, as per the instructions of the manufacturer. In case of uneven wall surfaces, you have to level them first, by applying a scratch coat. Once the adhesive mortar is applied to a thickness of 10mm, level the mortar and comb it with a tooth trowel. Now, press the veneer firmly to the walls, so that the mortar sticks out through the sides. Use a brush to smooth the mortar that just out through the sides. Use a brush to smooth the mortar that just out through the sides. In case of larger surface areas, brick veneer are cast with concrete to form prefabricated panels that can be installed easily.

Brick veneer cost depends on the type and the method of installation. While this material is commonly used as a replacement for other siding types, brick veneer siding is also used in new constructions.