A sensible makeover
Renovating an old house or an apartment may be less expensive than buying a new one if it is efficiently done
PHOTO: K. MURALI KUMAR
It looks new:An interior view of the 'Perfect Peace' house at Inner Circle, Whitefield area in eastern part of Bangalore .
Doing up an old house has its problems but is worth the effort. With land prices skyrocketing, it is not uncommon to find many an old bungalow being torn down to make way for swanky apartments or a commercial complex. These are bungalows that belonged to the colonial period, with a distinctive character of their own.
These buildings are torn down not because of their dilapidated condition but the land value, cost of maintenance and high cost of renovation.
The commercial gain of pulling down the structure to make way for new is found to be too high to be sacrificed, making demolition inevitable.
While the commercial gain is true of large colonial bungalows on sprawling grounds, houses in smaller plots too meet the same fate because of high cost of renovation.
To suit requirements
However, reality can prove otherwise as in many cases, old houses can be efficiently renovated to suit changed requirements. Renovating an old house can also prove less expensive than purchasing a new apartment or a bungalow, besides g the advantages of location.
For, the old bungalows are invariably in the heart of the city compared to a new apartment or house in the peripheral regions.
Says Vidya Mulky, who had her 30-year-old apartment refurbished “Even though the apartment is old, we have advantages in terms of location and proximity of friends. Besides, the apartment was still in good shape and needed refurbishing to make use of dead spaces as well as suit changed requirements.”
While renovation in terms of structural alterations is not feasible in an apartment, the internal structure was changed to give the feel of more space and efficient utilisation of the given space.
“After refurbishing, the apartment looked brand new, like any new swanky apartment, while retaining the warmth of a home lived in for 30 years.”
According to architect Sajjad Ali Khan, who has renovated a number of old houses, a house can be renovated to accommodate changing requirements at a much lower cost compared to buying a new building. “Depending on the condition of the building, additional floors can be added but it is best to retain the character of the building, especially if unique and distinct.”
While renovating an old house, certain elements need to be identified. Age and strength of the building, basic requirements to be incorporated, key walls to be retained which may be load-bearing and the essential character of the building are some aspects to be addressed. Says architect Kedar Diwakar, “In renovation, structural alteration is inherent unless the house is to be merely restored to its former glory. Even though the essential character may be retained, the interior of the house would invariably get altered in terms of the size of rooms, type of use the rooms are to be put to as well as additional rooms or floors added.” According to him, changing the character of the house would lead to a lot more structural changes and at times old buildings cannot withstand too much of breakage and rough handling.
Since most of these buildings may be 30 to 40 years old, it is best to remove all the plaster as lime. Re-plastering would not only last longer but also add strength
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