• Benny Kuriakose

TRENDS IN NEW HOMES

A lot of changes have been undergoing over the years – in the perception of the house owners and architects. Many of these changes are so subtle so that we do not recognise very easily, but some has been rapid also. As a practitioner for more than 20 years now, I will say that the demand from the clients in terms of design has increased. Crecognizelients have become more conscious of design and nowadays they go into much more detail.


People are living longer and the standard of living has gone up. The attitude of the middle class has changed. There was a time when the home was seen as a means to provide shelter and roof over their head. This is no longer so. A refrigerator which was considered a luxury has become an essential part of everyday living. Television, washing machine, vacuum cleaners, computers etc. have become much more common in houses and these have to be planned for. Housewives want many of the kitchen gadgets because many of them are working now.


People are spending more and more time indoors where architecture and interior design is playing a significant part. As a child, I used to play outdoors quite a bit, but my son spends much less time. This may be due to the pressure in school education in terms of homework etc., but also may be due to the fact they watch television much more.


Flexibility In Planning


The next generation should also live in these houses. A well-designed home should be able to respond to changing needs. It should foresee changing demands and lifestyles of the future by providing flexible internal layouts and allowing for cost-effective alterations.


All these changes have made the requirement for extra space. The sizes of the rooms have increased over the years. What was considered a decent living room in the seventies and eighties are much smaller now. The home theatre and the large screen televisions need a minimum viewing distance and the living room have to be bigger. Many people do not want to keep the television in the living room, because the furniture used in the living room is not comfortable enough to watch a movie sitting for two hours or may not give the privacy one requires. Hence an additional room is constructed, one may call it a home theatre or a family room. It is nice to have this room in all the houses so that all the members of the family can gather together if the budget permits.


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Usually the bigger the size of the room, the greater the flexibility in planning. Nobody imagined 20 years ago that computers and laptops will become so common in houses. A 4000 sq.ft house was considered very large, but no longer in the present context. When I started the practice 30 years ago, the number of electrical points given in a bedroom was few. One tube light, one tungsten lamp, and one plug point were the norm. But now, we provide table lamps, dressing mirror lamps, plug points near the table and one on either side of the bed and provision for a telephone point also.

Where do most of the Changes happen?


Will the sizes of the houses become smaller in the future? Maybe in the cities where the land is scarce.


Preferably the height of the rooms should be more than 10 feet which is considered normal because you are building your own house. It gives a much better feeling especially when the room sizes are more. The overall cost will go up marginally, but the feeling will be nice.


One of the major drawbacks of the flat is that it is impossible to add a room or make an extension. The independent house allows this flexibility to be built in and can be done as the family grows. Additional space can be comparatively cheap, as long as it is not a toilet or a kitchen. The kitchen and the toilet are the most expensive spaces in a house, because of the plumbing, electrical, and costly finishes and tiles.


Additional space is an important long-term investment, for if a house is large enough, it can be usually brought up to date as it gets older; but if there is not enough space the improvements can be impossible.


Misconception about the Plinth Area Cost


We always talk about the per sq.ft cost of a building. This building is costing Rs. 500 per sq.ft. etc. This is quite misleading in the sense that this only gives an overall idea about the approximate cost of a building. Many clients come to me and say that they want to reduce the cost of a building by 10% by reducing the plinth area by 10%. What I tell them is that the overall cost will not come down by 10% unless you remove one of the rooms.


Even if you reduce the area little by little from each room without reducing any of the rooms, the cost of the doors, windows, electrical points, plumbing, etc. remains the same. Or else, to give another example, 100 sq.ft room may cost Rs. 50000/- while a 120 sq.ft will not cost Rs. 60,000/-.

Changes in Kitchen Concepts


More changes are happening in the toilets and the kitchens. A kitchen which was considered very modern five years ago is no longer modern. So many ready-made kitchen shops have come up, but the cost is quite high compared with the custom-made kitchens.