Of the many stalls showcasing a variety of products and services during the HabFest-30 exhibition, three booths in particular consistently drew the largest crowds to the tune of nearly 500 visitors over the past three days.
The free housing consultations offered at these booths daily by engineers and experts of Habitat Technology Group proved a huge draw at the exhibition, fielding inquiries from as far away as Kasargod and Kannur. The majority of the visitors were from the city.
While most questions centered, perhaps expectedly, around the 303 sq ft model brick home situated directly across the booths, the aim of the consultation service was to provide informed answers to any and all queries posed.
P. Shaji, a prospective homeowner, took a bus into the city from Kollam just to take in a consult. Besides the standard questions about the effect of rain and sunlight on the exposed brick masonry, Shaji asked, “If you can build a 300 sq ft home for Rs 3 lakh in three weeks, why can’t you construct 1,500 sq for Rs 15 lakh?”
This was a commonly asked question and comes out of a mistaken assumption, according to Chandrakumar Ananthakrishnan, Chief Engingeer (Projects) at Habitat, who has manned one of the booths for the duration of the exhibition.
“There are technical difficulties. A 1,000 sq ft-plus structure has its own foundation and other limitations. For one, the dimensions of the rooms will change. The costs of cement flooring and interior wall plastering will not be the same. Most importantly, the foundation costs will increase. Foundation costs are 15-20 per cent of the construction costs and the larger area will mean more money sunken in for the base,” Chandrakumar said.
Explaining that one could save money by adding another storey on the same foundation, he said that engineering principles, workmanship and structural stability would not be diluted or compromised. That would like akin to cutting corners in the name of cutting costs.
“The goal should be limiting the ground consumption while adding value and raising awareness of Habitat’s governing ‘home for the homeless’ ethic, he said. This is the sort of intervention that Habitat is known for. The services on offer here are purely engineering consultations. There are no blueprints or plans drawn up. We have no agenda to promote ourselves or sell any products. We don’t even have banners or brochures,” he said.
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