One of India’s oldest buildings is the Sanchi Stupa built by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC. It is still standing strong with a little help of reconstruction here and there. Just give it a thought, what may have gone into building this structure to make it sustain the wrath of time. What is the oldest house you have seen in your life? Your ancestral house made by your great grandfather maybe? Remember, what is the age of the home? Now when you are at the threshold of having your own house, you must know how to strengthen it so that it doesn’t degrade over time and instead increase its lifespan.
In India, unlike the western countries, residential (and commercials as well) buildings are made of concrete structure giving it a lifespan of 40 years while that of an apartment is 50-60 years. But an article in The Hindu by Kishore Pate1 mentions that a building with quality construction can have an average lifespan of 80 years after which the need to remodel will arise. A detailed home inspection from the beginning of the building can avoid early onset of weakening of a house. Regular maintenance can make a house last even two or three centuries!
Now you may wonder, how and why a home ages? These are inanimate objects, right? Yes, they are. But the elements, a house is made up of, go through continuous degradation due to environmental effects and of course, human neglect. India’s tropical climate, fluctuation of temperature, and the long span of monsoon with humid weather adversely affect the house. Poor quality of construction with faulty base and design of the house, pipelines and cable wires, windows and doors fail the time test resulting in early aging of home.
So, what to do to overcome all these and make your house stand strong? A home inspection is the first and most generalized answer for it acts like the health-check-up of a home and gives you timely alerts for maintenance and repair. But you need to be careful about several other things. Here is a list that may come in handy:
1. Quality materials
Architects and builders from various parts of India have opined that housing materials have to endure weathering elements and natural forces leading to their deterioration in quality and life. It will be best if you can spare time to handpick the materials. Otherwise, do a proper market survey and choose your builder who puts faith in high-quality materials. But don’t be much relaxed as your continuous absence from the site can cause discrepancy. Visit the site regularly and stay in touch with the builder. Higher the quality of concrete, cement, bricks, wood or ply of doors and windows, tiles, pipeline fixtures and so on, more secured is your house against the time test.
2. Wall and floor design
If you can afford it, go for marble or granite for your floor as this gives the floors life expectancy of over a century. Modern floor tiles also ensure value for money. When the house is in the construction phase, see to it that proper rod bindings are in use to ensure the walls endure the full tenure of lifespan. But you must remember that it is not a one-time job. Clean the floors and walls regularly and check the grouting for any retouch. This will enhance their overall sustenance.
3. Interior designing
Did you know that how and where you place your furniture at home can harm the endurance level of a house and lower its life expectancy? Damp is a four-letter word which can bring horror to your housing experience. Rising damp from the ground, wrong installation of tiles on the walls, rainwater leakage, improper plumbing fixtures all are reason enough to lower your home’s lifespan. Hire a home inspection team to get the damp assessment done. If you are an NRI and come to live at your house here in India only for a month or two a year, you need to be extra cautious as the home will be left unattended for a long time. Before you go for interior designing and decking up your room, get a damp assessment done to stop leakage and seepage wear out your home. Don’t forget – a damp-free home is the ideal setting for interior designing and if not checked early, it can ruin the property within a few years.
4. Colour and waterproofing
Waterproof your roof and basement and paint your house at regular intervals. For obvious reasons, choose weatherproof paints. Cheap paints will not last long on the surface. Waterproofing your house will eliminate all scopes of leakage and seepage from occurring giving your house longer years to sustain the atmospheric adversities.
Maintenance of the house will also include regular cleaning and occasional home deep cleaning2. Especially, after the monsoon is over and the festive season sets in, look for spots where water and wastes have clogged the drains causing water to a standstill. This will invite dampened walls. Regular cleaning of blocked drains and other parts of the house will surely improve the property’s lifespan. Home inspection can ease this job if you implement them wisely and timely.
6. A stitch in time…
…saves nine. Do not leave small repair jobs for later. A crack here, a small leak on the pipe there, water spots on walls, a broken door handle are parts of your everyday life when you own a house. Be attentive to them or else these will lead to bigger issues in the future putting the house at risk of wearing down. Go for established brands and not obscure ones. You may face some pocket-pinch but small repair jobs will not remain small several months from now. Then you will have to cough up more. Again, put a home inspection team to work to identify such issues and take necessary (and sometimes precautionary) steps beforehand.
7. Electrical system
Cheap and poorly insulated wires, wrong installation of electrical items can lead to a short circuit causing huge loss to your house. In times of stormy weather, if the earthing system is not rightly done, thunder strikes can cause electronics to catch fire or simply destroy them. Choose your electrical fixtures minutely. Even better, call electrical inspection experts for making sure that the house is free from any risk of electrical accidents. This helps to further increase the life expectancy of your house.
8. Home appliances
The appliances you use at your home needs regular cleaning and servicing. Older appliances consume higher electricity and often tend to have lowered functionality. Buying new appliances every now and then is not a solution. Instead, give attention to them as to when they need some updated servicing3. This may not directly increase the lifespan of your house but ensuring their smooth functionality prevents chances of electrical hazards and damp from leakage in them.
9. Health check-up of the home
Will you go to a software engineer for your physiological ailments? Of course not! It’s the same for your home. You are not a doctor to inspect housing issues and take steps to eradicate them. Employing home inspection is utmost important for ensuring a healthy home and lengthening its life. Yearly maintenance, polishing of wooden window and door frames, dealing with fungus or termite, damp assessment – all must be done regularly to maintain the home in good health.
Do you want your house to wear down with you or do you want your future generations to boast of the house? To see your house live with you and the years after that, you must take care of it just like you take care of yourself. Don’t think your duty is over with financing the construction or purchase. It is a lifelong duty you should be cautious about. It is your responsibility to maintain your house to call it home sweet home. So, do you want an expert to visit your home? Click here.