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Monday, November 22, 2010

House Construction 6: Drops All Over the House

Did you ever notice the 50mm drop down into the bathroom or the kitchen? Mr Grizzly told me that I had to decide how the drops all over the house ought to be. Then a light went on in my head. One certainly cannot have the toilet on the same level as bedroom or living room, else my toes would get wet as I sip my tea whilst Little Boy pretends he is Noah with his ark, in the bathroom.

Well... it turns out that these are important decisions to take before the house foundation can be laid. Since we're somewhere up in the North of Singapore, the soil quality is rather good enough that we are laying footings and not micro piles. Holes are dug out in the red earth. Soil is compacted therein. And huge slabs of concrete are poured out and cast right in the holes. I think I have 11 slabs in all.

Next, trenches are dug from slab to slab and more reinforced concrete is poured out to form the underground beams. These beams connect up the footings, so a sort of concrete matrix is created underground to hold and anchor the house. The height of the beams and the kind of drops will be reflected already in the beams, because the beam needs to be cast lower where the floor drops down. Hence, it was already necessary to decide how much of a drop I wanted from dry to wet kitchen... from kitchen to toilet... from living to patio... From patio to car porch. Phew! So, for readers about to build a house, be warned. Building a house isn't just about great design. Since you're gonna be living in there, you will be the one stepping up and down everyday so you need to know your daily practical habits or risk getting irritated by your own house till kingdom come.

I went around looking for 50mm steps... 100mm steps... and 150mm steps. Then I stepped up and down and up and down until I knew the feeling. Then I listed out all the drops all over the house... imagining how I would move from room to room... inside to outside. We were all stumped by how high the 1st storey was to be above ground level. How to imagine something that isn't there?! Mr Grizzly is a trained civil engineer. Not many contractors are, you know. Mr Grizzly took out his surveyor's instruments and when we found that the neighbour's living room floor was 300mm above ground level, it helped us to decide.

A word of advice though, for those of you who will be reconstructing... Make these decisions BEFORE your architect submits plans. Else, you may need to resubmit and that costs another $3000. This is because the URA is sticky about the maximum height of your house. Happily, I had enough unused roof space under the sloping roof such that by reducing the slope of my roof, I could raise floor of my 1st storey by 300mm without exceeding the house height previously submitted to URA.


Rummi said...

Maybe ramps for parent-inlaw's toilet. Just in case one day the wheelchair may be called into use for a sick-occasion.

petunialee said...

Rummi - Good idea!!