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If you are planning to build your dream house, then never ignore these tips!
Couple of years back I had visited one of my friend’s house. That time, an engineer's eyes in me just focused on the bottom of the slab of his room. I saw the common phenomenon of exposure of reinforcement steel as well as the usual visuals of deteriorating slab yet under estimated by many.

I immediately advised my friend to dismantle the slab else he would be in problem. My friend laughed at me. He said that his father has built this house with the best mason available at that time. They are seeing this condition of slab since last five years. Nothing happened yet. I tried to convince him that RCC members are tension members (an engineering term) which give lot of warning before it fails unlike the compression members (like arch structure etc) which collapse suddenly!

I also reminded him how in Mumbai and other cities old buildings generally collapse all of a sudden particularly in rainy season, although those appears to be visibly durable enough. Those are British made buildings based on compression member technology which collapses without warning. RCC structure has advantage that it gives enough warning before it collapses. A resident would be at advantage if he understands the warnings and acts appropriately. My friend simply ignored my advice.

Just couple of days back that slab simply collapsed. My friend was lucky enough as all the children of the family (seven in numbers) just exited the room racing because my friend reached at 11 AM, an untimely arrival. Because the friend is the eldest of the family, naturally the kids in the age group of 2-11 were in hurry in leaving the room. My friend too stood for a while warning the kids not to run uncontrolled as they might be hurt! Then the slab collapsed. Had it collapsed a minute before all the seven kids could have died! Had it collapsed a minute later, my friend would have been in the rumbles taking his last breath!

My friend had stood stunned for few minutes. Then he telephoned me on this collapse and expressed his guilt that he ignored my suggestion. Although this collapse happened after two years, he in fact realized the cost of ignoring wise advice from an expert. He was lucky, not all are!

Then yesterday he advised me why not to alert people in large numbers about the basic construction guide! He is one of the greatest admirer of my political blogs published in Then all of a sudden he proposed to start an engineering activism here on this platform! General public may be not engineers but everyone has the ambition to build their dream house! As an engineer CJ, I have an obligation to inform at least basic tips to my fellow CJs and other readers here!

Thus I decided to start a series submitting at least one article in a week to guide people who are building or aiming to build their dream house. I would also try to bring best engineers to contribute on this aspect through their articles or through comments! This may be treated as engineering activism!

Thus to start with this activism, my first tip to readers is:

Never ever trust on masons on design and execution of your dream house!

Most of the houses build on the advice of masons only, generally lasts for a period of 30-60 years. Thus father’s dream house in many a case becomes nightmare for son when he is in charge. He rebuilds on mason’s advice and then again it becomes nightmare for his son! The cycle repeats and masons always win the confidence and the same cycle continues.

Point is very simple. Earlier there was shortage of engineers thus masons play a role. With their limited knowledge (based on experience of how to build a house learn from his mason master), they generally dictate because for their advice they don’t charge. People just believe them because they get free advice!

My question is different. You pay for Vaastu of your dream house. You pay even more to architects to design how beautiful your dream house should look from outside. You even pay higher to interior decorators just because you want to feel that satisfaction of building a dream house that makes you proud!

Then what stops you to check the structural design of your house? Architects and decorators can tell you 'what should stand where' to give a better visual look! But it’s a structural engineer who irrespective of the look or architecture simply stress upon the stability and durability of the structure you are building.

The structure engineer never interfere on the architectural design rather gives suggestion about what should be the design of beams/slabs/columns/foundation if you are going with the look and decoration! What would be their fees? It’s just some Rs 5000-Rs 15000!

You are building your dream house for at least 100 years in mind while lakhs of rupees and but your ready to save some thousands because your chief mason says that none of the buildings he had built have collapsed! Yes the mason is always right, because the traditional buildings just last 30-60 years with average 40 years of life. Thus a mason and also the builder never need to get worried. It’s the builder’s next generation who faces the problem like my friend had as described earlier!

Next one is why don’t you hire an engineer to supervise your building's construction? What would he cost? You can pay astrologers and Vaastu Shashtris a high amount in aspiration of long life of your dream house while ignoring the real engineer who can make your dream house a long lasting property! In next articles I would start revealing myths about house construction, the real reason and tips not to forget!

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