Reducing air pollution during home renovations

One of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution in apartment buildings are home renovations. If not done carefully the dust and chemicals spread through the ducts and shafts and are able to cause damage to quite a few residents. While there is no way to completely remove this unfortunate side effect of home remodeling, there are things that can be done to keep it in check.

Painting walls of an empty room. Renovation house.
TIMING
Whenever possible, work at a time when residents are likely to be out; 9 AM to around 6 PM is a fair window. While it is tempting to maximize working hours, it starts to become disruptive to the other residents.
BARRIERS AND CONTAINMENT
Cover all ducts and openings in the apartment during the process, this will contain the particles and one can control the damage.
Keep containers of paint and other chemicals closed whenever possible. And keep it all confined to as small an area as possible, for example if painting a room, keep the door closed and windows open so that the chemicals aren’t spreading to the other rooms unnecessarily.

Painting supplies

CLEANING
Get the site cleaned every day at the end of the day. Remove debris in proper containers. Also ensure that workers on site, clean their feet and clothes before leaving a site so as to not spread particulate around the area.

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VENTILATION
Keep the appropriate windows open and consider putting a standing fan on site to be able to direct the air out.
STAY OUT
And finally the most basic thing to do, stay away from a work site as much as possible, if inspecting the site make sure work is stopped and the site has been ventilated. Wear a mask whenever you do visit. Definitely keep children and pets far away from site.

Keep these tips in mind when renovating or share them with anyone who is planning a renovation, a little consideration will go a long way to improve the indoor air quality in your building.

Tips to Improve Air Quality in your Apartment

Source: WSJ Blog, Air Pollution in Delhi
Source: WSJ Blog, Air Pollution in Delhi

Most major cities in India suffer from poor air quality, and there are times it becomes a serious health hazard for the entire city’s population. Delhi NCR and other parts of northern India have seen some severe episodes of pollution in the past few years. While policy makers try to determine what they can do at a broader level, here are some things we can do in our homes to reduce the level of pollutants.

Plants for air purification

Peace lilies
Source: Mother Nature Network, Peace lilies

We live in a day and age with fancy expensive gadgets. However, whatever you can do naturally is preferable to using gizmos. NASA has published a list of plants that naturally remove the toxins from the air and make it more breathable. As a thumb rule one plant per room in the house will make your air much cleaner.

Link: Some plants to consider

Invest in an air purifier

Having an air purifier around the house may be a good supplement to your plants, especially when conditions are extremely bad outside. While we aren’t going to begin to try to evaluate the air purifiers in the market, we will say that go for a purifier with a HEPA filter and no ozone emissions.

Clean your filters

Clean your filters
Source: Crucial Vacuum, Clean your filters

Make sure you keep you filters clean, whether its for your air purifiers, or your ACs and heaters.

Air out your space

If possible, during the time of the day when the air is the cleanest, open up your windows to let some outside air in. There are some toxins, emissions that are produced inside your house that no purifier will help with.

Buy a vacuum cleaner

While vacuum cleaners aren’t common in India, it may be time for us to start investing in one if we have carpets in the house. Carpets accumulate plenty of dust, and what’s thrown up during sweeping can be quite harmful to inhale. A vacuum will help suck in the dirt so it doesn’t spread into the air around us.

Avoid Incense sticks

Incense sticks are common around the house whether for religious purposes or fragrance. However, its yet another source for particulate matter in your house that can be avoided.

Use natural cleaning products (non-toxic)

Some of our house-cleaning products have chemicals in them, which are harmful and make us uncomfortable when inhaled. While this may be hard to do, it can help to try to find natural alternatives to the chemical cleaners so you don’t spread air pollutants in your home every day.

Groom your pets

Groom your pets
Groom your pets

Your pets are fuzzy, furry creatures that you like to cozy up to. However at the same time the fur attracts dust and particulates, which can do you harm. Keep your pets groomed regularly to minimize impact.

 

Some of these may not move the needle largely on their own when it comes to reducing air pollution but they are small things you can do in your home to make things better.

Home Renovation on a fixed budget

Blog Cover Renovation Budget

 

Source: Houzz.com

If you’re thinking of renovating your home, you’re surely starting to wonder how much does a renovation cost. Often design professionals and storeowners you meet will ask you what’s your renovation / product budget. Early on in the process of renovating your home this can be a very tough question. In this post we will lay out some fixed budget renovation plans to help you start to understand pricing.

 

The 5 Lakh, 10 Lakh, 20 Lakh Home Renovation

Based on projects BuildingBlox has completed for 3BHK clients, we have compiled a suggestion list for you. We assume the use of mid-range, good quality products from brands such as Jaquar, Kajaria, and Merino Laminates.

The Rs. 5 Lakh home renovation is for those who are looking to revitalize their home without a complete overhaul. The Rs. 10 Lakh home renovation is for those with a reasonable budget who are looking to get most things upgraded. The Rs. 20 Lakh home renovation is for those who would like a complete redesign of their space.

 

3BHK 5 Lakh 10 Lakh 20 Lakh
Kitchen Y Y
Bathrooms 1 3
Flooring 5 rooms 5 rooms 5 rooms
False Ceiling 5 rooms 5 rooms 5 rooms
Painting Y Y Y
Windows (UPVC) Y
Electricals Y Y Y
Lighting Some Y
Woodwork TV Unit TV Unit Wardrobes, TV Unit
Appliances Kitchen, few others Kitchen, ACs, Gysers
Furniture Not Included Not Included Not Included

 

For those of you looking for a new kitchen, but lacking a very large budget can consider an alternative 5L plan. This would entail a new modular kitchen, basic appliances (hob, chimney), new flooring and false ceiling in your living room, and a full apartment repaint.

 

How to design your home like a pro

Girls-Bedroom-Color-Ideas

Interior design is a specialised job and no one can replace what designers bring to the table in terms of combining functionality with design. Still, there is a large section of home owners who don’t have the kind of budget that allows them to splurge on the personalised services of an interior designer.
For those home owners, who deeply care about design but would just like to do up their space themselves, here are some tips on how.
Find Home Décor Ideas online, and break them down into elements
There are high quality home design ideas all over the web, websites like pinterest and houzz will allow you to browse thousands of designs for each room. Start saving the ones you like and break each image down into elements. For example if you like a kitchen image, identify what you like about it, whether it’s the colour scheme, flooring material, woodwork, accessories, lighting, wall tiles etc. this will help you list your requirements.
Map images to products
Carry the shortlisted images to the market and start selecting materials that will help you achieve the final look you want. Show these images to the shop owners and they will guide you.
Room Color Schemes
Pick a colour scheme that best defines your look, once established try and be consistent through different rooms.

Girls-Bedroom-Color-Ideas
Feature walls
Design feature walls into your rooms. For bedrooms pick the wall behind the bed and give it contrast in colour or consider using wallpaper, for the TV lounge create a wall feature behind the TV and maybe a picture wall in the living room where you can arrange family photos in an aesthetic way. This adds an element of personality to the rooms.

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Lighting
Design the lighting with care, pick rooms where you want to create a false ceiling with embedded lights, decide where you want to add some hanging lights (dining table, breakfast counter, living room)

40-lighting-ideas-for-living-room-cool-modern-living-room-lamps-16-454
Accessories and décor
This is the most personalised part of the process, be picky about the kind of mirrors, decorative bowls, planters and baskets you want to have displayed in your home. Identify the locations and design the appropriate shelves and tables that need to be installed in order to create the look you want.

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Keep these thoughts in mind when designing your own home, if so inclined make some sketches to discuss with your contractor, and we are sure you’ll fall in love with your new home once it’s ready.

Have you designed your home recently? Share your experiences with us in the comments section.

Modular Kitchen Accessories: What to keep in mind (Part 2)

Here’s a few other modular kitchen accessories that you might want to consider when setting up a new kitchen.

Vegetable Basket pullout
A vegetable basket pullout gives you a space to keep all your fresh produce. Things like potatoes and onions will always be kept outside even if you choose to keep the rest in the fridge. Instead of keeping your vegetables in a basket on top of the counter, this just makes your space look neater.

Note: One often has a choice between wicker baskets and stainless steel baskets. While wicker looks nicer, it can be harder to clean than stainless steel. You will also need to choose whether to put a shutter on your baskets or leave them open – a shutter can help keep the dust out and the smells inside.

VegiBasket1
Source: Howdens

VegiBasket2
Source: 3plModularKitchens

Kitchen Pantry Unit
Pantry units come in a few different variations, and generally are in the form of a tall pullout with multiple shelves. The advantage of a pantry unit is that the things lying in the back of your cabinets become easier to reach, as opposed to needing to pull out all your jars in front to access the ones behind.

Note: Given the tall nature of these cabinets, you’ll still need a stepstool or a small ladder to access the upper shelves.

PantryUnit1
Source: Hettich

PantryUnit2
Source: Hettich

PantryUnit3
Source: Hettich

Appliance Garage
Appliance garages are becoming popular in India nowadays. They can be thought of as small cabinets on your kitchen counter to keep your appliances plugged in, and pulled out whenever you want to use one. There is usually a shutter on the front of the cabinet, hence the use of the term garage.

ApplianceGarage2
Source: Houzz.com

ApplianceGarage1
Source: Houzz.com

Drawer systems
Drawers come in many shapes and sizes in your kitchen. You can use drawers for cutlery, pots and pans, grains, flour and much more. They are often referred to as tandem boxes.

Note: The larger of these tandem boxes have weight capacities, so its important to figure out what purpose you’re going to use your drawer for. Also keep in mind that the pictures your modular kitchen company will show you usually show divisions/compartments in these drawers, but those attachments need to be purchased separately.

DrawerSystems1
Source: Hettich

DrawerSystems2
Source: Hettich

If you missed the first post in this series click here Modular Kitchen Accessories Part 1

Modular Kitchen Accessories: What to keep in mind (Part 1)

BottlePullout1

When redoing your kitchen you’ll be spoilt for choice on the types, numbers, and brands of modular kitchen accessories out there. However, kitchen designers and hardware sellers are not likely to tell you about some of the more practical considerations of these accessories. So in the following post, we’re going to introduce you to some of the possible accessories you could install in your kitchen, while also giving you things to keep in mind when making your choices.

Inbuilt Kitchen Cutlery Trays
If you could only choose one accessory for your kitchen it would have to be a cutlery tray. This is one of the most useful organizers to have in a kitchen, and likely you’ll want more than one.

Note: Cutlery trays come in specific sizes, ensure your drawers are built to size else they may not fit properly, or you’ll have left over space on the sides. Rectangular trays (below image) tend to be more efficient on space, than angled ones (2nd image). Cutlery trays that are made of a firm plastic or metal are sturdier than the flexible plastic ones.

CutleryTray1
Source: Hettich

CutleryTray2
Source: Kaff

Garbage pullout
While you can easily ignore having a garbage pullout in your kitchen, it ends up being a neat way to organize your kitchen trash. Given the multiple boxes, you can start to segregate your dry and wet waste easily.

Note: Its important to note that most of the garbage pullouts in the market are quite small in size, and leave you feeling like you are wasting space below your sink. However, its best to go with what’s in the market than try to have your own built. Additionally, in our experience a pullout (left image) is more stable than the one you attach to the door (right image).

GarbagePullout1
Source: Hafelle

Kitchen Magic corners
Magic corners generally come recommended by kitchen manufacturers when you’re building a new modular kitchen. They make corners easier to use, and the things you store in there become a lot more accessible.

Note: However, there’s plenty you should know about magic corners before you decide how many, and what types to install in your kitchen.
• Magic corners can be frightfully expensive, especially if you go with the branded ones.
• Given the number of moving parts they have, they can get spoilt/damaged easily (be especially cautious when going for local brands).
• Do check what their max weight capacity is. The heavier they get, the more likely they are to break
• Often the storage space you get in a magic corner isn’t very much (pay close attention to the images below). You can’t stack your piles of dishes too high on there, if that’s something you were used to in the past.

Therefore, one would highly recommend taking a look at an installed magic corner in store before you give your kitchen company a go ahead.

MagicCorner1
Source: Hettich

MagicCorner2
Source: Hettich

MagicCorner3
Source: Indiamart

Bottle Pull Outs
Bottle pullouts are a convenient to put away your oils, vinegars, condiments and other jars you have.

Note: Measure the size of the largest bottles you expect to fit in there (e.g. 5L oil bottle) and make sure your pullout size is appropriate. Bottles when vertical can be a bit unsteady so you’ll need to keep the space quite packed up. Often pullouts are designed such that only one of the sides is fastened to the walls of the cabinet, making it a little shaky when pulled out.

BottlePullout1
Source: Hettich

BottlePullout2
Source: Hettich

Interested in more: see Modular Kitchen Accessories (Part 2)

5 Tips to a Smoother Home Renovation

It is natural for homeowners about to embark on a remodeling project to have a lot of insecurities about the process. How will the final output turn out? Will the project stay within my budget? How long will it take before I can move into my new space? On top of that the noise and mess is extremely unpleasant and frustrating.
So here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you deal with the process that is about to unfold in your home.

Plan your Home Renovation
Have every detail of the process mapped out before starting work on site. Identify your vendors, make space for storing materials, figure out your building approvals and speak to your neighbors to let them know (including the apartment above and below).

Buy your Renovation Materials/Products
Make a list of materials required on site and divide them into 3-4 lists based on when they are required on site. For example, if you are redoing your kitchen, you’ll need your floor tiles a lot earlier than your counter stone or chimney, this will help you deal with a manageable amount of decision making, and avoid rushing through selections.

Trust your Renovation Contractor
Once you have interviewed a few contractors and are ready to hire one, ask yourself this, do you trust them? It is very important that they seem trust worthy to you otherwise the project is sure to be derailed. Once you have established a certain level of trust make it a point to allow them to manage the project in their way and resist the urge to micro manage the process.

Schedule Contractor Payments alongside Milestones
Payment schedules are key, decide the project amount and make a schedule with dates for the release of payments to vendors, it is advisable to link the payments with milestones so that the contractor is pressured to stick to a work sequence, this way you don’t have to deal with sporadic requests for money.

Create a Renovation Contract
Document all change requests, include budget increase and extra time required, and treat it like a mini contract agreement so that the bill at the end of the project doesn’t surprise you. Also allow the contractor time to plan and execution these changes.

Although this might seem like lot of planning for a seemingly simple remodeling project, it will save you a lot of inconvenience as the project progresses, and it’s totally worth the effort.

All You Need to Know About Rainwater Harvesting in Delhi

rwh3

Our team had a chat with officials at The Rain Centre, R.K. Puram and Force, the NGO that has partnered with the Delhi Jal Board to implement rain water harvesting in Delhi, to get clarity on what actually needs to be done.

For those unaware of the problem and the mandate, we request you to read through our previous blog:Introduction to Rain Water Harvesting.  Rain water Harvesting has now become mandatory for all residential houses that are 500 sq. meters and above. There are 2 rules to observe here:

  1. It is compulsory and there is no way you can shy away from implementing a Rain water Harvesting System if your house is 500 sq. Mtrs. or over.
  2. You need to construct an underground water storage tank connecting all the drains on the roof. You may construct more than one if all the drains cannot be connected to one. The formula for the storage tank is as follows:

Rooftop area (in sq meters) X 0.8 (this is the runoff coefficient. Basically it is believed that 80% of the rain water runs off and can be collected) X 0.025 (as it is believed that Delhi receives an average rainfall of .25 mm per hour).

 

This formula will give you the volume of the rain water harvesting pit in Cubic meters. This volume will be calculated from the lowest part of the inlet pipe, to the top most layer of the filter media of the ground water recharge pit. Here again, it is recommended that you build a recharge pit and not a mere storage pit, though the Delhi Jal Board doesn’t mandate the building of a recharge pit. However, it is recommended, so that the water keeps percolating into the ground and doesn’t overflow much.  The point to note here is that the Delhi Jal Board hasn’t specified any set dimensions for the pit/pits as long as the total volume of water collected is basis the above formula.

 

Delhi Jal Board Roof Top Definition for Rainwater Harvesting

A rooftop is any area that is exposed to rain, and from where water can be collected.  So, any terrace or landing exposed to rain water will be considered a roof. Currently, the Delhi Jal Board has only come out with a mandate for Roof Top Water Harvesting, so if you aren’t just looking at complying with the policy, you could also collect surface level water.

 

Rainwater Harvesting Recharge Pit Filtration

In case you plan to build a ground water recharge pit, it is suggested you add the following filter media in the specified layers so that the water percolates slowly and is purified in the process:

Layer 3: Brick Bats

Layer 2: Bajri/Gravel or Coarse Charcoal

Layer 1: Sand

 

You could also merely use Jute bags, but you would have to change them every year, as they would disintegrate. The point to note here is, that the thickness of the filter media needs to be 80 cm.

 

If you plan to build a mere Storage Tank, you would need to build a concrete floor for the tank as well. In this case, you will need to keep track of the overflow as well, during the rainy season.

 

Rainwater Harvesting Storage Tank Overflow

To manage overflows, one needs to ensure that there is an over flow pipe. This overflow pipe needs to connect to the garden in the house or an open area where the water can be absorbed. It should definitely not connect to the sewage system of the house or the mcd drains; else, it will get wasted. If you have a borewell in the house, you could also connect the overflow pipe to the borewell.

 

Delhi Rainwater Harvesting Penalty

If you decide to ignore or procrastinate implementing rain Water Harvesting in Delhi by September end, then your Delhi Jal Board Bill will increase by 50%. To avoid this penalty, you need to implement the above, and share the design of your storage tank, as well as a top view design of your entire plot, specifying the plumbing, to get clearance. This letter, along with the aforementioned designs, needs to be sent to the revenue department of the Jal Board. As soon as you send this letter, you wouldn’t be liable to pay any penalty, and can get is waived off by showing a copy of the same to the collection authority or specifying the same on the Delhi Jalboard helpline numbers.

 

Even though the penalty will be waived off as soon as the letter is sent, random checks will happen at a later date, to ensure that you have complied with the policy.

Rainwater Harvesting

rwh1

Rains are a major source of water for us, many rivers feed out of it. However, much of the water goes waste when we allow it to run off and enter urban drains. Hence it is extremely important to accumulate, the water through roof drains, into underground reservoirs, for use.

Rainwater can be used in gardens, in toilets, and for domestic use with proper treatment. The harvested water can also be used for storage and for other purposes such as groundwater recharge.

rwh6

Suitable for roof top area upto 100 sq.metres  

rwh5

 Abandoned/ Running Hand Pump 
Suitable for roof top area upto 150 sq.metres

 rwh4

Abandoned Dug Well 
Suitable for roof top area more than 1000sq.metres 

rwh3

Recharge Trench 
Suitable for roof top area — 200 to 300 sq.metres

rwh2

Gravity Head Recharge Well 
Suitable for roof top area more than 400sq.metres 

rwh1

Recharge Shaft 
Suitable for roof top area greater than 1500 sq.metres

 All images sourced from: Delhi Jal Board

Why Should we Harvest Rainwater?

With rapid urbanisation and the growth in population, the existing portable water supply is no longer sufficient to meet consumption needs.  According to the Delhi Jal Board, based on its present population, Delhi’s water requirement is 800 MGD (million gallons per day), while the total water supply from all sources is 670 MGD. Delhi gets most of its water from neighbouring basin states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh etc. Thus, the Delhi Govt. is limited in augmenting its water supply, leading to increased pressure on ground water.

With the receding water table, it has become all the more imperative to adopt Rainwater harvesting techniques.

Rainfall usually occurs in high intensity short spells, resulting in a run off, rather than recharging the ground water levels. Rainwater harvesting helps chanelise this runoff water, and store it. Rainwater is bacteriologically pure, free from organic matter and soft in nature. Moreover, it can be used to recharge the ground water levels  . Another advantage of rainwater harvesting is to reduce the . In fact, rainwater harvesting systems have been put in place in Chennai, and the Delhi Government has taken inspiration from them.

According to rainwaterharvesting.org:

Potential of rooftop water availability in National Capital Territory of Delhi

Roof Area in Sq.m Annual rainfall in (litres) Quantity of rainfall available for harvesting (litres)
50 30,550 18,330
100 61,100 36,660
500 305,500 183,300
1000 610,000 366,600

(Note: a.Annual average rainfall of Delhi=611 mm; b. runoff coefficient is assumed as 0.60;Sq. m to be read as square metre)
An analysis done based on the rainfall availability and demand supply gap shows that even 50 per cent of the rainwater harvested could help in bridging the demand supply gap.

What is the state of the Ground Water Table in Delhi?

According to an article in the Hindu, dated August 2014, the state of Ground water is dismal, especially in south and south-west Delhi. Here are some facts and figures from the article, to give you and idea.

What is the Delhi Jal Board mandate, what have they asked homes to do?

Considering the gap in supply and demand of water, and the ground water levels in some areas, the Delhi Jal Board has made it mandatory for all existing residential with an area of 500sq m and above, to install rainwater harvesting systems. There are around 10 areas where groundwater levels are reasonably high. Vetted by the Central Ground Water Authority , these areas will not be required to carry out RWH. These include Okhla, Siddharth Extension and Jahangirpuri.*

If you’re looking to implement rain water harvesting in your Delhi home, BuildingBlox can help. Please fill the BuildingBlox Rainwater Harvesting Form and we will contact you.

*For  more details on the Rain Water Harvesting Mandate, do lookup the Delhi Jal Board website https://djb.gov.in

 

 

Tips on Being Considerate Towards Neighbours During Renovations

noisy neighbours

noisy neighbours

We all live in a closed society, amongst neighbours, and are interdependent on them. It is therefore, extremely important for all of us to ensure that we care for our neighbours. Many a times, we ignore our neighbours’ convenience while constructing and renovating our homes and offices. This isn’t really unethical, but being considerate would certainly go a long way in building a relationship with your neighbours. Here are a few tips on how you could be a bit thoughtful and integrate your neighbours’ conveniences while planning your project:

1)    Inform your neighbours’ about your renovation project and the scope of the same, weeks in advance. Say, you are planning to change the tiles of your apartment along with other things, the neighbours below should know about the dates when the same would happen, so that they can plan accordingly.

2)    Discuss the work schedule you have in mind, with your neighbours. They may have guests on certain days, or may have a baby or an elderly person at home who needs to be shifted out during the process. Some people may work in shifts and may find it inconvenient if your construction work takes place on certain days. Try and accommodate their needs as much as you can, and be extra sensitive if you have a baby or an elderly person as a neighbour.

3)    Share your contact details and that of your contractor, especially if you plan to shift out during the renovation process. This will communicate to your neighbours, that you will lend a ear in case they face any problems during the construction process.

4)    Let your contractor know how important the convenience of your neighbours is, to you. Ensure he addresses any concerns they have, especially those related to seepage, cleanliness, the work schedule, and the parking areas used by construction vehicles and the contractors etc.

5)    If your renovation process causes any damage to their premises, ensure your contractor tries to rectify the same, without charging them.

 

6)    If possible, invite your neighbours for dinner once your project is complete, so that they get a chance to see your new home/office.

All in all, try putting yourself in your neighbours’ shoes and make your renovation process as seamless as possible for them. If you cannot reach out to them for whatever reason, ensure that you don’t schedule any renovation that would result in excessive noise (demolition, marble work etc.) before 9.30 am, and post 8pm. If you can, also avoid the afternoon nap hours as well.

That said, some neighbours are never happy no matter what you do, so don’t fret over them excessively.