Sunday, April 24, 2011

Paying Guest Accommodation

Paying guest accommodation is gaining momentum, primarily due to the fact that an increasing number of people are looking for cost effective rental options.
Here are some things to look out if you are looking or paying guest accommodation:
1) Location: Opt for a purely residential area rather then a residential cum-commercial one which is located near your workplace and/or a shopping area. If you don't have a car, find out about public transport facilities in the area.
2) Facilities: Find out what facilities are offered by the landlord. These can include an attached bathroom, AC, wardrobe, basic furniture (such as a bed, chair and tables), a TV with a cable connection, as well as cleaning, security and laundry services.
3) Restrictions: Ask your landlord about any restrictions that he/she may want to impose, including whether or not you may have visitors and/or overnight guests, or if you can make any modifications to your room (e.g. repaint it).
4) Monthly Rent: Rooms can be rented in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. rentals range from Rs 3,500 per month for an unfurnished room to Rs 25,000 for a fully furnished one.
Rents also vary according to location, as well as whether or not utilities such as electricity, gas and water are included; facilities such as those mentioned above also affect the rent.
5) Tenancy Agreement: To prevent possible altercations, make sure that you and the landlord sign a tenancy agreement which specifies each one of the above mentioned points in detail.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Building Green: Make your Home And Society Green

In today's world conserving energy resources is the need of the hour. And with Earth day approaching on April 22, it is imperative to start thinking about building a greener future using "green and sustainable" architectural practices. These include methods that reduce energy consumption during construction and while using the space after completion. There are several "green" practices that i have followed for a number of years when constructing energu efficient buildings, keeping in mind the local climate and, of course, exorbitant energy costs.
You can also follow green construction practices by using:

1. Local manufactured materials to construct your house. Not only will this be more economical, it will conserve transportation energy.
2. Double walls with insulation in between. This reduces heat absorption and hence the load on ACs. Although these walls cost almost three times as much as ordinary walls, you will save a lot in the long run, price: Rs 140-190 per sq ft.
3. Recessed windows with insulated/reflective glass reduce heat absorption and curtail the cost of energy. Although insulated glass comes with a high price tag compared to regular glass, the payback is high in terms of energy costs and comfort within the building. Make sure the windows are placed in a manner that maximises cross ventilation. Price: rs 350 per sq ft.
Insulated roofs reduce heat absorption and cut down on energy costs considerably. price: Rs 50-80 per sq ft. Additionally, insulation materials such as cork and thermo pole sheets installed on the roofs keep spaces cool and lower energy consumption, price: Rs 220 per sq ft.
5. Solar panels are a great way to conserve energy as they use heat from the sun to produce energy, without any running costs. We are currently using solar panels to heat water, thus eliminating the use of gas geysers. Price: Rs 170,000 and above.
6. Windmills, which are primarily used to produce energy for large scale projects, are also an effective way to conserve energy. Although spatial limitations and hefty price tags are slight drawbacks, the conversational benefits and reduced energy costs make up for this in the long run. Price: 85 million rupees.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Building A Mall: Building A Shopping Mall

A shopping mall is classified as a building that comprises multiple shops of varying sizes within an enclosed space. Shopping malls can only be constructed on commercial plots that measure at least 4,000 sq yards.
The construction of a mall must adhere to government bylaws. These include:
1. Before starting construction, the site plan must be approved by the concerned authority.
2. The minimum size of a shop is 100 sq ft with a minimum height of 10 ft.
3. Multi-stories structures must have provisions for staircases, elevators and escalators.
4. Corridors must be at least 30 ft wide to ensure that people can walk through them comfortably.
5. A parking facility should be in place , either in the basement of the mall, or on the upper floors.
6. Proper fire fighting systems with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and clearly marked emergency exits, should be in place each floor.
7. Adequate restroom facilities must be provided in proportion to the covered area (e.g for 4,000 sq feet of covered area, atleast four toilets and two wash basins should be available.)
Features that are not mandatory but should be in place include:
1. A standby generator.
2. A food court.
3. A cinema hall.
4. A children's play area, and a day-care centre.
5. A medical facility with competent staff to handle emergencies.
6. Safety features including non-skid flooring and high railings on upper floors; glass doors should clearly be marked with red stickers to prevent accidents.