Building a house in Kumaon hills

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#1 Sep 5th, 2009, 17:56
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#1
Google search led me to the earlier posts on this forum about Aroon gupta and family trying to quit all and shift to the hills. And very enlightening practical tips from members.
Am in an almost similar situation, having just returned yesterday after finalising a day school for my kids(boys 8 and 12) in Bhimtal. Have a spot in Malla-Ramgarh where planning to build "something" within the excellent view of the higher himalayas (esp Nanda Devi). Have planned to stay in rented house in Bhimtal temporarily for a year - will proceed from there.
To build that "something" on the steep slopes high on a mountain is proving more than a challenge, would appreciate some guidance in this regard.
---vijay
Last edited by v0k0sharma; Sep 6th, 2009 at 08:40..
#2 Sep 6th, 2009, 03:04
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All I can say is my best wishes. We also dream of this but my wonder is that if you build too far away what do you do for the regular supplies?
#3 Sep 6th, 2009, 08:59
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routine supplies

thanks, well... bhimtal is quite self sufficient with all routine needs present in the single road market.
As for Ramgarh(malla), have noticed bare needs shops within 1km and a big marketplace in Bhowali which is about 11km scenic drive.
One should not be expecting the wide variety of pre-packaged stuff available in malls today. However, the bigger problem may be one's integration with the locals as highlighted by <liveinhimalayas> earlier to <aroongupta>(sorry, don't know how to paste a link )
Seriously though...the dreams of settling in a place of such raw natural beauty have been lingering for long but when you actually try to put your plans in action then the dreams are somewhat displaced by stark realities and doubts creep in. That is the time one's conviction and true desires are tested. we have to be prepared for certain amount of give and take... this is just my present frame of mind and what has happened just before
#4 Sep 6th, 2009, 09:22
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Check about low cost house building options, go local. You could be more comfortable than in a iron-cement house. Check how the locals will build a house on such a terrain. wooden (?) stilts?
#5 Sep 6th, 2009, 13:11
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Vijay, good luck. But where is the problem coming up in building?
#6 Sep 6th, 2009, 14:29
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Originally Posted by v0k0sharma View Post To build that "something" on the steep slopes high on a mountain is proving more than a challenge, would appreciate some guidance in this regard.
Assuming you are going to build with cement, rather than all wood - you are definitely going to need a store/garage (first thing we built) to keep your moveable (stealable) materials, otherwise where do you stock the stuff required, shutteirng, planks, nails, tools, cement etc

What is your water supply, i.e. a source, a stream, a borewell or are you planning on having it piped in? How water comes into the constructionand leaves it i.e. greywater, sewage to septic tank is determined by gravity and slope obviously. You can start with planning that which will lead you to the optimum footrpint for placing the construction..
#7 Sep 6th, 2009, 16:35
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Do check with an expert (and act on his advice). Build what is necessary and not what all that can be (do not over reach). Just commonsen...
#8 Sep 6th, 2009, 23:21
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Thanks all for all the pointers, am noting down the relevant ones, please do keep them coming, greatly appreciate the time being put in for me. Someone had already advised me to build the septic tank first as it would be a 'dig in' and would serve as a water reservior for construction. The real problem is the steep slope in about 2/3rd of the plot(2100 sq.yd) - the "spine" if one can call it that is thankfully of reasonable slope. Plan is to utilise the top 250 sq.yds or so for the first construction and then onto a few more "eco-friendly / green" constructions for sale/rent(which by the way is the planned alternative means of earnings but not necessarily)
Coming back to brasstacks, steep slopes would require retaining wall at various levels and apparently there are many types of those.
One basic need seems to be clear from self mech engg background that the foundation needs to be strong and the superstructure(viz the building over the ground level) as light as possible. Cannot go for the expensive wood frame construction. Traditional building tips of the local area can be taken but cannot use the whole style as it is stone based(heavy) with wood beams and mud plasters. Have thought of steel structures - which seem a lot out of place. Presently, the indecision has brought on a frame of mind where a hybrid structure(rcc + steel) with local finishings looks ok - but really am very confused. Met the architect who helped design my house in Jaipur - not very productive in clarifying. Desperately need an experienced architect/builder who knows all about slopes, open to new ideas, competent enough to integrate apparently radically different styles, confident enough to put all realities on drawing board beforehand etc. etc.. that reminds me of a similar wishlist for a perfect soulmate during my late teens / early 20s
So carrying forward with all this cynicism, I hope either goddess luck smiles upon me and sends in a saviour ...or... will certainly scrape thru on own steam using the wisdom of well wishers on this forum and elsewhere. That is because Nanda Devi beckons and who can stop her.
In reply to paleface'queries
Well understood the need to build a tinshade store first alongwith the water reservior(septic tank). The source of water is a natural spring which runs for 7-8 months/year about 100 mtrs away and at other times it is a huge water reservior of the original estate owner and/or water tanker from down below. For "green" constr. - plan to have (almost)zero water run-off, otherwise there are drains along the roads(top and bottom). There is also an oak forest along one side but that would be out of bounds from any interference.
whew.. that was a lot of words ... time's up ... my soulmate's displacement is giving me hard looks
#9 Sep 7th, 2009, 01:49
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Yeah septic tank as water tank, Good. You can’t beat deep and firm foundations in my view. If you’re not making an architectural statement there’s really no need of an architect, just decisions to make and a good old time mistry.

Seems you initially need to cut-in and level out a location on the slope, the cut-in determined by the width of the house and how ever much path you want around it, i.e. 1.5 mts back & front + house width (mine is 25’) but then we built on terraced fields by levelling two into one. Of course you could have a thinner but longer house with less cut-in. The further you cut-in the higher the rear retaining wall will be, but this is your most important wall. In your case it may be approx. 6 feet (+ foundation) for a 25’ width house.

So level the soil, dig the foundations, say 3/4 ft beneath the levelled ground, then raise the foundation, 2/3 above ground level which also diminishes water seepage problems (foundations filled around with excavated soil). The top of a 6’ (above ground) rear retaining wall should now be at approx 4’ above the height of the floor. If in the back of the house you site the bathroom/s, kitchen wash area, store room – in which case these rooms view uphill will be partially blocked by the retaining wall, yet their windows will generally be higher off the floor, so allowing sufficient light inside.Difficult to tell without knowing the angle of the hill.

Alternatively the house could be 20 feet wide, i.e. front side bedrooms, living, kitchen (12’ width + wall) + backside bathrooms, wash area (6’+ wall). This way all your plumbing/ greywater/sewage is less complicated and less leak prone, all at the backside. Use PTFE tape for all threaded plumbing joints, not string! 12’ is a standard size that wooden beams are cut to /and bought – if you don’t want to have a concrete flat roof, look at cement fibre corrugated sheets. It’s one of the cheapest roofing materials. Very happy with it and it gives you freedom to have a gabled roof which can be supported with wood, or MS pipes. It’s very light but strong and gets stronger.

So roofing decision is essential to contemplate before construction as it can really determine your materials, style of construction and materials budget. We also used clear UPVC corrugated sheets (Everest) as skylights. 3M sheet cut to 1.25 Mts, after overlapping gives you 2.25’ skylight. That’s a lot of light and you will need no lighting in the day in any rooms, plus you get moonlight ! We did install above the living/study area, but took it out as in summer the radiation was heating up the room too much. Under the UPVC sheets put wired glass for security! For about 900 sq ft roof area, approx. Rs.33,000 for cement fibre (various sizes) and inc. UPVC sheets (at Rs. 3,000 each, dim: 3m x 1M) + the transportation (factory nr. Roorkee). www.everestindia.com

Under this roof can be hung a false ceiling if desired late on for greater insulation, packed with foam, bubble wrap etc. A flat concrete roof usually works out much more expensively, bajri, sand, cement delivery, storage, shuttering, poles for shuttering, sides, labour gang, tools, water… And what a weight if it partially or all came down in a tremor, even cracks in it will render it useless and a big loss - So actually I would seriously consider earthquake resistant rebar reinforced columns, tied in with a band above and below the windows – for very long term safety and flexible rigidity, which one can expand the structure if ever the need be.

For windows and doors research pressed steel door frames (with wood doors) and windows (with grills?) Extremely strong, long life, integrated deep hole pass tying into walls. We did not use steel door frames, should have done, would have saved a lot of hassle getting seasoned wood, getting a good job in finishing from a carpenter, time - whereas pre order your steel frames, put ‘em in during wall construction, cover in plastic for protection – no wood, no carpenter, smooth finish!
#10 Sep 7th, 2009, 01:54
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#10
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Originally Posted by Aupmanyav View Post Check about low cost house building options, go local. You could be more comfortable than in a iron-cement house. Check how the locals will build a house on such a terrain. wooden (?) stilts?
Stilts is also a very good idea and can save a lot of cutting, wall foundation work. Would have to be part stilt part cut-in to the hill but will lessen the need for retaining walls in so far as the cutting would be at a minimum. Los Angeles is full of such houses, all on a fault line as well...
#11 Sep 7th, 2009, 08:45
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v0k0sharma, read this for how they make houses in Japan. Bales! There may be many things that we have not tried. http://maikotobybomber.blogspot.com/...1_archive.html. Paleface, what do you think about it? Just a question, why should there be retaining walls (i.e., no cutting - http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/...145658uxwmGE)? Of course, the stilts would be with secure foundation.

v0k0sharma, yours is a very good thread. Let it continue. You may ask the moderators to change the title to 'Building a house in hills'. Let people write their views.
Last edited by Aupmanyav; Sep 7th, 2009 at 10:58..
#12 Sep 7th, 2009, 11:24
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Originally Posted by Aupmanyav View Post Just a question, why should there be retaining walls (i.e., no cutting - http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/...145658uxwmGE)? Of course, the stilts would be with secure foundation.
Just assuming that the whole plot is on a slope, in which case i would like to have some flat area - and if the land is not too angled then there's usually no problem to cut-in and create a flat area, growing vegetables etc, so that would rewquire a retaining wall and also one can control the run off with conduits... Good if we could see a pic or two of the site!!
#13 Sep 7th, 2009, 11:43
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#13

Building a house in hills

Request moderators to kindly change thread title to "Building a house in hills" due to obvious reasons.
thanks
-vijay
#14 Sep 7th, 2009, 11:50
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#14
Moderator Note:

Hi Vijay, I have changed the title and shifted this thread to the
Uttarakhand Forum.
#15 Sep 7th, 2009, 12:40
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Photos and drawing attached

Surprisingly I do not have full photographs of the site but mostly are the views from there - so attaching some of those. Had carried out a topographical survey last year which also is attached for reference. Only have a video clip which was the only way to cover the whole area - not uploaded.
The site is more wide(East-West) than deep(N-S) hence thin constructions are more suitable - which is all right as the view is excellent in North. overall area is about 2100 sq yards.

A depth(N-S) of 20~25' and a width of 40~45' would suffice for the first construction. Can have a separate lower floor(s) due to steep slope but need for self a duplex above road level.

Cement fibre sheet certainly appears to be a very viable and useful option - can it be coated with cement solution and then painted? Thanks for the supplier details.
Cement fibre sheet on steel angles' frame with a false ceiling should work out well - with overhaed water tanks in the void space.
How would we fit in a skylight with a false ceiling?
What would rebar reinforced columns be like?
Pressed steel door frames certainly sound good but there is a concern for corrosion - I don't know how good are the countermeasures. Anyway, shall research further as suggested and will come back- got to rush right now.
Thanks again for all the help, appreciate it.
vijay
Attached Images
Topography.jpg North view from site.jpg The road above site.jpg View down from site.jpg 
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