Sreelakshmi Pallath and her father Surendran who are natives of Koratty in Thrissur, are elated and proud as they look at their newly renovated house. Interestingly, this house bears witness to the duo’s great determination and hard work. It was only a few days before the lockdown was announced that the family had decided to renovate their old house that was more than 45 years old. They had even purchased the materials that were required for the work. However, lockdown came into effect a few days after they began the renovation works. But Sreelakshmi and her father were not ready to back out that easily. Realizing that the two of them were enough to complete the renovation, the duo decided to do the works themselves. In an amazing feat, they were able to renovate their house just twenty days into the lockdown.
The house was drowned up to the level of the windows, when the entire Koratty area was flooded in the 2018 floods. However, the deluge didn’t affect them much the next year. But it didn’t mean that the house was safe either. The father and daughter weren’t sure whether their old house could survive one more flood. Though they had decided to renovate the house, they hardly imagined that they would be doing it during unusual times like these.
“We would get only Rs 4 lakh for renovation as the house is 45 years old. That amount wasn’t enough for anything. Moreover, we didn’t have the heart to demolish this house as we are emotionally attached to it. So, we decided to try for the Rs 50,000 grant from the panchayat for maintenance. This house is built not using cement but with sand and bricks. So, the structure wasn’t sturdy at many places. Besides, the floor too was damaged and broken. It was at this stage that we decided to renovate the house,” says Sreelakshmi.
While the roofing tiles were repaved, the workers stopped coming due to the lockdown. So, Sreelakshmi and Surendran decided to do the rest of the works all by themselves. Sreelakshmi who works as a graphic designer doesn’t have much knowledge about construction. Her father, meanwhile, is a construction worker and had clear ideas about how to do the job.
A labourer was hired to do the roofing works. The rest of the works were done by Sreelakshmi following her father’s instructions. A helper was hired on the days when Sreelakshmi had to go for her work.
“Only two of us are staying in the house. In the beginning, the house had a room in the front, then a hall, kitchen and a store room in the middle. The store room had mud floor. We transformed it into a room by cement plastering it. Though the kitchen was renovated some time ago, the flooring works weren’t completed. So, we did the finishing works here. The backyard was a mess with puddles and sand. We concreted this area and made steps from the house to get here. Besides, a washing stone and a grinding stone are arranged in this space. My father had done all the concrete works,” says Sreelakshmi.
Sreelakshmi says the lockdown has actually proved to be a blessing for them as they had to complete the renovation on a low budget. The renovation works were completed on a very meagre budget of Rs 1 lakh. The family was allotted the amount as Rs 50,000 in two instalments. After completing the renovation works, Sreelakshmi didn’t forget to give the house a designer touch as well.
This quaint house, surrounded by lush greenery, now looks like a designer homestay with its cosy settings and all the facilities required for a small family.