Binoy Mathew's old house was situated in the middle of a cardamom estate that stretched over three acres of land, bordered by woods and streams, in Anchuruli, Kattappana. One had to pass through steep paths to get to this home. Moreover, it was marked with signs of aging. For these reasons, Binoy and family longed for a new home that has a better access. Many hurdles stood on the way to realize their desire for a dream home. First of all, they did not want to harm the nature, to which they owed for their sustenance. Neither did they favor borrowing a loan as people generally did. Binoy stuck to his policy of relying exclusively on his savings for building the new home.
When the plan for a dream home seemed elusive, as if by some unknown providence, Binoy happened to watch a television program in Veedu channel which featured a house built on coconut tree pillars somewhere in Kuttanad. This house was erected in the middle of a fish farm. And suddenly, Binoy knew what he wanted.
Binoy’s plan was to build a lightweight home erected on iron pillars, which would reach up to the height of the path. The plan which comprised a large hall, three bedrooms, a kitchen and a balcony, was sketched by the family members themselves.
The neighbors were startled by the new plan. None of them had ever heard of such a home. Binoy and his son Binto, a lecturer in a college, had a hard time convincing them. Binoy made a research how to build a home with 'lightweight’ structure. It needed real guts to build an innovative home without the aid of an engineer and a contractor.
Only once did Binoy consult an engineer. And that was to learn how much weight GI pipes could withstand. Everything else was carried out under the supervision of Binoy and Binto. The father and son sought out the apt laborers, explained to them their needs and made everything done.
The roof was built first
The house is erected on a steep slant of land, and it stands at the same level of the path. The first step of the process was to dig out pits that are eight feet deep and four feet wide. GI pipes were erected in these pits. These pillars were tall enough to reach up to the roof. The engineer had assured that GI pipes were capable of withstanding up to 40 tons of weight. Over these pillars, a truss was set, which was paved with aluminum sheets. Thus the roof was ready. The idea behind paving the roof first was to give a shelter from the rain for carrying out the rest of the works.
On the second phase, a metal frame was welded to the GI pillars, and marine plywood was paved over the frame for flooring. The frame was made with C channel, square pipe and angler pipes. 19 mm Marine plywood was screwed to this frame. 22 plywood sheets of 8X4 feet size was required. Each sheet cost Rs. 4,500. Later, these sheets were overlaid with vinyl sheets for beautification. Vinyl sheets, which cost Rs. 12 per sq ft, are not pasted, but just spread out.
Instead of bricks, 3 mm thick aluminum composite panels (ACP), which are very lightweight, are used for the walls. GI pillars are connected each other with 2X1 inch and 1X1 inch square pipes, on which AC panels as screwed in.
For the outer walls, teak finish aluminum composite panels are used. These panels cost Rs. 135 per sq ft. AC panels which look same on both sides were used to separate the rooms. These cost only Rs. 80 per sq ft. For enhancing the beauty of the interiors, the false ceiling was made with attractive PVC sheets. PVC sheets are available in the form of 12 feet long and three-quarter of feet wide planks. Each of these lightweight sheets costs Rs. 160.
Not a single piece of wood is used for the windows and doors. Except for the main door, all other doors are made of PVC. Each of these doors cost only Rs. 3000 (frame and handles included). The main door, which is made of steel cost Rs. 13,000. As this is a windy area, sliding glass windows set on aluminium frames are used.
Since the walls were too thin, doing wiring was a real challenge. They solved this problem by inserting electric cables through the square pipes on which the ACP is set. Switch board was set adjoining the square pipes. Water pipes are connected below the marine ply flooring. On the upper part, pipe connection is given only at a few places like the kitchen and the bathrooms.
You can see amazing naturals scenes from anywhere in the house. Families who arrive on a trip to Anchuruli are so fascinated by this house that they approach Binoy and plead if they can get at least a room in this house to stay a night. Inspired by this, the house owners are planning to arrange a home stay here by newly constructing three more rooms beneath the house. The 'lightweight' plan will be applied to the new add-ons too.