There is a saying in Kannada that goes like this "Mane Katti Noodu, Maduve Maade Noodu", the English equivalent of that would be "Build a house & learn, conduct a marriage & learn". The wisdom of this old world saying is that journies of building a house and conducting a marriage will humble you. If you say that in the new world all of these have been simplified through qualified contractors or masters of ceremonies then you are missing the point of learning through experience.
Here is my experience of building a house on my farm that smells and feels the earth, without the loss of modern comforts. Inspiration for this project came during one of my farm procurement outings. It was a hot afternoon and the owner of the business invited me to his office cum siesta place for closing the deal.
Here is what it looked like that afternoon. The pleasant temperature under those thatched shelters beats even their rustic charm.
As the saying goes "...when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." Once charmed I started to see similar things all around
Finally, I was convinced that I have to build a thatched house. Being an impulsive person I started the project with more inspiration and less of a plan. Through word of mouth, I found someone who could do the thatch work and went out to find the most important ingredient for the house The Thatch material.
Procuring the roofing material and wood turned out to be an adventure by itself.
While I was enquiring about the roofing material I also started the design for the roof based on tribal knowledge I had gained during numerous interactions with locals. I learnt that the height from the centre had to be 3:1 to ensure proper drainage of water and protection against strong winds.
With the main ingredient in place, construction started in Feb 2020.
Oh, Did I mention learn-as-you-go earlier?
Within a month the roof was ready, but I still did not have a plan for the Window and door. Then the first lockdown of 2020 put a halt to all the works and gave me some time to reorganize. I used the lockdown time to go over some options for doors and windows, I looked at materials like aluminium, UPVC, wood and even cement. I wanted the material that would blend with my main theme - thatched roof. By the time travel restrictions were lifted, I was convinced that it has to be wood. I found a local carpenter who was ready to go along with me on the adventure and had him design plantation shutters.
During this time the structure was put to test. Winds and rains from the 2020 monsoon tore up the roof, teaching me some lessons on roofing.
Eight months after I started the project work resumed again as the travel restrictions eased. The priority things to do were: plaster the walls & fix the roof. I wanted to use mud plastering, but mason convinced me to use cement outside and mud inside. Looking back that was good advice.
It was already March and roof work had to be completed before rains. I wanted to upgrade the roofing to a more durable straw but because of the travel restrictions from the second wave of corona could not procure the material in time. So I settled for abundant palm leaves again. This time however increased the scaffolding and tightened the placement of leaves to prevent leakage.
It is now July 2021, monsoon has arrived, the second lockdown has eased, the new roof has got tested and interior walls treated with Linseed oil is highlighting the mud finish. But the doors & windows are still in the works, despite this delay house seems closer to finishing than ever...