Break walls, not rules
When renovation of one’s home is being planned, the first and the most important aspect to be taken into consideration are civil changes. Some of these might not affect the structure at all while other seemingly insignificant modifications may be detrimental to the structural stability of the building. One needs to make educated changes with all requisite permissions to avoid situations that can lead to trouble with the local authorities. There are primarily three kinds of structures:
Load bearing structures: These are structures not more than three storeys tall and have thick walls. The load of the structure is transmitted to the ground through the walls. The wall thickness decreases as you go higher from the ground.
R.C.C. farmed structures: These are the most commonly found structures and can rise to many tens of storeys above the ground. The load of these structures is transmitted through a network of beams and columns to the ground. The walls in these structures act only as partitions and are quite thin, the outer walls being 9″ thick and the internal walls being 6″. These structures can be readily identified by the column and beam offsets in the walls.
Combined: These structures are characterised by load bearing external walls and wooden or steel columns in the interior to support the load of the slabs. Such buildings were built 30 50 years ago.
Most residential and commercial buildings built in the last 20 30 years will be of the R.C.C. frame variety. It is important to know what kinds of changes can be carried out without involving the authorities and where permissions are essential.
The first step is to put down on paper in the form of drawings the existing floor plan and the proposed changes and submit them to the building society. The society will then either give a No Objection Certificate for the work or might insist that certain permissions are obtained from the Municipal Ward office first based on the changes proposed. Societies may also ask for a deposit to be placed with them to take care of any unforeseen and unintentional damage that may be caused to the properties of the other members of the society due to the renovation.
Listed here are some of the more common changes that one may want to carry out in one’s home and how to go about doing it.
Enclosing the balcony with grills and windows: Permissions, which is readily given on the payment of a nominal fee, is needed from the local Ward office.
Terraces and marginal open spaces: These cannot be enclosed permanently, but permission for temporary protection during the monsoon can be obtained from the Ward office.
Walls: In R.C.C. framed structures, even though the walls act only as partitions, they have some weight, which is borne and transmitted by the beams under the walls. If one wants to move one of the walls, one should try and move it over another beam. In case that is not possible, then the new wall should be constructed with Siporex bricks, which are lightweight or should be made in wood.
An NOC is required from the society for the above kind of changes. They can insist on a certificate of structural stability from a structural engineer or even permission from the Ward office. In load bearing structures, such changes are not permissible. In R.C.C. framed structures, in case cutouts in existing walls or shifting the position of doors or changing the size of the doors on internal walls is to be carried out then an NOC from the society is sufficient. Such changes are not permissible in load bearing structures.
Changes to the external windows: In R.C.C. framed structures, if one wishes to lower the external windows to create faux French windows, an NOC from the society if required.
If you wish to change the positions of the rooms and shuffle them around, permission must be obtained from the building proposal department of the BMC. Take care to position the wet areas above and below other wet areas (the kitchen and the bathroom can be interchanged if required) in the new proposal. Such changes should be carried out only if absolutely necessary.
For changing the flooring, redoing the toilets along with the plumbing, new electrification, painting etc. no permission is required from anybody. If one wishes to install ceramic flooring over the existing flooring permission from the society is required as this increases the load on the structure. Some societies like Panchratna in Opera House and the Bombay Stock Exchange do not permit the installation of tile of over 10 mm in thickness.
While you are planning changes in the configuration of your house, remember to provide adequate light and ventilation for every room. For a healthy habitable room, the room size should be at least 100 sq ft. In offices, special care should be taken to comply with fire safety regulations. Whatever be the changes you want carried out in your premises, consult with a qualified architect and if necessary a structural engineer. The rules and regulations outlined by the BMC are there for a reason. It is best to try and not violate them.
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