Building a House

saoodhashimFebruary 6, 2014

Hi There

With a recently developed liking for gardening, I am planning to build a house in Karachi, Pakistan. With the budget constraints I can only buy a plot of land which is 400 square yard (3600 square feet). After complying with local laws relating to construction restrictions and having some space for car parking, I am left with 2,700 sf which I can construct on. My plan is for constructing on around 2200 sf and the remaining for 500 sf for a garden. In addition, I also plan for a roof top garden.

My main purpose is to be able to grow vegetables as much as possible to reduce my reliance on the market.

Also I wish to be have sufficient storage for water

Though currently not possible, in the future I also plan to become more reliant on self generated electricity (solar mainly) and therefore would want the this to be taken into consideration at the planning stage including building the house in such a way so that the cooling bills are not high. The weather in Karachi ranges from 45F (8C) in winter (January) to 115F (45C) in summer (August).

The immediate questions that come to my mind and for which I would seek your expert advice are:

1/ With an aim to be self reliant in food (veggies), what should I do with setup that I can afford. Also I cannot go below 2000sf for residential area - that the bare minimum

2/ What consideration should be kept in mind if I am planning for a roof top garden? What special things must be done so that the roof top garden remains viable.

3/ Any ideas for summer greenhouse on the roof/ground?

4/ In order for being energy efficient what building / other materials should be considered?

5/ Since I plan on food self sufficiency, I also plan to be self sufficient in the fertilizer for the plants (composting). What measures / consideration should I keep so that this can be taken care of? Like for example, should I plan to have a pit so that kitchen other waste can be stored there for composting? Any other ideas

6/ Any ideas for water storage?

7/ Finally, any other things which I should consider and which I might have missed.

We are two brothers who are going to use this house. One floor (on the ground) would be for my brother and his family and the floor above is going to be under my and my family use. The roof top garden is going to be on the second floor. Local laws prohibit construction beyond that.

I hope to get some great advice from this community.

Thanks in advance.


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Is 2000 square feet of ground space going to be taken up? Or 1000-1500 sq feet on ground level and 500-1000 for second level?
My thought would be to have a contemporary styled house. Have 1500 on the main floor. Out of that on the main floor, have 1000 be fore your brothers family. The other 500 for your families bedrooms. Then above your 500 feet, a second story for your living area with kitchen. Look into flat rooftop gardens for the 1000 square feet above your brothers home. It would be nice to have a living room and kitchen looking onto the rooftop garden. Your could do a sunroom/greenhouse on the top floor too. Maybe do tree and bush plants on your ground area you have.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 3:51PM
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Actually its 2000 sf on ground floor and 2000 sf on first floor. Roof would also be an open 2000 sf area (not exactly 2000 sf, as some of it would be used by overhead water tank.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 3:58PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Building in different countries is so different from here that it is hard to advise. But, for energy efficiency, I would suggest that you use the ground for the garden and the roof for water storage (for better water pressure) and solar panels to generate electricity to run your air conditioners.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 8:06AM
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Thanks Annie

I can understand that advising for different countries may even be impossible.

And that is why I needed your advise on things like energy efficiency etc.

What I am primarily looking at the forums advice on

1/ Self sufficiency for veggies (and herbs), electricity and water in the area that I own
2/ If I have to go for roof top garden, what things should be considered while building it for example strength and water proofing and how would you suggest to do it?
3/I am thinking of having a small constructed area on the ground floor so that I can have a bigger place for a garden. I can have a larger constructed area on the first floor and since that is going to block light to reach the garden I was thinking of using glass floors if that is a possibility. I know there are glass blocks available for both walls and floors.
4/For water storage I am also thinking of rain water collection mechanism. Any advises in this respect would be highly appreciated
5/In addition, for water storage I am also looking for a large over head tank and are there any other more cheaper ways to get water from the ground tank (where the water comes from the government/municipality) to the over head tank. Is Hand Pump (or similar thing) a possibility?

As it seems my prime concern is to be self sufficient as much as I can and energy efficiency is just one part but important one for that.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 2:23AM
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Can you dig down and bury a water tank that you can collect rain water to water the garden? What does rainfall look like in your area? I live in a similar area temp wise. Lately we have been having periods of drought when hot so would have needed larger storage tanks of water to cover the drought periods. We only garden for smaller amounts, but not during the hot months. Too much water required to do that.

Yes you'd want some sort of area for the composting and if you can make it inaccessible to animals it would be ideal. Growing up we had two composts one used for fertilizing and one composting. They were switched back and forth.

I know nothing about a roof top garden. Seems like it would be good for a lot of sun, but less ideal because of too much sun and requiring more water.

Make sure the garden around the house will get adequate light too.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 9:25AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I strongly suggest solar panels as electricity you generate will cover a lot of the other functions you want like cooling and heating the building, running water pumps and sprinklers, etc. Also look into insulation. Everything I read about going green suggests that regardless of how you generate a BTU, the longer you hang onto it, the better. It will be hard to go food sustainable on a small lot of land for so many people, but you should be able to provide some of your own food.

I don't recall if anyone here has written about a green may just have to check the Internet for how others have done it...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 9:48AM
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