PLINTH LEVEL AND DAMPNESS
By Er. Ved Prakash Takyar
Most of the dream houses constructed with hard labour and hand-earned money are sickeningly damp due to unequal plinth floor levels between two houses and not having a single common wall.
The plinth level of the row of houses in a street has either not been fixed by the Corporation Improvement Trust and PUDA or these have no control over its implementation even in their approved colonies other than Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula in this region. Everyone is free to keep the plinth level as high from the road as he wants without bothering about the dampness from their raised plinth/floor level to the wall of their neighbour. In addition to this. the high plinth/floor level from the road has another problem i.e. to approach/enter the high floor level of houses, ramps are made in the area of road which not only lead to traffic hazards but also obstruct the flow of rain water during heavy rains. Sometimes storm water enters the houses having lower plinth/floor levels.
The common or separate walls between two houses where there is difference in levels of floors, the problem of dampness will become a permanent headache because the dampness from the higher floor will enter the wall, above the DPC of the lower floor and in some cases goes upto the roof level of ground floor due to capillary action. If technical precautions are taken during the construction by the owner who starts the construction at later stage and keep his floor level higher than already built neighbour house, the dampness can be sealed by providing vertical DPC as shown in Fig. 1 i.e. from the DPC of already built house up to the raised DPC. The owner of already built house should be very careful when a new house is going to start, adjoining his house. He should either not allow his new neighbour to keep the floor higher than his floor along with his wall or get the vertical portion of his wall from his floor (DPC) level to the raised DPC level of new house under construction sealed with permanent treatment of dampness by providing vertical DPC to his satisfaction. It is the moral duty of the new builder to seal the dampness from his floor to the neighbours wall otherwise he will also suffer from dampness due to the contact of each others' .walls. If he (new owner/builder) does not agree to provide permanent dampproof treatment on the portion i.e. to the height he intends to raise his floor then his neighbour, the owner/builder of the existing building can get stay order from the civil court with the apprehension of dampness from the .higher floor of the new building adjacent to his walls. Higher floor, whichever type it may be. will lead to dampness in the walls of lower floors if not sealed by providing vertical DPC on the wall with the side of higher floor.
 
It is a matter of regret that most of the masons and contractors do not have the knowledge of the occurrence of the above explained unsolvable dampness and those who know it do not bother to carry out or execute the vertical DPC in the interest only to save labour cost. Inhabitants, mostly layman, do not have the knowledge of this dampness which later on becomes a headache and irritates them. Costly paint applied on walls begins to wither off. "Shora" will appear on the walls. Where there is dampness, there will be "shora". Otherwise "Shora" cannot appear. Some contractors have told me that they are executing the building work on lampsum labour rate which is very low and the owner will never pay them if such extra items are executed by them i.e. to o seal the dampness by providing vertical DPC.
Actually a single common wall between two houses is to be constructed. Where separate walls are constructed, problem of dampness also occurs from the top of parapet. Cracks at the top between two walls occur due their unequal settlement on account of different loads on them and other expansion and contraction factors also.
Dampness can be treated from the place from where it originates and not from the place where it appears. That is why aforesaid causes of dampness are not solvable afterwards. The waterproof chemical which is to be used in cement should not be acidic or basic but should be neutral i.e. having PH value 6-7. Permanent treatment should be applied and not the bitumen of tarfelt etc. which is not entirely satisfactory because of the vast difference in temperature, the bitumen expands in summer and contracts in winter which leads to cracks and decay with lapse of time. The polythene sheet is also not dependable because it can't become part of the concrete/plaster surface. The water can penetrate underneath its whole area even from a single escape.
by Er. Ved Parkash Takyar
( Building Consortium ) 19 - H, B. R. S. Nagar, Ludhiana.
 
www.indiaarchitectureinfo.com