Three women talk about the ex­pe­ri­ence of fi­nally find­ing a place to call their own


When celebrity chef Rachael Ray said in an in­ter­view with Good

House­keep­ing, “Good food and a warm kitchen is what makes a house a home,” she ex­pressed the in­nate wish ev­ery­one has to own a place where they find their com­fort af­ter a hard day’s work—where they feel at ease and leave their stress­ful lives be­hind. While most of us spend our days toil­ing for a bet­ter life, the soar­ing real es­tate prices keep mak­ing our dream to own a house, look dreary. And the fact that the ex­penses don’t end at the pur­chase of prop­erty makes it even more tax­ing. This month, three women share with us the idea of a dream home and how they planned their fi­nances while an ex­pert gives ad­vice.

For most peo­ple, ren­o­vat­ing their house is a task that can be put off in­def­i­nitely—a fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment that is meant for peo­ple who have ex­cess money. But what they don’t re­alise

is that re­mod­elling their house doesn’t only ben­e­fit the fam­ily but also ap­pre­ci­ates the re­sale value of the prop­erty. “Just like your wardrobe, homes too need con­stant rein­vent­ing as trends change ev­ery sea­son,” says Arunima Kukreja, 35, pro­pri­etor, Stu­dio Europa. Be­ing an in­te­rior de­signer, the process of ren­o­vat­ing her house was an easy task for her. “If you’re pas­sion­ate about in­te­ri­ors, I think you will al­ways be at some stage of ren­o­va­tion where your house is con­cerned,” she adds. Be­cause of her pro­fes­sional ex­per­tise, it took her a lit­tle over a month of plan­ning be­fore she started work on her house. “From the fur­ni­ture and fab­rics to the floor­ing and paints, I was very clear about what I wanted which made work­ing around the bud­get a lot clearer,” she says. While for Kukreja, re­mod­elling was easy, not ev­ery­one can sail through it. One of the key fac­tors to work around is to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween what you want and what you need. You may want plush fur­ni­ture as part of your dé­cor while your floor­boards are creak­ing un­der its weight. It’s im­por­tant to pri­ori­tise and fo­cus on the needs of your home, and de­pend­ing on the sur­plus, splurge on what you want.

Mon­ica Gupta, 30, co-founder, Craftsvilla.com in Mum­bai, on the other hand, dreamt of own­ing a du­plex ever since she was a stu­dent. Af­ter com­plet­ing MS in ac­count­ing from San Diego State Univer­sity, United States, she be­gan to re­search ex­ten­sively. “I needed to know how much it’ll cost me so I could start sav­ing at once,” she says. Sne­hal Mantri, di­rec­tor, mar­ket­ing of Mantri De­vel­op­ers, Ban­ga­lore, em­pha­sises the need for the cred­i­bil­ity of a builder. “A prospec­tive buyer should check the de­vel­oper's sanc­tions and le­gal doc­u­ments to en­sure re­li­a­bil­ity. De­fi­cien­cies on this front can lead to se­ri­ous con­se­quences for the buyer,” ex­plains Mantri. Gupta had to save for eight years be­fore re­sort­ing to a loan. “Check­ing the real es­tate prices was rou­tine for me. Ul­ti­mately, my sav­ings made for 80 per cent of what I was re­quired to pay and the deficit was met by the loan I opted for,” says Gupta.

For Vi­jaya Ra­mam, 67, man­age­ment con­sul­tant, L.V. Prasad Eye In­sti­tute, Hy­der­abad, buy­ing a house was a de­ci­sion that was long over­due. “I used to live in a two bed­room house with my mother where hav­ing house guests

was dif­fi­cult. That’s when I thought of buy­ing a big­ger house,” she says. When her sis­ter, Uma Rama Rao, a renowned Kuchipudi dancer bought a bun­ga­low in Ban­jara Hills, Ra­mam de­cided to buy one in the same lo­ca­tion. “I wanted to con­sult with my chil­dren in the US about sell­ing a plot my late hus­band left me. There was a lot of sen­ti­men­tal value at­tached to it,” she says. Her son Sishir, an IT pro­fes­sional, “liq­ui­dated some shares he had in­vested in and sent me the money for the house. He felt he owed me that much. Even though I tried to dis­suade him, he con­vinced me that it was the best op­tion,” says Ra­mam. Whether it’s build­ing a house or buy­ing one, it is im­por­tant to con­duct thor­ough mar­ket re­search. “To­day al­most 80 per cent of prop­erty re­lated searches be­gin on the in­ter­net, mak­ing it con­ve­nient. With ba­sic de­tails in hand, one can then in­ten­sify their search by go­ing to the sites and check­ing each short­listed prop­erty,” sug­gests Mantri. For Ra­mam, the re­li­a­bil­ity was en­sured be­cause of her sis­ter. Even though she be­lieves that she went over­board with the ex­penses, she doesn’t re­gret her de­ci­sion. “Af­ter all, when you work hard for many years, the least you owe your­self is a com­fort­able life. Buy­ing this house was bet­ter than spend­ing 25 per cent of my salary on monthly rent,” she says. A most com­mon er­ror is over­shoot­ing, but it’s also in­evitable when you un­der­take large projects. It’s es­sen­tial to keep a 15 per cent buf­fer mar­gin. “All you need to do is cut down on un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture for a few years to come,” says Ra­mam.

Whether it’s build­ing a house, buy­ing one or sim­ply re­vamp­ing your home’s look, a lit­tle bit pa­tience and an in­formed ap­proach can be re­ward­ing for you and your fam­ily, for the rest of your lives.

Arunima Kukreja


Pro­pre­itor, Stu­dio Europa, Delhi “Just like your wardrobe, homes need con­stant rein­vent­ing as trends change.”

Mon­ica Gupta


Co-founder, Craftsvilla.com, Mum­bai “My sav­ings made for 80 per cent of what I had to pay and the deficit was met by the loan”

A PRAB­HAKAR Rao/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

Vi­jaya Ra­mam

67 Man­age­ment Con­sul­tant, L.V Prasad Eye In­sti­tute, Hy­der­abad “I have no re­grets. Buy­ing this house was bet­ter than spend­ing 25 per cent of my salary on monthly rent.”

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