Amazing elevation

Existing concrete buildings are being raised with the help of truck jacks in parts of Punjab. The idea is to prevent rain water from entering houses, reports Sanjeev Singh Bariana from Ludhiana

Amar Singh from Nurpur Bet village, near Ludhiana, shows the height his house has gained after it was raised using jacks
Amar Singh from Nurpur Bet village, near Ludhiana, shows the height his house has gained after it was raised using jacks

RECENTLY, I saw a unique sight at a house in Kasabad village along the Sutlej in Ludhiana district. A big workforce was engaged in fixing truck jacks under a concrete building. On a closer look, I discovered that the existing building was being lifted off the ground, slightly, and a new layer of bricks was being laid to create a new basement.

I had seen a house, largely made of wood, being lifted and shifted to an alternate place in the US some time back. However, a concrete building being lifted off its base was new to me and unheard of. I got down from my car and entered the compound of the house. Paramvir Singh Sidhu, an advocate by profession, was overlooking the lifting process at his house on the weekend. “What is going on?” I asked after introducing myself.

Paramvir smiled and said: “The rain water enters our house every monsoon as the street in front of our house is on a higher level.” “But, the lifted concrete building could crumble”, I said. “Don’t be surprised”, he said. “The 
builders have given us a written affidavit to compensate for the entire loss in case the structure is affected. I have already seen one of their successful projects in another village along the Sutlej. So we decided to go ahead with the change”.

Paramvir Singh is not alone. Another 8 km down the river stands a two-storey mansion in Nurpur Bet. Work on this structure is complete. The team has come here following the raising of walls of a gurdwara in Bhavanigarh. 
A visit to the same site, two days later, reveals that the jacks have been removed. The brick layers have been laid and the building has been raised by at least five feet.

Sunil Kumar, the architect, says:” This is just one of the scores of buildings that our team has completed in the region. Besides normal houses, we have also raised buildings as high as three storeys in different parts of the region, including Amritsar, Patiala and Bathinda, besides several other places.”

Labourers complete the filling job at a building raised by more than five feet
Labourers complete the filling job at a building raised by more than five feet using truck jacks in Kasabad village, near Ludhiana Tribune photos by Rajesh Bhambi

An average structure takes not more than a month to be raised. The original team of architects carefully identifies the points to instal the jacks. The process is complex and needs a thorough study. Once the jacks are fixed, the structure is slightly raised and new layers set to increase the height.

He explains that one of the reasons for buildings needing raised platforms was because during the process of development in the area, these structures were rendered low-lying in several cases. This led to accumulation of water in the compounds. The water entered even the houses, particularly during the rainy season. Instead of spending a large sum on a new house, and to prevent the existing structures from being damaged, the technique of raising the buildings has come as a boon.

Sunil Kumar says: “I am not a professionally-trained architect. I have learnt the tricks of the trade from my ancestors. I was a disciple of my father’s elder brother. We use the jacks, some of which are specially designed, largely to raise the roof. The system of raising the lintel in the upper portions of buildings has been prevalent for long. About three years earlier we tried our hand at raising the whole building, and found that the entire structure could be raised without disturbing the original building”.

“I have never come across any other party of workers engaged in the raising of the entire building from the base with the help of jacks in the entire region. But we are definite about two other Yamunanagar-based teams of builders engaged in the business,” he said.

Satwinder Singh, manager of a firm known as Khalsa Specialists in Roof Building, Lifting and Shifting, said: “We have completed more than 150 projects in different parts of the region during the past three years. The process of lifting a building is very scientific. It is a tried and tested formula, and poses no danger to any structure. We began the technique on a trial basis in old buildings. We found that jacks could be effective support systems in keeping the balance and the original shape in tact. We have also attempted and successfully changed the directions of certain houses. The changes are largely minor”.

Sukhjit Singh, a farmer, said: “During the rainy season the water enters the compound of our house as the structure is lower than the village street. The water enters even our rooms. This harms the walls. Moisture has become a permanent feature on the walls. The cupboards are also affected.

“Building a new house at an another site or raising the ground level of the existing site were the only alternatives left. My son heard about the new technique and even visited the spot. This change has cost us about Rs 2.50 lakh. The investment is much lower in comparison to the amount of money we would have spent in constructing a new house.”