A country house usually refers to a home built in the outskirts of a city or in the country-side. In the olden days, these were modest housing projects that met the basic needs of a working-class family residing in a rural area. However, over time, country houses have become temporary residences, where one can retire to enjoy a few days away from the bustle of the cities. It is an alternative to urban housing and comes equipped with modern appliances and facilities.
In India, country houses are gaining popularity, especially since a large number of people, including Non Residential Indians (NRIs), invest in this type of property as a place to relax and spend time with friends and family, surrounded by nature and greenery. This style of house is especially popular in places that are a few hours by road from major urban centres. Alibaug, near Mumbai, Munnar, near Kochi as well as in the hillside towns of Himachal Pradesh, the north-eastern states and the Nilgiris are favoured locations for country houses. These places are ideal for holidays or short seasons, especially in summer, where one can escape to a second home to beat the heat in the plains. Since they are essentially holiday homes, country houses in India are constructed with simple materials. They have distinct characteristics such as a fireplace (in the colder regions), a porch or terrace for enjoying the outdoors, and a large garden.
Country houses around the world are characterized by varied elements and features. For example, in England, a typical country house must have a well-kept garden, whereas in Germany, country houses have a basement, a fireplace and a gabled roof. In Russia and some parts of Scandinavia, a country house is incomplete without a sauna. In the United States and Canada, a porch with a small terrace is very important.
Worldwide, country houses come in several styles. The best-known ones are:
Rustic: These are built with natural materials such as clay, wood or stone. The design adapts to the surrounding environment. Usually, the house is quite basic with just the essential appliances and fixtures.
Modern: Modern country houses are built with a variety of materials, including wood, stone or glass. The presence of asymmetric ceilings or lattices is common. The architecture is innovative and stands out from the surrounding houses. A modern country house can also be a prefabricated home.
Minimalist: These homes are usually built of concrete. They are austere and small, with an open plan, without too many divisions. The outdoor area usually has a pool, fruit trees and a modern barbecue area.
Victorian: This elegant style of country houses is popular in India because it is reminiscent of our colonial past. They are inspired by the design of old houses in Great Britain. The main feature of the house is a porch decorated with columns and a gabled roof. However, they can be very functional and modern inside.
English Country house: Formerly, these houses were elegant brick mansions with large gardens, but today they are more modest and compact, made with wood and perfectly designed to withstand the various seasons. A garden is an essential feature in an English country house.
Chateau: These houses, which are inspired by large countryside residences in France, can come with or without fortifications. While they are most common in France, you can also find them in other European countries, such as Germany and Switzerland. They are usually attached to an orchard or a farm with animals.
Wood: It can be used not only for structure and façade, but also for the walls, floor and ceiling. Whether it’s hard, soft or recycled wood, every type is perfect for building a country house.
Stone: Slab or unpolished stone, is used mostly in coatings or as a structural element. Its natural look makes stone one of the favourite materials used to construct country houses.
Brick: Due to its capacity to provide insulation, which helps to maintain cold and warm temperatures indoors, brick is another popular material used to build country houses.
Concrete: Currently, it is one of the most practical and trendy building materials as it can combine with other materials to create a spectacular home that adapts visually to the environment. Concrete also has the advantages of being easily available and affordable.
Other materials that are commonly used in country houses for the roof, handrails or decorative and structural elements are bamboo, palm, steel, reed and iron.
The advantage of a country home is the better quality of life that it offers to its residents, as it is located far from the city and its busy lifestyle. Additionally, the contact with nature, the fresher air and the possibility of having extra space for a large garden, orchard or raising farm animals, enhance its appeal. A country house can be transformed into a home stay to generate additional income for the family.
The disadvantages include the lack of accessibility to public utilities and services such as water, sewage, electricity, telephone, mobile network and high-speed Internet access, especially in remote areas. In rural areas where country houses are built, the condition of roads may not be good. Usually, there are dirt roads without street lighting. The biggest drawback of a country house is the poor access to emergency services, as ambulance and firefighters may take longer to arrive. Additionally, like a conventional house, a country house needs regular maintenance.
The cost of building a country house depends on several factors such as the size and style of the house and its location. It will be much more expensive to build a country house in the outskirts of Tier 1 cities than in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities. In a rural area, the cost of a country house can be as low as 10 lakh rupees, including the cost of land (if the plot isn’t large), if it is built with cheaper materials that are locally sourced. However, the cost can go up to around 15-20 lakhs if built with brick and concrete with modern features such as a modular kitchen. The prices of materials and transportation also influence the overall cost. While the cost of land in remote hilly regions is a bit cheaper than in the plains, the construction costs will be higher due to the increased expense of transporting materials to the site.
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