The balcony is an important area in a flat or a house, It offers the home owner a view of the surroundings. It connects inside space of the house with outside world. It is often a favourite area to spend free time, However many owners in the flats intend to cover their balcony for many reasons, sometime after occupying the house.

Generally we use balcony for:

• An outside sit out place for enjoying a cup of tea with breakfast or having a zoola or swing with light reading in leisure time and enjoying outside view and getting out of the room.
• Viewing processions, street views etc.
• Sometimes balcony provides privacy and also controls heat penetration in the room.
• Balconies are free of F.S.I, when it is open from three side and periphery have only railing/low height wall. Most of the builders use this as a profit making tool and sell the flat with more usable area by providing such balconies.
• Though designed for all the above uses, the most frequent use by middle & lower middle class is always for drying clothes, which is not possible elsewhere in small/medium types of flats.
• However 4’wide balcony will not be useful for outside sit out, breakfast place or for a swing.
• Desirable dimensions of balcony is 6’ x 7’for sit out, swing, etc.

#### Advantages while covering a balcony are:

01. To make the room more spacious:

You need extra space for arranging new furniture in the drawing room. You also require more length for T.V. Particularly in old rooms with less length.

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02. For extra storage space:

Need extra storage space in bedroom, kitchen due to small size of room.

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03. To give home a new look from outside

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04. For safety:

Builders provide low height walls/railings in balcony. The height of railing are not standard with respect to human height so it becomes risky and accident prone. Outside grills are also not desirable as they corrode.

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05. To keep away birds:

While birds fluttering and chirping outside the house is pleasant to the senses, but when they perch in the balcony and build their nest. It is not only disturbing but also becomes unhygienic.

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06. Nuisance:

Sometimes, it is never used for any purpose and it simply becomes either a scrap yard, which is hardly maintained  and Create a dirty neglected corner of the house. So some may think that it is to better to use it.

When you plan to cover a balcony you may get extra storage space or extra usable area but it will also destroy the space for comfort or consolation in a time of great distress or sadness, as it will disconnect you with the exterior and possibly pleasant looks.

#### Let us overview some of the disadvantages of covering balcony:

01. Poor Ventilation:

When you cover a balcony, you get less area in room for ventilation. Your flat/house will become a closed unit due to lack of open area.

02. Poor Sunlight:

Covered balcony may prevent direct sunlight entering the house. One may not like this, especially in winter season. Covered balcony is only desirable when you are getting excess sunlight in the house.

03. Blocked view:

Balcony connects homeowner with the outside world; Covered balcony will block the view from the house. If your house is facing park or /any open green area in the front, then this idea of covering balcony will disappoint you.

04. Health hazards:

If covered balcony has any water logging, then it can be hazardous to the health of dwellers.

Additional costs are incurred in covering the balcony in terms of covering material and labour needed to install the covering. Additional regular maintenance also may be required for the covered area.

06. Illegal construction:

You must also consider that if sanctioned plan of your house has the open balcony then covering, it is illegal. You are legally obliged to take revised permission from local authority for covering balcony, as it is a deviation from approved plan, though most of the people don’t do it and perhaps most of the local authority also ignore illegal construction.

07. Society permission:

Sometimes society does not allow you to cover the balcony with not even jute blinds or glass enclosure to maintain unity of elevation & aesthetics of the building as a whole.

08. Structural Integrity:

While covering the balcony, the structural integrity of all structural members with french points of construction along both vertical as well as horizontal load path may be difficult to achieve, which may make it a weak structure. If this is not possible, you should drop the idea,

Always consult structural designer and possibly original structural designer and don’t remain at the mercy of a contractor who may not be that sound.

09. Disturbed Structural stability:

Certain structural constraints can also make it risky using balcony as a room. There are case of accidents where the entire balcony structure collapsed when a balcony was converted into kitchen or store. So you have to check structural system .If the balcony has only cantilever slab without cantilever beams & external beam to carry external wall load, it is not at all advisable to cover it, even with light weight materials like glass, AAC blocks etc.

###### Balcony collapse & covered for storage purpose

10. Disturbed Aesthetic :

• Covering balcony will destroy the aesthetic/elevation of apartment. All apartment dwellers have their own different ideas for covering balcony; hence it will break the uniformity of the building.
• When balcony is covered with 100/150 mm thin external wall then there might be water leakage in future.
• In certain states, you can legally enclose your balcony after paying the impact fee to the municipal corporation.
• There would be a problem if you are sharing your balcony with your neighbour from sides.
• Find space for drying clothes in monsoon, as balconies are mostly used for drying clothes.
• Though full width window doesn’t disconnect with exterior but may invite leakages.
• When you cover balcony, you must revise furniture layout in room along with electrical room.
• Despite the above disadvantages, if you still want to cover your balcony for a specific reason then you must keep in mind above tips while covering balcony.

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