The essence of beauty of a house is apparently told by the quality of wall plaster. Here are some valued advises. If you live in an older house, say 50 or 60 years or older, there is a good likelihood that you have plaster on your walls. Plaster walls were very common, especially in the late 18th century and 19th century. Plaster was fairly readily available, was workable, and was capable of producing very smooth walls and ornate embellishments. It was and is however, very difficult to worth with. It took a fine plasterer many years to learn his trade under the careful instruction of a master plasterer.

Plaster is still widely available, though rarely used. Just check the painting aisles of your local home improvement center and you'll see it mixed in with spackle and patching compound. The reason for its demise was the invention of joint compound. Unlike plaster, joint compound (or drywall compound) is easy to work with. It is slow to set up and harden, is very easy to sand, mixes easily, can be purchased already-mixed, and is easy to clean up. Joint compound works by simply letting the water evaporate out, leaving the hard, white stuff on the wall.

Plaster, on the other hand, sets up quickly, hardens like cement, is very difficult to work with once it starts to set up, is hard to clean up, and must be mixed up as needed and in quantities that can be worked with quickly. Plaster as it sets up, is actually a chemical reaction between the solid plaster and the water. For this reason, joint compound is the natural choice for most new homes and patching jobs. However, plaster is by far the superior product. A plaster wall is rock hard, has a solid sound and is not easliy damaged or scratched, and can withstand some abuse. These properties make for some interesting remodeling and repairs.

A simple task such as hanging a hook for a picture frame can cause large chunks of plaster to break free from the wall and come crashing down. Try to drive a drywall screw into plaster can be an exercise in frustration as chunks break out of the wall and the screw getting dulled by the plaster. Drill bits and saw blades dull instantly on contact. Because of these challenges with plaster, here are few tips for working with it. Be aware, that these work for me in most situations, but plaster can be different and behave differently in different locations, so work very carefully.

1. When hanging a picture frame from a hook with a nail in it, first tape a large piece of masking tape over the area where you will drive the nail. This will help prevent chip-out. Once the nail is in place, remove the tape.

2. Another way to insert a wall hanger for a picture frame is to drill a small pilot hole for the nail. The pilot hole need not be deep. Just deep enough to penetrate the topcoat of plaster. If you see brown dust coming from the drill bit, you are through the topcoat and into the brown coat.
3. To drive a screw through plaster. always drill a pilot hole.

4. Never use a drywall screw in plaster to hold anything. Even though it may seem that the plaster is holding it in place, you risk tearing out a large chunk of plaster. Always screw through the plaster and into the studs.

5. When screwing through plaster and into the wall studs, make sure you are into the wall studs and not the wood lath that holds the plaster on the wall! Pulling down lath is one of the worst things you can do, as it will pull down large chunks of plaster with it.

6. Standard stud finders don't work on plaster walls. You need stud sensors that feature some sort of deep penetrating technology. Common stud finders are designed for half-inch drywall walls and can distinguish plaster thickness very well.

7. Use the tapping technique to find studs. Plaster has good harmonics and by tapping or rapping it with your knuckles, you can usually hear the hollows between the studs fairly easily.

8. Like anything else in an old house, be extra careful! There weren't building codes when many of these houses were built so there is no guarantee that you wall studs are evenly spaced, that there aren't old pipes in the walls, or that abandoned and antiquated plumbing and electrical lines exist in the walls. Remember, work slowly and smartly. Take a few minutes to think things out several times. You will still run into surprises, but if you work slowly and deliberately hopefully, they won't ruin your day!


Pune, till a few years ago was the Oxford of the East. Finely established as an academic city; with the best and the brightest, having many avenues to advance their educational growth. A highly educated workforce was what made Pune attractive to the IT companies and they slowly started setting up shop here. Today more and more IT companies are eyeing pune. Infosys was the first of the big ones to come in. The IT parks have sold out all available commercial real estate to companies. Other IT companies followed suit and now Pune is firmly entrenched as one of India's premier IT hubs People are being hired by the droves everyday.

This was what triggered the housing boom in Pune. Pune started expanding from it's Western end at Hingewadi where the IT Park was situated. Property is selling in the Hingewadi area for around 1200/- Rs per sq feet. Flats are in the 2500 -3500/-Rs per sq ft area. Land prices in surrounding areas like Wakad, Bhugaon, Aundh, and Balewadi have risen in multiples, in the last few years and still look very undervalued compared to cities like Bangalore and Chandigarh. Pune is also growing from it's South East end. Kondhva, Kharadi, Vimanagar is fast emerging as a quickly growing suburb. Flat prices in Pune range from 2000Rs6000Rs in most areas. Prices have escalated in the last 2 years and people are still buying. As long as the technology and automobile industry boom continues and companies keep expanding in Pune, the real estate boom has no reason to dissipate.

With the educational institutions and more students coming in hostels are also spring up all over the place. A lot of people from other places are investing in flats and houses that are rented out to students. NRI's who studied and lived in Pune and later moved to the US, are the biggest investors in Pune today. Pune's proximity to Mumbai has meant a lot of people with extra funds in Mumbai, are investing their money in real estate in Pune. This has added fuel to the spiraling prices.

Pune is undergoing a tremendous change, developing rapidly and offering its residents a whole new international lifestyle. Innovative world class housing complexes are being developed in Pune. Large malls, international brands and specialty stores have changed its face, bringing new zing to the retail scenario. Young professionals and migrant white-collar workers are increasingly zooming in on these new spaces, and the result is an evolution in organized retailing that one could not have imagined even ten years ago Developers like Panchshil, of International Convention centre Fame and Vascon Engineers, Kumar Builders, Kolte-Patil and Kakde have come up with a number of malls. Some of the well known malls in Pune are the Nucleus Mall near Camp, Pune Central, City Mall, Shoppers, Stop and Magnum. Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra, with booming software, manufacturing and education sectors. "Property rates have been increasing dramatically for the last five to seven years. For the retail hubs, like Deccan camp etc, the rates vary between Rs 90 to Rs 150 per sq. ft per month. Pune offers a good combination of the educated, upwardly mobile and more demanding consumer.

Developers in Pune, seem to have realized the need for specialized malls. The Ishanya mall, spread over 5 1/2 lakh sq ft on 10 acres of land will, apart from offering specialist shopping, allow for relaxation in a pleasant environment and cultural entertainment "Organized retailing is happening faster in Pune than in other cities. In other words, the expected mall space will be more in Pune compared to other cities. There is huge amount of growth taking place in the city.. The coming months will see it emerge as number two in terms of organized retail space. The city is moving fast towards development also because of the coming of big industries, the satellite city coming up and automobile industry growing, and to complement it all are the IT industries. Pune today is amongst the fastest growing cities in the world. Since there are no space restrictions for Pune as in Mumbai and Bangalore, the city is proudly growing in all five directions." The glitz and glamour that are making their presence felt is only the beginning; as the year progresses, and competition increases with both new and large players in the fray the Pune retail scene will undergo a metamorphosis. Without doubt, Pune is an extremely good investment destination for real estate.


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