Due Diligence for Affordable Homes

Affordable Housing is the current buzzword in Indian Realty. Homes costing anywhere from 7 lakhs to 35 lakhs INR depending on the city, and number of BHK, are springing up in every metro, city and town of India. Intended to serve the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups (LIG) in the society, affordable homes are being strongly promoted by the Indian Govt. and builders alike.

However, herein lies the risk, and as a buyer of an affordable home, you must do your own due diligence. While the below factors apply equally to mainstream projects, they are even more important in an affordable home project for various reasons, as explained.

  • Reputation: Is the builder a reputed Realty house? Are they into both mainstream homes and affordable homes? How many affordable home projects have they created before this? If the builder is relatively new and unknown, who are the affordablepromoters? In small-sized affordable projects, margins are lower, so it can attract the wrong kind of people as promoters and investors.
  • Titles & Bank Loan: Is the project being conceived on a disputed land? Ensure titles are clean and clear. Consult the local sub-registrar office or a property lawyer to thoroughly examine the papers. Are banks providing loans for the project?
  • Location: Most of these projects are located on the outskirts to keep the costs low, so it is important to check quality of the neighborhood, as well as distance from the city centre.
  • Road Network: As a direct consequence of the above, are the roads leading to the project, and surrounding areas, motorable? Have they been provided by the municipal body, or is it a temporary provision from the builder? This has an impact on quality of the road.
  • Transport: Does the city municipal body provide bus transport to the locality? If no, how far is the nearest bus stop? This has a direct bearing on the safety and convenience of residents.
  • Common Areas: In order to keep the cost per unit low, builders tend to restrict the common areas in such projects. You need to observe the restrictions, as beyond a certain extent, they can affect the quality of daily life at the project.
  • Amenities: Although not comparable to mainstream projects, some amenities like security, power backup, lifts, and vehicle parking are mandatory at these projects.
  • Maintenance cost: If the purchase cost of the project has been kept low, has it been compensated by charging a high monthly maintenance charge?

While purchasing a home in any project needs its own share of due diligence, an affordable home can be fraught with more risk, so buyers must spend more time investigating the project. Else, lakhs of rupees of hard-earned money can go down the drain.

Is your Building Earthquake-Resistant?

The earthquake that struck Nepal and surrounding regions on April 25th and May 12th, 2015 shook more than the earth’s surface. It shook the confidence of residents in earthquakehundreds of buildings all over the quake-affected region, across six nations. Buildings in this region, both modern and historic, collapsed or developed irreversible damage during the quakes.

Thanks to the quakes, buyers in India have become cautious and are evaluating a property for its earthquake resistance. The Bureau of Indian Standards has established several norms for earthquake resistant design of structures, in India.

As a prospective buyer, you can ask your builder to share information on whether these norms have been followed while building the structure. You can also engage the services of a structural engineer or professional agency and get an evaluation done.

In addition to this, there are several small details that you can notice, which have a bearing on the earthquake-resistant capacity of a structure.

  1. Shape of the building(s): The plan of a building should be ideally composite in shape like a square, rectangle, circle, or oval. Buildings in the shape of H, V, L, Y or U are less resistant to quakes.
  2. Fancy elements: Multiple structural elements that are not tightly integrated with the overall frame of the building are more prone to collapsing during a quake.
  3. Number of storeys: The load-bearing-wall method that was in vogue during the 70s is risky. While all high-rises use the column principle which is less risky, it’s good to consider low-rises (less than 3 storeys) only if they have been built using columns or framed structure.
  4. Size of openings in the wall: High-rises that have large openings in the walls for doors and entrances are more at risk.
  5. Staircases: Cantilever staircases and externally overhanging staircases are more at risk. All stairs must be horizontally integrated with the overall frame of the building.
  6. Information on the use of earthquake-resistant elements like horizontal seismic bands, vertical reinforcing bars, core shear walls, pile lengths in the rock, mass dampeners, base isolation techniques, etc.

With time, Indian cities will only get taller, so it becomes all the more imperative to follow earthquake-resistant design in construction. While evaluating a property for purchase, buyers must do their due diligence; else, the consequences can be grim and tragic.