“Home is where the heart is”
Buying a home is a dream come true to many. However it’s a dream that needs to be dreamt eyes wide open. Based on working with many builders and developers as consulting architects and being home owners ourselves, we had listed out a few guide lines to ensure one buys the right home, taking various aspects into consideration. Read on to get our insights –
Location is King. Location of your property determines the quality of life as much as the property itself. Accessibility and distance of travel to the place of work, schools, transport &medical facilities etc. determine the time available for one to manage a well-balanced life. This factor also explains the drastic difference in the cost of homes with same quality and finishes but located in different parts of the city.
It is advisable to ensure that the approvals are in place by the Development regulation authorities before the construction commences at site. This would avoid any uncertainties during the progress of the project. Over the years obtaining approval by developers as well as individuals had become a cumbersome, time & cost consuming process involving official and unofficial charges. In case of gated communities the approval for the projects are obtained by the developer. However it would be a good practice to get a third party legal opinion on the approvals obtained by the developer. To cite an example. A building has 3 floors with 2 apartments on each floor. The developer has obtained approval for the project while only showing 1 kitchen per floor (against 2 kitchens, since each apartment gets a kitchen). The developer manages to get the approval and sells all the units. Couple of years later, one of the apartment owner’s loan request on the collateral of the apartment is rejected by a bank since the single kitchen shown for the entire floor in the approval drawings doesn’t fall inside the layout of his apartment. Hence there seems to be a deviation of approvals. This might have been a common practice during the original sale of these apartments which the developer might had managed to get a sanction for. However subsequent sale and mortgaging might be a problem if the approvals are not obtained as per the regulations.
Any residential project should be in the midst of habitation and people should be able to live immediately. Unfortunately in India the sequence of establishing a habitable development is driven by real estate promoters and developers, unlike other countries where the government plays a vital part in implementing a master plan and the necessary infrastructure to develop a well habitable neighborhood. First a tea shop is set up by the side of a bus stop on a so called road arterial road, and then a promoter buys a large piece of land and sells them as plots. People buy the plots and build homes one by one. After a critical number of homes are built, development is sought from the local authorities for the roads, pavements, and water & sewage connections. The subsequent requirement of service connection leads to roads being dug up and damaged constantly to provide services to the new individual residences which are never patched up properly. This explains the appalling condition of roads in our cities. Now imagine a locality designed for the residences, with well-defined roads, green buffers, realistically walkable pedestrian paths, underground network of services like water, sewage, and power& data lines. A well designed layout with access to medical, educational, commercial & entertainments facilities truly defines the habitability of a place. A gated development by a reputed promoted would provide one such environment to live within a community. However due to the cost factor all such communities are located far from city centers.
Real Estate & Property development is an industry which has a wide spectrum of players who have entered the market in a short span of time. They range from small time contractors to big publicly listed companies. The reputation of a builder depends on the many factors, for instance –
- Design quality of previous projects.
- Transparency of documentation and procedures.
- Quality of finishes that are promised & delivered.
- Method of payments being encouraged.
- Timely completion &delivery of the previous projects.
- Assistance provided in obtaining housing loans.
- After sales service.
Lighting, Ventilation & Vaastu Compliance
A well designed home takes care of the lighting and ventilation of all the spaces. These 2 factors have become a challenge now days, since homes are not just individual units built on isolated land parcels. There are a variety of configurations like Individual Bungalow, Row House, Duplex, Twin house, Apartments, Penthouse etc. which create a their own unique set of design challenges.
In addition to this configuration challenges, Vaastu compliance leads to some spatial planning compromises. The level of Vaastu compliance differs from project to project based on its orientation & planning requirements. A well designed home is a balance of all the above factors.
Minimum wastage and maximum space utilization
Everybody developer wants to maximize the salable space, however there is a difference between the salable area and the usable carpet area. Ensure the design and allocation of space is efficient and practically usable. Let’s say you buy a home of 2000 sq.ft carpet area, you don’t just pay for the 2000 sq.ft but also the common areas such as corridors, lifts, service areas, lobbies & other facilities. The supporting facilities help maintain the entire development. Usually the common areas range from 15% to 40% of the total built up area depending upon the facilities provided within the development.
Features and specifications
Modern gated communities and high rise apartment development come with a myriad of features and specifications that complement the development. Of course they do come at a price; however it determines the quality and standard of life that one may aspire for. We had recently worked on a project which was integrated with home automation systems, where in you could remotely unlock the doors from your office or any location on your mobile phone& grant access to housekeeping persons to certain parts of your home. While provision for sporting facilities, gymnasiums, party halls, convenience stores, has become a common norm in most of the developments, the integration of technology to control and monitor the spaces and optimize the resources needed to maintain them, provides convenience and much needed freedom of mobility to the users.
Transparent calculation on area
Carpet area, Built up area & Total Built up area. These three terms define the area metrics of the project. Ensure that the developer is able to clearly mention the proportion of all 3 areas.
Carpet area–This is the area that you can actually step on to. Carpet area is the area that can actually be covered by a carpet, or the area of the home excluding the thickness of inner walls. Carpet area does not include the space covered by common areas such as lobby, lift, stairs, play area, etc.
Built-up area is the area that comes after adding carpet area and wall area. (The thickness of inner walls). The area constituting the walls is around 20% of the built-up area and totally changes the perspective. The built-up area also consists of other areas mandated by the authorities, such as service balcony, flower beds, etc., that add up to 10% of the built-up area. So when you think about it, the usable area is only 70% of the built-up area. So, if the built-up area says 1500 square feet, it means around 30% (450 square feet) is not really usable, and the actual area you will get to use is only the remaining 1050 square feet.
Super Built-up area is a builder’s favorite terminology! It is the area calculated by adding the built-up area and common area that includes the corridor, lift lobby, lift, etc. In some cases, builders even include amenities such as a pool, garden and clubhouse in the common area. A developer charges you on the basis of the super built-up area which is why it is also known as ‘sale-able’ area.
Assured After Sales
Flexibility Towards Home Loans – Developers with good processes should ideally allow customers to exercise their choice in selecting the home loan for their need.
Project Updates – Some developers take steps to provide monthly updates to their customers on the current project’s progress, as well as that of their other ongoing projects. They treat customers as an indirect marketing tool and even offer referral schemes to loyal customers.
Customization – Builders should allow minor non-structural alterations within a specified time-frame as it does not delay the project and also accommodates the buyer’s requirements.
Hand Over Procedure – Customers should be asked to stay in the apartments for some period as certain snags are detected once the apartment and all the internal amenities are used. Developers should provide constant support to buyers through the hand-over period as they realize that this is the most important phase for the customer. This is a good practice and creates goodwill in the buyer’s mind.
Post Delivery Service – The developer should ideally maintain the project for few years, with the time duration clearly mentioned in the sale agreement and later transfer it to the society formed by the new apartment owners.
Links that may assist you in getting an understanding of the markets & best practices.
Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI)
Approval process in different parts of the country
Check out some of the homes that we have designed – http://www.ksquarearchitects.com/projects/