buildings, town, cityscape

Affordable housing: From brick to building – Silicon India

Originally published By Sophia Rohtagi, Siliconindia

The wave of rapid urbanization, luxurious living, and affordable housing is taking the real estate sector by its strides. The upshot of several policies like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 (RERA), Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs), and easing of FDI norms, has challenged real estate’s dynamism. Especially through ‘Housing for All by 2020’, the affordable housing scheme launched by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) estimating the shortage of urban housing for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG).

According to a report released by FSG, a new group of ‘Affordable Housing Finance Companies’ is addressing housing loan-reliable documentation gap and serving low-income, urban informal customers using an innovation, pioneered in India, called field-based credit assessment. A collateral report by FICCI points out that a chunk of large & mid-sized formal developers have been ‘unsuccessful in supplying affordable housing to low-income customers’ as the projects turn out to be expensive and are located far from the central city to bring expenditure at equilibrium. Further, the report suggests that these distant locations also may lack infrastructure and require large investments, which further shrink the already low margins of such projects.

Explaining the significance of the location, Amin Nayyar, Head, ANA Design, asserts, “The location of affordable housing ideally should not be situated in isolation. One of the fundamental possibilities, as well as needs for ‘affordable’ to flourish, is for land to be available near mass transit systems, at a cost which is not prohibitive. Standardisation and industrialization do not in any manner mean a departure from bespoke spaces or poorly planned mass development. If used sensitively and sensibly, it can free up design time for more meaningful activities for the builder/architect and also improve drastically the quality of the final product”.

An Achy Investment

Noida & Greater Noida is the hub of the affordable housing scheme, initiated by Government of India and clearly meets Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana eligibility and affordable housing guidelines. Many real estate developers are tapping opportunities and investing in land purchases, making it one of the cheapest areas among nine other metropolitan cities. However, con cases like Amrapali Group narrates a completely different story. The clouds circling Amrapali Group clearly uplifts suspicion wherein nearly 40,000 flat owners are finding themselves in extreme jitters. The Supreme Court’s intervention has lit a little hope who warned Amrapali’s promoters & directors to settle down the issue either by returning every owner’s penny or complete the housing projects. Since the group has declared itself insolvent, the apex court is now assigning property completion responsibility to reliable co-developers. Such sharp practices by real estate panjandrums certainly seed questions concerning thinning profit margins or utilizing low-cost housing material in India.

Ramji Subramaniam, Managing Director, Sowparnika Projects, and Infrastructure, asserts, “Realty developers in affordable housing segment possess immense knowledge and experience where they produce sensibly-priced units without compromising on quality & cost. Having in-house teams for designing, construction and distribution not only helps in utilizing the same resources across projects and incorporating branded elements but also saves outsourcing costs and cut-down production cost”. On the flipside, Santhosh Kumar, Vice Chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants enlists few affordable housing guidelines for affordable housing investors that includes assessing builder’s past track record for project completion and consistent product quality, civic infrastructure, particularly public transport facilities, water availability & sanitation, and availability of social infrastructure in and around every project under consideration. Efficient and effective utilization of low-cost but quality building material usage and construction techniques is sure to hit the bull’s eye and make affordable housing a success in India.

A Structure Defining Lifestyle is Must

New-age buyers desire to invest in homes that reflect their contemporary lifestyle via aesthetic designs, ultra-modern architecture and also befits their set budget, hence smart furnishing in partnership with affordable housing.. Though, engineers edify safe, standardized structures, the responsibility of acing architecture falls on interior designers’ shoulders. And that’s when material quality steals the spotlight. Elucidating on architectural significance in affordable housing, Parminder Pal Singh, Head, LOCO Design, adds, “Everyone wants their spending to reflect adequately and make budgets work in clever ways. An overlap in spatial function can make spaces more economical – with furniture that lends itself to changing use. Durable and modern materials are a means to extend the life of furniture and fittings; materials that are low maintenance and do not require specialist cleaning are also a good investment. Spatially connecting spaces make a home feel visually bigger with integrated storage that keeps visual clutter out of view”.

The real estate industry is presently in flux but the upheaval of new policies, specifically affordable housing scheme,  is sure to change the sector’s façade and embrace the mission of building an ‘Affordable and Smart India’. “It will take around 8-10 years to fill the demand-supply gap in the housing sector,” as stated by Rashesh Shah, President, FICCI.

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