Ar. Har­ish Gupta dis­cusses build­ing ma­te­rial abuse and dis­re­gard for nat­u­ral re­sources

While flats in pre­mium projects are tai­lor-made for the end-user, many get bro­ken down by end-users want­ing a dif­fer­ent look. Ar. Har­ish Gupta dis­cusses build­ing ma­te­rial abuse and dis­posal post the han­dover of an apart­ment by the de­vel­oper, and why there

MGS Architecture - - Front Page -

Pre­mium res­i­den­tial premises are style state­ments of many builders. They sell th­ese res­i­dences as bare shells with­out any in­ter­nal fin­ish­ing, or as warm shells with all in­ter­nal fin­ish­ing com­plete, or as fully fur­nished and ready to move in. The fo­cus of this ar­ti­cle is the (nearly) 50% of home buy­ers in the pre­mium cat­e­gory who would have bought warm shell flats, ready with in­ter­nal fin­ishes, elec­tri­cal fit­tings, plumb­ing and san­i­tary work, kitchen, etc, but are not sat­is­fied with their qual­ity/brand, and end up break­ing ev­ery­thing and re­do­ing the flat.

Think about the number of pre­mium projects com­ing up in the coun­try and the re­fur­bish­ments that fol­low, de­spite the new­ness of the fit-outs, just be­cause the de­vel­oper did not or could not of­fer the buyer a choice of brands/ma­te­ri­als at the time of pur­chase.

Ev­ery stan­dard 2 BHK apart­ment that un­der­goes such ren­o­va­tion gen­er­ates 15 to 20 cu­bic me­ter of de­bris which com­prise of mar­ble, gran­ite, ce­ramic tiles, sand mor­tar, bricks, blocks, san­i­tary­ware, plumb­ing lines, elec­tri­cal fixtures, wires and con­duits, gyp­sum, wooden doors, etc. In pre­mium homes, the de­bris is up­ward of 40 cu­bic me­ter de­pend­ing on the size and ex­tent of break­age. Con­sider that 100 such apart­ments are re­fur­bished in ev­ery pre­mium tower be­fore be­ing used even for a sin­gle day, and you will have a small moun­tain of wasted and un­us­able build­ing ma­te­ri­als amount­ing to an av­er­age of 5000 cu­bic me­ter as land­fill per project.

Is it so dif­fi­cult for de­vel­op­ers to over­look such a huge loop­hole in their ‘green build­ing’ ap­proach? Has the Green Build­ing Coun­cil not fac­tored in that a project must be rated on the to­tal ma­te­rial and en­ergy con­sumed till the first end-user oc­cu­pies it, be­fore rat­ing such projects as green? We need to take a re look at the rat­ing sys­tem and work to­wards a so­lu­tion that of­fers min­i­mum en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

A pos­si­ble so­lu­tion is that the de­vel­oper must of­fer cus­tom fin­ishes at the time of pur­chase, and within a prac­ti­cal range of op­tions. For in­stance, there could be 15-20 ma­te­rial and brand choices for the floor­ing. Ev­ery toi­let could have 3-4 plan­ning op­tions and 8-10 fin­ishes to choose from. Like­wise, for the doors, kitchen, and

other amenity spa­ces. Elec­tri­cal and san­i­tary fixtures too can be cus­tom se­lected.

The de­vel­oper could al­low ven­dors of big brands to put up tem­po­rary dis­plays of their prod­ucts within the project site such that cus­tomers can visit and make their se­lec­tion. In­te­rior de­sign­ers, ar­chi­tects and con­trac­tors could be em­pan­eled by the de­vel­oper to ex­e­cute the de­signs as per clients’ choice.

In such a sce­nario, the de­vel­oper would have out­sourced 50% of his build­ing’s fit-outs, and saved on the cost of his own su­per­vi­sory staff. This would also leave the de­vel­oper free to move on to his next project even if some apart­ments are yet to be sold, or till con­struc­tion is fully com­plete. The man­age­ment of the build­ing and the sales team can carry for­ward the work, and the de­vel­oper would only have to look for the rev­enue com­ing in.

The out­come is a happy one for the home buyer who did not have to in­cur the ex­tra cost of re­do­ing up his flat, and the de­vel­oper earns a higher profit and faster sales as he is giv­ing cus­tomised so­lu­tions and cost sav­ings to the client. And, most im­por­tantly, the en­vi­ron­ment would be less de­pleted of its nat­u­ral re­sources.

Some so­lu­tions to avoid post con­struc­tion wastage: • Set­ting up dis­play rooms at site show­cas­ing se­lected fin­ishes, ma­te­ri­als etc by ven­dors can lead to higher prof­its for de­vel­oper and bet­ter cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. • Hav­ing sold the flats with best of fin­ishes, a lock-in pe­riod of min­i­mum 10 years be im­ple­mented through builder-buyer agree­ment or the hous­ing so­ci­ety act • • that pre­vents break­ing and chang­ing in­ter­nal fin­ishes and lay­outs. Sell­ing premises as bare shell needs a re­think per­haps as fit-outs are un­con­trolled or be­yond any time bar­rier for com­ple­tion, mak­ing re­fur­bish­ments a nui­sance for other in­hab­i­tants. A sug­gested 2-year limit to com­plete in­ter­nal fin­ishes, which could also keep a check on empty shells pile-up as such dead stocks are not good for the en­vi­ron­ment. Only screened con­trac­tors and in­te­rior de­sign­ers to work in a hous­ing so­ci­ety, who will fol­low the norms laid down by RERA or the Green Build­ing Coun­cil, and which must be in­cor­po­rated in the bylaws of hous­ing so­ci­eties.

De­vel­op­ers have to fol­low very strin­gent en­vi­ron­men­tal norms to get their build­ings rated by the Green Counci. They fol­low RERA war­ran­tee con­di­tions, have the best in­te­rior fin­ishes, hire the best ar­chi­tects and pro­fes­sion­als for ex­e­cu­tion by re­puted con­trac­tors, and uti­lize the high­est qual­ity stan­dards us­ing var­i­ous process checks.

How­ever, when a con­sumer does the in­te­rior fin­ish­ing of his apart­ment, he seeks no per­mis­sions, nor does he give any plans for dis­posal of the waste cre­ated - a job that def­i­nitely re­quires a lot more su­per­vi­sion. Most con­trac­tors are un­able to bear the cost of proper dis­posal of bro­ken build­ing ma­te­ri­als, which end up on the sides of roads or in dump yards. I would also sug­gest that con­sumers should em­ploy only the best con­trac­tors for do­ing up the in­te­ri­ors, even if the cost is a lit­tle higher.

Ar­chi­tects, en­gi­neers and real es­tate de­vel­op­ers should be ac­tively in­volved in the plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. We have the skills and re­sources to pro­vide prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions that in­duce min­i­mum en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion. Ar. Har­ish Gupta har­ishgupta@habi­tat-n-skins.com

Ar. Sar­bani Ghosh

The home buyer is only con­cerned with his ma­te­rial choices and bud­get. He does not (un­for­tu­nately) have the onus of pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, nor is he af­fected by the break­age, wastage and noise as he gen­er­ally does not stay in the premises dur­ing ren­o­va­tion. Also, the cost of break­ing and de­bris dis­posal is neg­li­gi­ble as far as the to­tal bud­get is con­cerned. How­ever, the mod­ern, ed­u­cated buyer, if given el­e­gant choices in the in­te­rior fin­ishes at the time of build­ing con­struc­tion, would def­i­nitely be in­ter­ested. Many builders, in fact, are pro­vid­ing de­tailed views of fin­ished in­te­ri­ors of apart­ments to buy­ers along with sam­ple flats.

De­bris dis­posal is a cum­ber­some, en­vi­ron­men­tally haz­ardous and ex­pen­sive process. As ar­chi­tects, we face op­po­si­tion from the build­ing so­ci­eties who want to ban our use of breaker ma­chines. So, break­ing has to be done man­u­ally by the chisel-ham­mer method, which is a waste of time and labour. The de­bris is then filled in gunny bags to be dis­posed in trucks - yet an­other ex­pense. If this con­struc­tion waste can be treated on­site for re­use in the in­te­rior works it­self, ren­o­vat­ing new apart­ments would be worth the ef­fort and ex­pense.

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