Ambiguity over definition of independent floors in Hry
CHANDIGARH: Traditionally, home buyers in Punjab and Haryana opted for kothis (built-up houses). Multi-storey apartments gained relevance in last couple of decades.
However, apartments are yet to make a major dent in the overall demand scenario in the region except for few cities. Even though independent floors were introduced in the region only in the later part of the last decade, they attracted both home buyers and builders.
“Though kothis still remain the first choice of home buyers, independent floors are the middle ground where affordability and lifestyle preferences meet. Prices are also not high when comparedto independent kothi,” says Amarpreet Singh, a Ludhiana-based real estate consultant.
Last week, the Haryana government gave a green signal to the registration of the fourth floor in built-up houses as an independent floor. Earlier, registration of only three floors was allowed, while fourth floor (construction of which was allowed) formed part of the third floor.
Significantly, while the Haryana government has allowed construction and registration of independent floors, the category hasn’t been identified or defined under the Haryana building code.
On the other hand, in Punjab, the PUDA (Punjab Urban Planning and Development Agency) Building Rules 2018, applicable in the state, except municipal areas, the independent floors have been clearly defined.
TALE OF TWO BUILDING CODES
Under the PU DA code, independent floors, means“a building used or intended to be used for residential purpose, where every floor of the building is a
PUNJAB BUILDING CODE DEFINES INDEPENDENT FLOORS AS DISTINCTIVE RESIDENTIAL CATEGORY AND STIPULATES SPECIFIC ARCHITECTURAL NORMS
separate and independent dwelling unit with common stair and services”.
Consequently, the PUDA rules clearly lay down architectural conditions for construction of independent floors. It has been identified as a separate residential category distinct from plotted houses and multi-storey apartment projects.
The norms and specifications for minimum approach road, minimum ground coverage, minimum floor area ratio, minimum number of floors, maximum height of the building, setbacks around buildings and parking are different in case of plots and independent floors.
Further, under the PUDA code, for calculation of infrastructure, population of plotted development shall be counted at 15 persons per plot, whereas in case of independent floors having S+4 or G+3, it shall be at 20 persons per plot.
The PUDA building code further stipulates that in case of independent floors, plots shall be in a block of row housing and earmarked for independent floors in layout plan or zoning plan.
The code prohibits construction of an independent floor on an individual plot in any block which is not earmarked in the layout plan or zoning plan for independent floors unless the building is detached having minimum plot area 800 square metres.
The parking required in case of independent floors shall compulsorily be under stilts, stipu- lates the PUDA code. However, in case of an independent plot having minimum area of 800 square metres for independent floors, parking under stilts shall be optional, provided that the promoter provides surface/ basement parking as per norms.
OLD BUILDING CODE
In Haryana building code 2017, the independent floor category gets a mention in the form of ‘G+3’ (ground plus three) and ‘S+4’ (stilt plus four). Unlike PUDA code, which distinguishes the floor category from other residential categories, the Haryana code doesn’t. In Haryana, relaxation in building codes has allowed mushrooming of independent floors within older residential colonies. In order to facilitate construction of floors in older plotted houses, changes weremade in the Haryana building code in 2016 in which floor area ratio (FAR) was increased to 198% (1.98) that is 66% on each floor. Stilt parking was allowed and total height was increased to 15m.
Punit Sethi, chairman, Indian Institute of Architects (Haryana chapter), says, “As per the master plan, there should be 2.5 dwelling units per plot and 12.5 persons per plot. All infrastructure planning and provisioning of basic amenities have been done as per these norms across the state. But the impact of floors on different civic amenities, population density, dwelling units and parking requirements is different from a plotted house. This is especially the case now as government has allowed registration of fourth floor.”
In Haryana, the floor category, adds Sethi, should be clearly defined and norms for the category be formed keeping in mind the distinctive requirements of floors. “Government focus shouldn’t be increasing revenue but public safety and health,” says Sethi.