Sunday, 18 November 2012

AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN PATNA


Even as crumbling infrastructure, government apathy and rising costs have paralyzed Patna’s real estate sector, affordable housing – which was the flavor of the season following the slowdown in 2008 – seems to have lost its allure among developers in Patna. One way to make the segment affordable and viable in Patna is by standardizing the procedures for building affordable houses in Patna, and working on smaller projects and plots of land.

Assembly line production model 
The key is standardization for more productivity and efficiency on a project – pretty much like an assembly line production in the auto industry. Can we bring analogous practices in the housing industry like in the auto sector? Can we run mass housing like the auto industry? If we can, Patna will be home to more people with standard of lifestyle increasing manifold and the cost of living reducing too.

Abiding by the ‘auto assembly line’ model, one needs to follow a cast-in-place technology, which enables to build homes efficiently, adhering to the time cycle.
To follow manufacturing and assembly line process, one needs to already have a prototype model of the house, plumbing and electrical kits for each house and steel frames for each unit ready even before construction. The whole game is perfection in execution so as to be more productive and most efficient.
Connectivity and value for money
Connectivity and offering genuinely low-cost homes for true value is another mantra that one requires to abide with.
When you buy a big bottle of shampoo and then you buy satches of the same shampoo, the quality is the same. That’s how it should be. So, just because something is low cost, it doesn’t mean it is or should be of bad quality.

Since many of those who buy affordable housing are working-class people, it is also imperative that their homes are well connected to their surrounding main urban areas by a transport system and are accessible. Not everyone travels to the central business center of Patna for work, but it’s important that people homes are close to and well connected by public transport systems. Another factor that could make affordable housing more popular; despite being in outer city limits or on the peripheries of cities is that it creates a community and provides for wholesome living.
The emphasis should be on things like excellent ventilation, natural lighting, low maintenance, being ecologically friendly.  The objective plan is to create the joy of living. Those are some of the elements that get traded off when developers look to maximize FSI – and profits.
Small is beautiful
The affordable housing segment typically offers homes that are up to around 900 sq feet carpet area for up to Rs 20-25 lakh.
Many developers in Patna are looking at properties to build homes in the sub-Rs 10-15 Lakh range; this means that the projects will typically be peri-urban. Affordable housing developers in Patna are also looking at and developing smaller plots. This enables them to have better turnaround times, and benefit from shorter approval cycles and speedier permissions.


Experts say that while affordable housing projects have strong demand from end-users and present good return opportunities for developers, policy changes and incentives to make the segment more attractive need to come into place.
If developers in Patna are incentivised to develop affordable housing projects by way of giving extra FSI (assuming they build only affordable housing projects) and are provided with greater availability of funding for projects, the growth in this segment would go a long way. Also, the challenge for buyers of such projects is easier access to credit, i.e., usually the buyers fall in the income group category where they do not have all the standard documents required for loan processing. If the processes are made smoother, then the demand base could significantly widen, thereby benefiting both buyers and developers.

A lot has changed since the 2008-09 slow down, due to the increasing cost of cement and steel coupled with the hike in the land cost… The fashion (of announcing affordable housing) has faded off and only serious players with long-term vision for affordable housing and those who know how to run the business viably have continued in the segment.

But perhaps the vision – of affordable homes rolling off like in an automobile assembly line – could get the engines of this segment humming again… inPatna.