When you buy a property,you obviously want to be sure about its construction quality. New materials and technologies have improved the construction process a lot in the past few years. However, it’s not uncommon to find house owners complaining about construction and workmanship.
“An inefficient construction system beset by project delays, corruption and bureaucracy, coupled with rampant violation of building codes, has resulted in compromises with quality, making structures more susceptible to structural and safety malfunctions. This is a potential danger not only to inhabitants but also people living in the immediate surroundings”, says Sajeev Kumar, chairman and managing director, Sun Projects India (P) Ltd.
To make matters worse, all the defects might not be even visible. For instance, a lay person will not be able to find out if the building is structurally unsound. The only option he has is getting the structural and architectural details reviewed by an independent architect.
Here are a few checks that you can do on your own.
Though all developers promise ‘quality construction’, not many bother to provide the details. It is essential that the builder annexes with the (booking/purchase) agreement a schedule of amenities or specifications related to flooring, doors, windows, sanitary/electrical fittings, etc, that he will use. This ensures you are aware of what the developer is committing. However, in reality, while the type of amenities is usually mentioned in the agreement, the exact specifications and quality are not.
Putting the details on paper will also put pressure on the developer to deliver.
When you buy a home, a few unannounced visits to the site will help you understand the quality of construction.
The soil on which a building is built is very important. Its quality depends on composition, which differs from place to place. For instance, a clayrich soil will have a tendency to shrink and expand depending on moisture. All builders conduct a soil test before starting construction. You can ask for a copy of the results
Making sense of the design and layout blueprints is difficult for a lay person. However, one can ask for the design created by the project’s architects and seek help from a third-party professional to make sure that everything is in place. For instance, the building should have the strength to withstand earthquakes of a certain magnitude.
“Most buildings constructed in the last five-six years can withstand mild earthquakes of around 4.0 on the Richter scale while some can withstand an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude. Much depends on how much weight it puts on the ground and the quality of steel used,” says Sajeev Kumar, chairman and managing director, Sun Projects India (P) Ltd.
The concrete strength requirement depends on the structure’s load. Builders closely monitor the strength of the concrete mix. As it is not always possible to monitor the preparation of concrete mix on the site, ready-mix is a better alternative. Ask the builder for certification of concrete mix provided by a testing laboratory.
Builders should mention the width of the walls in layout plans and booking/purchase agreements. Visiting the site while the construction is on to check that the builder is adhering to the original plan?
When developers promise certain fixtures and finishings, it is assumed that they will be of satisfactory quality. It’s a wrong approach. One must always check if bathroom fittings, wires, electrical fittings, etc, have been certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
Once the unit is ready, the quality of plaster, tiles, marbles and paints should be visible to the naked eye. If you have any doubt, ask the builder about the brands used. The use of poor-quality paints and tiles means you will have to replace them early.
Since it is not possible for a buyer to check all the aspects of construction, he can avail of the services of independent auditors.
“A proactive measure such as a ‘third-party audit’ can be extremely beneficial as it provides a safeguard against unpleasant surprises. In India, consumers can approach auditors registered with the Quality Council of India for an inspection to determine if materials used in the construction meet all safety norms,” says Sajeev Kumar of Sun Projects India (P) Ltd.
An independent audit can be expensive, but asking your builder to hire an inspection agency for continuous quality certifications and audits will not cost you anything. Many reputed builders have already started seeking certifications such as the CIDC-CQRA quality certification, an initiative of Durocrete Construction Quality Rating Agency and the Construction Industry Development Council, promoted by the Planning Commission.
Whether you do it yourself, seek services of a professional or rely on third-party audit certifications, be alert about the quality of the property being delivered to you.