A visit to the project site, seeking updates on the status of the construction of their 2BHK remained futile for the Rahejas, as they were not allowed to enter the site. Priyankar Mitra, who invested a large sum in a 4BHK in the heart of Mumbai, faced a similar experience. “I saw the sample flat and from then on, I have never been allowed to check on the project during the various stages of construction. Unlike other products, where once we pay the money, we can actually see the product, new real estate projects are proving to be different,” Mitra laments. This seems to be a common complaint among many home buyers.
Reasons for customers being restricted from project sites
Customers are often not allowed to visit the under construction building to see their flats, for health and safety reasons, say developers. “Proper training and safety protocols are needed, to enter any under-construction site. Only the employees who have undergone proper safety training, are allowed to enter such a site and not all employees are allowed to access the premise,” says Amit Parsuramka, chief sales and marketing officer at Tata Housing Development Company. Without proper training and gear, there is a high risk of injury and it is, therefore, unsafe for clients to visit, he says.
Rohit Kharche, director of The Baya Company, adds “The safety of anyone visiting the site is the sole responsibility of the developer. Some developers do make arrangements for project visits with prior notice, during non-critical phases of construction. Buyers and interested clients are free to enter the construction zone during non-critical times, as long as they are guided by authorised personnel and are wearing the mandatory safety equipment.”
Sample flat as a substitute for site visits
Nevertheless, buyers have access to the actual plans and sample flats, to gauge how the finished product will look like. Sample flats provide clarity in a way that looking at drawings or unfinished buildings cannot. Moreover, the progress of construction is such that the internal finishing of apartments is completed only six to eight months before it is handed over. Hence, the customer can only visualise the apartment through the display flat. The worry for customers who are unable to monitor the progress of their flats, is that ‘what you see, is often not what you get.’
Deepak Kapoor, director of Gulshan Homz, however assures that “Developers cannot change the architectural plans, after having them approved by the municipal corporation, without the corporation’s consent. So, there is complete transparency between developers and home buyers.”
Nimish Gupta, FRICS, MD, South Asia – RICS, points out that several technology tools are available, for customers to keep abreast of developments at project sites. “For instance, some developers install webcams and share feeds and access to customers, to monitor the progress. This is prevalent not just in international markets, but is also provided by some developers in India. In this case, it is the overall project progress that can be monitored and not the progress of specific units,” Gupta explains.
RERA rules for updating customers about construction stages
With the introduction of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), the government has made it mandatory for developers to update their customers, about the various stages of completion of their projects. Developers who aim for customer satisfaction, tend to update their buyers through letters, emails, apps and social media pages, informing them about the completion of various phases.
Gupta, however, maintains that none of the above options, can address the issue of customers being able to monitor the quality of materials being used during construction. “This can only be addressed, when customers have the assurance that developers are employing technically proficient, skilled and qualified professionals on project sites, who are able to monitor and abide by strict quality checks and work to the highest ethical standards, keeping the health and safety of the buildings being developed, as well as the customers who will ultimately inhabit them, in mind,” he concludes.
Ways in which home buyers can monitor the construction of their projects
- Buyers are allowed to enter the construction site during non-critical times with prior notice, if they are guided by authorised personnel and are wearing the mandatory safety equipment.
- Some developers install webcams and share feeds and access to customers, to enable them to monitor the progress of construction.