August 17, 2006

Plea to BAI: Building flats isn't enough

The Mysore centre of Builders Association of India (BAI) is talking in terms of raising, over the next one year, 50 lakh sq.ft. housing space, which means a hundred apartment blocks, with an investment of nearly Rs.600 crores. So said BAI chief, Mr K Sriram, on the eve of a Myrealty Expos at Southern Star Hotel. Some 30 property developers, who clubbed up to put up the show, have also involved institutions providing housing financing and insurance to facilitate prospective buyers all-round information at a one-stop expo.

I wish BAI also focuses its attention on after-sales service aspects. Evidently, such large scale apartments building BAI seeks to promote would exert pressure on maintenance and security services that are an integral part of apartment living. In Mysore, where apartment living is a relatively recent phenomenon, apartment-life support services are far from satisfactory. There is a definite need for developing these services on a professional footing.

Apartment builders, after completion of work in all its aspects - landscaping, proper rain-sun shade over common areas, intercom phones etc. - hand over real estate maintenance to residents association. Its office-bearers usually lack knowledge and management skills required to access and co-ordinate the upkeep of common facilities - power generator, plumbing, electrical fault repair, manning/maintenance of lift, 24/7 helpline, high-rise glass panel cleaning and other services for which there would be a spurt in demand with the growth of apartment blocks. Shouldn't BAI, which creates the steel-and-cement infrastructure, deem it its responsiblity to address issues pertaining to apartment-life support services ?

Then, there is the aspect of security. Till such time we become progressive enough to provide electronics security system in apartment complexes, BAI would do well to ensure that the mushrooming security services outfits in the city are run on professional lines. What we have now is that the uniformed staff provided by the so-called security agencies are under-paid and over-exploited, which make them poor security guards. If indeed BAI wants to function as a one-stop facilitator, the association should address issues of professionalism and efficiency in apartment-life support services in residential blocks, that often carry the brand name of their builders.

1 comment:

Tyagaraj Sharma said...

I live in a complex with 352 flats with a club house, swimming pool, generators for the 22 blocks,11 lifts,a gym,water treatment plant,squash court,car parking, a huge lawn and a badminton court.
When we moved in ,the builders took Rs 1.25 lakh as maintenance charges for a period of three years from each flat owner --it varied a bit depending on the carpet area available.
In addition to looking after the maintenance of all the faciities mentioned above, the amount covered provision for security also for a period of three years..
This practice is followed by most builders in Bangalore as the residents take some time to form an association.In our case, we formed the association within a year of moving into our flats.Our maintenance came up for renewal in 2005 Septemeber.
The residents gave the green signal to the association to continue the maintenance agreement with the builders for another three years.(This works fine as, by and large, people do not want to fork out any money for the services they enjoy.This is a common problem with most residential complexes).Of course, they don't think twice before parting with their money to the builders before moving in.
Before I forget, I must mention that the amount initially collected by the builders when we moved, in is returnable. The builder has a corpus of Rs 4.5 crore or so with him(collected from the 350 flat owners in our complex.He runs the maintenance on the interest that accrues to him from this corpus--while having easy access to such a huge amount).
Under the agreement, this corpus is to be returned to individual flat owners(depending on the amounts paid by them --sq ft basis) after the tenure/termination of the agreement.
I must mention,however, that when we renewed our maintenance agreement, we had to pay an additional 31 paise per sq ft (over and above the initial amount )by way of increased costs.
Still this is a worthwhile proposition and saves the accompanying headaches to the associations concerned.

Tyagaraj Sharma
Bangalore