Tips for buying a house in a high-rise building
New Delhi: A high-rise is a tall or multi-storied building equipped with elevators, but various bodies have defined the term 'high-rise differently. For instance, the International Conference on Fire Safety in High-Rise Buildings pessimistically defined a high-rise as a structure where height can seriously impact evacuation, while the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary merely refers to high-rises as buildings having many stories.
From a real estate development perspective, it makes more sense to use the definition accepted by most building engineers, inspectors and architects - namely, a high-rise as a building that is at least 75 feet. One gets a better perception of what is involved in such buildings when one considers that the law makes it mandatory to have a lift for any building above four floors, two lifts and fire fighting system for any building above seven floors, and a earthquake-resistance structural design if a high-rise is situated in a seismically active region, or if the underlying soils have geo-technical risk factors such as high 'compressibilit'y.
In India, the definition of a high-rise again differs from city to city, because of the parameters dictated by each city's available infrastructure for firefighting, solid waste disposal, water supply and sewerage facilities. These are the agencies whose capabilities dictate how high a building can be in any particular city.
It takes roughly around 18-36 months to build a high-rise, but this period can vary according to who the developer's funding flow, who the architect, building contractor and structural consultant are, and on local development and environmental clearances laws. Interestingly, we have seen high-rise buildings come in Dubai within 6-10 months.
Pros and cons of high-rises
Among the most important advantages that high-rise buildings offer to consumers is the fact that they tend to have well-established occupier profiles - in other words, tailored neighbourhoods. The other appeal factors for high rises are that they offer all the conveniences of modern life, including swimming-pools, gymnasiums, grand entrance lobbies, high-speed elevators. Because property prices in a high-rise are higher than in smaller projects in a locality, developers tend to provide a lot of extra amenities and features.
On the negative side, sociologists have found that high-rise tend to isolate their occupants from the outside world by creating their own closed environments. This is, in fact, the reason why squabbles with neighbours tend to escalate and intensify more quickly in a high-rise. Also, high-rises can pose serious challenges to both firefighters and occupants, especially in older buildings that do not have the benefits of modern building design, HVAC systems, fire sprinkler system and stairwell and properly managed elevator evacuation protocols.
Floor rise premiums
Developers of high-rise buildings often add a premium called as floor'rise premium' to the sale price of units, which can be anything between Rs. 40-150 per square feet per floor. Buyers generally prefer upper floors in such a building, as these provide them with superior views and ventilation, more distance from street-level pollution (which also results in improved home hygiene) and better security.
Guidelines for buying homes in a high-rise
Some of the basic points to be remembered when buying a high rise are:
* Obtain the approved site plan, sanctioned drawings, copies of title document, occupancy and completion certificates, commencement certificate, sewerage clearance certificate, traffic clearance, NOC/Clearance from ULC/IT/Pollution Control/Fire Control and other authorities
* Also verify that the building's Structural Stability Certificate or Report of Structural Engineer and Architect Report for non-violation of FSI/Sanctioned Plan is available, and ensure that the paperwork and title documentation are in order
* Verify whether the developer has delivered on the specifications, including quality of construction, adherence to safety norms, common amenities and availability of drinking water
* Try to avoid the ground and the topmost floors.
(Arvind Jain is the Managing Director of Pride Group)