TATA Housing & RICS Presents – India Housing Concept: A Mix Of Technology And Planning

Providing an affordable house has never been easy in India and the task becomes all the more challenging in absence of technology which could be applied easily and sustain for a longer period. Taking into account the huge shortage of homes especially in lower-income group segment, there is a consensual approach among developers, consultants and banks or financial institutions that something needs to be done urgently. It is here that they pinpoint the role of innovation through technology in mitigating homeseekers’ agony during the search for a dwelling to live in. At a press conference in Delhi recently, RICS launched a revolutionary concrete panel-based mass housing concept — known as ‘India Concept House (ICH) — in partnership with Sam Circle Venture and its partners, Kieran Timberlake and Projectwell. ICH is conceived as both a dwelling for inhabitation and as a process by which homes are produced through a managed supply chain. It is designed as 23, 46, 70 and 93 sm increments; its modular component system facilitating expansion from one room to four rooms. In a country that has a staggering housing shortfall of nearly 27 million homes and inherent project execution challenges including shortages in skilled manpower, the current execution capacity based on traditional brick and mortar construction is hugely limited. RICS has taken on the agenda of educating key stakeholders including policy makers, developers, banks, financial institutions and academia, because without this education and engagement, it will be impossible to address the huge housing shortfall that India is confronted with.
Housing as an industry is still hand-crafted and heavily depends on manual labor and on site construction, which leads to large amount of material wastage and labour ineffi- ciency, leaving aside the quality and thermal comfort level. ICH has been developed with the objective of bringing standardization, principal of supply chain and assembly line production to construct houses. Taking inspiration from automobile industry, which was also hand crated till Ford introduced Model T in 1908 to bring assembly line production, Amber Malhotra, Managing Principal of Sam Circle Venture drew an analogy, explaining, “affordable housing in India needs a similar approach of component based off site production with supply chain linkages to the material suppliers and backward linkages to create skill manpower. This will help houses to be manufactured rather than built.”

ICH demonstrates not only construction of affordable housing out of pre-fabricated technology but creating an eco-system of manufacturing and assembling solid and quick to build affordable housing to common people. A white paper titled ‘India Concept House – manufacturing and assembling of an affordable, quick to build and sustainable mass housing solution for Indian cities’ was released by Mr. R.V. Verma, CMD, National Housing Bank. The white paper describes the complete housing solution including its spatial arrangement, modularity and expansion, wall and roof components, their manufacture, associated construction time, delivery process etc. On this occasion, Verma, said, “I believe this is a great initiative by RICS and Sam Circle Venture and one that has great potential to give an impetus to the affordable housing sector in India today. My personal belief is that this will see great success in Tier II and Tier III cities of India where there is more flexibility and availability of land. The role of technology in creating innovative products such as India Concept House has the potential to commoditize the housing sector in India today and I see industry bodies and other stakeholders needing to play a big role in driving both acceptability and adoption of the India Concept House in the immediate future.”
ICH needs construction time of less than six weeks to build. This new concept, presented by Tata Housing, may address the housing shortage in India if it is fully developed and applied on mass scale. It will reduce site construction time by 90 per cent, provide a scalable quality house ranging from 248 sq. ft (23 sq. metres) to 1,000 sq. ft (93 sq. metres), and will be delivered in four to six weeks time, costing in the range of 1,000-1,200 per sq. ft.
Putting things in perspective and emphasizing the role of the lender in low-cost housing, he said,” As far as individual borrowing is concerned, it is growing steadily and now pegged at about 25% of lending portfolio.” Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, RICS South Asia, said, “ICH has been developed by Sam Circle Ventures, Kieran Timberlake and Projectwell, and RICS is collaborating by playing a key role in educating key stake holders, and creating a paradigm shift in how we think of houses, and this is an attempt to not only design a house, but to create an entire eco system, by which a new industry category will get created, consisting of manufacturing units, assemblers and after sales support.This will require new skill sets, and conversion of un-skilled construction workers to acquire new skill sets, thereby creating an opportunity to build capacity in the building industry, which is an area RICS is committed to.”


James Timberlake, the design partner for the ICH, defines its potential broadly. “While this was designed within the Indian context, and responds to India’s unique culture, we think it forms the basis for a model that can be applied to a variety of cultures worldwide,” says Timberlake. ICH is now poised to be proto typed and assessed in the Indian context. Construction of a prototype is anticipated in 2012 in order to evaluate manufacturing, delivery and construction, and to measure the house’s thermal comfort, energy and water consumption. ICH would be putting manufacturing units and trained assemblers in various tier II, tier III and tier IV towns in India with the help of various government agencies and private sector players. A viable operations framework is being established in consultation with knowledge partners, thought leaders and policy makers. Anshuman Magazine, Chairman, RICS South Asia Board said that RICS will continue to promote this concept to the industry, as an example of the kind of offsite mass housing solutions which can revolutionize the market or affordable mass housing solutions in India. A premium on land is also putting pressure on developers to go for low-cost housing segment and land acquisition is becoming a complex process with farmers demanding increased compensation for their land. Mr.Sanjay Gupta, MD, PNB Housing Finance Ltd, speaking to media on this occasion, said,” Land has to be made available on affordable price.” But the most important aspect of ICH is treating house as a commodity — a manufactured product — which is time and cost sensitive and it is here that innovation in the garb of technology comes to rescue.

India Housing Concept: FAQs

  • How new is this housing concept to the Indian real estate sector?

As per our knowledge, this is the first time that a housing concept has been developed as a ‘PRODUCT’ combined with an integrated supply chain and assembly line production methodology for various components such as walls, roofs and floor systems.

  • Could you please elaborate on the technology behind this housing concept?

The house built using this concept will pri-marily be of a light weight concrete panel based system aligned to the climate and cultural consideration of India’s composite climate zones. The India Concept House as it is called is a solid, expandable, high quality, sustainable and affordable housing solution.

  • What is the USP of this particular housing solution? What are the various advantages and disadvantages of the concept house model?

The key differentiation that India Concept House offers is that it allows off-site construction which will reduce time by up to 90% by eliminating material and labor in-efficiencies usually associated with on-site construction. Secondly, India Concept House looks at housing from an engineering perspective with emphasis on manufacturing rather than building.

  • What is the scope of adoption of this particular model? Do you see this model being adopted by Indian developers for affordable housing or for any other projects?

Yes. We definitely see great buy-in from relevant stakeholders for the India Concept House. The house is constructed with the same materials which have acceptability with consumers. The differentiator is that it will be of better quality, will reduce on-site construction time drastically and offer much better standardization, all this at the same or lower price points. It is an attempt to not only design a house but to provide an entire ecosystem whereby a new industry category will get created consisting of manufacturing units, assemblers and after sales support. All this would require new skill sets and also enable un-skilled construction workers to acquire new skill sets and thereby create multiple opportunities to build capacity in the building industry.

  • How good is the build quality of this material? Will it be at par with the quality of a normal house constructed with regular brick and mortar?

It will definitely be better than regular constructed brick and mortar houses, primarily because the components are manufactured in a controlled factory environment that uses skilled manpower and is based on standardised design criteria and stringent quality control.

  • Are there any projects already modeled on this concept in India?

Not yet but we will have the prototype ready in 2012.

  • How much time does it take for a house to be built using this pre-fab concept? And what will be its expected cost per square foot?

The on-site construction time for a 38 sqm house will be 4 weeks and a 98 sq.m. house will take 6 weeks. The price will range from Rs.900 to Rs.1200 per sq. ft.

  • How scalable is this model in terms of adding extra rooms or building rooms upwards?

Houses constructed using the India Concept House are designed to be expandable as the family grows. This is keeping in mind cultural aspects prevailing in India that have people start by building small houses that gradually expand as the size of their family and/or income levels grow.

  • How has been the government response to this concept? Could this be the answer to India’s affordable housing or rehabilitation problems?

We have received a very encouraging response from the government, housing regulators, industry bodies and industry all of whom are working on various initiatives in this area. We believe that India Concept House will help create an ecosystem that helps address the critical issue of providing housing at an affordable cost to an ever increasing urban population.

  • Is this model primarily for the residential segment only or can this also be replicated to office/commercial spaces as well?

The India Concept House is a system of constructing buildings and our current focus is on housing. But it is equally possible to utilize the same components of ICH in other applications to build offices or commercial spaces. One will get a similar advantage of quality and time but it should be looked as an integrated supply chain approach and as a PRODUCT. So yes in future there will be PRODUCT specific applications for commercial, hospitality or retail buildings.

  • Does this require any special technology or a set of professionals for building structures?

It would require the coming together of,architects, material scientist, process engineers to create components from an existing set of innovative building materials that various building material companies are creating in isolation.

  • Is the maintenance or renovation cost lower for pre-fab structure when compared to normal houses?

There will be a manual on the lines of what one gets when one buys a car or a high-end consumer electronic product combined with after-sales support that takes care of wear and tear and/or modifications. There will be a large services component of the house considering the life cycle cost of operating a house.

  • Do you expect construction majors and developers to adopt pre-fab in a big way? What has their response been?

India requires a large volume of housing for its rapidly growing urban population. Developers, construction companies have a tremendous opportunity to adopt this as a business model because with the conventional hand crafted model there will be limitation on number of units they will be able to deliver. For volumes you require standardization and current practices of construction will always be expensive and time consuming.

  • Does this have the potential to bring down construction costs?

Yes, as new materials are researched and supply chain gets fine tuned with all suppliers linkages in place, there is every possibility that prices could be brought further down.

  • What support are the state governments showing to this new pre-fab building concept?

We are yet to take this to individual state governments but are optimistic of getting the same favorable response that we have got with other key stakeholders till date. Our attempt is to make this a market based solution.

  • Is pre-fab housing largely for the ‘Affordable sector’?

Not necessarily. The high-end housing segment is also a potential market / segment for India Concept House. However this will depend on subsequent PRODUCT categories that one can create for various demographics at various price points.
Key Features of India Concept House –

  1. Panelized building components: based on a modular component system which relies on precast concrete technology to provide solid, durable, prefinished panels for painting or tiling and if desired, eliminates finishing entirely.
  2. Quick to build: may reduce onsite construction time by 90%.Its modular construction system enables a 23 sm home to be built in 4 weeks and a 93 sm may be built in 6 weeks. The components are dimensioned to be easily transportable eliminating the need for material handling equipment.
  3. Sustainable and self sufficient: designed to reduce energy usage by 50% through passive active and strategies. It achieves thermal comfort across seasons. To address water scarcity, ICH provides a means of harvesting and recycling water to ensure potable water 24 hours a day.
  4. Efficient to deliver; delivery process will include a number of providers namely the management company, panel manufacturer, supply chain, the assembler, customer support and information technology service providers. India Concept House (ICH) will reduce on site construction time by 90%
  5. Provide a scalable quality house ranging from 248 sq.ft.(23 sm) to 1000 sq. ft. (93 sm).
  6. House to be delivered in 4-6 weeks time, costing in the range of Rs.1000-1200 Sq.Ft.


Source – Internet, Magazines

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