[ecis2016.org] With the central government proposing an uniform National Building Code, we look at whether it can actually be implemented and if so, will it make any meaningful impact on construction quality
What would you make of a building code that on one hand, suggests that builders can be made liable but on the other hand, leaves its adoption as a voluntary exercise? The revised Building Code proposed by the centre, which holds builders along with planners, structural designers and supervisors, responsible for the safety of the structure, raises more questions than answering any safety concerns.
You are reading: National Building Code: Will it work in Indian real estate?
With most of the local bodies not having the technical expertise to assess the structural safety of buildings, the issue becomes even more relevant today, as India aspires to create more stocks of affordable housing in the country. A debate is, hence, gaining ground, as to whether India can try to adopt a uniform National Building Code across the country.
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Challenges in implementing a uniform building code in India
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Madhurendra Sharma, a Supreme Court lawyer, feels that the biggest problem with a voluminous code of 34 chapters, is its proper implementation. The centre’s new National Building Code proposes to make builders liable for the safety of the structure. However, the code is voluntary in nature and it is up to the states, to incorporate it in their building bylaws, he points out. “With the experience of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), we already know how the states can dilute the centre’s act. For example, the revised Building Code has a detailed provision, for streamlining the approval process. The code suggests a single-window approach, thereby, avoiding separate clearances from various authorities. There are many such good suggestions, but it will be difficult to implement,” says Sharma.
How will an unified building code help home buyers
Kaizad Hateria, brand custodian and chief customer delight officer, Rustomjee Group, on the contrary, feels that the National Building Code will bring about tangible changes. Earlier, while planners, structural designers and supervisors were responsible for the safety of the structure, now, builders have also been included, he explains. Hateria is also optimistic that the Building Code’s provisions on the use of new/innovative materials and technologies and prefabricated construction techniques, will expedite construction timelines and provide a fillip to the mission of ‘Housing for All by 2022’.
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Developers’ concerns over liability clauses in the building code
Nikhil Hawelia, managing director of the Hawelia Group, points out that the liability of building safety, rests on multiple partners and the builder is just one of them. He insists that the Building Code should clearly define the level to which a developer is responsible and who would be responsible beyond that. “It is okay for a builder to give a certificate, stating that the building has been constructed according to the plan and design submitted to the local bodies. However, what happens to the collective responsibility, if it has not been examined by the government authorities, before they issue the OC (Occupancy Certificate)? The larger question of the lifespan of the building, also needs to be considered,” says Hawelia.
Provisions for the use of modern technology for faster construction, accessibility for senior citizens and differently-abled citizens and making builders liable for safety, are some of the positives of the new Building Code. However, the failure to align with the market realities and address grey zones comprehensively, could defeat its very purpose.
What is a building code?
- A building code is a specified set of rules, pertaining to the standards for constructing a building.
- Ideally, planning permissions are granted, usually from a local council, only if the design of the building conforms to the code.
- The Building Code becomes a law of a particular jurisdiction, only when it is formally enacted by the local government.
- In some countries, the Building Code is uniform across the country and is referred to as the National Building Code, whereas, in other countries, it is known as a Model Building Code and the local bodies tweak it to align with the local bylaws.
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(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)
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