I look back down memory lane and the Sunday morning resurfaces broadly upon my mind. I would walk down the nearby mandi with my uncle, and then he would explain how to select and buy the vegetables for the upcoming week. He would consider the pricing, quality, freshness, and logistics too. Further, if I push back to the historical texts, the idea of due diligence has been flowing in the veins of humans at varying scales of transactions since the time civilization took shape. No transaction ever happened or shall ever occur without it.
Now, when I look into the current scenario and place myself into the picture, the subject intensifies given that I deal with the real business of the civilization, i.e., Real Estate. It gets even bolder given that I perform the service of “Technical Due-Diligence” as a Design, more precisely as an Architecture Consultant. I have to run a check and take the potential buyer of the project in the zone of best of comfort by analyzing the design bargain carried out by some other architect.
Various forces govern the design and then functioning of any real-estate project. While compliance is an excellent factor in local regulations, its viability as users’ experience becomes a pertinent driver.
This comes with a great challenge because of the diversity of local regulations, market forces, and clientele. Rules and laws are subject to interpretations at times guided by the head of the concerned authority in a given time. The whole exercise of running a TDD involves multiple layers of complexities and nuances.
In most cases, leasable areas are the core parameter based on which the deal of any project happens. It might appear the simplest of the exercise to a layperson, but the ground reality brings its own set of challenges. The calculation of leasable areas varies enormously from region to region. While in the central part of India, it is largely based on a loading factor, down south, the leasable area is arrived at by calculative analysis of common area shares for the tenants. For a few developers, designated spaces like “AHU Zones” aren’t part of the carpet area, while for many, it is. This comes as a complex challenge because it starts affecting the efficiency factors, which in most cases are seen as how profitable the built spaces are going to be. Another problematic issue that we always address because of varying understanding of the leasable area is occupancy loads. The potential buyers of the development generally prefer considering occupancy loads based on the leasable areas. Hence, the toilet fitment numbers, exit widths, refuge area calculations, parking numbers, and related functional aspects are driven by that. In the southern region, when there is hardly any difference between built-up and leasable areas, the occupancy load doesn’t bring many challenges. Still, in other parts of the country, it becomes a tough thing to address. In a few parts of the country where leasable areas are based on “locally established loading factor,” the occupancy loads are often considered over the usable area of the floor plates. Hence, if a buyer wants to consider occupancy based on the larger convention of it being based on leasable area, the calculations of fitments, etc., go haywire. Complex scenarios like this keep pouncing and need very expert care in resolution. One may argue that the potential buyer should directly go by the local convention wrt occupancy load and leasable areas? The answer to this comes from the fact that even the potential buyer is tied with future tenants to whom the buildings would be leased. They have standard checklists which are generally not altered irrespective of which developer (lessor) comes in the picture.
We also come across a few challenges posed because of the stringent adherence of NBC in its 2016 version. Many potential buyers of large-scale projects wish to check on how the building built based on the 2005 version of NBC complies with the latest version. The amendments of the fire-fighting and fire-protection system are bringing some significant repercussions, especially on how the refuge areas and the fire-towers are perceived. As architectural experts of TDD, our role becomes too critical as we are required to see that if those changes are to be entertained, then how the same could be done without affecting the leasable areas. While not affecting the leasable areas is an aspect, the additions to take care of new codal implications need one to look at façade and other visual parameters. As an architect dealing with TDD, my role becomes critical here as even the most minor changes in façade can spoil the integrity of aesthetics.
Most famously once, Winston Churchill had said, “first we shape our buildings, and then they shape us.”
And psychologists come on the same page, wherein they explain how built spaces around us have been shaping us every day, although we might not be aware of it. It becomes a moral responsibility of an architect that while fitting in the changes wrt the evolving regulations, the aesthetics are kept integrated for it has been and shall keep shaping lives of many direct and indirect users of space.
Before closing any deal, irrespective of scales, a wise man should always do “due diligence” of the product she intends to buy. This should be the practice in the spirit of utilizing the money to the best of potential and encouraging people to bring more quality to the plate. With ever-evolving geography, geology, and polity, the role of “Technical Due Diligence” will keep intensifying with each passing day.
– By Aabhas Maldahiyar, Senior Architect, Design Services, Colliers India
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