For Shailendra Srivastav, the decision to buy a flat in Dwarka, Delhi, was prompted by two reasons: It was nearer to his workplace in Gurgaon, compared to Kalkaji where he stayed on rent. The area with its vast greenery, Metro connectivity, educational institutions, hospitals and other amenities seemed more attractive than other localities. Two years after he bought a three-bedroom flat in Dwarka, he was informed that the cooperative society was planning some extension in the flats.
“The society members were debating on uniformly extending the drawing rooms of all the flats. This meant an additional cost. As I was already repaying a home loan, this extra expense wasn’t welcome. However, the prospect of the flat’s valuation going up made me agree to the extension,” Srivastav says.
Last year saw a few apartments in Dwarka apply to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for such extensions in accordance with the floor area ratio (FAR, also called FSI) rule. For instance an apartment with a covered area of 92.24 square metre (a 3BHK configuration) would become nearly 112 square metre after extension.
While for some residents, this step was borne out of a requirement for a larger space to live in, for others its sole purpose was investment. An architect, who has been working on such projects since the past five to seven years, says for some apartments, such extensions are limited to balconies, while for others it means an additional room.
“It all depends on what kind of space is available inside the housing complex,” he says while declining to be identified. Although he has been involved in overseeing such extensions in more than five society complexes, this architect does not see it as a trend.
In fact, when asked if there are many societies applying for such extensions, DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar, too, refuses to term it as a trend in Dwarka. However, some real estate dealers in the area claim that with many cooperative societies proposing to increase their floor area, it has led to an anticipatory rise in property prices in certain pockets.
SP Rastogi, treasurer of the management committee of Upkari Apartments explains that there are three core issues. “First, there should be a consensus among the residents of a particular housing society that they would bear the cost, time and others aspects in an amicable manner. This would mean that there should be no trouble monger among the residents who may stall the work at any stage.”
The second issue is that as the DDA and Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC) are government agencies, they are slow in giving approvals. Residents of these societies have to be able to push their files through these authorities.
Third, Rastogi says, there is the issue of structural safety. As per the latest government rule passed last year, only those extensions would be given approvals which are “self supportive” and do not put any additional pressure on the existing structure. This is to prevent unsafe structures coming up given the fact that the city is earthquake-prone falling under Seismic Zone IV.
“Hence, a competent architect needs to be employed to correctly assess whether or not there is enough space available for a self-supportive structure to come up as an extension of the existing structure,” Rastogi says.
He gives the example of a housing society next-door that wanted to go for extension, but was unsuccessful in getting the requisite approvals as the structure was not self-supportive.
Sociologist Harshita Sinha is of the opinion that an urge to upgrade the two- or three-bedroom flats stems from the fact that a large section of residents who moved to Dwarka a decade ago from various other localities in Delhi belonged to the middle-income group who now like to see themselves bracketed in the upper income group living in large flats. However, Sinha adds, this may lead to some changes in the demographic details of the area, with some of those with an extra room taking in paying guests, particularly students enrolled in the three universities located in the area.
Finally, as Rastogi sums up, the reason for some housing societies proposing extension projects is more to do with economics. “After all, a four bedroom flat in Dwarka costs nothing below Rs 2 crore and if you can convert your three bedroom flat – which is currently valued at Rs 1.5 crore – to a four bedroom accommodation by paying around Rs 4 lakh for the extension, you are bound to see it as a good investment,” says Rastogi.
For such an extension project to be successful, the first requirement is a consensus among the residents of the housing society that they would bear the cost, time and other aspects in an amicable manner.
The second issue is the ability to convince the government agencies, in this case the DDA and DUAC, and get the files cleared.
Third, and the most important aspect is that of structural safety. A government rule passed last year says that only ‘self supportive’ structural plans would be approved.