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How to measure the construction quality of a project?

With large number of real estate developers and builders juggling on several projects at the same time, the quality of construction is definitely on the rails. This can give sleepless nights to all the buyers. You must always ensure to buy a home which will ensure safety for your family. Some homes might look as though they are built with good quality materials, but in the later stage, there may be a lot of repair and maintenance costs to be looked for. Construction quality also portrays the resale value of your home, when you decide to sell it.

When you purchase a property, it is obvious that you want to be sure of its construction quality because you end up spending almost every penny of your savings on it. It is true that in recent years, many newer and better technologies have come up, that promise quality and security as far as the sturdiness of the property is concerned, still, it is always better to have a closer look. After all, it is a matter of your life. You should never invest in a property that you suspect is made of lower quality materials. 

Without the presence of an efficient construction authority, there tends to be a rampant corruption, mismanagement and project delays, that result in compromising the quality. These structures made from low quality materials, are more susceptible to structural and safety malfunctions and pose a potential danger, not only to the inhabitants, but also to people living in the immediate surroundings. 

The worst thing about such defects is that most of them might not be even visible. For instance, a person who is not well versed with the architectural science won’t be able to find out if the property is structurally unsound. Now, the only option is to get the entire structure reviewed by an independent artist, who would probably give an unbiased opinion.

When you are planning to purchase a property, a few unannounced visits to the site will help you take decision wisely. When the agent is well informed of your visit, he can manipulate a lot of things. But if you visit the site unannounced, there are less chances for manipulation and fabrication, and then you might be able to catch anomalies, if any.

Checking the quality of construction is not an easy task. Here is a basic checklist to help you understand the construction quality in both township and apartments:

The essence lies in the soil

Soil Testing

The soil on which a building is built is very important. Its quality depends on composition, which differs from place to place. For instance, a clay rich soil will have a tendency to shrink and expand depending on moisture. All builders conduct a soil test before starting construction. You can ask for a copy of the results and get it inspected from an expert.

Will it last? Understanding structural design of a property goes a long way in determining its quality

Structural Design

It is very difficult for an amateur to make sense of the structural design of a place. However, you should always ask for the copy of the design created by project architect and get an independent expert advice on it. By independent expert advice we mean that you should consult an independent architect for a thorough, unbiased assessment of the property. For instance, the building should have the strength to withstand earthquakes of a certain magnitude.

Most buildings constructed in the last five-six years can withstand mild earthquakes of around 4.0 on the Richter scale while some can withstand an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude. Much depends on how much weight it puts on the ground and the quality of steel used - Kishor Pate, developer, Pune. (Source: Business Standard)

Mix it well!

Concrete Quality

The concrete mixture is determined by the amount of load that structure is supposed to carry. More often than not, the builders closely monitor the concrete mix.  To ensure utmost safety, it is always better to ask the builder for certification of concrete mix provided by the testing laboratory.

Quality of external fixtures is of utmost importance.

Exterior Structure

When builders construct a project, they usually provide it with good quality fittings. But, it should never be assumed, because sometimes, builders promise something and deliver something else. Always check if the fixtures such as bathroom fittings, electrical wires, etc. are of good quality lest they might start leaking after you move in. Bad quality fixtures not only cause great discomfort to the inhabitants but also can be dangerous at times. You should always look for the ISO mark given by the Bureau of Indian Standards on the fixtures for complete assurance.

Colour it safe! The quality of paint should never be compromised 

Paint Quality

Buyers should look closely at the paint on the walls to determine its quality. Good paints not only enhance visual appeal but also give longevity to the walls and wooden surfaces. Cheap paint is not visually appealing and would wear out too soon. If you see the paint coming out of places, then ask the builder to repaint the entire thing. It is also an indication that the builder is probably not serious about using good quality materials and might have compromised on quality of building materials as well.

Plastering on outer walls should be even

Wall Plastering

Always check the quality of plastering on outer walls. Uneven cracks on wall plastering means that the foundation work of the building is really bad. If you check the plastering inside the apartment, you can assess the quality of materials used. If there are cracks inside, it means that the concrete mix used was of bad quality. For a safe, robust structure, it is important that the foundation is taken care of and good quality materials are used while building it. 

Take an independent expert opinion

Architect Advice

Besides a house to live and thrive, we also need open green spaces to relax and rejuvenate. While most reputed builders do take care of this and incorporate open spaces in their projects, there are many small time builders who do not pay attention to this aspect in order to maximize their profits.  It is better to hire a structural engineer to assess the quality of the inner and outer construction. He or she will be able to tell you if the building meets the green standards or is structurally safe because these things are mostly ignored by a layman.

Always look for a third party certification as it won’t be possible for you to check all the aspects of a construction. It is better to hire a third party auditor and take his independent opinion. A third party audit can go a long way in protecting you against unwanted and unpleasant surprises. In India, consumers can approach auditors registered with the ‘Quality Council of India’ for an inspection to determine if materials used in the construction meet all safety norms.

An independent audit can be expensive, but you can ask your builder to hire an inspection agency for continuous quality certifications and audits, as it won’t cost you. Many reputed builders have already started seeking certifications such as the CIDC-CQRA quality certification- an initiative of Durocrete Construction Quality Rating Agency and the Construction Industry Development Council, promoted by the Planning Commission.

When, it is a matter of buying a home then you should not make the mistake of blindly trusting someone because quite a few builders tend to compromise on quality in order to earn more profits. This is not to say that all builders do it as most of the reputed ones strictly follow quality guidelines, but it is better to be safe than sorry. 

Hence, it is very important to assess the quality of a project before moving in, if you want your building to be structurally sound. Most of the builders promise the moon but they fall flat on their face when any natural disaster strikes. So, whether you decide to check the quality of materials yourself or rely on a third party to make the judgement, always be sure that the house you are buying is worth the money you are spending on it. Do not neglect the quality checks of the house because, after all you will be spending your entire life’s savings on it. 

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