Are Flood-Proof Homes the Answer to Chennai’s Fears?

The Chennai floods washed away the hopes of many, with lives and property lying in ruins. As homebuyers rush to scout for safer homes and good deals in flood hit areas, developers have trying various methods to restore consumer confidence and get people buying again. One method is to market homes in areas that were not hit by the floods, designating them as safe zones. But since everyone doesn’t have access to the same locations, other developers are considering building so-called ‘flood-proof’ homes.

What are ‘Flood-Proof’ homes?
For starters, builders plan on laying storm water drainage systems that will connect their projects to the existing public drainage network. Apart from that, units built here will include:

– Rain-water harvesting facilities
– Elevated construction with power units and generators built on rooftops
– Multi-level or stilt parking that will replace basement parking
– Use of damp-proof paints, crack-proof coatings
– Facilities to make the lower levels of buildings water-tight

But these facilities will not come cheap, with costs increasing by 8-10% for such flood-proof houses.

So are ‘Flood-Proof homes’ worth a look?
While these facilities sound good on paper, much depends on whether existing public infrastructure will be able to take the load. However, experts say feel it will go a long way in boosting public confidence. “This will be on the customers’ mind for at least a year. Addressing these issues is very important. Luckily all developers in Chennai are focusing on this and that’s why you see a lot of such projects are coming up near disaster prone or flood prone areas,” says Shankar Arumugam, National Director at JLL Chennai.

Or is it just a gimmick?
But others believe this is nothing more than a marketing gimmick and say developers need to instead focus on the location they choose to build in. “A conscientious developer would not need to market his project in these ways at all. The very first thing a developer would need to do is when he identifies a project he needs to be careful of the location. You do a study of whether it a low-lying area or if it is very close to any of the waterways,” claims Devesh Bhuva, managing director of Prince Foundations.

While it is admirable that builders are finally addressing this problem, it may have made more sense for the sector as a whole to pay attention to this and check rampant development instead of waking up after the floods hit. Chennai must avoid unauthorized and unsafe development practices that could lead to another catastrophic flood.

Smith TK, Reporter, NDTV


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