Building a house during the pandemic? Here's what you need to keep in mind

Renowned for offering excellent solutions of technology with creative notch who completed engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and gained around 20 years of experience.

The Covid-19 led lockdown and the restrictions thereof, halted the construction activities across India. As is with any crisis or calamity, the real estate and construction sector took a hit. The downturn caused cancellations for new construction and delays in ongoing projects as developers and contractors continued to reassess priorities. With the construction activity coming to a halt, there was an obvious unforeseen delay in project timelines. The nation wide lockdown followed by multiple state lockdown/s also disrupted the entire supply chain. The pandemic induced crisis had several layers of complexity and there was a need for a new collaborative tech-based construction approach.

Tracking construction progress has always been a challenge for home builders, both in pre pandemic and current times. Data suggests that, during the pandemic, project delays were the biggest pain point for customers. The lack of trust, payment transparency and cost overruns were other added problems. Experience with tech in construction showed that most of these difficulties can be troubleshot if there is reduced dependence on manual methods and in-person interactions. A tech enabled construction provider can bring trust, transparency, predictability and quality assurance in construction.

The home-building approach in a post-pandemic world would be to go back to traditional self-constructed houses

The pandemic did push the construction sector towards digitisation but there is no denying that construction still remains one of the most tech deficit sectors in India. This poses a threat both for construction companies and customers alike. Data suggests more than 80% of project owners in India believe that project risks are increasing rapidly warranting adequate strategies to address these evolving, more complex risks. Vendors and contractors falter in coming up with the right costs, schedule, inventory and timelines because of which projects get into risks. Besides contractual mismatches, the pandemic also put an increased emphasis on social distancing. There was no manual way to actively track project activity and monitor on-ground progress. This led to the recent invention of the concept of ‘Contactless Construction’. With ‘Contactless Construction’ customers can approve plans, track real time progress and monitor every aspect of the project virtually.

For home owners, Covid has also created a viable use case for using an integrated tech enabled platform that maps end-to-end construction activity. A platform that can create right schedules and costs using AI and provide mechanisms to track the project. A system for on site engineers and project managers to check project quality and provide predictability in construction. A platform that works as a bridge with other stakeholders and provides real time data tracking, project monitoring and quality assurance.

Tech has also changed the A-to-Z of the design process. Earlier designing a project would take weeks and customer approval would only delay the process further. Today, tech is at a stage where it understands floor plan semantics. Besides the change in project design methodology, there is also an increasing demand for ‘Work from Home’ adapted houses. In pre-pandemic times, people preferred buying fully constructed homes/apartments in city centres as it would offer greater connectivity. With companies now going full time remote, WFH is becoming the new normal. The WFH trend has also changed buyer preferences and people now prefer to construct an independent and spacious house. In terms of design, there is a preference to have an ‘office-room’ that is physically isolated from the rest of the house in order to be more efficient while maintaining a clear distinction between working hours and relaxing/staying at home hours. Everyone's desire for outside space has intensified as a result of the pandemic. Any newly constructed home today should include a tiny garden or a balcony with plants as it offers the opportunity to connect with nature. With school & play going online, children have faced quite the brunt of the current crisis. Creating a separate play area in the garden or indoors can help children restore their feeling of normalcy.

The home-building approach in a post pandemic world would be to go back to traditional self constructed houses. The houses that give people the freedom to customise, are built suited to personal needs and are in full sense deserving of being called a comfort space. Right now, the overall ecosystem is very favourable to home builders. The pandemic has brought correction in real estate prices, the interest rates are at the lowest they have ever been in a decade and there is also relaxation on stamp duties. People’s preference to own real estate will continue to gain prominence as long as developers/contractors can meet the increasing demand for higher quality, greater safety and timely completion of projects.