Buying a new house or investing in new property is a major investment that consumes most of the savings. But what happens when the home buyer is the victim of poor construction by an unscrupulous builder?
Home inspection services are a new concept in the Indian real estate industry but they are slowly finding takers. The companies inspect the premises of clients and help to minimize maintenance and repair costs in the long run.
Meanwhile in Goa, Kolkata based MACJ opened its first office in Verna in January 2019. The franchise office is owned by Ravikumar Bhupal who sees a huge potential for business in the state. He says that, most of the locals have their own bungalows and villas. They do not follow any standardized procedures for the material used or the quality delivered. “We are looking to target these home buyers who will be assured of quality before clearing payments of their house,” says Bhupal.
The company does visual inspection followed by detailed study of the quality of the construction material. Customers are provided a detailed report on the findings as well as the solution.
“Goa is the seventh state for MACJ to set up office. The scope for our service is vast as we are the first players to enter the market in the state,” reveals Bhupal. He explains that, currently MACJ has presence in Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune , Gurgaon and Kohima. The home inspection sector in India currently has around 15 players.
According to Bhupal, customers for home inspections can be both house buyers and builders. “Getting a certification for the quality of the material used into the interior of the house from a professional firm is ideal for a builder as it adds to the marketing value to the property and reduces the chances of faulty claims made by the resident after possession. While for a home buyer opting for the service before taking possession of the house can save on the money spent on repairs.”
In India MACJ has tied up with Buyer’s Choice, a US company that provides range of services. “In the US it is standardized norm to go in for home inspection before going ahead with the sale of the property. But in India the concept is new,” reveals Bhupal.
He points out that, RERA is come as a boon to for home inspection firms as there is a penalty for structural and workmanship defects. “RERA is made our industry grow and many entrepreneurs have launched home inspection companies,” says Bhupal. He adds that, structural or workmanship defects are not easy to spot without professional services and specialized equipment. The equipment used during the inspection includes laser measuring device, thermal images, videos, baroscopic and radar detection for damages.
In Goa, MACJ offers two services, a complete home inspection package for home buyers and construction finishing service for builders. The cost for a home buyer is around Rs 215 per sq mt ( excluding GST) while for a builder it is around Rs 180 sq mt. “Home inspection rates are state specific. As the service picks up and more players enter into the market the prices are expected drop,” he reveals.
Bhupal’s advice to flat buyers is to set aside a budget for home inspection at the time of booking. “Flat owners who spend below Rs70 lakh are resistant to our services as they have already exhausted their saving on the house and cannot spend the remaining savings on an unplanned cost,” he observes.
Some of the areas that are taken care during the home inspection are the electrical connections, doors, windows, tilling, paint and dampness assessment. “We use thermal imaging to identify the dampness. No damage or breakage is done to identify the defect,” says Bhupal.
The inspection procedure followed by the company starts with an assessment visit after which a detailed report is handed over to the client. The report is supported with real time photos of the defects after which the solutions are suggested along with the defects. Post the inspection and the drafting of the report a verification visit is conducted by the team to check on the final output.
“We have around seven home buyers in Goa who have opted for our services before taking possession of the house,” says Bhupal. He further adds that the procedure for inspection differs slightly for a builder as it is conducted in phases to check if the project is in line with the claims in the purchase contract.
With two months of operation the MACJ team in Goa has started providing moisture assessment service for the roofing on trail basis “We recently provided this service for a hotel in south Goa. It helped to reduce the repair cost from around Rs 4 lakh to around Rs 60,000 to the hotel, “he says. The use of thermal imaging to identify the specific areas that need that need repairs to avoid water seepage brings the cost down.
Having started the local office, the company has been facing a few challenges. One of the major concerns is the lack of awareness of the service. “We have clubbed services related to electrical, civil and water seepage (plumbing) for Goa as one package to avoid confusion as the concept is new here,” points out Bhupal. Currently the company has a team of three experts. “We hire local diploma civil engineers with one year of field experience and ITI trained electrician. However the toughest was to source a local plumber as there is a shortage for this skill in the state” he
The penetration of the home inspection for second hand home buyers in the state is still low. “Second hand transactions are usually done through a broker or real estate agent.” The company plans on adding to its staff by creating two more teams with each team consisting of a plumber, electrician and a civil engineer by the end of July. “We are planning to open more offices and aim to spread our reach to Porvorim, Margao and Dabolim,” says Bhupal.