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Bringing all inputs under a roof
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2009-03-15 City : Thiruvandrum

Inkle is setting up construction solutions and services parks in four key locations in the State. K.A. MARTIN finds out how these are going to impact the building industry.

 

With nearly Rs.10,000 crore in annual investments and generating thousands of jobs for skilled and unskilled workers, the building industry has come to mirror the progress the State makes in every other sphere of economic activity.

The housing industry, riding on a cultural propensity for individual houses and backed by remittances from the Gulf countries, has been growing in the State since the early 1970s.

Investments in the industry have grown over the years, though its structure remains undefined. Even industry players concede that a more organized and professional setup will yield better results for the long-term future.

An initiative from Infrastructures Kerala Ltd. (InKEL) to set up construction solutions and services parks in four key locations in the State comes at a turning point in real property development in the State as property developers come to grips with the unfolding recession around the world.

The venture has come in for praise from various quarters, the most important being building industry professionals. InKEL’s Managing Director G.C. Gopala Pillai is a picture of confidence when he says that the initiative has the potential to revolutionize the way the building industry has operated here so far.

InKEL has been launched, as its name conveys, to give a big boost to infrastructure development. The new entity has come out with big plans for better road connectivity, industrial parks and regeneration of urban areas.

Unique concept

But the concept of a construction solutions supermarket is a unique one aimed at making the building industry more transparent and more professional.

The plan is to bring together designers, services, materials and product providers under one roof, Dr. Pillai says.

InKEL will acquire around 40 hectares of land in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode initially for setting up the parks. These parks will be equipped to meet the requirements of anyone constructing a house, apartment complex or commercial complex.

The company expects an investment of Rs.600 crore initially in setting up the parks. Bulk of the money will go into acquiring land. The rest will go into setting up assembling or even manufacturing facilities.

There will be architects, designers, property sellers and builders and even possibilities of looking at plots of land. There will be samples of building materials and products, after seeing which orders can be placed.

There will be plumbing and electrical solutions, electronic equipment, household items, and entertainment solutions and so on under the same roof.

This will enable, for example, a couple to shop right from the plot of land to the furniture in their new house at the construction solutions park.

The savings on time and money will be immense when we compare it to an individual who has to begin by identifying a plot and decide on all other inputs into building a residential unit.

The backward integration of the construction solutions parks is not as complex as it may appear initially, says Dr. Pillai.

He says that suppliers can be brought together to display their samples. InKEL will provide its authority as guarantee to the quality of the products.

The parks will ensure that the products and materials are sold cheaper than in the outside market as there will be more competition as well as reduction in charges related to transport and handling.

In the long run, InKEL plans to provide building equipment on lease. Equipment needed to mechanize the building industry is costly. InKEL will be in a position to buy this equipment and lease them to the builders.

This will be a major departure from the current construction practices. Building industry in Kerala has not achieved the volume and atmosphere for large-scale mechanization. It is virtually impossible for a single builder to buy equipment for construction purposes. InKEL, however, should be able to mobilize funds for buying equipment.

Somebody has had to do it. It is good that a government-promoted venture has come forward for the purpose, says K.P. Thompson, chairman of the Kochi Centre of Indian Institute of Architects, about InKEL’s plans.

He says that building solutions, if available under one roof, can save money and effort.

He, however, says that the logistics will be complicated and will require a lot of planning. A large chunk of land would be needed at each of the proposed park.

Mr. Thompson is enthused by the fact that these proposed construction solutions parks will provide a platform for architects and planners to work together on big projects.

George E. George, chairman of Kerala Builders’ Forum, is happy about the new initiative. He says that the building industry should get more organized and scientific in its approach.

Mechanization

He says there is little or no mechanization in the industry now and InKEL’s plans to buy equipment that can be leased out is good.

Mechanization can save a lot of time. For example, he says, the building industry here takes between 14 and 15 months to build a seven-storey building, whereas it should not take more than eight to nine months.

The company is not satisfied with just providing supermarkets for the input needed for the construction of conventional buildings. It also plans a centre for affordable housing, using indigenous materials, techniques and designs. Green buildings too are on its agenda.

Given these plans, InKEL’s ambitions, as outlined in the new project, is to revolutionize the building industry in Kerala and it looks prepared to go the extra mile to make the revolution happen.

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