Roti, Kapda aur Makaan – food, clothing and shelter have been the priorities of mankind exactly in the said order from time immemorial. Every individual dreams of building his home in which he can live happily ever after.
When we look at the real life scenario, it is apparent that the moneyed can translate such dreams into reality while it remains a nightmare for the ones who are not very well-to-do.
The great Indian middle class fits this bracket perfectly because they have money and dreams, but not enough money to make their dreams come true.
Size doesn’t matter
A person belonging to the middle class attaches a lot of significance to owning his or her “own house”—size does not matter. Jayamma, a middle-aged widow wants to have at least a shed of her own while her rich country cousin Savithri is ready to settle for a one BHK flat in ‘namma Bengaluru’.
Most of them are educated and have decent savings and a fairly good amount of gold to take care of them on a rainy day but they may not have enough to acquire property without the aid of loans and financial support from housing boards. All the same they have a “never say die” policy which urges them to try all possible methods to build their home. Marchikkanna, a broker observes, “While on the one hand people do not mind working very hard to earn more to pay off their loans, on the other hand they also do not mind warming the hands of corrupt officials to ease the process of seeing them through the process of house building and its attendant paperwork.”
The number of new “layouts”, “colonies” and “Nagars” mushrooming on the outskirts of all the major cities and towns of the country stand testimony to this syndrome as they offer homes and flats at about sixty per cent of the amount it would cost in the heart of the city.
A random survey in this trend makes it clear that the educated middle class Indian does not see any positive point in settling down in his native village. The difference in the amount he has to spend does not bother him much when he weighs the same against better and lucrative prospects that lie in front of him in the city. His decision to stay in the city makes him realise that he must possess a home—however humble on his own lest he spends all his income on paying exorbitant rents. It is at this juncture that the saga of his woes begins.
A random observation of this phenomena reveals that just about every middle class man who has bought a plot, flat or built a house thinks that he has made a “sound investment” which he can leave behind as an inheritance to his children. He is very certain that the value of his property will multiply multifold in the coming decades.
Buying a built house?
Most people prefer to buy newly built apartments from builders and there are many who prefer to get the house built under their personal supervision. As a rule most of these people refrain from taking professional help from architects, builders, lawyers and consultants to save on heavy bills. They do a lot of homework and work out a budget to the last detail, consult peers and people who have gone through a similar experience in the past and then launch their pet project with due prayers. Atul Acharya a leading architect does not find this trend abnormal because, “At the end of the day, bills do matter for the Indian and he will not fail to cut corners to save a pretty penny”
Yet the initial enthusiasm wanes as they are bogged down by bills. It is then that they decide to move into their new homes when it is still in some stage of completion hoping to give the finishing touches at a later date when they are in a convenient financial condition.
The responsibility to pay back loans and increasing family commitments usually prove to be obstacles in the process of completion.
Vasanthamma has chosen to build the compound and staircase of her newly constructed home while her neighbour Thangaraju has decided to postpone woodwork within the home.
Most people who have launched into the project of building their own homes in the recent past admitted that they have reached their wits’ end when dealing with their lifetime project which involves uncertainties in terms of finance, situations, people and products.
Apart from that they have to cope with inclement weather conditions like untimely rains which can ruin material and work done thus spelling a loss of time and money in capital letters.
Rigours of registration
Once the harrowing process of building or buying the house is completed, the rigours of registering their coveted property takes a toll on them. The new house owners now find themselves wrestling with the law and newer rules by the day. Rajathadithya, a real estate dealer points out that there are instances where new house owners are coerced to sell their half constructed houses or apartments or sites to liquidate their investment.
If one thinks that the middle class Indian’s spirit takes a beating, one must stand corrected as it is very clear that the middle class man wants to hold on to his project through thick and thin, pooling in resources to retain the property.