February 06, 2007

Real Estate India Earthquake Safety

With the recent real estate india boom, property prices have reached stratospheric heights and that of Mumbai are about to touch the Ionosphere. A 2, 3 or 5 Crore 3BHK flat or more has become a reality in all metropolitan cities, and as per a recent news report a penthouse in Mumbai is being quoted at 125 Crores. Some of the builders/ developers offering premium luxury apartments in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Faridabad, Mumbai and Bangalore are DLF, Emaar MGF, Unitech, Ansals, Parsvanath, Omaxe, Vatika, Vipul, Hiranandani, Rahejas, Mahindra Gesco, Kalpataru, RNA, Runwal, Purvankara, Prestige, RMZ and Brigade Group. Earthquake Protection of buildings is categorized into three groups. The first being “Earthquake Resistant (Fully operational)”, hospitals and other lifeline buildings which need to be operational at all times are in this category. This is also the highest level of earthquake protection possible. The second category is “Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)”. The building so protected, has installed energy dissipation devices/dampers that there is minimum non-structural damage and no structural damage to the building and so it is safe for occupancy and use even immediately after a major earthquake. The third category of earthquake safety is called “Earthquake Resistant (Life Safety)”. This is the lowest level of earthquake protection and is also the minimum that the Indian Government recommends. Life safety implies that in case of an earthquake the total collapse of the building will be prevented so as to minimise casualties. However the building will sustain structural damage and on most occasions will have to be demolished and rebuilt. The use of dampers/ energy dissipaters in buildings can add approx Rs. 150 to 200 per square foot to the costs; however, by using these devices which are designed for absorbing the earthquake energy, the Earthquake Protection of a building can be brought to “Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)” standards. It is strongly advised that high end properties should not be bought unless a minimum protection of “Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)” is provided. Such devices come with a written guarantee of 35 years which is further extendable by another 20 years after the devices are tested. All buildings designed/built before the year 2002 do not even meet the minimum earthquake protection standards and are considered dangerous during an earthquake as they are likely to collapse. A large number of such buildings exist in Mumbai. These buildings can also be seismically upgraded by using seismic dampers. In case the building is to be upgraded to “Earthquake Resistant (Life Safety)” standards the cost would be in the range of Rs. 50 to 75 per square foot. If the building is to be upgraded to near “Earthquake Resistant (Immediate Occupancy)” levels then the costs should be in the region of Rs. 150 to 200 per square. Source://newswiretoday