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Buying a flat? Don't get carried away by the sample

Postby rizgr8 » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:57 pm

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/mar ... 734193.cms

Buying a flat? Don't get carried away by the sample


The walls were beautifully done up, the fittings were exquisite and the rooms were very spacious. Vijayalaxmi Nayak and her family were so pleased with the look and feel of the sample flat that they immediately booked an apartment in the project by a reputed developer in Bangalore.

The excitement died down when the Nayaks got possession of the house three years later. It was nowhere close to what they had been shown. The flooring used ordinary tiles, the fixtures were not classy and the wall finish was quite plain. "In the sample flat, the rooms looked so big and perfectly done up, but actually the size was much smaller, and the ceiling too was not of the same height as showcased," says Nayak.

There's very little that the Nayaks can do now because the sample flat has long been demolished and they have no photographs or documentary evidence of what it looked like. Even if they did, it would not have helped. Chances are the developer had slipped in a clause in the agreement saying that it reserved the right to alter the specifications of the property.

The Nayaks are among the legions of buyers who are routinely taken for a ride by builders, who show them exquisitely designed sample flats. There's nothing wrong in this exercise since showcasing sample flats is a standard marketing practice. "It is an actively used marketing tool for attracting potential buyers and is more effective than brochures and websites," says Shveta Jain, director, residential, Cushman & Wakefield India.

The problem is that, as in case of the Nayaks, the real flat turns out to be very different from the sample offering. What you get isn't what you see. The fixtures used could be very different from the designer sanitaryware you see in the sample. Atul Modak, vice-president of Kohinoor City Project, admits that some developers use fixtures and furnishings worth almost 2-3 times the price of the flat itself. This lends a premium look to the flat, which could deceive the customer.

You cannot blame potential buyers for getting carried away by the looks of the sample flat. Builders have many tricks up their sleeves that give false impressions to the buyer. For instance, there are no doors between rooms in a sample, which makes the flat appear more spacious than it really is.

Even the toilets and bathrooms are doorless. Some of the walls are merely glass partitions. Builders say this is done to allow buyers a better view, but the fact is that it makes the house look more commodious. The ceiling itself is much higher than that of the real flat.

The interior designers hired by the builders to do up the sample flats are experts at creating optical illusions. They know how to use lighting and place furniture in such a way that the house appears bigger. Even the furniture is an accomplice in this charade.

The customised beds and dining table sets are smaller than the normal size and the cupboards lack depth. A gullible buyer is likely to think that the bedroom will have enough space to move around even after placing a double bed and a study table. What's more, window shoppers are discouraged from sitting on the furniture or opening too many cupboards.

The finish of the sample flat is also deceiving. It is usually far superior and gives the buyer a sense of aspirational value. He is ready to shell out a higher sum for that kind of lifestyle. Experts point out that the superior wall finish is also because they are made of gypsum, not brick and cement plaster. "Sample flats are supposed to be indicative of the kind of life that the buyer may expect. However, the actual flat is unfurnished and has basic fixtures, fittings, flooring and textures," says Jain.

The sample house itself may be much bigger. Such flats are made only for marketing and, therefore, the walls are much thinner than those of a normal structure. Some of the walls may just be plywood partitions, which help add precious square inches of carpet area to the house and make it bigger. "You will see glaring differences between the sample flat and the specifications mentioned if you measure the house," says Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases Foras, a real estate research firm.

However, there is no way you can compare the sample with the real. These flats are demolished after the units in the project are sold out and construction begins. Kapoor says this is also why photography and videography are not allowed inside sample flats.

Builders claim this is meant to ensure that these designs are not copied, but it is not true. The architectural drawing is already available in product brochures. By forbidding photography, they are only trying to prevent buyers from collecting evidence of what the sample flat promises.

Even if you have any documentary evidence on what the sample flat looked like, builders usually include a clause in the agreement, which allows them to change the specifications of the house. So you can't ask a builder why the 11 ft ceiling in the sample flat is only 9 ft high in the real one.

There is also the issue of location. Sample flats are standalone units that offer a great view from every balcony and window. It may not be so when it is a part of a cluster of flats. For a buyer, a better indicator of what he will get is the architectural drawing of the apartment as well as the layout map of the project. These drawings will tell you the exact carpet area of the flat.

Compare it with the super area promised by the builder and you will get a fair idea of the price being charged for common facilities. These will also tell you whether the flat you buy overlooks a sprawling park or stares into the neighbouring tower. However, these finer nuances are swept under the carpet when you step into a well-furnished sample flat which showcases a modern and efficient lifestyle.

Om Ahuja, CEO, residential services, Jones Lang LaSalle India, says that builders play on the psychology of the buyer. "In some cases, visually appealing sample flats may help to detract from the fact that the project's location is not exactly cutting-edge. The onus of establishing the difference between real and perceived value lies with the buyer," he adds.

It is also advisable to have a sneak preview of the agreement before you buy. It gives you the actual specifications of the house. "One needs to check the agreement carefully before making the decision as developers clearly mention in the document the specifications of the material and fixtures to be used in the house," says Modak of Kohinoor City Project.

8 tricks that builders use in sample flats

1) No doors: There are no doors between rooms, which creates a sense of greater space in the flat. Even toilets and bathrooms are doorless.

2) Thin walls: The walls are thinner than normal, which makes the sample look bigger than the real thing. The ceiling is usually higher than the one you get.

3) Glass partitions: Some of the walls are made of glass, which makes the rooms look bigger than they actually are.

4) Customised furniture: The furniture is customised and smaller than the normal size, which gives a sense of space.

5) Premium fixtures: The fixtures used in bathrooms and kitchens are of premium quality. The real flat uses ordinary stuff.

6) Designer furniture: The interiors are tastefully done using designer furniture, which makes the buyer feel aspirational.

7) 2-3 sides open: All windows and balconies open to a great view in a sample flat. The real flat may not be open on two or three sides.

8) Gypsum walls: The finish on the walls may appear alluring because they are not made of bricks and plaster but gypsum board.
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Re: Buying a flat? Don't get carried away by the sample

Postby kanvit » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:04 pm

sare builders ek hi thali ke chatte batte hain.... banglore to bombay and Chennai to chandigarh...sare ek hi hain...kab sarkar jagei aur ek regulator layegi...
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