The last two decades have witnessed phenomenal changes in the history of human evolution. Technological advancements have made communication more affordable and a mainframe computer occupying a room has been replaced by a laptop weighing less than a kilogram. Buying a car has become affordable. The experience of theatre viewing has been brought inside our living rooms with large screen dolby televisions. However, investing in a house has not kept pace with such developments. The cost of owning a house has increasingly become difficult for everyone.
Till the 80’s, a person could own a house only during retirement due to various issues includinggetting loans etc. Today we can get a loan sanctioned almost immediately, but the cost of residential units are so high and disproportionate to average incomes that most people in India still cannot afford to buy a house.
There has been no path breaking technology to reduce the cost of housing. Precast technology, which is the norm nowadays, was used long back by our ancestors to build temples using granite instead of present day concrete. Aluminium form work which is supposed to reduce the duration of construction time has not done justice as most of the projects even with aluminium form work run into delays.
Are we handling the construction process in the right way? Can’t we pick ideas from recent businesses like Amazon and Uber that have redefined shopping and securitised local travel, changing the way things were done traditionally? Customers have benefited in terms of cost and time saving as goods and services are now delivered at their doorstep.
The standard approach of reducing the cost of housing is by reducing the area of the apartment or using substandard material to reach the target cost. Is this the right way? Building a house is not only architecture and civil engineering. It involves the study of behavioural aspects of human being, social interaction, status, aspiration etc.
California which houses major tech companies also faces housing issues. Many are unable to afford a house due to steep rents and are either living in their cars or modified vans to accommodate a toilet, kitchen and bedroom. The area of the van is not more than 50 feet. If a house is modelled in this fashion with the recreational area spread around, this could be developed into a product which a customer requires and is affordable.
So instead of trying to solve the housing issue in terms of cost, we need to study the life-journey of a person and model houses accordingly. Each phase should have a customised home which can be traded for the next with marginal differential payment. This should be similar to owning a phone, probably at cost of an iPhone wherein the customer also will look at investing in a house in a different way rather than as a life time investment. This should work like a stock for a person helping him in each stage of his life rather than being a burden.