Trends in Indian construction industry

Trends in Indian construction industry

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Though India got its first official green government building as late as in 2014 when the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation headquarters was inaugurated, things have moved fast thereafter. Many state governments have decided to convert their existing buildings green through retrofitting and following green norms for new ones. For example, New Moti Bagh GPRA Complex in New Delhi redeveloped by NBCC is the largest IGBC certified Green Home Complex of its kind

Construction industry is growing at a steady pace and the size of global construction industry is likely to cross $ 10 trillion by 2020. One of the salient features of the industry is that it is quick to adopt newer technology and meet the changing needs of the circumstances. In last one year, several trends have started emerging in the construction industry, which in due course is likely to become rule of law.

Green is buzz word today and green fever is catching up the construction industry very fast. In fact, it is the government, both at the Centre and State level, which have set a good precedent for others to follow. Though India got its first official green government building as late as in 2014 when the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation headquarters was inaugurated, things have moved fast thereafter. Many state governments have decided to convert their existing buildings green through retrofitting and following green norms for new ones. NBCC Ltd, a PSU engaged in real estate , redevelopment and construction, is now executing all its new projects in line with Green Building and GRIHA norms. For example, New Moti Bagh GPRA Complex in New Delhi redeveloped by NBCC is the largest IGBC certified Green Home Complex of its kind.

Even the private sector realtors are not far behind in employing Green norms in construction.  In fact, Green Buildings have become selling points for the private sectors players especially when the Realty sector is passing through a lean phase in terms of sales. Rahejas, Hiranandanis, etc have all opted for Green norms in many of their prestigious projects.

Affordable housing by employing Monolithic Concrete Construction is becoming popular among the state agencies. According to a director of a Housing Board in South India “Monolithic Concrete Construction cuts the construction time by 20-50%. Most of the state governments want quick results as elections are around corner.” Recently Pimpri Chinchwad New Town Development Authority (PCNTDA), joined the growing number of state agencies opting for Monolithic concrete construction system for its upcoming affordable housing project in Pune.  Recently, Telangana government had announced its plans to construct houses using Monolithic concrete construction technique. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development has also suggested Monolithic Concrete Construction system using Aluminium Formwork.

Tunnel Form Construction Technique which produces high quality monolithic structures was invented over 50 years ago. It eliminates the use of any subsequent wet trades (Plastering etc). It is basically an operation to cast walls and slabs in one operation in a daily cycle. This technique is highly systematic, earthquake proven and provides an ideal solution to the critical problem of sound transmission. It gives a sound reduction of 50 decibels. Construction by using this technology will be much faster and a 10-floor apartment building can be built in just over a month’s time. However, specialist contractors with tunnel-form experience is highly recommended in order to tailor the design to suit best construction method.

Air pollution has become one of the major problems faced by the people in cities, especially in North India and builders sensing the mood of the people are going in for structures that protect indoor air quality. Leading builders are now less focusing on first-cost of a project and more on the value of increased user utility and health. New constructions aim to provide thermal comfort with a maximum degree of personal control over temperature and airflow. Efforts are also taken to ensure an adequate quantity and quality of ventilation and intake of outside air to ensure acceptable indoor air quality. Preventing airborne bacteria, mold and other fungi through building envelope design that properly manages moisture sources from outside and inside the building is also another element considered seriously by the designers.

Air purifiers which were mostly found in offices have found their way into Indian homes too, thanks to deteriorating air quality. However, air purifying paints have not yet been experimented in a major way in new constructions while it has found some takers while repainting. On the other hand, vertical gardens which were mostly restricted to public spaces and buildings, are becoming a preferred choice of many owners because of their proven ability in improving air quality and controlling temperature. 

Announcement of skyscrapers are becoming more frequent than ever before, not just for commercial complexes but also for residential buildings too. Earlier, India rarely used to make it to annual skyscrapers top ten list. However, last year was an exception with three skyscrapers’ completion. This exception is likely to be repeated this year too and soon may become a general norm. Non-availability of freehold land has left the developers with no other options but to move skywards.  However, vertical expansion for the time being is mostly restricted to Metro and major cities and tier II cities are yet to catch up with skyscraper mania. There is still general aversion towards high rise structures among the potential residents due to user perception of insecurity in case of fire and high cost of the building.

Building information modeling (BIM), though as a concept more than three decades old, in India is making its presence felt slowly and only in recent times its usage has shown an uptrend, thanks mainly to growing number of skyscraper projects being undertaken in the country. BIM is also used in various other construction projects like construction of  bridges and power plants. Initially, builders were hesitant to use BIM due to feared initial heavy investment in the model. However, now they have started realising the benefits of using BIM model. Also, increased use by government in its various projects has also led to the popularity of BIM surging in Indian architecture, engineering and construction (AEC).

However, we are lagging behind our foreign counterparts on several aspects. Use of robotics in construction is still unheard of in Indian construction industry. According to experts, cheap labour is one of the strengths of the economy, and it is not so easy to replace it as it may cause several social and political problems in the country. For the time being, however, it is not needed to replace the labour with automation as it is creating a win-win situation. Further, 3-D printed structures which are talked about abroad is still not unheard of in India. Also we have to wait and watch how artificial intelligence invades the construction industry and whether it will be able to disrupt the industry in the coming years.

It is true that Indian construction industry, especially building construction, is expected to have exponential growth in the coming years as India will be heading to become third largest economy in the world. Rapid urbanisation and provision of housing for all will be the major agenda of any ruling party at the centre as well as at the states.  Increased volume in the coming years should be able to attract more and more new technologies quicker and faster in the coming years.