Such buildings are preferred for ease of approvals from civic body and low-cost maintenance

When M. Manikantan purchased a flat a few years ago, he chose one in a building that had just four dwelling units.

“I decided to buy the house as I had my colleagues and friends as neighbours. Also, houses in larger apartment complexes were too costly. With smaller buildings, the maintenance charges too are manageable,” said this resident of Velachery. Maintenance charges in larger apartment complexes can cost up to Rs. 5,000 a month.

Small budgets apart, smaller buildings are increasingly becoming the preferred choice of builders and buyers as rules permit only such buildings on narrow roads.

“North and central Chennai have narrower roads when compared to south Chennai, which is why you see more of such construction in the north,” said S. Senthilkumar, managing director, Ganga Foundations Pvt. Ltd.

A 750-800 sq. ft. house can be purchased for about Rs. 35 lakh in areas such as Madipakkam, Ullagaram, Tondiarpet, Ambattur and Avadi.

“Earlier such property development was limited to four-in-one apartments but after the relaxation of some rules, we are witnessing a spurt in six-in-one apartments,” said Mr. Senthilkumar who has been in the industry for 22 years.

Most buyers of such apartments are first timers who prefer investing in some kind of property and moving out of rented premises, said Mr. Senthilkumar. There are at least 200 builders who deal in small apartments in and around the city.

According to Antony Rajarathnam of Rajarathnam Construction, smaller projects are completed in 6-8 months’ time and it is easy to get permissions for them from local bodies.

“Special buildings that have four floors and around 300 flats take at least three years for completion and multi-storey buildings take up to five years. People who don’t want to wait for long to take possession of houses opt for such property, the construction of which is also 15 per cent cheaper,” he said.

Many buyers are also opting for flats that are ready for occupation, said K. Raghunathan, South Suburban Builders Association. “With bank loans becoming easily available, buyers are entering into agreements with property developers just before the tiles are laid,” he said.

Choosing the right builder, however, is crucial, said S. Sridhar, a resident of Peravalur. “You should be familiar with the builder and the kind of construction he does. Otherwise, the contract may not be followed to the letter. For instance, vitrified tiles may be laid only in the hall and not the rest of the house. Or they may apply a single coat of paint instead of two,” he said.

The article has been edited to incorporate the following correction:

A sentence in “In Chennai, more takers for smaller apartment complexes” (August 16, 2013, some editions) read: “Special buildings that have four floors and around 300 flats take at least three years for completion and multi-storey buildings take up to five years. People who don’t want to wait for long to take possession of houses opt for such property, the construction of which is also 15 per cent,” he said.” It should have been 15 per cent cheaper.

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