In layman term, your city just like any structure has a limited capacity. It is not advisable to put additional stress beyond this capacity. This ‘safe load’ factor, in other words, is called FAR.
FAR is calculated by a simple formula - total covered area of all floors divided by the plot area. Suppose the builder has got a plot of 1,000 sq m and the permissible FAR, according to development plans, is 1.5. He is allowed to construct a building on 1,500 sq mt of this plot. It is the ratio of the total floor area in the building compared with the total plot area. The constructed area would include the basic structure, walls, staircase or lobby space, if any, says Asha Nayar Basu, managing partner, S Jalan & Company.
FAR may be different in various cities, municipality, locality or even depending upon the nature of land- industrial, residential, commercial, agricultural or non-agricultural. This is because the organic growth pattern, population dynamics and construction activities varies from city to city. Much depends on governmental regulations.
What it means for a buyer
If a planning authority increases the FAR, market value may double. The land owner in this case has no role to play that directly or indirectly governs the price while they may enjoy all the benefits.
It may also mean that as the FAR is hiked, you may be residing in a higher density building and more residents have to share the common benefits such as lifts, pools, clubs and even electricity and water.
Those who have bought property with lower FAR now have an option of building more and fetch higher capital returns. However, it has a flip side too. Kalyan Chakrabarti, managing director, Red Fort Capital says, “When buying a low FAR property, your re-sale value is likely to be better due to lesser density and more open areas”.
Violation of FAR might have grave effects. While high-rises have come up in most parts, violation of FAR norms and encroachment of open spaces will be a major challenge to the disaster management team when disaster strikes.
You may be curious to know what the maximum FAR value in Indian cities is. Generally it doesn’t exceed 2.5. Even within one city, it is not necessary that the same value is applicable to all areas. What would it be if the FAR value is raised to say 4? Such a hike would mean extreme dense living, almost one lakh people per sq km!
What it means for a developer
FAR is one of the key determinants for development in the country. A low FAR, as is considered in the case of India is a deterrent to construction. The real estate industry has always been longing for a hike in FAR. "This will address the rising issue of providing accommodation to all and in realising the dream of 'Housing for All'. The rapid urbanisation has already put pressure on the limited land resources, especially in Delhi. Extra FAR would help developers with extra space and in meeting the demand and supply gap," says Rohit Raj, president, CREDAI NCR.
If we go by how developers see it, an increased FAR means they can build more, sell more and thus prices of projects could go down. However, this alone cannot cut down prices and it needs to be used judiciously, not abused.
But when is FAR violation noticed?
The violation comes to notice only when the developer takes the completion certificate from the concerned development authority. This is why trend watchers insist that as a buyer, you should demand to review the completion certificate.
Open House, a Q&A forum by Magicbricks receives a lot of queries where buyers have enquired whether they should trust a developer when he asks them to move in without the completion certificate. As a buyer, you shouldn’t turn a blind eye. Sometimes illegal flats may also get registered with the revenue department because completion certificate is not a mandatory document for registration of apartments.
Take for example the shocking case that came to light late last year. Only 97 high rises in IT city obtained occupancy certificates between the year 2009-2014 as per the urban development department.
Going vertical is impossible if FAR value is low!
An adequate FAR value will help in sustainability. If a low FAR value is recommended, it is for your own safety. Even in the case of a disaster, a concrete jungle is a risk. Adequate open space is the need of the day especially in the case of a natural disaster like earthquake. Dense living means you are furthering the risk.
Higher the FAR value, lower is the property value
Increasing the FAR may reduce the per capita cost on development infrastructure. However, this is not a direct proportion relation. In India, infrastructure is yet to cater to current requirement and hence doubling FAR instantly would put an additional strain on infrastructure.
Prices of flats are not dependent on FAR value alone.
Increasing FAR value is the only way out to guarantee affordable living
True to an extent but imagine the risk of going vertical in an unscrupulous way! Increase in FAR means land values may also go up since buildable space increases. Contrary to the myth, increasing FAR could mean making properties pricier
In the absence of higher FAR values, developmental projects suffer
When town planners determine FAR values, they do consider the health of our development projects as well. There is no hindrance to development even if the projects are based a little away from where the bulk of the population lives.
Lower FAR values means less employment opportunities
The construction agency employs a sizeable population. The industry as a whole also contributes almost 8 per cent to the GDP. However, the cost of negligence could be disastrous. Maintaining equilibrium between sustained, planned growth and development is important.