-  Monday 28 September 2020

Housing: a booming sector

One of the sectors that has not felt the repercussions of economic slowdown or political turmoil is probably housing. In the last decade the sector has not only succeeded in emerging as an industry but is also making significant contribution to urban development in the country. Suraj N Joshi, Chief Executive Officer of Valley Homes Private Company, talked to The Kathmandu Post on the performance of housing companies, the growth trend and impediments the sector has been facing. Excerpts:
Tell us something about Valley Homes Private Limited?
Valley Homes was established around three years ago with the objective of carving a niche for itself as a successful housing company. In between this period we have launched our first project called the 'Terraces'. The project is located in Sunakoti, around 10 minutes drive from Saatdobato. We have built about 29 houses in the first phase and almost 80 percent of the houses have been sold. The area where we have built houses have lots of open spaces and is eco-friendly. The roads and footpaths are wide. There are parks and plenty of trees. And our houses have an aesthetic appeal. In this sense, we are more into community building rather than plain houses.
How do you evaluate the performance of housing sector in the recent years?

The concept of housing development emerged around six years ago in Nepal. Although some housing companies were operating before that period, their roles were restricted to that of buying and selling houses. But there has been tremendous growth in the last six years. Today the number of housing companies operating in Kathmandu Valley has reached a couple of dozens and more are planning to join the sector. These companies are becoming more professional and are coming up with innovative ideas. All these stand evidence to prove that the performance of housing companies is remarkable.

What contributions are housing companies making to urban development of the country?
Kathmandu has become an urban slum. If significant number of housing companies would have emerged around 15 years ago, I don't think the capital would have seen all this mess. Construction of road networks, sewerage facilities, and other infrastructure to provide utility services need careful planning. But the concerned authorities have failed to cater to these. However, the housing companies have amalgamated all the small pieces of land, which otherwise would have been sold in plots, and are developing well planned communities. Besides, housing communities include everything from recreational facilities to parks and shopping complexes, which could reduce problems of traffic congestion. So they are contributing a lot to urban development of the country.
Why do you think people should approach a housing company to buy a house rather than building oneself?
When someone buys a house in a housing community one is not only buying a house. The person, in fact, is buying the comfort that comes with the house. Where can one find underground cabling of electricity lines, sewerage treatment plants, thirty feet wide roads, sports facilities, security and greenery, if one decides to build a house on his own? Besides, constructing a house yourself means having no control over the external factors. A shop or factory could be set up near the house which you have just built and no law can govern these kinds of activities. Moreover, there is no hassle of buying the commodities and raw materials when one buys a house in housing community. So the first advantage of approaching a housing company is that quality is guaranteed and the second is that it would save ones time.
What are the challenges faced by the sector?
First is the land acquisition process. Most landholdings are peculiarly small in Kathmandu and it is split between landowner and people who work in the land. So bringing these into a sizeable area is pretty difficult for companies like ours. Besides, administrative procedures, such as acquiring licenses, are pretty tedious. Stringent laws are beneficial for proper growth of a sector but regulations that constrain development should be reconsidered. Although the government has recognized the sector as an upcoming industry, we think we still have not received enough support from concerned authorities when we want to procure supplies of utilities such as electricity, telephone or water.
Could you tell us something about upcoming projects and future plans of Valley Homes?
We are thinking of starting our second project in Godavari. The houses we are planning to build this time will most probably have an ambience of a farmhouse, where people can wallow in luxury during holidays. If things go according to plan Valley Homes would also like to build commercial and shopping complexes, luxury apartments and malls. But above everything we would like to be known as quality constructors and a superior housing company. In fact, we want to be  the trendsetters in the industry. However, we do not have any immediate plans of going outside Kathmandu.

Kathmandu Post

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