Until 2009, Tata Housing was better known for landmark projects like Petit Towers in Mumbai, Sherwood in Bangalore and Villa Paradiso in Goa, besides India’s first IT park, the Technopolis Knowledge Park in Mumbai. The launch of Shubh Griha in the affordable housing category catapulted the company into public consciousness and cast the spotlight on the company’s efforts to reinvent itself.
Brotin Banerjee, the young and dynamic CEO and MD of Tata Housing, says, “It was with the appointment of a new management that the company was recapitalised in mid-2007. We took the decision to be more active in the real estate space in India.” The company also took upon itself the responsibility of doing things right, of earning the respect of its consumers through hard work, ethical business practices, innovation and by providing better designed quality projects.
Over the last few years, the company has clearly distinguished itself, bringing the Tata values of trust and integrity to bear upon an industry not known for adhering to ethics. The company has constantly reinvented itself, having instituted numerous measures to ensure excellence in its work.
Thought leadership in the real estate space
Mr Banerjee says, “We have tried to differentiate our company from the competition by offering designs that are both aesthetically and functionally appealing. These designs come from our efforts to understand our consumers through extensive research.” The company also brought in world-renowned architects and employed the latest technology.
Benchmarking with the competition, both in India and abroad, also helped greatly. Citing the example of Shubh Griha, Mr Banerjee says, “We sought to understand the concept of space and how the use of the same space changes with the time of day. We wanted to give our customers more room per room.”
Tata Housing’s thought leadership is not limited to the architecture and design of its products. Mr Banerjee says, “About 3-4 years ago, we decided that all our projects would be environment friendly and follow sustainable building codes.”
Xylem, the company’s commercial project in Bangalore, became the first complex to win a gold rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) programme. Developed by the US Green Building Council, Leed is an internationally recognised green building certification system.
Later, Tata Housing decided that as a policy, all its projects would adhere to green building standards. Sustainable building development is therefore practiced at all its projects, both commercial and residential, across the country and across all income segments. Privé, the luxury residential complex at Lonavala near Mumbai, is targeting a platinum rating, the highest rating that may be achieved under the Leed programme, while other premium projects such as Raisina Residency have qualified for a gold rating. Shubh Griha has achieved a silver rating.
Interestingly, Tata Housing’s attempts to attain sustainable development are not mandated by the Indian Green Building Council. “Our efforts,” says Mr Banerjee, “are prompted by our belief in our responsibility as a corporate citizen. We have actually trained our people for Leed.” These efforts, different from those of its competitors, prove the company’s commitment to its consumers. Aquila Heights, the company’s first residential project in Bangalore, is a case in point.
Setting the quality benchmark
Tata Housing voluntarily sought the assistance of Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC), a semi-government body which represents different companies in the real estate and construction space, to certify the Aquila Heights project. Mr Banerjee says, “We allowed the Aquila Heights project to be inspected on quality once every quarter for the entire period of the project. So impressed was CIDC by this experiment that it treated the case as a pilot programme to encourage other developers to make their businesses transparent for the benefit of consumers.”
The agency’s experts visit the project site and inspect every facet of the construction and design, including the time taken, costs incurred, quality and durability of the material used, the quality of the workmanship, whether the material used is as per the prescribed norms, etc. Aspects such as plumbing, carpentry, flooring, etc are rated. The audit covers the resources and the processes used and the end-results achieved.
The rating given by the agency instils confidence in consumers that the money they have invested is being used well. It also helps the company to benchmark its project against those of others.
The attempt to get an external agency to regularly review its functioning is commendable considering that Tata Housing has to pay nearly Rs2-2.5 million to get this audit done. This cost is not recovered from customers. Mr Banerjee says, “The company pays for it from its profits. We do the audit to ensure that the quality of our work is excellent. It also becomes a benchmark for us, enabling us to keep improving our quality standards.”
This audit is a joint certification for construction quality given by the CIDC and Construction Quality Rating Agency. The latter is the only Indian organisation to develop an objective construction quality audit system, to empower property buyers. Mr Banerjee says, “CIDC believes that this effort will enhance consumer confidence in the real estate sector.” Following this, the company has made it a policy to get all its projects audited on quality.
Tata Housing has also initiated the third-party safety audit this year. Mr Banerjee says, “The safety of the people (our employees or those of the contractors) who work at our projects is of great importance to us.” This audit is carried out by the Government of India’s Ministry of Labour, a body that sets the Bureau of Indian Standards codes for safety in industry and construction. Processes are checked periodically at different stages of work completion.
A spectrum of choice
Interestingly, Tata Housing lays as much stress on the quality and safety aspects of Privé as on Shubh Griha. It is the only real estate company of repute to straddle different consumer segments along the entire value chain. It uses innovative means to make every project the best in its class.
In the case of a project like Shubh Griha, Tata Housing has had to continuously examine the value proposition to make sure the offering is fully functional. Mr Banerjee says, “We have to constantly look at technology to bring down the cost. Green building solutions, for example, increase our capital expenditure but lower maintenance costs. We use sustainable building materials and use natural energy more efficiently to reduce dependence on artificial light and air conditioning.”
The company has also attempted the joint development system whereby instead of buying the land, it paid the landowner a token advance, while getting, through a power of attorney, the irrevocable right to develop the land. As per this arrangement, Tata Housing can start building and selling the project, and keep paying the landowner a certain percentage of the revenue as compensation for the land.
This scheme enables Tata Housing to be involved in a greater number of projects, with lesser capital. It also helps the company to de-risk its portfolio and grow at a faster pace. Already it has constructed an impressive 40 lakh sq feet of projects this year and increased its revenue from Rs1.3 billion in 2009 to Rs3.15 billion in March 2010.
Tata Housing’s innovativeness has brought it to the attention of householders and the industry alike. The company is now raring to go further in its attempt to make a difference in the Indian real estate space.
|Tata Housing Development Company has been declared the Residential Developer of the Year at the Property Awards 2010 by Property World Publications. The Property Awards are one of India’s most prestigious real estate competitions dedicated to identifying the best real estate across the country. Winning this award is proof that Tata Housing is not only able to compete at this level but also win within this highly competitive, perception-based industry-specific arena. The award was conferred on Tata Housing at a grand ceremony in the presence of some of India’s most respected real estate professionals, business leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs and visionary leaders.
The company was also honoured with the prestigious Master Brand Award by the CMO Council (USA) and CMO Asia at the first-ever Master Brand Awards in India. It also received a Global Award for Brand Excellence for 2010 for New Haven at the World Brand Congress 2010.
In addition, Tata Housing was also awarded the Best Developer - Corporate Social Responsibility award for Shubh Griha (Smart Value Homes) at the Cityscape Awards - Real Estate Asia 2010. It also won the 5-star and 4-star awards in the Best Development Marketing category and the Best Development award for New Haven and Shubh Griha, respectively, in Boisar, and the Best Architecture — for Privé, Lonavala — in the residential category at the Bloomberg Asia Pacific Property Awards.