A design audit is integral to planning and development of a housing projects. To understand how crucial it is, here’s an example of a question posed by a client:
“The builder has indicated to us, and the plans show that there will be a total of 10 towers when the project is completed. As of today, two towers have been constructed, and there is one sewage treatment plant (STP). The plans do not show any more STPs. How do we make sure that this STP will be able to handle the effluent when the 10 towers are occupied a 100%?”
This is where a design audit would come into picture.
What does a design audit consist of?
In a typical scenario, the builder engages an architect, who develops and designs the space) and then they engage consultants like the plumbing consultant, electrical consultant, the firefighting consultant, etc. As and when required, other specialists are also taken on board.
Each one of the consultants will generate designs for the building, based on the specific project’s requirements. Each one of them will then supply their own drawings and specifications of the services for this particular project. These drawings are the map for the project team, to construct the building and also operate the various systems and building services. In design audit, the adequacy of the building services provided is also ascertained.
Imagine a residential project that has been provided with an STP of 70 kilo-litres per day capacity. This means that the STP has been built to handle 70,000 litres of sewage in a day. The question that begs answering is: How sure are we that the maximum sewage discharged in this project will be at a maximum of 70 kld when all the apartments are occupied? There are standards that are prescribed by the National Building Code (NBC) against which these are checked. If this checks out to be correct, the next logical check that is performed is, whether the STP actually is capable of handling 70 kld a day. Similarly design audits are carried out for other services like electrical transformers, diesel generators, water treatment plants, etc.
If and when these criteria are satisfactorily met, we can be certain that the RWA will not face any issues pertaining to the STP capacity and functioning. If there was a discrepancy, if a HOTO (handover takeover) audit was not conducted, the cost of repair and upgrade would fall on the RWA. If it gets caught during the HOTO audit, it is the responsibility of the builder to make amends at their cost.
Getting a design audit of various building services ensures that the provisions made can handle the requirements of an apartment complex at full occupancy.
What is a documentation audit?
When an RWA takes over a housing project from a builder, a set of documents are to be shared by the builder. These include:
As built drawings
‘As built drawings’ is a set of documents pertaining to project construction. These are required to act as a maintenance guide. It will help in tracing embedded pipelines, cables or beams, etc. This is because the personnel in charge of maintenance from an FMS will not be aware of how things were constructed.
Documents pertaining to operations
This set of documents is required to operate and maintain the various MEP and other equipment. For example, electrical circuit diagrams, operation manuals of equipment like generator sets, water treatment plant, STPs, etc. These documents are necessary to operate and maintain the equipment efficiently.
These are government-mandated documents. These are a high-priority requirement for compliance of statutory regulations. There are many such documents like building approved plan, no objection certificates from various government bodies, etc. These are definitely required to be obtained and kept safely for records. Absence or non-compliance of these will attract a stringent (in some cases criminal action) action by statutory bodies.
What does an annual maintenance contract advisory consist of?
After the builder has constructed the building, generally, it is handed over to a facilities management service (FMS). Typically, builders have a sister concerns, which play the part of an FMS. It is the responsibility of the FMS to engage with companies for an annual maintenance contract (AMC) for the multitude of equipment present in an apartment complex.
Essentially, an external specialised agency, which is on contract, will periodically check and maintain and service the various equipment in good working condition.
Here, each contract will have to be critically examined for comprehensiveness of the coverage, periodicity of inspection, for any hidden cost like whether it covers the cost of spares, consumables, etc.
It is also to be verified that all the deserving equipment has been covered with an AMC and none of it is unnecessary. This is because the cost of AMC is a recurring expenditure for the RWA after it takes over. An AMC advisory is a value-added service that optimises for minimising the cash outflow of any newly formed RWA.
These audits ensure the functioning of all affairs smoothly without hitches or statutory violations and ensure that money is well utilised.
(Suresha R is COO and Uday Simha Prakash is CEO at Nemmadi.in)