Grounded Life

Skyscrapers inspire awe and make their creators and occupants proud. But not everyone wants to live in tall buildings. On the other hand, independent villas are expensive. Builder floors offer a middle path.

Owners can use the builder floor concept to expand or renovate their houses as well as unlock a part of the capital value of their properties.

A builder floor apartment is a residential unit in a low-rise independent building that has a few other flats. The number of floors is generally two-four.

Such a floor can be developed by the builder on its own or in collaboration with the land owner. It is a section of a villa.

Buying a builder floor, say experts, is a lifestyle decision.

SPECIAL:How to win a good property deal

“There is an aspirational aspect to builder floors. There are people who want independent living space and do not want to be part of group housing,” says Om Ahuja, chief executive officer (residential services), Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate brokerage.

However, builder floors have drawbacks. They do not have facilities such as gymnasium, swimming pool, security and power back-up that a number of modern society apartments have.


Some realty companies which are well recognised (at least in the area where they work) also develop builder floors.


CEO (Residential Services), Jones Lang LaSalle

Also, the residents have to share the maintenance burden as, unlike in high-rise society apartments with tens of flats, there is no separate team for the building’s upkeep. Though this means you do not have to pay any maintenance fee either.

Builder floor apartments are popular in places such as Delhi-National Capital Region, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. In locations like Mumbai, high land cost makes low-rise apartments less feasible .

Most builder floors are usually developed by small local real estate players, often in collaboration with land owners, with the two sharing equity. Generally, the builder puts in money for development, while the owner contributes land.

As land prices account for 80-90 per cent cost of a property in metro cities, the builder gets one out of four floors. In non-metros, due to lower land costs, the builder gets a bigger pie of the property.

In some cases, builder floors are made by redeveloping an existing structure. The original owner may add more floors (on his own or in collaboration with a builder) and sell them.

SPECIAL: Buy realty before launch, get discountIf the builder floor you are buying has been developed in collaboration with a developer, the transaction involves a tripartite agreement involving you, the land owner and the builder.

Most developers of builder floors are individuals or small companies. “Some firms which are well recognised (at least in the area where they work) also develop builder floors,” says Ahuja.

Builder floors usually come with proportionate freehold ownership of the plot. A lease, usually for 99 years, is also an option. It all depends on terms the buyer and seller agree to.

Like any property, sale of a builder floor should be registered with the local registration office after payment of duty. If the law does not allow registration of builder floors in the area where you want to buy, do not go ahead with the deal.

In some cases, sale is executed through a memorandum of understanding between the buyer and the owner who has a clear title but is yet to get the right to transfer the title.

{table}”When a builder floor is bought, a memorandum of understanding is signed between the buyer and the landlord as compared with registration in case of regular apartments,” says Vineet Singh, business head,, a real estate portal.

Many builder floors are available for sale through power of attorney without registration of the sale deed. In October 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that any property sale on power of attorney has no legal sanctity and immovable property can be sold or transferred only through registered deeds.

Power of attorney is a legal contract that gives the holder the right to maintain, rent, lease, mortgage or sell a property on behalf of the owner. It does not transfer ownership rights.

Properties sold through power of attorney are not eligible for home loans from banks. So, properties which cannot be transferred through registered sale deeds should be avoided.

Due diligence is a must. You can start from the title of the property, which can be confirmed in the local registrar’s office. The building plan should have been approved and the floor area ratio (FAR) should be within the limit for the area, as specified by the government authorities concerned.

FAR is the ratio of constructed floor area to the size of the plot. You should also check that the property does not violate any municipal norm, including restrictions on construction and land use.

Completion and occupancy certificates show the property does not violate any local development rule. These are also required for electricity and water connections. A builder cannot offer possession without the occupation certificate.

The building’s age is as important as its construction quality. You can hire a property surveyor to get an idea about construction quality.

“Each flat should have separate facilities such as electricity and water connections to avoid disputes among the occupants,” says Singh of

If the builder apartment is being sold by an existing occupant, take care to check if he has cleared all municipal, water and power dues.

Builder floors are not just for buyers. If you own an independent house which has to be renovated or expanded, you can do that without shelling out a penny. You can also use this route to unlock the value of your residential property-both land and house-and generate some cash.

“Most builder floors within city limits in metros such as Delhi are redevelopment projects undertaken by builders. Sellers with old houses see it as a profitable venture,” says Manish Mehta, vice president, IndiaHomes, a property brokerage.

Whether you plan to buy a builder floor for its affordability or your lifestyle preference, you need to tread with caution. Seek advice from a lawyer who specialises in real estate deals and an architect or property surveyor. For starters, buy a measuring tape and check the built-up and carpet area of the property yourself. Play safe!


> Verify the reputation and track record of the builder and the broker
> Check property title in local courts and land record office
> Enquire the circle rate (base price) for properties in the locality
> Find the prices of similar builder floors in the vicinity
> Consult multiple builders or brokers for better clarity on rates


A builder floor needs to be thoroughly inspected by an expert so that you do not end up with a long list of problems –

> Seepage in terrace and walls
> Unfinished paint work
> Sub-standard flooring
> Poor construction quality
> Inferior quality plumbing and electrical wiring
> Faulty doors, window frames and grills
> Area of the plot, apartment not the same as promised during negotiations
> Balconies and other structures encroaching on public property


> Affordable independent house
> Freedom from paying maintenance and other charges applicable in apartments
> Option to buy a builder floor apartment in well developed localities
> Existing land or house owners can have their properties developed without having to spend any money


> Absence of reputed developers
> Buyers must undertake all the due diligence with help of professionals
> Risk of poor construction quality
> Delivered property might not be same as promised by the developer
> Lack of facilities such as swimming pools, parking, power back-up and security
> Maintenance of building and premises has to be done by the occupants