Privacy at a premium

Privacy at a premium

Price to pay: People are willing to shell out more for flats that ensure complete privacy in huge apartment complexes. Prashanth G N tells the real story

Apart from physical infrastructure, people also desire privacy, especially in huge apartment blocks. Consumers make it a point to tell builders at the design stage itself that privacy should be ensured.

Typically, this request is made keeping in mind the front doors. Many apartments have doors facing each other, so that, when you open the door of your house, you actually find yourself looking at the neighbour’s living room.

The same goes for the neighbour too. So both residents opposite each other would be forced to close the front doors all the time.

 This makes then unhappy because they would like better air circulation and light and to get the feeling that they are part of a wider space. Opposite doors then kill privacy and force residents to spend most of the time within the four walls.

Exclusive space

Many consumers, therefore, ask for plan details in advance and make an assessment of air circulation and lighting before going ahead with their booking. Builders these days are sensitive to this request and therefore take enough time to prepare a plan in accordance with the consumers in mind.

Jagannath V, a college lecturer who stays in a flat in West Bangalore says: “I don’t want to be cooped up inside my house all the time. Before we decided to buy an apartment, we looked at where the doors were. Since they were side by side, I was happy because I could open the front door for any length of time.”

There are apartment blocks even at different levels to accommodate consumers’ interests. While one apartment is located on the first floor, an elevation is created and another apartment would come up on what looks like the second floor.

The two apartments get their space as the elevation takes the form of a series of steps to climb before arriving at your apartment. This consumes space, and hence would be in the higher payment bracket of Rs 40-80 lakh.

Internal changes

Builders also charge for making available private space within the existing design. “If a particular plan does not work, we try to design the interiors and the balconies in such a way that people inside a home get their own space. If this requires additional material, we charge for that.

But in case privacy is a concern for all consumers of a particular apartment block, then we can reduce costs. We will have to optimise the use of space,” says a developer.

In gated communities, individual homes are built in American style with space well defined between one house and another. The Palm Meadows community on Whitefield is a good example, where people live side by side, but at a distance that allows privacy for all.

In the suburban areas of New York, this model is very popular. There are no compounds built, only a lawn is made in the front, side and behind.

The neighbour’s house too would be done up the same way. So two families stay side by side, but at a good optimal distance from each other that affords them privacy.

There are of course estates and island homes, but that extreme privacy is not seen in typical urban areas in the emerging world, while one may get to see them in places like Manhattan, where real estate prices hit the roof.

The concept of privacy has come up only in the last 15 years. Prior to that, people were used to staying in clusters and nobody seemed worried about staying too close to each other. But now, things have changed. People are willing to pay more to ensure privacy.

Builders now have a challenge in the Indian urban space – how they will ensure privacy and at the same time a neighbourhood that is uniform in class.