Saturday, 27 December 2014

Team Talks


As we complete 10 glorious years, some of our long associated team members look back in time and talk about their journey of association with MASTERS...which we proudly share...





Deep gratitude to all associated with Masters, in a big or small way, from the desk of MD

Dear Colleagues, our esteemed Clients, Stakeholders and all our Associates,
jaspreetsinghAs we complete 10 magnificent years at Masters, it gives me immense pleasure and joy to extend a vote of thanks to all those who have been instrumental in enabling us to achieve this feat and have contributed in one way or the other in making the D Day of our 10th year anniversary worth such a grandeur!!
First of all I would like to sincerely thank all our esteemed Clients (both existing and former) for placing their trust in us and who continue to work with us; guiding you through the journey of your projects is our greatest pride. Masters would not have been a leader in Project Management, if it weren’t for your belief in us, right from the day when we were just a small start-up in the market and you continue to do it till today. Even though, there have been some who did not give us any business or an association for various reasons, however, we appreciate them today as that experience served like a springboard for us to self-reflect and improvise.

A very special thank you to all our employees (even former), who have been a part of Masters even if for a day. Thank you to each one of you for enriching our Company with your skills, experience and time. Sticking with us in both our good and bad times must not have been an easy task at all. We have also had the privilege to work with a lot of expatriates, bringing international exposure and new perspectives to our projects. You each deserve congratulations and my deepest gratitude.

Last but not the least; I would also like to acknowledge and thank the support and patience extended to us by all our supporting group members, our Consultants, Vendors, Suppliers, Contractors who have been associated with us and continue to support us for timely delivery of their services and their continued association with us in all kind of projects. Your success is our success!! You are the people who trusted us when Masters was a small start-up and continue to be associated with us even when we are a leading Project Management Company today. Thank you for your unending support.

I thank, each one of you, from the bottom of my heart, and look forward with great optimism and enthusiasm to your continued association and support with Masters into the coming even more successful and challenging years.

My deepest regards
Jaspreet Singh, Managing Director, Masters

Our Vision-Mapping the upcoming Years

Our Vision-Mapping the upcoming Years

As the celebrations are over, we are reminded that completion of a successful decade is also a time for us to set foot into the future, to set higher goals and look into greener pastures. We have reported strong success and statistics over the last ten years spanning across sectors, geographies with our diversified services-whether it was expanding our portfolio, going to new markets, selecting the right talent or investing in different growing sectors. Riding on our past laurels and without letting the success go to our head, we are elated to be sharing the vision and key goals by setting competitive strategies for the upcoming years.

A Company is distinguished by the services it offers. At Masters, we believe that work is not just timely delivery of services for us, but also the value-addition that we do by guiding and assisting our clients with our knowledge and experience. Keeping ‘Continual Improvement’ as our motto, over the next few years, we plan to expand and diversify our portfolio further by including services like Turnkey Solutions, comprehensive Design Services, specialized services like Design Management, Procurement Management and Contracts Management in addition to the already existing diversified services range. We also plan to enhance our Development Management portfolio- wherein we assist our clients from start-to-finish, taking the onus of the entire project. As a baby step, we have kick-started our first start to finish project in Jaisalmer building our very first ‘product’ in addition to the suite of ‘services’ that we offer. The project will be our flagship project under Development Management, which is being intended as a Luxury Hotel for the upscale market in Jaisalmer.

Being a Project Management Company (PMC), being versatile is a feather in the cap. Hence, the next few years will see Masters engaging with both existing and new clients on these new fronts.

New Geographies:
At Masters we believe that we have all the right ingredients to not just be a leader in home markets but also overseas. With the huge success of projects like The Imperial Towers, Vivanta by Taj, Tata Realities TRILIUM Mall, Godrej Prakriti, L&T SEZ, Movie Towers, we are now all set to explore international markets starting with Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. The next few years our focus will be to expand our reach and capture newer markets both domestically and internationally. This will help us enhance our skills, expand our reach and become a more versatile company. 

Sectorial Penetration
Having worked with blue chip companies and large Developers, our next logical step is to expand our scope of work. Over the next few years, Masters plans to add few new sectors. Hospitality and Infrastructure are 2 most upcoming developing sectors in India today and we plan to get into that sphere through tie-ups or direct marketing. 

In addition, our focus will also be in streamlining our internal processes by making ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectiveness’ the catch-words. We will be looking at solutions to fast-track our systems and reduce the lead time in project execution, in order to be the number one PMC not just in India, but in the world.

Associates and partners
Being a PMC, a large part of our work depends on our Consultants, Contractors, Vendors, Suppliers and Associates. We have been lucky in partnering with the right people over the last 10 years. In the future, Masters aims to expand our band of trusted associates and cement our current associations and we are more than willing to explore opportunities and innovative ways to work together with new ideas. We are already in a process to tie-up with like-minded organizations overseas to bring in their experience in the Indian market as well make a strong foot-hold in their markets with our expertise in Project Management Consultancy. 

Going High-tech
For any growing company, it is important to pace-up with changing trends. Thanks to technology and constantly evolving information age, much of the tedious and cumbersome work involving handling of documents and paper-work has become one-click-away. Keeping up with the times, Masters is always open to adopting technology as part of its DNA to improve the quality of its services. We will soon be launching an electronic tool/platform that will take care of documents and records and enable users to share intellectual capital remotely across the organization, so that expertise can be easily tapped. This will also further standardize our services and make tracking easy and centralized. 

Human Resources:
The word ‘teamwork’ is synonymous with Masters. Our success is accredited largely to the people who work with us, for us, both at the forefront and behind-the-scenes. Masters from its very inception has been very careful about selecting the right talent and creating capable teams across various functions. Our goal is to build a large team of like-minded people who believe in and resonate our core Values of Integrity, Transparency and Honesty. The next few years are crucial as there will be a strong focus on nurturing our existing employees by investing in people-development and capacity building programs through trainings and workshops not only in Project Management arena but also in Organisational and Professional well being subjects. Being a close-knit organization, we do not believe in hierarchies and rather encourage open-dialogues and to have an open-door policy to create a comfortable and thriving environment for all our employees.Through mentoring, training and involving people in company’s vision, people are empowered to think out-of-the-box and, give ideas and take independent decisions.

Environment, Health & Safety (EHS)
We believe that progress of a nation, society or organization is measured not merely by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but by focus on creating a better life for each and every individual. At Masters we are committed to providing a safe, healthy and accident-free environment for all (from contracted labour, right down to our own staff), which also is a part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We already adhere to strict measures to instil in people the importance of their well-being and safety, but over the next few years we plan to strengthen our message of EHS by adopting relevant standards, policies and practices.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Celebrating a decade of glory...and the rest is history!

Celebrating a decade of glory...and the rest is history!

Being a successful Project Management Consultancy (PMC) i.e. conceiving and managing the progress of real estate projects ensuring close co-ordination between various agencies and Clients and delivering a successful project in line with Clients objectives of time, cost and quality, is no easy victory!! It requires proper planning, analysing problems and advising solutions, optimizing resources, allocating and integrating inputs (backed with skills and manpower) to create a masterpiece. From organizations drawing upon the services of a PMC merely for gaining external advice, Project Management, in recent years has come to be seen as a discipline many successful companies adhere to, as they function as bridges for information and knowledge. To stay ahead of competition, all companies both big and small, at some point of their growth cycle, requires Project Management as it streamlines the complex processes, reduces time by bringing in cross-functional competencies.

Masters - a leading Project Management company and synonymous with names like The Fairmont, Godrej, Parsvanath, Red Fort Capital, Marriott, L&T Pheonix, Indian School of Business, Tata Realty, Forum Group, Harvard Business School, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Runwal, Hiland Group, Ascendas, JP Morgan, GE Real Estate amongst many others, has evolved over the last 10 years, from a small-garage-office to having pan India presence and big ticket accounts in its kitty. As Masters celebrates its decade-long journey today on 27th December 2014, we can’t help being nostalgic and wish to take you down the memory lane, recounting the good-old days, challenges that came along and milestones we crossed along the way.

Humble beginnings:
Started back in December 2004, Masters’ inception was more like serendipity. Born out of a Project in Mumbai-The Imperial project at M.P. Mill Compound in Tardeo, was a take-it-or-leave-it decisive moment for the founder and co-founders when they were asked to construct the two tallest towers in the Country. Armed with Engineering degrees, diverse professional background and loads of passion, the team turned the challenge to an opportunity-creating history and the challenge was accepted and Masters was conceived to take on the challenge!!
From a single project to handful of projects, over the years, Masters has developed itself as a name to reckon with who companies think of creating value through Project Management Consultancy. Today the Imperial towers (residential complex) stand tall in the heart of Mumbai city as a testimony to Master’s success, being one of its flagship projects.
Over the next few years, Masters was successful in adding Real Estate Advisory, Cost Management, LEED Green Building Advisory, Architectural & Engineering Design Development divisions to its service portfolio, making it a full-service Project Management Company it is today.
Another exciting area of development for Masters has been the evolution of Development Management division. This has been a feather in the cap as it provides added value to clients by assisting them with the identification of best land use, funding and pre-conceptualizing projects.
In retrospect
Started under the leadership of Mr. Jaspreet Singh, CEO and MD of Masters, Mr. Singh’s vision behind founding Masters was to address the dire need of a professional Project Management company in the country. Mr. Singh along with his co-founders Mr. N.H. Narayanan, Mr. Sanjoy Datta and Mr. Ravinder Bassan had the undying confidence in his team, which came with the knowledge & exposure of best of international systems and standards and at the same time being able to integrate that experience with the particularities of the Indian Real Estate Industry.
Started as a small office at the project site with a handful of 10 team-members, Masters has grown into a big organization which has pan India footprints employing a whopping 200 + people as of today. The Company has its head office in Mumbai and is operating in all big cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkatta while also offering its services to clients in emerging markets like Amritsar, Jaipur, Kota, Jaisalmer, Vishakhapatnam, Nagpur, Chennai, Goa, Siliguri and Jamshedpur.
In addition to investing in the right kind of talent and markets, Masters was also one of the early adopters of ISO standards. In the very first year of its inception, Masters decided to get certified to The Quality Management System ISO 9001, an International Standard, not merely to comply to market requirements but the Company wanted to embed ‘systems’ in its DNA and set clear guidelines to make sure that documented procedures and best practices (in line with an International Standard) are being followed in all its processes across all geographies. The company successfully upholds the ISO 9001:2008 certification even to date.
Recounting Milestones
Each year at Masters has been that of growth and noteworthy. Just after its inception in December 2004, in the year 2005, first Value Engineering exercise was undertaken for the Imperial, the MMC website was then launched for increasing awareness not only of Masters but also of Project Management techniques encouraging the Indian industry to adopt such professional platforms to enhance the real estate industry more rapidly by completing projects in time, cost and quality.
The Company was soon after, appointed as a PMC for DELL in Hyderabad which was their 2nd project and the formation of Thompson Cole followed with Mr. Philip James to represent Masters in Dubai and this marked the first international entry of Masters.
The year 2006 witnessed a lot of key developments like establishment of Hyderabad Regional Office on 1st April 2006 under the leadership of Mr Vishnu Prasad and Masters being appointed as a PMC for S.P. Infocity at Gurgaon, L&T SEZ Project at Hyderabad and launching of the Blog. Launch of blog signifies that the count of team had in a very short span increased manifold. 

Another significant turn was bagging the Indian School of Business project (designing and executing Faculty Housing) at Hyderabad. It was an out-an-out project development consultancy where Masters designed, constructed and monitored the project providing an end-to-end service, from architectural & services design to site-related work.The Company also took up Shopper’s Stop fit-outs at Noida, Delhi and Kolkata. In just 2 years, Masters had entered most of the geographies marking a pan India presence.
In the subsequent year, i.e. 2007, Masters took up theirfirst Technical Due Diligence assignment for Ascendas Property Fund Singapore, which was undertaken at Chennai in 2007, thereby formalizing the Advisory & Technical Due Diligence Vertical under the direction of Ms. Ipsita Mahajan. The first hotel project – renovation of Ramada Caravela Resort at Goa and a Fairmont hotel project at Jaipur and then Novotel Mumbai, also commenced in 2007. 2007 also saw the establishment of Kolkata Regional Office on 10th October 2007 under the leadership of Mr Dhruba Bhattacharya. This was then followed by formally establishing the Hospitality division by Mr. Martin Fine in 2008.
In 2009, the Company started its first factory project for a Mexican client called Metalsa India Pvt. Ltd and executed the first LEED Green Building Advisory exercise in an advisory capacity to Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, undertaken by Ms. Neha Trivedi, LEED AP. This year also witnessed the Inauguration of Corporate Office at Mumbai on 1st June and in the next month, July 2009; the Imperial project was completed and successfully handed over, which continues to be the tallest standing towers in India, even today!
The year 2010 was indeed significant and memorable as Masters had undertaken their first off-shore PMC assignment in relation to improvements at the Johannesburg Sun Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa and also undertook their first Development Management exercise in the advisory capacity to S.P. Real Estate, undertaken by Mr. Ramy Makarem, Development Director at Masters. Having continuously cherishing the growth chart, this year saw one of the most tragic incidences; Masters lost one of its very senior key employees and one of the co-founders at Masters, Mr. N H Narayanan, Vice President. His key contributions and youthful spirit will always be remembered.
Masters then undertook its first independent Cost Management exercise in the year 2011 thereafter setting up of a separate Cost Management Division under the leadership of Mr Chandresh Dedhia and establishment of Delhi Regional Office on 10th March 2011 headed by Mr Sanjeev Sachdeva. 2011 was a crucial year also in terms of re-visiting and improvising Masters Processes by introducing an enhanced version of Procedures further streamlining the activities and offerings across the board, under the leadership of Mr Robert Perkins, Operations Director at Masters.
Successively, in the year 2012, Masters Design Studio (MDS) offering Architectural and detailed design and drawings was established at Kolkata. And subsequently, MDS was expanded to include Interior Design and MEP Services Division in the year 2013.
2014 has been a year of devising strategies for tomorrow where the company adopted modern techniques for offering services and has worked towards developing an in-house online platform for their services which would be launched in 2015. 2014 has also been a year for pondering on international expansion by looking through various proposals and the company has eventually signed MoU’s with various like-minded organizations overseas and would now be working more closely with them with an objective to develop the Indian industry further by bringing in their experience in the Indian market as well as making a strong foothold in their markets with our expertise in Project Management Consultancy.
Blocks to success
Just like any growing company, Masters too faced certain challenges in the last 10 years, while setting up. Getting like-minded people together under one roof and to remain neutral and unbiased with various stakeholders (as a PMC works on behalf of contractors and stakeholders and represents the clients) while maintaining the periphery of its core values viz-a-viz Integrity, Transparency and Honest was a tough task.
However, once that was dealt with, many companies were hit by a global economic occurrence-Recession, in the year 2008. Project Management, an activity that helps clients ease out their job, was being looked at as an overhead and hence many projects had been shelved during the economic downturn. However, the team at Masters decided to stick together and build new avenues. The Company then started looking out on various other verticals and opened separate divisions for Cost Management and Design Services and introduced Development Management which helped the Company bounce back, eventually.
Masters may have seen various hues and shades of harsh winters but over the years it has developed a strong base of trusted partners and clients and has penetrated through many influential markets that make it sturdy to withstand any challenge head-on.
Greener Pastures
Talking about the journey, it is interesting to note and make a special mention of commercial activities that the Company started that were not just lucrative but continue to add value even today. Although started with just The Imperial Towers as the only project, Masters’ presence began taking shape by bagging few key projects like DELL, L&T Pheonix and ISB in Hyderabad, Infogain, SP Infocity, Parsvanath Towers, Vivanta by Taj in Delhi-NCR, Tata Realty’s TRILIUM in Amrtisar, Godrej Prakriti in Kolkata and Novotel and Saifee Burhani’s Upliftment Project in Mumbai. Many years later, Masters has been successful in carving a niche for itself in the Indian market and operates out of full-service offices in Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Hyderabad. Each of the geographies while may have brought a few challenges initially, but they are now being explored for both small and big assignments across various services as end-to-end solutions.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Masters First One’s in every sector!!

Masters First One’s in every sector!!

Masters expanded its horizons over the years and like the first born child, the first projects in the different fields hold a special place as they are the foundation blocks which made Masters what it is now. Below we can see the first footprints of MASTERS in the individual stream.
RESIDENTIAL: Imperial Towers, Mumbai
Picture 1Oh!! MASTERS entered into the Residential Construction Industry and How. We jump started with a king size project i.e. the Imperial Towers which is touted as the highest existing Residential towers in India. The Project is a flagship residential complex - 253 meter high, 60 storey towers with the finest of amenities, at the heart of the city of Mumbai. The towers are built with state-of-the-art technology & finishes and using international standards of construction. The towers include a podium of 10 storey height which houses car parking, a luxury spa, clubhouse & recreational facilities and a triple-height entrance lobby. In addition to the luxury high rises, also developed are 18 slum rehabilitation buildings of G+14 to G+21 storey height to house 2664 families.

HOSPITALITY: Novotel, Mumbai
In April 2007 Eastern International HOTELS Ltd. announced with pleasure that they would be re-opening their flagship hotel in Juhu Beach Mumbai, India, as the new Novotel Hotel. Entering into thePicture 2 Hospitality Industry, with this Project MASTERS grabbed the opportunity to work on the renovation of complete Hotel with the BUA of 150,000 sq. ft. and Project cost of 77 Cr. Since the Hotel is based on the seafront within Coastal Regulation Zone, the structure could not be demolished, but almost the entire infill walls etc were torn down to re- house building services and customize the guest rooms, public areas and BOH areas as per the new operator's requirements. With the crucial contribution by MASTERS as the PMC the existing building was transformed it into a place ideal for business guests, as well as those on holidays. By the end of Jul 2009 on completion of Project The Novotel offered its Clients with 203 contemporary designed rooms having magnificent views of the Arabian Sea, meeting rooms seating up to 1000 participants, 4 specialty restaurants, a chic sea lounge, an outdoor pool, spa and fitness centre, it epitomizes a new approach to hospitality.

COMMERCIAL: DELL International, Hyderabad
Picture 3MASTERS tested the waters in the Commercial construction Industry and bagged the Project for Construction of the Dell International office Building located in Hyderabad. The Project was conceptualized in Jun 2005 with a Built Up Area of 6.00 Lack Sq. ft. Dell IT Campus is a 3,000-seat call centre for 24 x 7 operations. The building has a four storey entrance block, with other blocks of larger floor plate and multiple levels of parking.

SEZ PROJECTS: L&T Phoenix, Hyderabad
Masters has worked as a PMC for the L&T Phoenix Infoparks for their SEZ in Hyderabad. The project also involved building an incubation space for its tenants. The site was 25 acres of land with 9 Picture 4state of art IT/ITES buildings each with an average BUA of 250,000 Sq. ft. with a Total Project Value of 406 Cr.

RETAIL AND OFFICES: Infogain (Noida) & Wells Fargo (Hyderabad)
Masters has executed several interior fit-outs of which the interiors for Infogain at Noida, was one of the first. Infogain with a BUA of 90,000 Sq.ft is located in Noida NCR, India and Masters provided PMC and design services (Interior fit outs) for the Project. With this Masters also entered the field of Office interior fit outs with WELLS FARGO in Hyderabad. 
        picture 5                     Picture 6
Infogain, Noida                          Wells Fargo, Hyderabad

INDUSTRIAL: Metallsa, Jamshedpur
Picture 7With Commercial, Residential and hospitality projects in our hand, Industrial buildings were just another stepping stone. We commenced with working for the successful setting up of an industrial facility with BUA of 200,000 sq. ft.for a Mexican company's in their maiden venture in India for production of chasis for heavy vehicles for TATA - The complex housed a pre-engineered production building, administrative block, office, canteen etc. work.

CORPORATE OFFICE: Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad
Picture 8After successfully handling the interior fit outs of multiple offices Masters shouldered the responsibility of completing the base building and Interiors of Dr.Reddy's corporate office at Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. The building had a BUA: 179,000 sq. ft. and the total Project cost of 50 Cr.

Picture 9RETAIL MALL: Trillium Mall, Amritsar
Masters can boast about entering into the Retail Malls constructions with a fantastic project which was Trillium Mall built by Tata Group.
The 204 CR Trillium Mall located in the Civil Lines is spread over 10.5 Lac Sq.ft. of land feet devoted to shopping area. With its multiplex and banqueting facilities the Mall has been an attraction for the residents of the city residents Masters played a crucial role as the PMC in Tata Realty’s vision to serve the city and its surrounding areas, and provide the experience of grand shopping, entertainment and socializing.

Picture 10HOSPITAL PROJECTS: Breach Candy Hospital & Research Center
Masters expanded its wings towards the medical facilities sector with the interior fit outs project of Breach Candy Hospital wherein our scope include structural strengthening works, complete refurbishment of two wards and the VVIP ward for one of Mumbai’s premier Hospitals having a built up area of 1 Lac Sq.ft and project Value of 4.5 Cr.

Dharmesh Gala 
(Project Manager)
Masters Mumbai

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

10 industry-changes the coming decade must experience

10 industry-changes the coming decade must experience

The last decade has seen significant changes in the construction industry in India. Whilst there has been technological advancement in the construction works, some aspects of the industry still remain incompetent and ultimately impact the project outcomes in terms of the cost, time and quality. We, as Project Managers, are the first to experience the effects of such project in-competencies.
Every project is distinct in its own respect. However, we may note that there are a few common issues with all of them. These issues if tackled in an efficient and organized manner may reduce a lot of our grief. The construction industries across the developed nations have a robust system which safeguards its participants in all respects. And whilst the Indian construction industry has not advanced to that stage, we remain hopeful that we can catch-up with the developed nations in a decade’s time.

Here are some of the key changes we would like to see in the industry:

1. Standard Contracts
Use of standardized contact forms for engagement of consultants, contractors and sub-contractors. The benefit of standardized contracts is that they are not biased towards the Client / the contractor and give fair terms of engagement to the parties involved. Indian Standards for construction contracts should be established similar to the FIDIC, Australian Standards, etc. Government agencies should make it mandatory to utilize such standard contract for all government funded projects.

2. Payment Regulations
Non-payment or late payment is a very common complaint in the construction projects, which sometimes results in delays and disputes between the parties involved. The government should formulate Regulations/Acts that can formalize the payment cycles and provide respite and formal channels of claiming the outstanding dues. Such cases should be handled by independent, government accredited bodies to expedite such claims and not follow the regular judiciary process which takes years to get a hearing on the case.
One such example is the ‘Security of Payments Act’ followed in Australia.

3. Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S)
Whilst the industry has seen a tremendous improvement on this front over the last decade, there is a lot more to be achieved. OH&S not just relates to wearing hard hats and safety vest but involves every aspect in which an occupational hazard can be avoided. OH&S is both generic and specific to the industry. The government should make it mandatory for all construction industry personnel to undertake a general induction on OH&S and issue certificates or license for the same. In addition to this, site OH&S induction should be made mandatory for every person entering the site.

4. Hazardous Waste Management
An issue that is highly talked about, yet, the most ignored when it comes to construction industry is Waste Management. In addition to air and water pollution, there are other more toxic pollutants that affect the environment and people exposed to it. One example is asbestos-health effects of prolonged exposure to asbestos are known to cause cancer. While asbestos is banned for use in European Union, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and New Zealand, its use is still prevalent in India. The government should make efforts to eliminate the use of asbestos in construction and also regulate the disposal of asbestos in a safe manner. 

5. Formal training for construction trades
Tradesmen in Indian construction industry often inherit the skills or learn by experience working on sites, which is not always a bad way to learn. However, the trade skills need to be recognized as vocational subjects in universities and formal training on best practices should be provided to the aspiring candidates. This will not only set standards to the trade but also recognize the trades as respectable and skilled professions. Skilled personnel on projects will reduce the amount of defects considerably.

6. Construction quality benchmarks
Quality often seems to be a variable factor with different contractors. It would be beneficial to set some standard benchmarks for the class of finishes. For example, concrete finish when used as a super-structure and when used as exposed concrete will be different. However, a standard guide which outlines the parameters of the different classes of concrete will greatly assist the designers and contractors to specify finishes.

7. Work Methods
India has a huge reserve of inexpensive manual labour, which is largely used in the construction industry. The use of machinery in construction, to some extent has been directly influenced by the availability of cheap labour in the country. While the last decade has seen some changes in this perspective, there are more aspects that can be adopted in the work methods. For example, use of plastering machines, use of stairform for staircase construction, permanent form systems for cores, etc.

8. Municipal approvals process
One of the most tentative/ uncertain events in the project schedule is the municipal approvals, which obviously impacts the overall project duration and ultimately cost. It would be ideal if the local municipalities regulate the approval process with definite timelines and provide transparency on the application status. Special approval authorities should be established for major projects, thus minimizing the work load on the regular approvals in municipalities.

9. Independent Certification
Once the initial project approvals are received for the project, ongoing approvals like the Commencement Certificates, Occupation Certificate, etc. are dependent on the visit from the municipal officer to the site and then the officer processing the necessary paperwork. This is a time consuming process and most of the municipalities are understaffed to undertake these visits.

In most developed nations, the same function is undertaken by an Independent Certifier, who is authorized by the municipal authorities and appointed by the Client. The introduction of independent certifier in the process reduces the already understaffed and overworked municipalities and also makes the process of certification quicker for the project team. This concept would greatly benefit in the Indian context.

10. Understanding professional indemnity
It’s a usual practice for service providers in the construction industry, who provide professional advice, to cover themselves by the professional indemnity insurance. Professional indemnity insurance covers the service provider from bearing the full cost for defending negligence claims made by the client.

Whilst we all understand the intent and extent of our professional indemnity, we as Project Managers, often find ourselves crossing boundaries. Example – It is often found that Project Managers end up providing sketches of architectural details at site. With all good intentions, it is provided in order to avoid delays; however are we covered for it? Does our professional indemnity insurance cover design services if we are project managers? The answer is no, unless you are a multi-disciplinary company. In case of a mishap resulting from the professional advice of individual Project Manager, the company would be liable for the negligence claims.

Industry professionals and companies need to appreciate their professional limits and instill  these limits as corporate guidelines.

Innovation and Technical Advances in Construction Industry, seen over the last decade

Innovation and Technical Advances in Construction Industry, seen over the last decade

With growth & innovation of industries in various sectors over the last decade, real estate and construction was no exception. Technical Advancement and innovation in technology is witnessed in various facets of construction industry right from concrete technology to Air Conditioning.
There have been various innovations seen over the last decade, some of which are exemplified below
1.Smart Dynamic Concrete (SDC): Smart Dynamic Concrete (SDC) is a concept introduced to the Asian market in the recent past. With SDC it is possible to achieve self-compacting properties using a lower amount of cementitious material without detrimental effects. The production of SDC is made possible by combining an innovative Viscosity Modifying Agent (termed VMA) with a Super plasticizer. This combination of admixtures is capable of delivering a mix that is highly stable and robust. The VMA also enables the concrete producer to achieve self-compacting properties with lower fines and paste contents without the risk of excessive bleeding and tendency to segregate.
As engineers, contractors and ready mixed concrete suppliers continue to learn about the benefits of SDC. Interest in the use of SDC is rapidly growing because it has the potential to deliver considerable savings to all parties concerned. Moreover, these savings are achieved without compromising the plastic and ultimate properties of concrete making SDC an attractive proposition.
Target performance - For this purpose a project to develop SCC (self-compacted concrete) mixes with fines content (material passing 0.1 mm sieve) of not more than 380 kg/m3 and possibly reduce it to 350 kg/m3 so as to be used in normal ready mixed concrete in place of concrete strength class 25-35 MPa was initiated. The need for extra fillers (100 to 150 kg/m3) is to be eliminated or reduced, as is its cost. A Viscosity Modifying Admixture (VMA) should maintain the homogeneity of the SCC and increase its robustness, without affecting the flows significantly (low yield value) and enhances plastic viscosity. The cement content in the mix is determined on the strength class or the exposure conditions for durability and the W/C. The remaining fines are provided by afiller. In the course of the project it became clear that conventional VMAs do not deliver the needed robustness in application against variations in w/c-ratio. A new type of VMA was developed.
2. Energy Efficiency VRV Air Conditioning: Latest invention in VRV (variable refrigerant volume) technology is Variable Refrigerant Temperature (VRT) which is more energy efficient with compact and light weight design and operated at a lower sound which increases seasonal efficiency and comfort. It is basically a customized VRV with automatic variable refrigerant temperature control. VRT maintains perfect balance in terms of top efficiency through most of the year with a quick reaction speed in the hottest days. The biggest benefit of VRT is its quick reaction to peak load to keep the set point by point by maintaining a balance between the load, discharge temperature, efficiency and indoor temperature.

3. Fire Safety in Building Façade:
Building façade can significantly affect the spread of fire:
Although many believe that façades have no or little impact on the spread of fire in buildings, a large scale test carried out by the University of Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering, Fire Safe Europe and the Croatian Association for Fire Protection (HUZOP), has revealed that façade fires can in fact spread very rapidly depending on the type of materials used. The spread of fire can be understood from the following photographs.

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The importance of choosing the right material:
Prof. Bjegović, PhD pointed out: 'Using the right material on façade is very important as has been witnessed nowadays. The test showed how the façade covered with EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) which is a type of cheaper combustible thermal insulation, nowadays extensively used, can behave devastatingly in a fire. However the façade using only noncombustible, stone wool insulation had minimal fire damage only to the finish layer, and even more importantly the fire did not spread onto the neighboring floors. This is particularly important factor in buildings where, in case of fire, the safe and quick evacuation of large number of people is paramount. This need to be taken into account both in new constructions and energy renovation projects, especially for public buildings such as shopping malls, schools, hospitals or care homes.’
Zero Carbon Materials for Sustainable Homes:
In today’s world, Zero Carbon Homes and energy efficiency is one of the most discussed subjects. Energy being the most challenging focus across globe, Zero carbon materials for sustainable Homes always brings our interest.
The UK government is committed to sustainable growth and the green agenda. This is demonstrated through various legally binding targets and standards, from which the Climate Change Act 2008 (CCA) is considered one of the most important. The Act mandates an 80% reduction in CO2 from the 1990 levels, which are used as a baseline, by 2050.
The Zero Carbon Buildings policy forms part of Government’s wider strategy to achieving the CCA target, while at the same time assists in tackling other important issues including energy security and fuel poverty.
Zero Carbon Policy
The policy, as set out today, requires all new homes from 2016 to mitigate, through various measures, all the carbon emissions produced on-site as a result of the regulated energy use. This includes energy used to provide space heating and cooling, hot water and fixed lighting, as outlined in Part L1A of the Building Regulations. Emissions resulting from cooking and ‘plug-in’ appliances such as computers and televisions are not being addressed as part of this policy.
This policy is well aligned with European Policy, specifically the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (recast) which requires all new buildings to be nearly Zero Energy Buildings from 2020 (nZEB), as described in Article 2 of the EPBD.
There are three core requirements which must all be met for a home to qualify as zero carbon:
  1. The fabric performance must, at a minimum, comply with the defined standard known as the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES) and
  2. Any CO2 emissions that remain after consideration of heating, cooling, fixed lighting and ventilation, must be less than or equal to the Carbon Compliance limit established for zero carbon homes, and
  3. Any remaining CO2 emissions, from regulated energy sources (after requirements 1 and 2 have been met), must be reduced to zero.
Requirement 3 may be met by either deliberately ‘over performing’ on requirements 1 and 2 so that there are no remaining emissions, or by investing in Allowable Solutions.

Saikat Majumdar