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CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT: Problems For Plot-Owners at New Town, Kolkata (NKDA OR WBHIDCO)

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

by Ar. Abhishek Dutta, May 18, 2012

New Town, Kolkata, more than 8000 acre development of state of West Bengal having dreams of thousands of plot holders. The dream homes setting was almost perfect till one is about to start the construction of there building. Previously WBHIDCO & presently NKDA has done a good job in terms of implementation of the building rules and only qualified architects designing all the buildings ensures a preservation of basic well-being & comfort conditions of the design unless clients moving to the cheapest bidder quacks for designs too.

If one may imagine a direct conversation of an average plot own about him experience it will probably saved like this.

– ‘We had a sanctioned plan, enough funds all through, a proper legal contract with a contractor at a seeming very high price; yet when things started getting delayed, we virtually had nothing to do to speed up. We went to the architect for arbitration. He called the contractor who wanted escalation of overall contact value. Finally after negotiations the architect found an amicable solution for both parties. Even through the contractor agreed on that day; back at the site, the works never picked up. Wanted to get rid of the contractor. Found the legal settlement is a very long process and mutual negotiation was deeply in contractor’s favors. In order to find peace of mind, accepted the bias terms of contractor & paid him more to get rid of. Our lose of time, effort and enthusiasm, obviously, was not considered at all. Got a new contractor involved with even higher price finish the remaining works. But the stay is not changed.’

These are the typical words of regret one would hear from average plot owners. All wishes to have given the job to a higher rate better contractor initially, but one only gets to know the contractors intentions after becoming a prey to him.

However, it is probably unfair to categories all contractors of this attitude. One can agree there are problems regarding material supplier’s monopoly. The local problems are part of the game all over the country; until our legislative systems gets modernized enough to fast-tract all dispute resolution; it is expected that a common man would rather ‘compromise’ than ‘deal’ with problems legally.

Truly speaking, all faults are not in contractor’s court as well. They have their problems too. Local ‘Dadagiri’ (which has reduced a lot since 2017 onward), irrationally high price of materials & labour (also the pure quality & quality of both), fluctuating market price; scoring has to deal with are there of course. But the tremendously missing attributes are basic qualification, which is a must for technical works like construction, which involves life risk of the occupant if not dealt properly with and perhaps most importantly the basic integrity of a man.

Finding ‘right man’ is quite an uphill task in it self. Whatever strict specification your architect may draft for you and no matter how many site visits he or his team make; one has to trust the contractor in some form or other as for smaller projects hiring a full time supervisor (his ability & integrity also to be trusted is really a unreliable option.)

So, ‘what-to-do finally?’ is the biggest question is minds of plot owners about to start their dream project. The answer is a simple proverb – “Look before you leap”.

The Owners/ Cooperative members of plots in New Town,Kolkata have experienced the horror of Design-Bid-Build, and long for an easier, quicker, cleaner method.  We firmly believe that by requesting and engaging the Architect, if they offer Architect-Led-Design-Built option or Project Management Service to provide single-source responsibility for the project – design and construction – the Client has a greater chance of obtaining a successful project and architect also gets a deeper sense of satisfaction as his/her design creation takes the exact shape it deserves to get. If nothing of that possible at least get the architect involved in the selection process, where the before bid evaluation request the architect to explain the design and the quality expectations and make sure the payment schedule is approved and before every payment the contractor must get his work certified by the office of the architect. This way one can have a check point on the quality too, however before this process you of course need an ethical architect you can trust.

If you have found this information useful or if you have any experience to share or any comments to add, please let us know by commenting below, or in our FB post. And feel free to pass on the information to your friends who might be interested on the issue. Thank you for your time.

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The Author, Ar. Abhishek Dutta, is a National Award winning architect (also a gold medalist (thesis) from J.U.) and Environmental Expert with more than 14 years of working experience at New Town. He is the Editor, of IIA-WB Chapter , Hon.Treasurer of the Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID) Kolkata and a visiting Faculty/Critic of Various Institutes including National Institute of Technology, Rourkella, IDEA College, Nashik, Bharti Vidyapith College of Architecture Mumbai, Amity University, Techno-India University, Om Dayal College of Architecture, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

He is founder Partner of the architectural Firm ArcOn Design.

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