The shell of a house that the builders handed over (2009) was fraught with problems. From the following list of problems that we referred to the builder some were rectified by them and the rest we handled.
- Bubbling of plastering in the ground floor – Turns out that this is a widespread problem with new houses built on landfill in Kerala. A majority of the houses in our community sits atop leveled out paddy fields. By capillary action during the monsoon season moisture seeps up the wall. The builder’s (Heera Constructions) solution was to scrap off the bulging layers, inject water-proofing compound through random incisions, and reapply the plastering. The problems with this approach are: a) these incision spots are not scientifically chosen – we have several spots where the bubbling has reappeared, and b) it is a very messy process as it generates a lot of dust.
- Termite problem – Per the builders’ specification, termite treatment was to have been performed during construction. However, we noticed severe termite infested areas when we moved in - the termites were even starting to appear on the first floor! It was indeed double whammy to notice pest proofing was not done either. We got these completed by a branded service company. This process is also messy – for termite treatment, holes are drilled throughout the ground floor for injecting the chemicals – the holes are then corked with chalk before replastering. Pest proofing too involves a lot of chemicals and it is best to be not around during this time.
- First-floor bathrooms had no water connection – The builder flat-out missed connecting the water pipes and so there was no water in the first-floor bathrooms. Also, they failed to incorporate hot water pipes to facilitate a solar heater. These were fixed by the builder, but it took a number of calls to convince them that there really was a problem.
- Water Leakage near the sunshades and certain other spots – Correct sloping was not done for some of the parapets resulting in water retaining and leaking through. Water-proofing of these areas were not done either. We got this done as part of our complete paint-job.
- Unfinished outside bathroom – During the construction phase the builders had problems with people lifting fixtures and similar items. To counter this, they locked the outside bathroom doors and the side-effect was forgetting to finish those bathrooms. The builder did eventually get around to doing this, although it was quite a hassle.
- Cracks on the compound wall – the compound walls were a hoot with visible cracks and gaps. Apparently, the compound wall was built on minimal foundation and given the soil condition, the walls sank unevenly. Our builder patched up the walls, although it would have been fairer to rebuild it, given the condition – ultimately, we got them to agree to rebuild, should the wall collapse on its own in the next few years.
The following issues were fixed on our own without contacting the builder.
- Most of the tiles in the restrooms sported a number of paint and rust-spots.
- Inside and outside walls were painted with low-quality distemper that by the time we moved in, it was ready for a repaint. Also, no weather-coating was done for the red roof tiles and so they were fast turning black (with mold).
- Fuses on the outside panels used low quality material that had rusted through.
- The fuse panel inside needed rework as 6, 8, 15, and 20A fuses were used in random to connect different switches. Also, several of the fittings needed rework as they were not properly wired. The most bizarre item was the builder choosing to install an exhaust in the store room instead of the work area.
- Several of the faucets leaked.
It was unacceptable to us that a new house handed-over in good faith had these many problems. Actually, this is greatly the norm unless you are dealing with the very best builders. While our problems were many and the process of fixing them challenging, the surprising reality is that there were more than a few houses with far more serious problems than ours:
- Problems with piling giving away (resulting in the house sinking).
- Parts of the ground floor caving in.
- Issues with the title involving unauthorized land made part of the community.
- Location of undesirable things in the common area placed in close proximity to houses.
Then there is the on-going saga in resolving issues with what the builder promised for the common-areas and what was actually transferred over to the HOA. In summary, if we ever have to repeat this process, we will definitely stick with one of the best builders. Also, we would prefer a "ready-to-occupy" option, even if that involves a premium. The time and effort needed to get our house livable condition was way more than what we anticipated. We did know about the lax service practices in Kerala, but the reality was worse that what we had imagined.
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