It is well known that in any newly constructed Apartment complex or a Villa enclave, the Builder forms the Apartment Owners Association or generally termed as Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) and hands over the Common areas and amenities to the RWA. Sometimes Owners by themselves form the RWA when Builder is not forthcoming and initiate the Handover Takeover (HOTO) of the operation and maintenance of all common areas and amenities like Basements, Gardens, Lifts, Gensets, STP, Swimming pool, Clubhouse etc., and RWA will be the De-facto owners of the common areas and amenities.
we are writing this blog based on the experience we have garnered after auditing many RWAs during the Handover Takeover process
How does the HOTO process work?
The Builder would (should have) have completed all the common areas and amenities as per the specifications and as per the promised list in the offering at the time of selling the property mentioned through the Brochure. The Agency conducting HOTO Audit will collect the list of common areas and amenities and prepare an Inspection plan. Then the Work Breakdown structure is prepared along with the time schedule to complete each activity. Then Audit is commenced and completed in phased manner with all clarifications and compliances. Finally a report will be shared which should be easily understood for the builder to rectify the snags and shortcomings.
What are the components of HOTO process ?
Main components of HOTO are
- Quality Audit of the facilities : ensures that all the installations are done properly
- Design Audit of the facilities : checks for the adequacy of the provisions
- Documentation Audit: ensures that all documents are handed over
- AMC advisory: ensures that required all Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) are in place and covering the required aspects.
What does Quality Audit comprise of in detail?
In a Project, the Builder engages an Architect, Plumbing consultant, Electrical consultant, Firefighting consultant and other specialists. All of them carry out the Design based on project requirement and give out Drawings and specifications for the particular project. This will be used by the project construction team to build the project and operate various systems and building services.
At the time of HOTO, the RWA has to make sure that all the construction and operations are as per the specifications and as per the Standards or Best industry practice.
Needless to say that if poor quality work is taken over by the RWA, the cost of rectifications will be borne by the funds of RWA which otherwise will have been borne by the Builder out of their funds.
What are the parts of Quality Audit?
Mainly Quality Audit comprises of two aspects:
- Civil Engineering aspects
- MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) aspects
Civil Engineering aspects cover all the workmanship of basic constructions and finishing items.
To start with, the Basements have to be checked for any incomplete / imperfect works, Cracks and Damages, Water seepages and Dampness etc.
Next all the of superstructures like Towers, Club house, Swimming pool, DG (Diesel Generator) Rooms, STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) need to be checked both internally (Lobbies, Stairways, Rooms etc.) and externally for improper finishing works, cracks, dampness etc.
Further the Terraces including Overhead Water tanks (OHT) should be checked for cracks, Dampness spots, Rain water leakage points, proper waterproofing etc.
Finally the Podium area should be checked for any snags in Pathways, side drains, Garden areas, Water bodies, Park benches, Play areas, Transformer yard, Organic Waste Converter (OWC) etc.
MEP aspects cover the workmanship of Installations starting with Electrical transformer yard and followed by Electrical Panel rooms at each Building/Tower and Electrical Shafts. Here checking should be done on workmanship of Installation as per IS codes/Best Industry practice like required Earthing, proper Cable dressing (proper way of laying the cables), proper Tagging of cables for identification through circuit diagrams, any missing safety devices like ELCB/RCCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breakers/Residual Current Circuit Breakers) which avoid accidental electrocution, etc. While checking, focus should also be on statutory requirements to avoid stiff actions/penalties by the authorities. Needless to say that Electrical workmanship faults are the main reason for Fire in Buildings endangering lives.
We have noticed that improperly maintained Transformer can create fire and even explode due to failure in cooling oil system.
Next checking is done on DG (Diesel Generator) sets installation. Here again proper connections, Earthing and any imperfections in installation as per norms is checked along with working of Auto start function within the prescribed time of the mains power failure.
Lifts are another set of equipment that need to be checked for smooth and proper operation by stopping at all required levels including emergency preparedness. Any noncompliance here will attract penal action from Electrical Inspectorate who issue Licence to operate them.
Next major item would be checking of Plumbing systems which start with Public water supply lines, Sumps, Bore wells, Water treatment plant (WTP), Overhead water tank (OHT) piping etc. Piping will be checked for proper installation as per norms and leakages. Bore wells and WTP will have to be checked for proper operations.
There are instances where untreated water is directly lead to Tanks and filters bypassed, causing Health hazard.
Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is compulsory and crucial part of Apartment complex requiring thorough check by professionals, ensuring proper operation and statutory compliances. As the treated water is used for flushing in the toilets, we have seen cases of improperly treated water causing unbearable foul smell and also being a health hazard in the dwellings. Any noncompliance here will attract penal action from The Pollution Control Board (PCB).
It is seen that in some cases, untreated or partially treated sewage water is let into public drain/spaces without the knowledge of RWA, stealthily by the STP operator. One should be aware that such violations are Criminal offences punishable by law.
In case of High rise buildings (where height is more than 15 mts from ground) fire fighting system is mandatory. This will be in two parts; Fire Alarm system and Firefighting system where both need to be checked for proper installation as per norms with a professional agency well versed with various types of system.
It is not uncommon to see that Fire Alarm system is switched off in many Apartment complexes as there is a false alarm and they have no time or inclination to diagnose the system fault and rectify the same. This can lead to serious issue as there will be no alarm in case of Fire incident and lives will be jeopardised.
It is also noticed that inside of Fire cabinet the hose nozzle will be missing or pipes are not connected. All such safety issues will only be unearthed when Audit is done by an unbiased Third party.
Finally amenities like Swimming Pool needs to be checked for proper functioning of Filtration system and water purification aspects.
Overall the Quality Audit process adds value to the HOTO process by saving money to the operational budget of the RWA by making sure that Common areas and Amenities are in good condition before handover to the RWA.
This blog is authored by Mr R Suresha, COO @ Nemmadi.in