Value per square foot: How home layouts are changing in Mumbai
The Mumbai home has shrunk. A sharp rise in property prices, a space crunch, a young mobile buyer and efforts by builders to cater to the affordable segment have all contributed to the reduced size. According to realty consultancy Knight Frank India, between 2014 and 2018, the average size of homes in new launches has shrunk by up to 25%.
The trend had taken off much earlier. The transition to more affordably priced projects started at the beginning of this decade, years before it was officially announced by the government as a scheme, says Parth Mehta, managing director of Paradigm Realty developers.
“The early shift was the sizes of 1BHK being reduced from about 420 sq ft in carpet area to as little as 330 sq ft by about 2014. In the case of 2BHKs, the sizes saw a drop from 800 sq ft to as little as 600 sq ft. The major changes were made to designs with living room sizes and bedroom sizes curtailed by as much as 40 sq ft each,” he says.
Mehta says that this kind of reduction allowed developers to bring down prices by as much as 30%. Later, with the introduction of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2015, the trend was incentivised with tax benefits for both buyers and developers.
“This created a good situation to introduce the concept of studio designs, which are typically flats that measure less than 250 sq ft in carpet area, and do away with the concept of the bedroom,” says Mehta.
Not just the bedroom, as houses shrink, design is getting more innovative too.
“Inclusion of dry space and washing machine spaces within the living space, combined living room and kitchen, houses with no specific niche for wardrobes — these are some design modifications that have helped make the most of available space, over the last few years,” says Girish Shah, executive director for residential services at Knight Frank India.
Some homes now have semi-furnished bedrooms where the beds fold into a wall during the day, opening up space. Dining and kitchen areas are combined. There are wooden partitions between rooms to create a sense of space and allow for privacy.
This is partly the reason we now have flats described as 1.5BHK, 2.5BHK etc.
The trend, says Burgis Daruwalla, principal designer at interior design company Seedle by DC Group, is to keep the living room as large as possible while compromising on the size of the bedrooms to compensate.
“This has made the role of designers very important because now only a skilled designer can cope with the challenges of bringing about the right balance between desires and aesthetic given the space constraints. The approach of one solution fits all is dying out,” Daruwalla says.
The changing demographic has helped. Today’s families are nuclear, aspiring homeowners are younger, and they’re looking for affordability rather than permanence.
“The young, mobile workforce who move to cities for career opportunities spends more time out of their living space. So smaller units that cost less are an ideal solution. In cities like Singapore, a lot of houses do not even have a kitchen,” says Pankaj Kapoor, CEO of real-estate consultancy Liases Foras.