Friday, January 31, 2014

What will your construction cost per square foot be in India? We find out!

What will your construction cost per square foot be in India? We find out!

a note on construction costs in india 2013

Construction Cost Per Sq ft = Rs. 2300.
Thank you.

(To find out how a bunch of stupid guys like ourselves got to that figure, read on. . .)

How much will it cost to construct, brother? In our professional lives as real estate dudes in the booming (Booming eh? - Rahul) real estate market of India, we confront this question everyday! Yes, everyday. From wherever we have come and joined hands at this slave driving organisation, we have different figures and benchmarks in our heads.

Even in some of the top real estate builder companies of India, we have seen different estimates of construction costs by different people. The components of construction costs too vary from company to company and there is no Gold Standard as such for these costs! Surprising yet true, construction costs in India is something that everyone knows. Ask a layman and he will tell you that the building in front of you would have cost Rs. 1,000 per square foot to construct. It is easy. However, we tell you that this is the most vague term out there and there are no correct figures, to go by. So we did a little snooping around for answers the other day. We present our stupid report below;

Assumptions - What are we constructing. From when.

# Residential apartments building
# Ground plus seven (G+7) to Ground plus nine (G+9) in height
# Standard premium fits and finishes. (Not imported marble flooring et al but the nice stuff)
# All statutory building requirements fulfilled to the maximum
# Construction Starts - April 2013
# Construction Time - 30 Months
# Start to finish. As in from the site possession to key handover to owner.
# Pure construction costs. Approvals, legal, marketing and other costs are extra.

Method

We made telephone calls to engineers, brokers, builders and some hardcore construction folks. We chose to call only those who were experienced, had proven deliveries backing what they were saying, and had worked across India. Of course, we are banking on close relationships with them as well, knowing that a stranger would not quite start babbling figures to us.

Facts - Construction costs in India

#Call 1. Mr. GSB
Bio: Almost 2 decades in the construction industry. Construction experience in multiple countries. Helped construct and deliver over 10 million Square feet of space in India.
Costs: Rs. 3000 per Square foot to construct the above. Rs. 3300 if there is a basement added. Keeping in mind that you are starting the process in April 2013, that is roughly what it will cost you by the time you finish, which he assumed would be end of 2015.

#Call 2. Mr. AH
Bio: 15 years of constructing residential buildings of all sizes, sorts and finishes. Experience of managing costs, procurement and all else as far as construction goes. Heads one of the leading residential brands of India.
Costs: Rs. 2500 per Square foot to construct the above specifications. Kept harping that premium finishes was a very vague term and that finishes could add immense costs to the entire amount. After much talking and zeroing in on specs, he gave us that figure. Okay we say.

#Call 3. Mr. AS
Bio: 10 years on the street as a real estate broker. Runs his own setup now with 5 side kicks and is handling 3 large projects on exclusive selling basis. Has been part of the concepts team for more than 10 large residential projects as the sales head.
Costs: Rs. 2000 per Square foot. Period. Builders love to give out escalated costs to show that profits are not as large as common knowledge. But if you start now, it will not cost you more than that, he affirms.

#Call 4. Mr. SC
Bio: Think tank with a salt and pepper receding hair line and all. A great tea lover. Has worked for the best construction houses in India and continues to work for one of those. Planned and delivered over 5 million Square feet of real estate including 2 satellite townships!
Costs: Rs. 2100 per Square foot is what it should cost if you start now. Thanks. *beep* *beep* line goes busy. So you know how absolutely sure he was about that.

#Call 5. Mr. SJ
Bio: A decade in real estate as the VC of a big real estate brand. Practically started the venture himself. Delivered many projects in the specs range we are talking of here. A knowledge hub for all things real estate. We turn to him for stuff such as this!
Costs: Rs. 1700 to 1800 per Square foot. Take it from the horse's mouth. Thanks SJ, we trust you.

Cost Conclusion

The construction cost ranges now from Rs. 1700 to Rs. 3000 per square foot for constructing the above specifications. You cannot really average that out would probably just need to average that out and you dummy bias it a bit and come to the figure of Rs. 2300 a square foot. That is what you should assume as your construction cost while you churn out that excel or that quick fingertip calculation.

Cheers!

About the author
Rahul Mishra is a real estate professional who started his life as a salesman, selling homes in the city of Kolkata since 2001. He worked pan India in real estate organisations like MMG Realty, Bengal Shrachi, The Phoenix Mills and The Space Group before helping co found Real Pillars Consultancy Private Limited,  with a single objective - To make real estate easy!

Connect with Rahul Mishra on Linkedin.

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Really Very Informative post, just want to know why there is huge price difference in Delhi and Mumbai home prices in terms of price per square feet.
Reply

Replies
  1. Price includes land cost, various other development costs, approvals, marketing, profits etc. Construction cost is also a part of that price. In different parts of the country, many portions of the costs vary. Land cost being the biggest factor. So as a thumb rule, higher land cost = higher final price.

Source : http://www.indianrealestatefordummies.in; Real Pillars Consultancy Private Limited

Service tax on under construction property in India

Housing market depends upon the service tax levied on under construction property, especially in the recent times when real estate industry is going through a difficult phase in India. There are speculations rife about the possible impact of Budget 2013 on real estate in India and how the budget is going to impact the home buyers and developers. There has been a lot of expectations that the new union budget would turn the wheel of fortune for the real estate industry. However, the budget failed to bring in any significant cheers for the crisis laden realty in India as abatement scheme has been modified.

Let’s see the recent implications related to service tax on under construction property.

Service tax

Service tax is payable on services provided by the service provider. The service provider collects the tax from the consumer and deposits the same to the government. It is applicable to all the services except for those mentioned in the Negative List of services.

The current rate of service tax is 12%. Education cess and senior and higher education tax is calculated on top of the service tax rate and it makes effective the service tax stands at 12.36%.

Under construction property

A property is termed “under construction” till the builder receives a “completion certificate” from the relevant authorities. If the entire amount for the property purchase is paid after the receipt of a completion certificate, there would be no service tax levied on the purchase of the property.

Service tax on under construction property

Service tax is levied on the services provided by developers in case of projects offered for sales and when the payment is made before the issuance of completion certificate. The developers had protested against the issuance of any such service tax; however, court verdict went in favour of the government and now service tax is liable on purchase of property under construction.

It is the responsibility of the developer to collect service tax from the customer and deposit it to the government. However, due to imposition of service tax, the burden of increased property price has to be borne by the buyer.

Exemption from payment of service tax on construction

An exemption from payment of service tax on under construction property is allowed in case of the following cases:

    Construction of single residential unit
    Construction of low cost houses up to carpet area of 60 sq meter

Single residential unit is defined as a self contained residential unit designed to be used by one family only.

How to calculate service tax on under construction property ?

When you buy a house, you pay for two components:

    Value of land
    Construction offered by the developer (service provider)

Service tax is payable only in case of construction services and not on the value of land. In cases where it becomes difficult to ascertain cost of immovable property and service cost separately, government has come up with the provision of abatement scheme where an amount is levied on the total amount.

Abatement scheme


Earlier an abatement of 75% had been allowed by the government and service tax was levied on only 25% of the total purchase price (including value of land). Hence, service tax of 12.36% is levied on 25% of the total cost of purchasing an under construction property. It means that a service tax of 3.09% is levied on the total cost.

However, in budget 2013, abatement has been reduced from 75% to 70% in case of flats above 2000 sq ft in size and costing Rs 1 crore and above. It means that in case of flats seized above 2000 sq ft and costing above Rs 1 crore, service tax of 3.71% would be levied.

Source : www.commonfloor.com; http://zoomrealty.blogspot.in

Ready-To-Move House vs Under-Construction One

The Tax Advantage

It may be best to prefer a ready-to-move house over an under-construction one.




The Tax Advantage

Shopping can be simple, but only if you don't have much choice. This holds true while buying a house as well. When you plan to buy a house, the most important decision you have to take is whether to go for a ready-to-move or an under-construction one.

PRICE POINTS

If things such as location, property type, neighbourhood and size are the same, a ready-to-move house costs more. The reason is obvious. You don't have to wait to live in it and so can save rent. An under-construction house costs less, but going for it means you end up paying interest on the home loan plus rent for your present accommodation.

Take two similar properties, one ready for possession and other to be ready in three years but costing 25% less. The annual outflow, assuming 80% house value as loan, will be almost the same in the first three years if down-payment amounts are the same. The reason is the tax breaks (on principal and interest payments) that you will be eligible for in the downright purchase and zero rent outgo.

TAX EDGE

Experts say one must buy the first house as early as possible in life to save rent and gain from tax deductions. However, for an under-construction house, claiming tax deductions is not easy.

This is how the relevant tax laws work. The principal paid is deducted from income under Section 80C of the Income Tax (I-T) Act up to Rs 1 lakh. The interest paid for a loan on the first home is eligible for deduction up to Rs 1.5 lakh under Section 24(b) of the I-T Act (for the second home, the entire interest payment can be deducted from the income that is earned from it).

These deductions are allowed only for properties that are ready. An under-construction property does not qualify for the Rs 1 lakh deduction available for principal payments. The interest paid when the property is under construction can be deducted in five equal instalments. However, the construction must be completed within three years of the end of the financial year in which the loan has been disbursed.

With project delays a norm rather than an exception, a large number of buyers are not eligible for the annual Rs 1.5 lakh tax deduction on interest payments.

Let's assume you bought an apartment in October 2010 that was delivered in October 2013. Also, the first loan amount was disbursed in October 2010. This means the construction has been completed within three financial years of the loan being taken.

For April-October 2013, the interest paid will be added to the interest paid during the remaining months of the financial year. Both principal and interest deductions will be available for 2013-14, within the respective limits.

The interest paid in the previous financial years will also become eligible for deduction now. One-fifth pre-construction interest can be added to the interest paid that year; the rest will be added over the next four financial years. The Rs 1.5 lakh limit for the interest amount is inclusive of pre-construction interest.

However, deduction on pre-construction interest does not make much sense when the loan is large. This is because the current year's interest and principal payments will eat up the tax deduction limit.

So, a large loan for an under-construction property means you lose the tax benefits on principal and interest payments that you make before the property is ready. Of course, you can still claim the house rent allowance deduction during the period if you are staying on rent.

If you are in the 30% tax bracket, you can save Rs 45,000 a year tax on interest payments for the first three years of buying a ready house.

SERVICE TAX

When a builder is selling a property in a group housing project before it is ready for occupancy, a service tax of 12.36% is levied on a portion of the price. There is no such tax if the property's carpet area is up to 60 square metres.

For properties worth up to Rs 1 crore or not exceeding 2,000 square feet in area, the service tax is applicable only on 25% of the price. So, the effective service tax rate is 3.09%.

For high-end properties, the service tax is calculated on 30% of the price, which means the effective rate is 3.71%. You do not have to pay this tax if the property is ready for possession.

Source : Pritam P Hans; http://businesstoday.intoday.in

Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan gives IISc Rs 225 crore


Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan gives IISc Rs 225 crore 


Kris, a co-founder of the Bangalore-based IT giant, will give the money under the banner of the Pratiksha Trust, a charitable organization he has set up with his wife Sudha. The trust funds education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Kris, a co-founder of the Bangalore-based IT giant, will give the money under the banner of the Pratiksha Trust, a charitable organization he has set up with his wife Sudha. The trust funds education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

In one of the biggest philanthropic contributions to the Pure Sciences, Infosys executive vice-chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan has set aside Rs 225 crore to develop a Centre for Brain Research at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. It's also one of the single-largest donations the 105-year-old institute has received from an individual. 

Kris, a co-founder of the Bangalore-based IT giant, will give the money under the banner of the Pratiksha Trust, a charitable organization he has set up with his wife Sudha. The trust funds education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship. 
As part of the collaboration between IISc and the Pratiksha Trust, the latter will give the money over 10 years for the establishment and functioning of the research centre. It'll also be supported by the Centre for Neuroscience and other facilities at IISc and collaborate with hospitals across the city. 
An international scientific advisory board chaired by Nobel laureate Prof Torsten Wiesel will guide the centre. Stanley Fahn (Columbia University), Sangram Sisodia ( University of Chicago), John Morris (Washington University, St. Louis) and Giovanni Frisoni (University of Geneva) are among the members who will help start operations at the centre, set research goals, and guide it. 
Kris will also fund the setting up of three chairs each in the departments of computer science, IISc and at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. 

Infosys co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan gives IISc Rs 225 crore

"The broad goal of the centre is to understand the functioning of the brain," said Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath, chairperson, Centre for Neuroscience, IISc. "We'll study how a normal brain ages and what factors lead to neurodegenerative conditions and diseases like dementia which are accelerated by old age. We'll work on whether it's possible to have an early diagnosis, better quality of life for those diagnosed with the problem and ensure treatment. The centre will also look at links between brains and computers and leverage existing understanding of brain functioning to create better models of computing," she said. 

With its focus on clinical research, the centre is expected to have 50-75 faculty as well as visiting faculty and post-doctoral students. The centre will be an autonomous body in the institute. 
"There are around 10 institutes in India which do work in these areas. But never has there been an institute which focused on one aspect. Therefore, this is an important initiative because the number of ageing people. In India is rapidly increasing," she said. 

Source : By TNN; ET

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Self-Publishing: How startups like NotionPress, Cinnamon Teal are changing the way books are created


Self-Publishing: How startups like NotionPress, Cinnamon Teal are changing the way books are created 

These ventures offer a range of services - from editing and copyright registration to cover design and distribution - making them necessary cogs in the growing wheel of self-publishing.

These ventures offer a range of services - from editing and copyright registration to cover design and distribution - making them necessary cogs in the growing wheel of self-publishing.

It took a score of rejection slips for author Amish Tripathi to go direct to his reader. Chancing his luck, the former banker published The Immortals of Meluha on his own - it went on to sell 40,000 copies. Four years on, the best-selling author of the Shiva trilogy is the mascot for India's self-publishing industry, where aspiring writers rely on a network of young companies to ease the process of turning ideas into books.

These ventures offer a range of services - from editing and copyright registration to cover design and distribution - making them necessary cogs in the growing wheel of self-publishing.

"Authors such as Tripathi have become superstars through self-publishing and that has increased interest among those who want to publish their work," said Naveen Valsakumar, 27, who co-founded NotionPress, which has built an online platform that allows authors to write, format and design a book for free .


The Chennai-based company also offers paid packages, where it edits the manuscript, designs the book and even creates promotional posters according to the author's specifications. The two-year-old company charges between 25,000 and 55,000 and has published about 2,500 books so far.

"By end of 2014, we hope to publish books by about 1 lakh authors, of whom at least 30% will use the paid service," said Valsakumar, who teamed up with co-founders Bhargava A and Janardhanan Pillay to set up the firm in 2012 .


NotionPress is one of about half-adozen such ventures, including Cinnamon Teal, Pothi and Zorba Publishers, that cater to those who want to become published authors but are unable to attract the attention of traditional publishers such as Penguin and Random House.

"Self-publishing is freedom of expression," said Tripathi, 39, who last year bagged a $1-million (about Rs 6-crore) book deal from Westland Press, which publishes his books that have now sold over 2 million copies. "Earlier, it was difficult for a middle-class person to get a book published without the backing of a publisher. Now, with companies providing turnkey services it has become a lot easier." 


Also, self-published authors get up to 70% of the royalty while in traditional publishing new authors get less than 10%. "Many authors do not even get a response from publishers," said Shalini Gupta, 49, founder of Zorba Publishers. The company started out as a traditional publisher about three years ago, but became a self-publishing platform in 2012, offering services such as editing and design for a fee that ranges from Rs 10,000 to over Rs 35,000. The company aims to earn revenue of Rs 50 lakh next year. 
Leonard Fernandes, co-founder of Goa-based publishing service provider Cinnamon Teal, said demand has doubled since a year ago. The firm, one of the first to offer such services to authors in India, was set up in 2007. "Earlier people did not understand the concept.

Now there is a certain sure-footedness in self-publishing," said Fernandes, who founded the company with his wife Queenie. The company, which charges about Rs 15,000 for end-to-end services, expects to earn Rs 1 crore in the next two years. 
While multiple rejections are the primary reason for most authors deciding to publish on their own, others do so to have greater control over the process. 
"The level of involvement an author can have in the process from the presentation to design cannot be matched in mainstream publishing," said Sumana Khan, author of supernatural thriller 'The Revenge of Kaivalya'. The former information technology professional published the book with the help of Cinnamon Teal in 2010. The book was backed by Tripathi's publisher Westland Press in 2013.

Like Westland Press, others are looking at self-published works with keen interest. "We have many self-published books," said Kapish Mehra, managing director of Rupa Publications, which brought out the five-part 'Horn OK Please' series by Karthik Iyengar. "As a business, I feel it (self-publishing) is a very interesting proposition." 
There are, however, a number of challenges. Jaya Jha, co-founder of Bangalore-based Pothi, said authors sometimes do not realise that self-publishing companies are not another kind of publisher. "When going with a self-publishing company the author is the publisher. And the most important responsibility of a publisher is marketing, which in case of self-publishing, falls on the authors' shoulders," said Jha, 31, an IIT-Kanpur and IIM-Lucknow alumnus. The firm, which declined to reveal revenue, has published over 4,000 print titles and over 2,500 ebooks. 

Distribution is another challenge. Neither the authors nor entrepreneurs have the kind of networks that publishers such as Penguin have with distributors to push their books onto the shelves of hundreds of bookstores. 
However, online sites such as Flipkart and Amazon are levelling the playing field. "We list the books on these sites and print the book only when an order is placed," said Cinnamon Teal's Fernandes. Ebooks are also helping ease the distribution bottleneck. In the past six months, Fernandes said, every second book ordered from Cinnamon Teal was an ebook.

"Once ebooks become more popular, the distribution problem will be solved," said Tripathi. "Then self-publishing can be as successful as mainline publishing in India.

ET View: Why Self Publishing is a Good Idea Indeed 
Among the unexpected benefits of the spread and ubiquity of the internet and improvements in printing technology, is the emergence of selfpublishing. As several bestsellers show, it is no longer restricted to vanity publishing. Selfpublishing once seemed to threaten the old network of agents, publishers and publicists who dominated the industry. But it forced publishers to adapt to a new model of doing business: today, if self-published books become a success, publishers are saved the job of scouting new talent and adopt the writers immediately. 

Source : By Radhika P Nair, ET Bureau 

Nikhil Zaveri, owner of Rs 1,300-cr plot in Mumbai, is missing


Nikhil Zaveri, owner of Rs 1,300-cr plot in Mumbai, is missing 

The plot is home to the now-defunct Palm Beach School, a once-prestigious institution where wealthy businessmen vied to get admission for their children.

The plot is home to the now-defunct Palm Beach School, a once-prestigious institution where wealthy businessmen vied to get admission for their children. 

Nikhil Zaveri has been missing for more than a month. In a country where thousands of people fall through the cracks every year, this isn't remarkable in itself. Said to be in his 50s, Zaveri has Huntington's disease — a hereditary nerve disorder that can lead to progressive deterioration in cognitive functions and other psychiatric issues.

Twice-divorced and living with his sister after having had to leave his own house because of debts, relatives said the police have been unable to pick up any trace of the man. But what makes the case significant is that Zaveri owns a piece of land on Mumbai's Nepean Sea Road that could be worth as much as Rs 1,300 crore.

The plot is home to the now-defunct Palm Beach School, a once-prestigious institution where south Mumbai's wealthy businessmen vied to get admission for their children.
Before his disappearance, Zaveri had plans to revive the school, which closed in 2007, and develop part of the plot as a real estate project. "Zaveri came to me to seek our help in getting documents in order so that he can build an international high school on that site," said Vikram Trivedi, managing partner of Mumbai-based law firm Manilal Kher Ambalal & Co. "We are working on it. However, he went missing soon afterwards." 
Given the potential of the land, Zaveri used to be hounded by developers and brokers with business proposal While some of these did proceed beyond initial discussions, the two sides could never reach an agreement on commercial terms. The family, however, isn't ready to name any particular developer or broker Zaveri may have negotiated with. 

A picture of Zaveri shows a slight man with gray, wispy hair smiling uncertainly at the camera. From all accounts, he was alone and ailing and finding it difficult to manage, debilitated by illness, while living at the Nepean Sea Road address. It was when he found himself unable to cope with creditors that Zaveri went to live with his sister and her family in Kandivali, a north Mumbai suburb. 
"It was very difficult for him and then due to some old dues he had to vacate his home overnight," said a family member.

"We are very concerned for his well-being since it's over a month," said the family member, who has filed a missing person's complaint at the Samta Nagar police station in Kandivali. The police said they are looking into all possible angles, including trying to trace Zaveri's contacts by phone or otherwise. 
"Due to his health, he himself might not be able to locate where he is and further we are concerned because he is the owner of a property, which might be valued high due to its privileged location," said one of the police officials, who didn't want to be named.

Zaveri had gone missing a few times earlier but was soon discovered at the old school building. "Nikhil was a chain smoker and used to go to the shop to buy cigarettes," said one of his relatives. "We thought he would return soon but when he didn't turn up the whole night, we started worrying about him. Due to his physical and mental condition, he was not keeping his cell phone with him." 
The family is concerned about Zaveri's safety, especially since developers are circling the property, the dilapidated nature of which contrasts sharply with the area's much tonier surroundings.

"If you count location and FSI (floor space index) for the developable area, this property would be valued at around Rs 1,300 crore in the current market," said a relative. "On many occasions, Nikhil told us that he wanted to develop the property and many builders have shown interest. However, he was more keen to give it to someone who can manage the school and commercial property but not a builder." According to one of Zaveri's close associates who didn't want be named, he was single minded in his desire to get the school rebuilt. 
"He approached me to help him out for rebuilding the school and I accompanied him to meet a lawyer for fulfilling all requirements before he went missing from his brother-in-law's home," the person said.

As the hunt for Zaveri goes on, the yellow, three-storey, sea-facing building that once echoed to the sounds of boisterous children sits silent and empty, waiting for its custodian's return. 


Source : By Maulik Vyas & Kailash Babar, ET Bureau

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hot Wheels, A La Carte

Hot Wheels, A La Carte
Akshai Varde on his life and career trajectory—from being a flight attendant to designing the motorcycle that Akshay Kumar uses in 'Oh My God'
Akshai Varde is CEO of Mumbai-based Vardenchi Motorcycles, a firm that handcrafts luxury motorcycles
TRUE LIFE
Off the Blocks:  Akshai Varde was 12 when he modified his imaginary mobike, a BMX cycle ~ Photo by Ritesh Uttamchandani
Off the Blocks: Akshai Varde was 12 when he modified his imaginary mobike, a BMX cycle ~ Photo by Ritesh Uttamchandani
One of my most distinct memo­ries as a child is with my dad on his Honda 250 motorbike, cruis­ing along the roads, lanes and bylanes of Mumbai. We would get the bike ser­viced by Johnny and Tony in the sub­urb of Khar. They were the only me­chanics my dad trusted with his bike and were the best when it came to pow­erful imported Japanese bikes. In their workshop, I would hear those super bikes roaring to life after being pam­pered. It ignited my mind with fascina­tion and curiosity. That place just grew on me. 
I was given my own version of a su­per bike when I was eight—a BMX cy­cle. I imagined it to be a motorbike and was always on it—to school, back home, through the afternoon and into the evenings. I was addicted to it. We had even built a riding track close to home. I kept making changes to my cycle. I painted it, replaced the spoke wheels for really fancy plastic wheels that resembled ‘mag wheels’. But by the time I was 12, it was the real bike that began to interest me. I learnt how to ride one on my own. It was a Yamaha RD350, my first bike. I remember dis­mantling every part, re-chroming it and transporting all those parts in a rickshaw, a mode of transport I bare­ly ever used. A dynamo-run headlamp and music system were a 16-year-old’s inputs to his first bike.
I was a realist back then. I realised bikes would be my passion, a hobby, but nothing more. I was weak at math­ematics, so engineering was never on the cards. I almost got admitted to medical college before I realised it was not my cup of tea. So I chose to study hotel management instead.  I had envi­sioned where it would go—once I had enough money to invest, I would have my own restaurant.
My second bike was a 1977 model of a Royal Enfield. I bought it in 2003 when I was 23 years old. It was an old model and required some work right at the beginning. So I broadened the tank, put a dynamo head lamp and used the best paint available so that it clung to its body with the pride I felt for my work of art.
A year later, in 2004, I entered the parking lot of a local multiplex and couldn’t resist the temptation of park­ing my modified bike next to an ordi­nary Enfield. I even took sadistic pleas­ure at the thought of its owner coming to collect the bike and looking at mine. But when I came out, it was my turn to be shocked. The other Enfield was gone and in its place was another heav­ily modified one which made mine look almost average. I noted down the details of the bike and tracked down the modifier—Timothy from Bandra.
After my hotel management course, I worked at the Oberoi (now Trident) briefly before joining Jet Airways as a flight attendant. For a chef accustomed to working 18 hours a day, a flight at­tendant’s job left me with a lot of free time. I had made up my mind in that parking lot to build a better bike than the one that had just stunned me. For the next six months, I was consumed, during my spare time, by the task of modifying my Enfield. This time I used a professional designing software. I kept the core of the motorcycle, its en­gine, chassis and electrical wiring, in­tact but changed everything else.
A few months later in 2005, I was rid­ing my Royal Enfield at Marine Drive, a biker’s paradise in South Mumbai. Ash Chandler, a stand-up comedian and actor, stopped me, rolled down his window and looked as if he was in ab­solute awe. “That’s a great modified bike,” he said. “It doesn’t look like you have bought it, it looks as if you have built it. Would you like to make one for me?”
“We can talk about it,” I replied, elat­ed. Chandler had just become my first customer. Designing the chopper was a discovery, and even without advanced equipment, we did a fairly good job. His bike, now completely restructured, had a custom frame, swingarm, paint chrome and accessories. I didn’t make any profit on modifying Chandler’s bike, but it had sown the seed of Vardenchi Motorcycles. Being a flight attendant didn’t seem as interesting anymore. So I thought that as long as modifying bikes gave me enough to sustain myself, I could do this for a liv­ing. I proof-tested myself for a year, set­ting up my business while simultane­ously working at Jet Airways. It was a long year, but by the end of it, there was no looking back.
I had to make up for lost time. I found myself doing everything, look­ing into the engineering, finance and administration parts of the business.  I took a course in Pro Engineering, a 3D designing software, and practical­ly studied the entire automobile engi­neering syllabus with the help of engi­neering professors and students.
I was 24. We were a team of three—a 16-year-old mechanic named Ratan, a 21-year-old commercial art student named Sachin Pitle, and me. We were ambitious and knew exactly what we wanted. We wanted to delight peo­ple with our designs and engineer­ing. We wanted to cater to their eve­ry whim and fancy, some possible and some not. The learning was in stag­es. The minute we got stuck with de­sign or engineering aspects, I would go back to my books.  I was the engineer we didn’t have. Initially it was all about the design. We designed and then engi­neered. When the engineering became too advanced, we would go back and make changes to the design.
Our engineering is still inspired by high-end products of auto compa­nies like Mercedes, BMW, Bentley and Porsche, more by cars and less by bikes. We were slightly overambitious back then. I expected our customers to com­promise on quality because they had a ‘one of a kind, exclusive machine’. Today as our market is growing, we want to provide our customers with a sustainable machine. Design is em­bedded in intelligent engineering and made conducive for Indian conditions. Our machines have better brakes, sus­pension, less noise and vibration. Back then we were three, but today we are a force of 23, all specialists in our respec­tive departments.
Customised choppers are still a novel idea in India, so demand for these needed to be created. We did a lot of online marketing during the in­itial stages but it was word of mouth and media coverage that did the trick. Luck favours the hardworking. Our efforts began to pay off. Hotwheels, Walt Disney, Sunburn and many oth­ers became part of our clientele and my doubts began to vanish. The pro­ducers of the film Oh My God had a look at our website and contacted us to design something that would suit Akshay Kumar’s personality as God in the film. We thus got involved in mak­ing the chopper during the initial stag­es of the film itself, leaving us with enough time to deliver a heavily cus­tomised type IV motorcycle with a 300 mm rear tyre.
As amateurs, we were inspired by an­ything that had an element of shock. We replicated the bike Nicholas Cage rides in the film Ghost Rider for a pro­motional event in 2006 before the film’s release in India. The 11 feet Skeltor with its skull and chains re­sembled the original to such an ex­tent that we ourselves were amazed. Of the 250 bikes that we have modified at Vardechi, this was an early wonder.
Our current line-up of custom-built choppers starts at Rs 3.5 lakh. Every bike is unique and most of the parts handcrafted. Our customers either pro­vide us with bikes that are less than a year old, or we customise brand new bikes for them.  I envision my cus­tomers walking into a Vardechi de­sign lounge and picking the colour, features, design and graphics built to suit their personality, like a tailor-made tuxedo.  I want my designs to be an extension of who they are, the way Vardenchi is an extension of me, a man who still wants to flaunt the best mo­torcycle in town.
+++

As told to Sharmeen Hakim Indorewala

Source : http://www.openthemagazine.com

Triumph gears up for India ops with a change in plans

Triumph gears up for India ops with a change in plans

Triumph will start assembling completely knocked-down kits at a factory in Gurgaon-Manesar area
Photo: Ramesh Pathania

Triumph Motorcycles, the British company which sells the iconic ThunderbirdDaytona 675 and Speed Triple bikes, will start selling in India in September after a change in its manufacturing plans, three people familiar with the plan said.
According to the new plan, Triumph Motorcycles will start assembling completely knocked-down (CKD) kits at a factory in the Gurgaon-Manesar area in Haryana, a departure from its earlier plan to build a factory at Narsapura, near Bangalore.
The company’s manufacturing plans in Karnataka will be implemented later, two of the three people cited above said. It is, however, unclear whether the company has bought land in Haryana to start an assembly plant or it will use the manufacturing facilities of a vendor.
“They want to test the Indian market. The Gurgaon-Manesar belt will act as a stepping stone,” one of the three people familiar with the matter said. “At Narsapura, a full-fledged manufacturing facility will come up in 2015.”
All three declined to be named.
The company has opened a purchasing office in Gurgaon and hired a consultant to recruit in India, according to the second person cited above. “They want to get over with the recruitment process by end July.”
Local assembly will help the company save on import taxes and reduce the cost of the motorcycles sold in India.
India imposes an import duty of 60% on completely built vehicles, 30% on semi knocked-down kits and 10% on completely knocked-down units.
“We will shortly be holding a full press briefing on our planned activity in India, and would prefer to hold off on any communication until that time,” a Triumph spokesperson said. “We will be in touch as soon as the firm plans for this briefing have been made.”
Triumph’s India plans have been delayed by the unexpected resignation of managing director Ashish Joshi, who quit the company in April.
Joshi was heading Royal Enfield’s European operations before joining Triumph.
The Hindu Businessline newspaper in May 2012 reported that Triumph Motorcycles then planned to set up a factory near Bangalore at a cost of Rs.215 crore.
The company’s proposal was approved by the Karnataka state high level clearance committee. The committee has approved the allotment of 30 acres of land at Narsapura Industrial Area in Kolar district, the report said.
Triumph had exhibited its models, including Bonneville, the iconic Speed Triple and Street Triple, the off-roader Tiger 800XC, supersport Daytona 675 and cruisers Storm and Rocket III, during the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo.
The company had then said it would assemble some of these models locally.
Priced between Rs.5.5 lakh and Rs.22 lakh, Triumph models compete with motorcycles from companies such as Harley-Davidson Inc.Ducati and BMW Motorrad.
While some of Harley’s models in India are locally assembled, BMW and Ducati have been selling imported units.
Triumph plans to open sales outlets in India by this year, according to the company website.
The market for high-end motorcycles will continue to surge with the growth in the Indian economy, according to an industry consultant who declined to be named.
“Harley has managed to make an instant connect with the buyers in this niche segment. No doubts there will be buyers who would have waited for Triumph, but that initial momentum has been seized by Harley,” he said.
Harley sells at least 80-90 motorcycles a month, while the estimated size of the market is a little over 2,000 units a year.
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