Building a home rarely goes as per plan and deviations from approved layout plan is very common. But this can be a major problem if the changes are large and not been ratified by the authorities. Besides penalties, there is also a risk of the building being demolished.

Why are there deviations?

Before construction, builders submit a plan to the approving authority – for example Corporation or Municipalities, depending on the location. When construction starts, there may be unavoidable technical and architectural difficulties or glitches. For example, based on the material availability, some changes may need to be made and causes unintentional deviation.

Deviation may also be intentional. For instance, building may exceed the floor space index (FSI) ratio that is permitted, so as to get larger constructed area. In some cases, there may be illegal construction with adding extra floors or flats or building in the parking spaces.

Why should a buyer check deviation from approved plan?

Any changes from the plan can have financial implications for a buyer. One, you may get less carpet area with more space allotted to common areas. This would reduce the resale value.

If there are large deviations, and you buy an under-construction property, the project may not get occupancy certificate. This could lead to not getting services such as water and power. The building or atleast the deviating portions of it may also be demolished by the authorities.

How easy is it to check deviation?

After the project is completed, a registered architect will check the actual against the plan to certify if the building was constructed was per plan. This is required to apply for Occupancy Certificate, which is issued after verification by the authorities.

However, to be safe, buyers may engage an expert such as an architect to estimate the percentage of deviation. It is not easy to do as builders typically only share illustrations that are indicative and not the actual approved layout plan.

What actions do authorities take in case of deviations?

After the actual completion of the project, the builder needs to notify the authorities of the deviations. If the changes are small, these are noted and a new approval is given. Typically, five per cent deviation in size from approved layout plan is permitted.

If this limit is exceeded, but the deviations are still considered safe, authorities may levy a penalty and provide approval. If the project has larger violations or variations that may be a risk to public safety or illegal based on the existing rules, they cannot be remedied with fees for regularisation.

There have been examples of courts ordering the demolition of various buildings due to illegal construction. The recent one is that of Emerald Court project in Noida. Supertech, the builder, has been asked to demolish its twin 40-storey towers for violation of building norms.

What is the recourse if you bought a property that is unauthorised?

At any point in time, you can apply to the authorities concerned for regularising the deviations. This may be through an application form and submitting all the required documents including the original approved plan.

Besides the normal process, different cities often introduce special schemes for regularisation, from time to time. These also cover change of intended use – say from residential purposes in the approval plan to commercial occupancy. For example, Telangana introduced a layout and building regularisation scheme in 2016, covering construction on unapproved land layouts and building deviations.

Are there some deviations that may not be regularised?

Yes. Constructions made in parks, green areas and layout open spaces are not eligible for regularisation. Likewise, if the change to the building usage is not within the zoning laws in the area, it cannot be approved. Construction made in the stilt floor are not eligible and structures in the parking area may need to be removed. Also, if the building falls in the road widening portion, it will not be regularised.

Can Gram Panchayat give approval?

No. Plans sanctioned by agencies such as the Gram Panchayat are not valid - they are not empowered to approve, as per delegation of powers without prior technical approval from HMDA/UDA/ DTCP as per the Gram Panchayat Building Rules, 2002.

The author is an independent financial consultant

Devious changes
Home buyers must be watchful of deviations as authorities and courts may take a tough stance