Community living comes of age in Nepal

Kathmandu: It has been four years since a new concept in the nascent housing industry in Nepal has been taking shape through the projects of Comfort Housing. Pioneers of the concept of ‘community living’ in Nepal, Comfort Housing has provided a natural response to a natural demand. That is an ever-increasing population looking for affordable and comfortable place to stay. Om Rajbhandari, chairman and CEO, Comfort Housing, says, “The increasing population and shrinking availability of land is making the housing industry crucially important

in today’s context.” Housing as an industry itself is a new concept for most Nepalis, to whom home had traditionally meant a house built personally on a personal piece of land. On top of this, an innovative player like Comfort Housing had the onerous task of selling the very idea of community living.

But if the experience of the company, following the resounding success of three of its projects,

is anything to go by, Comfort Housing has been more than able to sell its dream. “It was dream for us at Comfort Housing to provide quality residence to people across Nepal. Seems we have made a decent enough beginning,” says, Rajbhandari. Sitapaila, close to Swayambhu, has been the link this chain of achievement for Comfort Housing. Meant for the high-income upper middle class families, this housing complex, with 76 units divided into five different categories of houses, has been taken possession of by its owners for about a year now. Built according to a modern plan that ensures basic civic amenities like roads, water supply and electricity, Sitapaila has helped Comfort Housing to go from strength to strength.

Built over two and a half floor and at a price range of Rs 32.45 to 52.45 lack, all these stand alone houses have been taken up. “It gave us real insights into the likes and dislikes of not only our immediate consumers but also the guests and visitors who came to Sitapaila,” says Rajbhandari. It is following their suggestions that Comfort Housing decided to build its next project at Budhanilkantha. For Budhanilkantha project, Comfort Housing decided to build the necessary infrastructure like road alignment, drainage, waterlines and property demarcation before even putting up a mock-up building to give a real-life impression to prospective customers.

“We were greatly impressed by the response of the buyers who lapped up the proposed

42 units at Budhanilkantha in one day on 14 June, 2003,” says Rajbhandari. The foundation stone for Comfort Housing third project at Sano Bhanjyang (Ichangu) was laid in November 2004 and completed by the end of April 2005. All the 64 units on sale have been sold out at a price range of Rs 34.75 to Rs 84-85 lakhs. “We brought in some innovations by offering a mix of apartments, independent houses and different buildings to suit the taste of different people,” informs Rajbhandari. The quick sale of the accommodation on offer shows that the company had the formula right. Right now Comfort Housing is building a high-rise apartment block next to Radisson Hotel at Lazimpat, primarily keeping in mind people who already have experience of living in apartment accommodation.

Rajbhandari says that as the available land area in Kathmandu becomes scarce while the number of people looking for quality accommodation continue to spiral, we have little option but to look to grow vertically. It is what all the capitals around the world opt for, at least in select areas, he adds. Keeping to its promise of offering alternative quality and economical housing option across Nepal, Comfort Housing has just started building a housing project in Dharan. Small in size, with 15 units in offer, the project is a kind of a pathfinder for Comfort Housing. The company will be keenly watching its fate which will decide the future of other planned projects in other important cities in Nepal, adds Rajbhandari. For the future of the housing industry in Nepal, it is crucially important that there are some immediate and structural changes in the existing building by-laws by the government that were promulgated way back in 1993. As pressure on land has shot up and there have been large changes in the prevailing conditions in the country, changes in building by laws have taken on special urgency. Today, many people in Nepal, are looking for comfortable houses at a reasonable rate and above all, at a reasonably secure environment.

Builders at work

1.Ace Apartments

2.Annapuran Developers

3.Ansal Chaudhary Developers

4.Civil Homes

5.Comfort Housing

6.Dome Housing

7.Euro Housing and Developers

8.Grace Apartments

9.Greenwood villas

10.Indreni Apartments

11.Jawalakhel Real Estatea and Housing

12.Kusunti Housing

13.KC Constructions (Pokhara Homes)

14.Rapid Development

15.Saligram Apartments

16.Shangri La Villa

17.Subha Avas

18.Oriental construction and Development

19.Saligram Apartments

20.Valley Homes

Home loan providers

1.Lumbini Bank Ltd

2.NIC Bank Ltd

3.Standard Chartered Bank Ltd

4.Everest Bank Ltd

5.Rastriya Banijya Bank

6.Himalayan Bank Ltd

7.Nabil Bank Ltd

8.Nepal Investment Bank Ltd

9.Bank of Kathmandu

10.Nepal Bank Ltd

11.Kumari Bank Ltd

12.NCC Bank Ltd

13.Union Finance

14.United Finance