The Pros And Cons Of Higher And Lower Floors

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By Anil Pharande

Pune, 10th March 2021: With the relentless rise in urban population, there is pressure on the land and vertical growth is the only option available to developers. Most housing projects currently in the pipeline in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore are high-rises. In fact, with more than 53 skyscrapers (buildings >150 m tall), Mumbai has the maximum number of high-rises in India. It is ranked 22nd on the list along with Miami which also has the same number of skyscrapers.

Following the high-rise culture of its immediate neighbour Mumbai, Pune’s high-rise trend started in city prime areas and gradually moving on to the suburbs, providing aspirational homebuyers with a hitherto unavailable option.

According to property consultant JLL, some of the prominent areas in Pune where high-rises either already exist or are coming up include Kharadi, Hadapsar, Kalyani Nagar in East Pune and Hinjewadi as well as areas in and close to Wakad and Pimple Nilakh in West Pune. The eastern corridor has taken the lead in such developments, but the western corridor is also fast catching up.

Does it matter which floor one buys an apartment on?

There is a certain aspirational factor involved in living on higher floors. Developers are aware of this and typically charge a ‘floor-rise premium’ on higher-floor flats. Floor rise premium varies from city to city. It may surprise you to know that it is usually based on the prevailing climatic conditions.

For instance, in Delhi NCR, due to the intense heat in summer, homebuyers usually have to pay a premium for flats on the lower floors. In cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore, the trend is reversed – higher floors cost more. Preferential location charges may range anywhere between Rs 25 to Rs 100 per sq. ft. or more and are added to the total cost of the apartment.

Should you opt for a higher floor?

Despite the better views and reduced road noise and pollution, are higher floors always more desirable? Regardless of whether one is looking to buy or rent an apartment, here are some factors to consider while choosing the floor:

– Window View: Most homebuyers considering flats in skyscrapers are attracted by the superior views that higher floors provide. For apartments located near the sea, golf green or some other scenic area, the view is a major factor.

– Privacy: Lower floors generally do not offer much privacy especially if the building is located near the main road or busy area. If the housing complex is in a congested location, a higher floor is likely to be more peaceful. Whether or not people on lower floors have less privacy than those on the higher floors depends on the area and building plan. For example, modern integrated townships are planned in such a manner that every home offers sufficient privacy.

– Sound and Air Pollution: In the case of high-rises in congested urban areas, lower floors are closer to roads. This can significantly impact both serenity and air quality. If one is considering a lower-floor flat in such an area, it is wise to visit it during high traffic hours to establish if this is a problem.

– Security and Fire Safety: Most homebuyers feel that the ground and second floors are not as safe as higher floors because they can be accessed more easily by thieves. If one chooses a lower floor, the housing complex must offer exceptionally good security arrangements. Nevertheless, residents on lower floors have a distinct advantage when it comes to emergency fire evacuation or elevator breakdowns. Again, much depends on whether the housing complex offers state-of-the-art safety facilities.

– Elevators: To ensure safety for all on the higher floors of skyscrapers, the developer will need to provide multiple lifts backed by fail-safe emergency power backup. Homebuyers considering a flat on a higher floor must establish whether the tower has at least two lifts. This is especially significant if there are elders and children in the resident’s family.

– Light and ventilation: While it is generally true that flats on higher floors tend to enjoy superior natural lighting and air circulation, much also depends on the nature and exact location of the building. For instance, in a modern integrated township, there are usually sufficient open green spaces to ensure that natural light and fresh air reach all floors. However, this is certainly not true with all high-rises, especially if they are in the middle of an urban concrete heat island.

– Cellular Coverage: In many older high-rises, flats on very high floors may not have decent cellular signal reception. In the case of modern buildings, builders often install boosters and repeaters to ensure uniform coverage on all floors. Again, this is something one needs to check first-hand before making a decision.

– Power consumption and Maintenance:  In the past, people living on lower floors tended to get a lower electricity bill because these floors require less cooling. Again, much depends on what the climatic conditions in a particular city are. Another important factor is how modern the building is – in the latest ultra-modern towers, developers use new construction designs and technologies which effectively eliminate this concern.

– Rent Generation Potential: In some cities, rental returns may depend on whether the flat is on a lower or higher floor. This is usually a function of the city’s climate. For investors, this is an important aspect to consider. Tenants in cities like Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore often prefer flats on higher floors, but the scenario changes in other cities – for example, lower floors are usually the preferred choice for home seekers in Chennai and Delhi-NCR.

So – should you choose a higher or lower floor in a high-rise apartment project? The answer to this question will change according to the city, exact location, nature of the project, and the capabilities of its builder. In modern integrated townships which are located in more spacious open environments, it is usually just a matter of personal preference. However, it is a very pertinent question to ask if the flat being considered is in a congested city centre area.

About the author: Anil Pharande is CMD of Pharande Spaces, a leading real estate construction and development firm famous for its township properties in West Pune. He is a pioneer of townships in West Pune. Anil Pharande is also Vice President – CREDAI (Pune Metro) and a MahaRERA conciliation forum member.)