GOVERNMENT SECTOR PROJECTS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are you offering free Vastu advice? What are the terms and conditions for that ?
Yes ! Residents of Ansal's Palam Vihar and Sector 23, Gurugram can send me an email. I am fortunate to be able to devote time to further research into various aspects of Vastu and tap into the rich resources of the knowledge of the ancients. I am also undertaking various courses on Vastu including those by reputed Architect Michael Maestro. Free Vastu advice is being offered for a limited time, for existing residences upto 300 square Yard plots or residences upto 4 bedrooms in multi-storey appartments in Ansal's Palam Vihar and Sector23 Gurugram Area by me. You need to share with us the soft copy drawing of your residence. This includes a site visit, meeting with you to understand if the owner/inhabitant is having any issues and installing certain Yantras and Energy Correction Devices as Vastu Corrections, followed up with a Report. No breaking or major interior alterations are suggested. The time frame can vary but we endeavor to complete the process in about a month's time
1.We want something new designed . How do we get started?
Response : Congratulations ! Now that you have made up your mind, we recommend that you talk with as many people as you can about this. For example, if you plan to make your corporate office, read about it as much as possible. Talk to your friends/contacts, office administrators, executives, managers, air conditioning vendors, lift vendors, whoever you can. This will give you a fair idea about what to expect.
Next, have a Project Feasibility Report or Detailed Project Report prepared. A PFR/DPR will give you a good idea about the costs, time frames and site potential at a minimum about the space you are about to design. This will help you to obtain necessary budgetary approvals/ sanctions from approving bodies such as Ministry of Finance to undertake the project. It may also help you secure loans from nationalized banks. The DPR may be prepared in house within your department or you may appoint reputed agencies such as Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Limited or even our company for such work.
Next get a survey of the site done with the help of a professional surveyor. If it’s a building you are planning to construct, also get the Soil Investigation and Water Investigation reports prepared.
The next step is to shortlist a good Architectural Company/ Firm. You may consider going with 3-4 firms by way of referrals from other departments or even conduct an Architectural design competition. You can read more about it on the Council Of Architecture Website: http://www.coa.gov.in/practice/competition.htm.
It is also a good idea to involve agencies such as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) involved at this initial stage of the project itself along with forming a Working Committee/ Technical Committee consisting of experienced Architects/Engineers/ Technocrats/ Administrators/Chartered Accountants both external as well as from within your department so as to validate the decisions taken during each stage of the project and ensuring transparency and fair conduct.
2.We want the best/iconic/landmark space to be designed. However, we are not exactly sure of what it should be. We need you to present as many options as required till the time we are satisfied with the design. Can you do that?
Response : Great. We also want the optimum space design for you, which should be iconic, unique and functional as well. In view of our experience, we prepare a maximum of three alternative concepts based on the feedback provided by you. In order to get the best design solution, please feel free to provide us with as many inputs as you can in the initial concept stage. We will incorporate your feedback into the design and recommend the best design solution. Again, three is just a number. In order to give even one design option, there are several concept designs made in our studio, before we present the final option to you. Our concept will consider various factors such as optimum space utilization, functional aspects, energy saving aspects, visual appeal etc.
3. We wish to appoint you based on our own terms and conditions and we want to have nothing to do with the Council of Architecture Guidelines.
Response : Ideally, your terms should generally be in compliance with the Council of Architecture Guidelines. Please ensure that Architects being shortlisted by you are provided with a copy of the terms and conditions.
4. What about Government approvals/ sanctions? What exactly will be your involvement in this?
Response : Government approvals require the client and the approving authorities to liaison on several aspects and levels. In India, the building bye laws vary from State to State. In such cases it is best to have a local representative, familiar in the work of obtaining approvals. We will assist in modifying our drawings/designs to comply with the local bye laws. It is highly recommended to have the approved concept design authenticated for compliance with the local representative before the tender drawings are prepared.
5. Why don’t you hire the local representative yourself and include this cost in your fees?
Response : As mentioned in our response to the earlier question, obtaining approvals and sanctions is a highly specialized field and the precise requirements for obtaining such approvals vary. The time frame for obtaining such approvals also varies. Hence it is advisable to consult a specialist in this field. It is also recommended to go for tender stage only after the design scheme has received the mandatory approvals from statutory bodies.
6. After approving the concept design we are now ready to conduct a tender for obtaining the best rates and hiring the best contractor agency. How do we go about it?
Response : In all likelihood your department has a well-established setup for conducting the tender process. However, the main thing to be kept in mind is the preparation of the project estimate. In almost all instances of Government projects, the estimate is prepared on the basis of the Standard Schedule of Rates – A document published by the Public Works Department. Unfortunately, this document does not correctly reflect the reality of the market rates and is rather theoretical in nature. Hence most Government projects experience cost over runs, which invite sharp criticism both from the media as well as the auditing agencies. The solution is to notify corrections and differences between the Standard Schedule of Rates and the market rates at the time of preparation of the estimates itself. We have observed numerous instances where, the contractor underbids in order to secure the projects and later compromises on quality of work.
7.After completion of tendering process, we found that the bids of contractors were more than/ less than the estimated value of the project prepared by you? Why is this so?
Response : This has been answered in question 6.
8. We would like for your representatives/architects to stand on site and monitor every aspect of the construction. Isn’t this part of your scope of work as an architect?
Response : Day to day monitoring of project progress is part of the scope of work of specialist Project Management Consultant teams. However, our representatives, depending on the condition of the project on site, periodically visit the site. This may be varying from a maximum of once every fifteen days to once every three months. This visit is to primarily clarify any doubts the contractor may have in understanding the drawing or in modifying any drawing in the event that there has been any unforeseen design change on account of site conditions. Hence, in order to get the full benefit of our services, you are requested to have a set of questions/site problems prepared and sent to us about a week in advance so as to enable us to give your queries due consideration.
9. Our management conducts daily and weekly project review meetings and it is absolutely essential that your representative be present, whether or not this serves any meaningful purpose. We require it as a matter of our protocol. Is there any way to arrange for this?
Response : Our work primarily involves extensive research, creativity and discussions with experts in our field, which needs a conducive environment to do the same. Hence we do not recommend that our representatives attend such review meetings in the interest of the project. However, in there is such a mandatory requirement, one of our representatives may attend such meetings at additional cost. This will be calculated and conveyed to you after assessing the requirement and time frames.
10. I am the Executive/ Chief engineer of the Government Project. Can you please “over certify” the contractor’s bill?
Response : We do not “over” or “under” value the works. We believe that indulging in such activities dilutes the main reason behind our being engaged for the project.
11. I am the Department Head. I can arrange for you to get the project. How much commission/kickback will I get in the process?
Response : We do not offer or receive commissions/kickbacks.
12. I am the Department Head. I want to reduce the budget, so I want you to recommend that no fire-fighting or public health safety measures be incorporated in the project. Why are you not doing it even though I am withholding your fees and will not release it till you have compromised on your values, principles and professional code of conduct?
Response : Dear Sir, you are having a Public Building made. While it may appear that human life has little or no value in India, but we regretfully submit that we will not willfully propose any design to compromise the safety of the end users of the project either in terms of the design or the specifications.Further, complete compliance with Local laws and National Building Codes is absolutely mandatory and essential and to that extent you are also fully liable in having them implemented.
13.I am a high level officer of a Government Organisation. I want you to recommend using material from XYZ contractors/vendors. Why are you not doing it even though I am withholding your fees and will not release it till you have compromised on your values, principles and professional code of conduct?
Response : Dear Sir, you are having a Public Building made and Tax payer’s money is at stake. In case you would like to take any decisions of such favoritism of contractors/ vendors the same will have to be done at your risk and cost. In any case we are very well aware that after a Government project has been completed and if there is any problem whatsoever, your Organisation will try to assign blame on us during any audits. So we are not going to do it.
14.I am the Accounts Manager. I will only clear your bill after I receive some kickback from you. I normally do not ask for such favors but it is my sister’s wedding so I need the money. How much will you give me and when?
Response : We do not offer or receive commissions/kickbacks.
15. I am the Executive Engineer of the Government Department which is giving you an important project. I am very impressed with your firm. My son/ daughter/ nephew/ niece just graduated from an architecture college. I want you to employ him/ her. What is the salary he/she will get? When can he/ she join?
Response : We would like to ask the following questions in response : A. Have you appointed us to propose an effective design for your organization or for hiring your relative? B. What kind of self-respect will your relative have on getting a job through influence? C. Isn’t this a conflict of interest and is this really helping you or your company in any way whatsoever? D. How long will it be do you think before you are caught? Which is the lesser fear for you- fear of Law of fear of God? We would recommend instead that your relative apply in our office through the regular process of interview, ideally after we have completed the assignment of your organisation.
16.Don’t you think your company has an attitude problem? After all this is a world of “give and take?”
Response : Sir, with due respect, try to consider this. Do you try “give and take” with other professionals such as your family Doctor? What do you think will be the outcome if you impose conditions in paying your Doctor’s fee ? You are entrusting us with allocation of amounts of funds running into millions through the design of your projects. Don’t you think it is imperative that such a company should be dealt with professionally and cordially?
17. Why are you rarely available on mobile?
Response : We prefer to focus on offering value for money instead of answering innumerable unsolicited telemarketing calls/sms. At the same time we are easily available to the Point of Contact / Head of the Department who has engaged us.
18.We would like to cut some trees on our site in order to construct our building. Could you please make the proposal accordingly?
Response : We do not endorse cutting of trees. You also need to consider full compliance with the local laws and environmental norms in this regard and any action regarding your action on the trees will be entirely at your own responsibility.We would strongly advise you to consider alternatives to save the tree.