The scarcity frequent non-availability, constantly rising costs of building materials and the declining quality of housing and building construction are causing concern to Central & State Governments. It is now widely recognized that the cost of housing can be reduced and speed and quality of construction stepped up through the use of emerging innovative building materials and technologies. Despite a number of innovative cost-effective building materials, components and construction techniques developed through research the housing and building agencies have not adopted them in their construction practices. The extent to which lack of standards and specifications has been instrumental in hindering the adoption of homegrown innovative building material technologies has long been a matter of concern. Since non-listing of these new techniques in Indian Standards and Codes is quoted as one of the foremost reasons by construction agencies for non- adoption in their practice, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been constantly striving to cover new technologies within the fold of standardisation. While quite a few of new materials and techniques have attracted attention of the building industry and several housing agencies and have also been gradually identified in Codes of Practices, these have not percolated to the practices of organisations like CPWD, MES, State PWDs and others in public and private sectors.
BMTPC’s recent interaction with various architects, engineering departments and building construction organisations resulted in a common observation that many of the new techniques do not find proper place in their construction practices due to the absence of standard specifications -a factor which hinders their induction in departmental schedules of specifications and contract documents. Regarding the use of prefabrication systems many a times a passive attitude is to be seen probably because of some past adverse experience with large-scale prefabrication systems adopted by couple of organisations. However, the open prefab systems based on appropriate production level and small elements with rationalised production methods have attracted the attention of housing experts as an important option for arresting the rapidly rising escalation in costs of materials and labour. HUDCO has been promoting many of these prefab systems for quite some time in the housing schemes funded by them and Building Centres in different regions have also been propagating several of these technologies.
The Advisory Group set-up by the then Chairman, Executive Committee of BMTPC, examined a large number of these new materials and technologies developed in the country through R&D during recent past and assessed them to narrow down on potential ones for possible utilisation in the housing and building construction. Based on the feed-back available from BIS, HUDCO supported schemes and extension centres of CBRI and SERC, the Group identified nearly twenty such new materials, components and techniques which have been sufficiently tested in field conditions and a large number of buildings have been put up by housing agencies in different parts of the country. Few of these have also been codified by BIS.
While formulating specifications on the identified technologies, an attempt has been made to gather technical information from various sources mentioned above and to compare the same with existing relevant Indian and/or International Standards. Detailed specifications have been so formatted that these can be inducted in the schedules of specifications by public and private construction agencies. It is hoped this compilation will help the construction agencies in promoting and adopting the new technologies in their housing and building projects.
The formulation of standards and specifications need to be complemented by promotional efforts. There is an imperative need, therefore, for incorporating these specifications by all construction departments in their building codes, schedules and tendering and contractual documents. Standards and specifications are not static but dynamic instruments to facilitate incorporation of new developments and advances. It is important that these are periodically reviewed taking into account actual field experiences of construction agencies and producers of the materials and components recommended here.
With a view to expedite their adoption in different field conditions the proposed specifications may have to be appropriately complemented, in few cases by preparation of simple manuals, appropriate training programmes for artisans, supervisors and all those associated with different aspects of construction projects. BMTPC, BIS, HUDCO and the concerned R&D organisations will be happy to assist in such efforts
The Council had brought out the earlier edition in 1996. The help received in formulating the specifications from CBRI, BIS, CPWD, HUDCO is gratefully acknowledged. I would like to place on record special thanks to the BMTPC’s officials for their valuable contribution in formulating the various specifications.