Archives August 2011

Indoor Gardening 101 – How to Create and Maintain a Balcony Garden in your Apartment

With the space constraint that’s prevalent in cities, it can be a tad difficult to plant big trees and plants or own independent houses with gardens – but you can create your mini garden in your very apartment!

Indoor Gardening

Indoor plants can help in improving the overall appearance and lend an aesthetic appeal to your house in an apartment complex. Although the idea might seem quite hard to implement, it is possible to have a green surrounding if you use your balcony optimally by growing some indoor plants.

If you have access to the apartment complex terrace, you can talk to the managing committee and lend a touch of green and spruce up the overall environment there too.

Choosing the Right Plants

Depending on the amount of space you have in your balcony, you can decide on what plants your indoor garden should sport.

#1 – Regular Plants
If you’re not too keen about flowering plants or other categories, you can opt for regular plants which will add a hint of green to your interiors. If your balcony is well shaded, you can opt for plants like the Chinese Evergreen Plant and the Snake Plant. These grow well even in dark spaces and don’t require too much sunlight. English Ivy is another plant that you can opt for, while setting up your indoor garden.

#2 – Flowering Plants
Certain high rise apartments provide separate spaces for flower beds in all flats so that people can place their flowering shrubs. You can grow brightly coloured flowering plants in earthen pot containers. Your balcony space can also accommodate small flowering and fruit and bearing plants.

The choice of flowering plants is important and you can opt for peace lily plants or poinsettias. The quintessential rose bush can also give your balcony an attractive look. Get plants and shrubs that are of medium height so that maintaining them is simpler and hassle free. If you like shrubs, you can also grow a hibiscus shrub and the flowers from these plants can be used for everyday purposes as well.

#3 – Climbers and Creepers
If you like climbers and creepers, your balcony can be an ideal place to grow them once you provide the right kind of support. Climbers will have soft stems and these can grow out of control if you don’t maintain the garden properly and restrict their growth. Ideal options for climbers would be the Grape Ivy Plant, the Bleeding Heart Plant and Clematis. If you want to opt for creepers, Bougainvilleas will be a good choice.

#4 – Ornamental Plants

Ornamental plants can also be planted in your indoor garden, although you’ll have to note that these are high maintenance options. You can go for plants like Magnolia, Flowering Dogwood, Jacaranda and Cassia Javanica.

The choice of tiles and bricks that you use is important too. They need to get along with the home décor and should not look starkly different, singling out the balcony from the main living space. With a proper indoor garden, you can bring in some zing into your apartment.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!

ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trial as well so that you can try before you buy!


Indian Flag Code – Hoisting The Tricolour In Your Apartment Complex

Come Republic Day or Independence Day, the members of every apartment complex will organize an Indian flag hoisting ceremony – Here’s a brief synopsis of the Indian flag hoisting rules so that you celebrate the day the “right” way!

The Need

It’s important to be aware of the Indian flag hoisting rules purely because the Indian flag is a national symbol and the government has laid down certain instructions for its proper display.

The managing committee in any apartment complex should take up the responsibility of ensuring that all these instructions are fully followed.

Apart from the managing committee, it is also essential for every resident in the apartment complex to be aware of these rules so that no misuse occurs, either deliberately or by accident.

What The Laws State

The Indian Flag Code specifies the dimensions of the flag and how it should be constructed. This is a measure taken to ensure that the flags used everywhere are similar in their design and size.

The Construction

  • The Indian flag should be a perfect rectangle, with a ratio of 3:2 between the length and the width.
  • It should be made of handspun khadi, or of cotton, silk or wool.
  • The flag should be split into three equal panels – a saffron panel at the top, a white panel in the middle and a green panel at the bottom, thus constituting the tricolor.
  • A navy blue Ashoka Chakra should adorn the centre of the white panel, with 24 spokes that are equally spaced.
  • The flag’s size should be one among these: 150×100, 225×150, 450×300, 900×600, 1350×900, 1800×1200, 2700×1800, 3600×2400, and 6300×4200 (in mm).

Hoisting the Indian flag in Your Apartment Complex

Notice the equally spaced spokes in the Chakra.. that’s important!

The Indian flag hoisting rules also cover instances of the flag’s misuse and specify the proper procedure through which the flag should be hoisted.

  • The national flag should not be used to cover any building or vehicle (including aircrafts, road vehicles and boats).
  • During an Indian flag hoisting ceremony, the saffron panel should always be on top. The flag should never be hoisted upside down.
  • The Indian flag should hold no lettering or inscriptions of any kind, and it should never touch the ground or trail in water.
  • The National Flag should not be used for covering any speaker’s desk, platform or monument.
  • There should be no emblem or flag to the national flag’s right, or above the national flag.
  • In a procession where there are other flags involved, the Indian flag should either be carried on the marching right, or up front, ahead of the central line.
  • The flag should never be flown at half mast, unless the government specifically demands that it should be.
  • There should be no other flags in the same masthead in which the Indian flag is hoisted.
  • Paper flags can be used during days of national importance. However, these paper flags should not be thrown on the ground after their use in public and they should be disposed of in a dignified manner, privately.
  • A damaged flag should never be displayed, and such flags can be privately disposed by burning.
  • The national anthem should be sung once people salute the flag. It’s important to follow the etiquette specified for the national anthem as well.
  • It is common practice in functions to allow the national flag to hold flower petals. Although this is an accepted practice, the Indian flag code prevents the use of any confetti or decorative materials other than flower petals.

The Apartment managing committee can take things a step further by printing out such rules (that many people are bound to be unaware of) and giving all residents a copy, so that they follow the same. It’s a great way to educate the public on the Indian flag and the national pride that it represents.


This article aims at collating and providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. While ApnaComplex has taken every care to ensure the information is accurate, we suggest to please use it only as a guidance for further discussion and action with help of relevant professionals. If you need professional advise on this topic and any other property related matters, please send your request through our contact us form. You may post your questions/inputs in the Comments section below and we will try and get them answered through relevant subject matter experts.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!
ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

Housing Society Knowhow – Rain Water Harvesting Guidelines in Hyderabad

Infrastructure management in any two cities is never the same, and Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) is one such measure that has different guidelines in every city. The RWH guidelines in Hyderabad are understandably entirely different from those in Bangalore.

Rain water harvesting

To understand the guidelines better, you’ll need to grow familiar the concept of rain water harvesting and the reasons behind the same.

Why Rain Water Harvesting?

Rain water is one of the purest forms of water that is majorly deemed fit for human consumption and use worldwide. Gathering rain water and using the same can help in tackling the demand for fresh water and the practice can also help in preventing floods. Some advantages of rain water harvesting include:

This process will help in recharging water aquifers

  • The quality of ground water can be significantly improved
  • Soil erosion can be reduced when excess rain water is tapped and stored
  • Water logging can be prevented and this will help in negating mosquito related problems
  • Water shortage issues that crop up in cities like Hyderabad during the summer can be tackled
  • Power consumption can be reduced as the process of pumping water can be made rare

RWH Guidelines in Hyderabad City

Guidelines for rain water harvesting were enforced in Hyderabad in the year 2001.

  • The owner or occupier of a particular building, which stands on an area of more than 300 square meters, should install a rainwater investing system.
  • It is mandatory to install RWH systems in commercial complexes and housing societies.
  • Trenches and percolation pits should be installed around every building in Hyderabad these can have a dimension of 1.2 x 1.2 x 2.5 meters. The trenches can have a depth of 2 meters, a width of 0.6 meters and a length of around 2 to 6 meters.
  • Terrace water can be sent directly to these trenches and pits, and they need to mandatorily have filter materials. A brick wall should be constructed near these trenches and pits, with an ideal depth so that loose soil does not mix with the rain water that’s collected.
  • Concrete slabs that are well perforated should be provided over these trenches and pits. Fine sand and coarse sand should be used in two layers in these trenches and pits.
  • PVC pipes can be used to connect the terrace to the sump so that the rain water that’s collected can be channeled down to the sump.
  • Rain water harvesting experts should be consulted to build a value system, which will directly discharge the first batch of rain water that’s collected (as it is bound to be dirty due to its interaction with dust on the terrace floor). The secondary batches will them be stored in the sump.
  • Filtering tanks need to be constructed near the sumps in order to purify the water, and these should have two layers – one layer of coarse sand and another layer of fine sand. This filtering tank should have a dimension of 1 x 1 x 1 meters. The tank should have a sloping base so that water doesn’t get accumulated by any chance.

You can check if the rain water harvesting system in your housing society follows these guidelines and bring up any missing features during resident meetings.


This article aims at collating and providing information for benefit of ApnaComplex customers and blog readers. While ApnaComplex has taken every care to ensure the information is accurate, we suggest to please use it only as a guidance for further discussion and action with help of relevant professionals. If you need professional advise on this topic and any other property related matters, please send your request through our contact us form. You may post your questions/inputs in the Comments section below and we will try and get them answered through relevant subject matter experts.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!
ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

How to calculate Maintenance Charges for your Apartment Association? OR How to share Common Expenses in a Housing Society?

A seemingly simple but complex issue in every apartment association is on how to arrive at the maintenance charges to be levied on the members. The issue is complex enough that it is impossible to please all the members with a single way of calculating the maintenance charges.

As discussed in the “Popular methods of calculating Maintenance charges” – societies have option of charging Per Square Feet (PSF) or Per Flat (PF) basis. While the regulations in most states is not very clear (or not enforced with necessary rigor), the model bye-laws of Maharashtra state provide a relatively clear answer to this debate. The answer at a high level is simple – follow a combination of per sft and per flat for various heads.

The same can be adopted by societies of all states (as most model bye-laws are derived works of the model bye-laws from Maharashtra State).

Types of Charges

There are quite a few types of charges that can be levied on members. The periodicity of levying these charges can be decided by the General Body of the Association. Usually charges like ‘Sinking Fund’ will be levied once in an year – and Maintenance Dues will be charged once in a month. Brief explanation of various charges is given below.

Service Charges (a.k.a Maintenance Charges in most societies)

This charge needs to be levied on per flat basis. This charge needs to be levied based on the expenses incurred by the society towards procurement of services. This includes all Staff Salaries (including society office staff, maintenance staff, security staff, housekeeping staff, technical staff etc.), Administration Expenses (internet, telephone, printing, stationary etc.), Auditor Expenses, Common Area Electricity Bill (excluding bill for Lift operations), Conveyance / Travel Expenses, Legal Expenses, Membership to local federations / bodies etc.

Expenses on repairs and maintenance of building of Society

These charges may be decided by General Body subject to minimum 0.75 percent (0.75%) of the cost of construction of flat/shop per annum. For example, if the construction cost is Rs. 1200/- per sft, this charge will be Rs. 9,000/- per annum for a 1000 sft flat. This is calculated on per sft basis and can be levied once in a year. This excludes Lift related repair & maintenance.

Expenses for lift repair, maintenance and for running the lift

This charge should be based on expenses incurred for Lift Repair, Lift Maintenance and Running of Lift, including Electricity Charges for Lift oeprations. This needs to be charged equally on all Members of the building where in lift is provided.

Sinking Fund (a.k.a Corpus Fund)

The exact amount may be decided by General Body subject to minimum of 0.25% of the cost of construction of flat per annum. This is calculated on per sft basis and can be levied once in a year. This is to be collected if the builder has not collected this amount at the time of selling the flats and handed over the corpus to the association.

Parking Charges

This charge is to be levied based on number of parking lots in a flat. The fee per parking lot may be as decided by General Body of the Society.

Property Tax

This is applicable only in states where societies are authorized to collect property tax on behalf of Govt. The tax to be collected is determined by the state.

Water charges

This charge is to be levied based on number of water inlets into a flat. The fee per water inlet may be as decided by General Body of the Society. In modern apartments / layouts, this charge can be calculated based on the reading from the water meters that measure consumption of the water by a flat.

Interest on defaulted Charges

This is the late payment penalty. The penalty scheme / amount is as decided by General Body. Most common practice is to levy simple interest not exceeding 21% p.a. But General body can decide a different way of calculating late payment fees that works best for them.

Non Occupancy Charges (NOC)

This is an additional charge on flats that are rented out. As per the law, this charge cannot exceed 10% of the Maintenance / Service Charges levied. You can refer to this article to get more details. The NOC cannot be charged if the licensee(tenant) is family member(Family Members includes husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, son in law, daughter in law, sister in law, brother in law, grandson and granddaughter).

Insurance Charges

The expenses spent on insurance of the building and equipment can be levied on the members in proportion to built up area of their flats. Extra premium charged by insurance on account of storage of specified goods in flat/shop should be collected from those flats/ shops whose storage of specific goods was the reason for extra premium.

Lease Rent

This is levied based on per sft for the builtup area of the flat/shop.

Any other charges

As decided by General Body from time to time.

Following is a table indicating a comprehensive list of charges that can be levied by the Society / Apartment Association on the members. All charges levied must be derived from the expenses of the society. The table also indicates the correct way of arriving at these charges from the expenses and if they need to levied on per sft basis or per flat basis – as recommended by Model Bye Laws.

How to Calculate Maintenance Charges?

Conclusion

The article provides a framework for arriving at dues to be levied that is fair to all its members. A Housing Society that is ‘well managed’ needs to avoid taking the easy way out – by charging per flat or per sft basis. This is especially true for societies where there is no uniformity in size of the flats. Though at a first glance, it looks like there is much work and many heads for the amounts to be charged to adopt this, it is not really so. Once you get started you realize that its not as difficult as it appears. If you are new society, you can put this in practice right from day one. if you are an old society, but not following this model – its never too late for you to adopt this.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex.com – Today!
ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trial as well so that you can try before you buy!


Housing Society Knowhow – RWH Guidelines in Bangalore

Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) has been made mandatory for every housing society and independent household, and in order to ensure that your housing society is following the norms specified by the government, you’ll have to understand the given guidelines.

Rain water havesting

Rain water harvesting guidelines for housing societies and residential spaces in Bangalore vary largely from those in other cities in terms of implementation. In 2009, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board enforced RWH implementation in certain areas of city and these guidelines were introduced.

RWH Guidelines in Bangalore City

  • The occupier (tenant) or the owner of a particular building (which stands on more than 2400 square feet area), or every owner who proposes to erect a building on an area of 1200 square feet or more, should construct a rainwater harvesting structure.
  • The volume for recharge or storage of rain water should be a minimum of 20 liters per square meter and 10 liters per square meter on the non-roof area of the site.
  • Bore-wells can be recharged by using the necessary catchment management systems and fillers in the rain water harvesting setup.
  • Rainwater that’s collected from the roof should not be sent to a live bore-well, even if it’s taken through a filter.
  • The rainwater should be sent to a separate open well near the bore-well. The water from the open well can be fed into the bore-well if it reaches very low capacity.
  • Filters should be mandatorily used, although the type of filter can vary depending on the owner’s preference.

If a residential complex or a standalone house does not have a rain water harvesting system that’s been government approved, then the drinking water supply to that particular house will normally be cut till the specified changes are made. This was introduced by the government when it was noted that many residents weren’t following the specified deadline.

As of 2009, the Government identified about 58,000 buildings where RWH systems had to be installed mandatorily.

Tips for Installing Rain Water Harvesting System

Following the RWH guidelines won’t be difficult for a residential building or a housing society in Bangalore if it meets some basic requirements. The first and foremost requirement is to have a sump tank to preserve water.

Also, every building should have an installed pipeline to redirect rain water from the catchment area to the tank. A facility to clean the catchment area should also be present in every building to avoid bacterial growth, which can contaminate the water and affect the residents.

  • For installing the system, the managing committee can avail the services of a rainwater harvesting expert who will be able to set up a working model.
  • The rooftop area in the housing society or any open ground area can serve as the catchment region. Ensure that both these areas are wide enough to hold a tank.
  • Ensure that the roof top area is continuously cleaned by the maintenance team to avoid bacterial growth.

Setting up an RWH system can provide a secondary source of water for all members of the housing society and make it a decidedly green zone. It can also help in preventing water logging and effectively remove the problem of stagnant water in the terrace and other areas.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!
ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

Housing Society Knowhow – Preparing Your House for the Monsoon

The smell of wet earth and the feel of a light drizzle on your face during the monsoon can seem very appealing indeed. Rain in India comes as a welcome relief after stiflingly hot weather, but the monsoon rains can cause their fair share of problems. Are you prepared to deal with all the monsoon related issues this season in your housing society?Preparing your house for monsoon

Preparing for the Rains

While your housing society was being built, the builders would have taken measures to weatherproof your house to ensure that there are no cracks on the wall and no leaky ceilings. In case you detect any signs of moisture seeping in, you have to take immediate steps to deal with it. Dampness over time can affect your walls and roofs and damage the overall housing society structures and weaken them.

Drainage and Ventilation

Your housing society flat should have a proper drainage system that leads water away from the house and does not allow it to settle near the walls. You should also set up a good ventilation system to let out the humidity and air the rooms. Kitchens and bathrooms need special care as these are the areas most exposed to smoke, steam and moisture. A good chimney and exhaust fan in the kitchen and good ventilation in the bathrooms should take care of this. If your bathrooms do not have adequate ventilation, try installing a ceiling fan to dry up the excess moisture.

Keep your cupboards well aired and dry. If the rain gets in through the windows, make sure it dries up quickly. Mop up any extra water that enters your house and wipe the place dry.

Decorating Your House for the Rains

The monsoon brings with it heavy grey clouds and subdued sunlight. To offset the darkness outside, make sure that the space inside is well lit and cheery. Do not use shades and colored lights during this season. Make sure that the lights are bright enough to light up the room, yet soft enough so that they are not hard on the eyes.

Carpets and Mats

Roll up your expensive soft carpets in the living room. This is the season of mud and damp footprints, so replace the carpet with acrylic or plastic matting. These come in attractive colors, designs and textures, so you can choose them to suit your home and tastes.

Make sure that you have enough mats at the entrance to scrape off mud from shoes and dry wet feet. Use rubber and coir mats at entrances and soft mats that can soak up moisture inside. Make sure you have enough spare mats to replace the soft mats when they get dirty and need to be washed.

Brighten Up the Rooms

Use bright flowers and decorations to lend a cheery air to the rooms. Use light, translucent curtains and brightly colored linens and bed sheets to perk up the interiors. Shut the windows tight during a heavy downpour and open them when the rain stops. Mesh net screen windows are a good way to let in the air and light and grab a splendid view of freshly washed plants and trees after a shower, while keeping out all insects.

If you take some simple steps and precautions to prevent the moist conditions from invading your house, you can enjoy all the positive sights and sounds of the monsoon season without worrying about the amount of water that the rain dumps outside your house. Prepare your housing society flat for the monsoon and then go ahead and enjoy the rains.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!
ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trial as well so that you can try before you buy!

Housing Society Knowhow – Waterproof Paints and How to Choose Them

Waterproof paints are gaining popularity both as interior as well as exterior painting options. These paints are good options through which you can add protection to the walls and give a good finish to a building in the housing society.Waterproofing your houses

About Waterproof Paints

Waterproof paints can add a layer of protection against moisture to your walls and other surfaces. They also prevent the formation of mold and mildew and are not prone to peeling and flaking. But you need to keep in mind the fact that mere waterproof paint can’t solve your problems if you have trouble with moisture getting into your building.

The building materials should have been picked well, and masonry, plastering, roofing and weather-coating need to have been done with care to prevent water from seeping through the walls. If this has not been done properly, you’ll need to address these issues before going out and buying gallons of paint.

That being said, waterproof paints do have enhanced resistance to moisture. They are easier to maintain and also offer protection against mold.

The Varieties of Waterproof Paints

Waterproof paints can come in many varieties, the main being acrylic emulsions and oil-based enamel paints. Both are waterproof and have a longer life than traditional distempers. They also give a good finish to the surfaces that they are used on.

Surfaces Waterproof Paints Can Be Used On

While acrylic and enamel paints are both waterproof, you need to keep in mind the surface you are going to paint on when choosing between them.

Mostly, walls and other building surfaces are painted with acrylic emulsion paints. They are water-solvent paints, but once dry, they are water-resistant. They dry quickly and can be washed with mild soap solutions to remove stains. They’ll give a good finish to your walls, both interior and exterior and will last longer than traditional distemper paints. They also don’t peel or flake easily.

Enamel paints are oil-based paints that require special solvents and take a longer time to dry. They are generally more appropriate for doors, windows and metallic surfaces. They can give a good glossy finish to the painted surface. Because they take longer to dry, you have to take care that the painted surface is not touched or disturbed in any other way. You also have to take care that dust does not settle on the paint before it dries. The dust will stick to the paint and affect the finish.

Moisture and Weather Considerations

When choosing the paint, you also need to keep in mind the climate and general weather condition in your region. If you get a lot of rainfall and expect high moisture content in the air, you need to consider stronger water-resistance grades in the paint.

You can consider oil paints or high-grade acrylic paints for your rooms in such conditions. If you often face problems with mold growth, you can use special anti-mold paints in the areas of your house most susceptible to mold and mildew.

Choosing paint is not just a matter of colors and looks. You can add an additional layer of protection against dampness and fungal growth by buying the right kind of paint to suit your specific needs. Keep in mind the surface you are painting on, the humidity and weather conditions when getting the paints.


Get your Society on ApnaComplex – Today!
ApnaComplex is India’s most comprehensive web based housing society accounting, management and communication software. It is designed to make the life of residents and owners a lot better by bringing in more transparency and accountability in managing a housing society. Check out the features of ApnaComplex and sign up your society today to get the benefits! We offer a free 30-day trail as well so that you can try before you buy!