Buying A Home As A Pet Owner – Factors to Consider

Home is where we can live in comfort with our loved ones. Finding an ideal home is important to all of us and we have multiple avenues to look for an abode. But for pet parents, the hunt for an ideal home can be a bit more complicated than just picking up the classifieds. There are many factors to consider before buying a home. These include:

Is the society pet friendly?

If you are looking at residential complexes, the first thing that you should know is whether the complex is pet friendly. Certain rules, such as cleaning up after pets in common areas, are to be expected and even welcomed. It shows the management’s understanding of pet behaviour and an overall push towards responsible pet parenting. However, excessive rules and regulations that curtail the movement of pets show an unwelcome attitude that can become troublesome. 

A good way to gauge people’s attitudes towards pets is by talking to other pet parents. You can find them on pet forums in your city or through your network. Ask them about rules regarding pets, if there have been disputes between pet parents and other residents, and how such disputes were resolved. Their experience will give you valuable insight into the society’s attitude towards pets. 

Are there walking trails or parks nearby?

Many pets, like parrots, guinea pigs, or fishes, are home-bound. Their habitat and movement is usually limited within the boundaries of the home. But dogs need outdoor exercise that includes walking, running, and playing. Residential complexes generally have walking trails and parks in the premises. If not, check if there are such areas near your home. Areas with very heavy traffic may not work in this case as you will be able to walk your dog only at dawn or when there is no traffic. Similarly, parks are also essential for dogs to play. 

Does it have a yard or an outdoor space?

If you are looking for an independent home, it may be worthwhile to pick a home with a yard, particularly if you have a dog. In the absence of a dog park nearby, a yard or garden is a great place for your dog to play. 

Is it located near your vet?

Some pet parents may want to live near their vet so that they can access support quickly in an emergency. There are typically not as many vets as there are doctors in a city. So, you might want to ensure that you can reach a vet quickly when needed.  

Stairs or lift?

If you have an elderly pet, particularly a dog, you may want to avoid stairs. If you have stairs inside the home, you will need to create a space for your pet on the ground floor.  In the case of an apartment, look for complexes with lifts. 

Do you have pet-friendly floors?

For obvious reasons, it’s best to avoid floors that scratch easily. Fluffy rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting are usually susceptible to stains and are hard to clean. Similarly, wooden floors may scratch easily. Look for floors that are easy to clean and scratch-proof. 

Know your society’s rules and regulations regarding pets

When living in a residential complex, it is always important to know the rules and regulations regarding pets. These can pertain to vaccinations, feeding spots, or cleaning up. While some rules can be expected, no management committee has the right to ban pets from living in the premises. You can read more on this subject in our article on Pets & apartments: Why they get to stay and you do too.

Find out more about the Rights and Responsibilities of pet owners here

To connect with other pet parents or to discuss issues regarding pets, you can also check out the ApnaComplex app for your society. The online platform has forums and communication groups where you can access important notifications, rules and regulations, and meet like-minded people.

Picture of leaf with dewdrop and text saying "Rainwater Harvesting: Cases Studies"

Drinking, Cooking, Cooling, & Disaster Management: How Rainwater Harvesting is promoting Water-Sufficiency

When conducted properly, rainwater harvesting has the potential to reverse the current water crisis in India. In fact, this is the driving reason behind the increasing governmental push towards mandating rainwater harvesting in high-consumption domestic and commercial areas. Many housing societies have also taken proactive steps to install and maintain RWH structures on their premises. 

However, the reality fell short when the existing RWH system was inadequate in recharging the existing groundwater supply across many such communities. Yet, there are also many success stories where companies and households have successfully turned the tide, not only replenishing their groundwater supply, but also gaining water positivity. This refers to cases where the RWH system successfully replenished more water than consumed. 

Getting the Right RWH system

Investing in a well-planned RWH can have a multi-faceted and long-lasting impact. Our case studies show that its effects on residents’ quality of life can be invaluable. These include a household that moved from using RWH for non-essential to essential uses like drinking or cooking. In another case, RWH reversed the salinity of the household tubewell. In all these cases, we have also seen water positivity. 

Here are four case studies that show the effectiveness of planned and design-based RWH:

Case study 1: Improving the TDS quality

RWH offers one of the most effective means of replenishing groundwater while improving its TDS quality. These results were seen at Mrs. Preetiben Adani’s bungalow when she decided to invest in RWH to address the decreasing water levels of the tube well at her Ahmedabad bungalow. In addition, the landscape area around the tubewell was turning pale yellow from green. This was due to the high-TDS saline water from the tubewell. Such saline water can have adverse health effects, including gastrointestinal and stomach illnesses like nausea, vomiting, and cramps.

To address this, an RWH specialist team suggested a surface rainwater harvesting system to capture, filter and divert, silt-free runoff into the saline aquifer. With time, the harvested rainwater diluted the groundwater aquifer from 2800 TDS to almost 1300 TDS!

Case study 2: Good enough to drink!

Typically, RWH in households is used for non-essential uses like flushing water or gardening. This is because the quality of filtered water in a conventional or traditional RWH structure is uncertain. Unless one checks the quality, it can be highly unsuitable for consumption. However, Ramendubhai Parikh, a bungalow owner in Gujarat, decided to put his faith in rainwater instead of any external water supply. When filtered in the right manner, we can retain all the necessary minerals and rainwater’s optimal pH.

To be sure of the quality, he consulted RWH specialists to install a filtration module and store rainwater in a 35,000 litre tank with internal tiling. The overflow from the tank was directed towards their tube well, which also helped in bringing up its water level. In addition, TDS levels

improved significantly. The family adapted the Ayurvedic concept of storing the filtered rainwater in a copper tank overnight with highly encouraging results. 

Case study 3: Self-sustainability with cooling

An RWH system can have unexpected benefits, such as creating a cooling environment for a home. This is what happened when Bankimbhai Pandya, an Architect from Ahmedabad, decided to conserve and use rainwater for his new bungalow during its construction in 2009. For this purpose, an RWH specialist suggested harvesting rooftop rainwater which would be filtered and stored in an underground tank with 35 thousand litres capacity. The tank was installed under the living room which was at the centre of the house.

Today, the household has successfully achieved water positivity. As an added benefit, the water, stored at the epicentre of the house, absorbs the heat from the surrounding concrete and gives a natural cooling effect. 

Case study 4: Disaster Management 

Water is life giving, but it can also turn into a deadly force. However, we can lessen the impact by planning proper drainage which diverts the water to hungry aquifers. Recharge wells, part of a RWH system, can be deployed as vertical drainage systems that push surface water back into the groundwater system.

Gandhinagar Electronic Zone Industries Association leveraged a modular RWH system to filter heavy silt load in its surrounding streets. Not only was the association able to recharge wells with about 17 crores litres of water every year, it also successfully avoided storm drainage in the entire industrial area. 

These case studies show how properly planned modern rainwater harvesting systems are slowly changing the landscape one project at a time. With the recharging of groundwater, it is also improving the quality of life where deployed, from improving the quality of drinking water to reducing the impact of natural disasters. 

Picture of leaf with droplet with the text 'Rainwater Harvesting: Conventional Vs Design-Based'

Conventional Or Design-Based RWH? Find out What Works Best for You

With concerns on the climate change crisis and water woes on the rise, the government and civil society have taken a focused approach toward water conservation. It has renewed interest in rainwater harvesting, a traditional form of water management that has been practiced across India since antiquity. While traditional RWH structures evolved according to ecology, the demands of an urban ecosystem led to a more standardised approach. 

The resultant conventional structures were uniform in design. With an increasing number of states mandating RWH for gated communities once they reach a certain size, the conventional structures became ubiquitous. But as the water crisis deepens across our cities, current systems are proving to be inadequate. It has led to alternative solutions, including a more design-based scientific approach.

Emergence of design-based RWH structures

With a strong tradition of RWH, India has seen the emergence of new designs to accommodate changing requirements. Currently, we are again in the midst of a revolution in RWH design that is being driven by a severe water shortage in almost all urban areas with depleting groundwater levels. It has prompted a second look at current designs and practices to address different lacunae.

A design-based approach leverages product design to envisage RWH solutions from a different perspective. It reimagines water harvesting to address the specific needs of the consumer, from recharging borewells to improving the TDS of the water supply. As a result, we have seen the inclusion of new materials and technologies. 

Conventional Vs Design-Based Scientific approach

Area: The average conventional structure follows a cubical or circular design, measuring 4 x 4 x 4m. This is a significant footprint for projects in urban spaces where space may be at a premium. This has led to the emergence of more innovative designs that can achieve the same goal while occupying a smaller space. For instance, we now have modular structures which are just 1.5m in diameter.  

Ease of installation: Conventional structures depend on heavy masonry to be installed. The process can take anywhere from one to two weeks. In contrast, we now have precast modular structures that can be installed in just two days. Unlike the immobile traditional design, modular structures are easy to mobilise and sustain. 

Greater flexibility: Most conventional structures are rigid and follow a set design with a single pit structure. Modern designs show a high degree of flexibility as per the site conditions with more choices on filtration devices and structures. 

Ease of access: The conventional structure is difficult to access internally, making regular maintenance work difficult to carry out. Design-based models stress on easier access. These structures can have an internal ladder or rung system that makes it easier and safer to carry out regular maintenance work. 

Measurable: The conventional RWH structure does not have a measuring mechanism whereby we can judge the TDS quality of the filtered water. Scientific structures emphasise measurable results and will generally specify minimum filtration capacity.

Filtration media: Conventional structures use a combination of sand, pebbles/gravels/metals, carbon, and charcoal. Modern structures have come up with more innovative designs and materials to improve water filtration, such as increasing the number of filtration layers and using different mediums. 

Risk of choking: One of the biggest challenges in the conventional structure is the high risk of choking. This is because of the contraction of sediments in a limited space. Modern modular structures resolve this challenge through innovative design that avoids such accumulation. 

Easy maintenance: Conventional structures are typically difficult to maintain as internal access is cumbersome. It is time-consuming and requires a special mechanical device. Other than easy access, modern modular structures are also easy to clean without any recurring costs.  

If we consider the ascendance of a design-based approach in product design, RWH has been slow to catch on. This gap has been closing rapidly in recent years with the focus shifting towards innovation in design, material, and technology. A design-based approach empowers communities to recharge their groundwater supply, improve the TDS quality of the water, and gain sustainability. 

Graphic with text "Go digital with society ERP"

What is Society ERP and Why do You Need it?

Housing complexes today offer facilities and amenities that can range from strict security to facilities like clubhouse, play areas, and maintenance services. While these amenities can add substantially to the quality of life for every resident, their management can often be quite challenging. Other than handling periodic or annual tasks, it can also involve the day-to-day minutiae, from tracking inventory to vendor expenses. These challenges can be further compounded in a large complex. 

Society ERP solutions have emerged as an efficient and cost-effective means of ensuring end-to-end management  of residential complexes. As a digital solution, it enables resident organisations to significantly improve their efficiency while cutting down on costs.

What is society ERP?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. In the context of residential societies, ERP is a software that automates various functions, strengthens internal control while offering invaluable insights by drawing on a wide database. Today, society ERP solutions encompass all functions, from automated accounting and billing to visitor entry, asset and facility management. 

ApnaComplex offers a comprehensive society ERP with a host of features for end-to-end automation of various functions while offering residential complexes different avenues to track and measure their performance.  

Why do you need society ERP?

ApnaComplex society ERP is specially designed to assist the functioning of residential complexes. When taken together, it can offer resident organisations far-reaching benefits that go far beyond financial benefits. 

Budget optimisation: You can track your expenses, while automating billing and collections with ApnaComplex smart budgeting tools. Key features like automated budget variance report, expense tracking, and bookkeeping services allow one to trace every expenditure and pinpoint where actual expenses have overshot the planned outlay. 

Optimal resource allocation: At its core, ERP is designed to improve resource utilisation. The automation of functions like visitor management and invoice collections remove many tedious and repetitive tasks while ensuring better quality control. 

Asset management: One of the challenges of managing a medium or large-scale residential complex lies in ensuring optimal asset performance. It can include manifold issues, from ensuring flawless performance to tracking their depreciation over time. These assets include lifts, electrical fittings, fire equipment, and borewells. With ApnaComplex, one can track asset performance, maintain service history and AMC details, automate a maintenance schedule, and receive timely notifications whenever service is due. The software also allows inventory tracking so that the management can keep a tab of inventory purchase and consumption. 

Facility management: The usage of facilities like gym, swimming pool, or playing areas can get complicated in a large society where multiple people may want access at the same time. ApnaComplex Facility Management feature offer app-based reservation along with timely communication on usage rules, charges, and booking limitations. 

Enhance security: The Visitor Management System in ApnaComplex enhances security by ensuring that only authorised guests can gain entry. Residents can also pre-authorise guests and deliveries. For in-premises security, the platform leverages Guard Patrol Tracking, a feature that is designed to trace the movement of guards through a self-check-in mechanism. 

Speedy complaint redressal: Residents can raise complaints regarding their flats or for common areas through the app or the website. To ensure timely resolution, the platform offers multi-level escalation matrices to ensure that unresolved issues are bumped to the next level. 

Resident satisfaction: Ultimately, the platform is designed to enhance resident satisfaction by automating various functions, such as billing and collections, thus ensuring efficient administration. Real-time notifications inform them of guest entry, school bus arrivals, and other such key notices. The ApnaComplex communication platform allows residents to connect with others, find like-minded people, and seek help or information when needed. 

With its holistic digital and automation support, ApnaComplex has emerged as India’s leading ERP solution. It enables residential societies to gain invaluable insight into the performance of their assets, facilities, and other crucial resources. As a digital platform ApnaComplex also offers a comprehensive database that is free of any bias or error. 

If you want to learn more about our ERP solutions, get in touch with us at support@apnacomeplex. Our team will help you understand the various features you can use to optimise your resource allocation!

Text saying, "Rainwater Harvesting: Common mistakes' on the background of an overflowing drain

Is your Rainwater Harvesting Falling Short? Here’s Why

The impending water crisis in our urban areas has led to the urgent demand for holistic solutions like rainwater harvesting (RWH). As RWH becomes legally mandatory for large and mid-sized residential complexes in an increasing number of cities, many Resident Welfare Associations and apartment Management Committees have taken wholeheartedly to the challenge, setting up RWH structures to maximise their groundwater recharging capabilities. 

Unfortunately, good intentions do not always guarantee exemplary solutions. Many societies today find themselves let down by outdated RWH designs. Their water dependence on external sources shows no signs of diminishing even as their borewells run dry. Given this crisis, we must take a look at our goals for RWH and evaluate current practices to understand where we may be falling short. 

Why do we need Rainwater Harvesting? 

Rainwater harvesting is one of the most traditional means of water storage. It was a means to store excess rainwater to prepare for leaner times. Even in the arid regions of Rajasthan, traditional RWH methods were instrumental in providing local communities with sufficient water during long dry spells. But the main purpose of RWH is to replenish groundwater. In fact, the reason for mandating RWH in urban areas is to recharge the declining levels of groundwater in India.

It becomes even more critical when we consider the alarming depletion in groundwater levels across the country. As per CWMI (Composite Water Management Index), groundwater has been declining by 10-25 mm a year between 2002 and 2016. 54% of the groundwater wells are at severely reduced levels. By 2030, 40% of the population is expected to lose access to drinking water. 

Housing complexes in cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, and the NCR region are well acquainted with this reality as their borewells have dried up. Most societies rely on tankers to meet their water requirements. RWH offers a holistic solution that aims to replenish the groundwater. In time, it should resolve issues of drying borewells, helping a housing society to gain water independence. 

What’s wrong with your RWH?

Unfortunately, most of the RWH structures used by large or mid-sized societies do not meet the mark as evidenced by their continued dependence on outside sources of water. Many housing societies have reported increasing reliance on tankers even after installing RWH systems. While this may lead us to fault the concept of RWH, the truth probably lies in a faulty design. Most RWH structures are based on outdated designs that may not meet the requirements of a society, are cumbersome to manage, or are difficult to maintain. An inadequate design leads to underperformance with the structure failing to meet its goal. 

Common mistakes in RWH

Some of the most common mistakes in RWH design include:

Design according to size

Very often societies tend to go with a standard one-size-fits-all without taking into account their parameters. They fail to consider the catchment area, a key criterion in designing RWH. A catchment area refers to the territory that is used to collect rainwater or drain run-off. It can be the rooftop or an open surface area. The size of the catchment and the rainfall pattern will determine its total harvesting potential and all other design parameters of the system. Accurate measurements are critical in ensuring that the system is neither underdesigned leading to loss of potential water harvest, or overdesigned which can mean unnecessarily increasing costs. 

Provide for overflow or bypass

What happens when there is an overflow? It is quite common and can be caused due to excess flow or a blockage. Yet, many societies fail to factor in this contingency, leading to the wastage of the excess water which is simply allowed to drain away. It can cause flooding or the formation of a cesspool situation which may create a health hazard. 

Whether it is rooftop or surface rainwater harvesting, we have to ensure provisions for an overflow. It could be for reuse from the storage tank or for bypass from the recharge pit or borewell. The overflow should be directed into the nearest stormwater drain.

Air & Water quality 

The location of the society also has a role to play since it impacts the air quality. Rainwater acts as a natural filter in purifying the air, but ends up absorbing the contaminants. Hence, the water in and around highly industrialized areas can have contaminants, which will impact its quality. It is best to check the quality of the rainwater before starting. 

It is equally important to test the quality of the filtered water during monsoon when the society already has an RWH setup. Most traditional designs do not have a testing or performance monitoring system and hence, it is difficult to assess their effectiveness without testing. Failing to test the quality of water can lead to complications or poor usage.

If the property size and the lay of the land complicate the RWH project, one should consider working with a company that provides custom solutions. Preference should be given to design-led companies that understand the nuances of contemporary RWH structural designs. This is critical in making a housing society or community water independent, especially where it is dependent on sub-ground water as its primary source.

Graphic with text "Cut operational costs with ApnaComplex smart solutions'

How can ApnaComplex Help Reduce Society Management Costs

Managing a residential complex can be an expensive business. From staff salaries to ensuring timely repairs and maintenance, the operative costs can stack up to a fair amount. There can be hidden costs as well, such as utility bills and trash disposal charges. Prudent financial management dictates that we minimise these expenses while trying to increase our sources of income. However, this is easier said than done. The larger the society, the more the expenses. The complexity of managing a society further makes it difficult to slash costs. 

Today, no management committee can tackle the financial management of a residential complex without comprehensive digitalisation. ApnaComplex offers end-to-end digital support for apartment management with an integrated ERP system to manage multiple tasks. It offers many features to improve administration, cut costs, and ensure budget optimisation.  

What are the typical expenses in apartment management?

The costs incurred in managing an apartment can broadly be divided in the following categories:

  • Staff salaries
  • Inventory 
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Utilities
  • Administrative
  • Taxes & insurance
  • New construction/furnishing

The expenses can increase with the size of the property and the extent of services. For instance, the management of large complexes will involve higher expenses on security, cleaning, and maintenance. The extent of services can also increase maintenance costs. Additional services, such as basic home maintenance can involve putting additional carpenters, electricians, and plumbers on the payroll. Similarly, facilities like swimming pools or gyms can increase the cost of maintenance. 

How can ApnaComplex help in reducing costs?

As an integrated digital platform for apartment management, ApnaComplex offers multiple features that can help society treasurers to make data-driven decisions on reducing expenses. The platform offers end-to-end support that can help in cutting down staffing costs while providing valuable data on expenses and inventory. The aim here is to empower treasurers with relevant information on surplus expenses. 

Inventory tracking: One of the reasons for unplanned expenses, especially in large societies, is untracked inventory. From diesel to light bulbs and even pens, inventory management requires meticulous recording and tracking of the inventory to identify any instances of overspending. ApnaComplex offers an Inventory Tracker that helps in keeping track of every inventory in the complex. It can track purchases, consumption patterns, and stock levels of each item. This can serve multiple purposes. We can study how and where different items are used, their lifespan, and when stocks dip low. This data can help us identify high consumption patterns, unaccounted inventory, and if there is an unexplained spike in expenditure. 

Facility management: Part of reducing costs is to extend the lifespan of existing facilities like lifts, fire equipment, electric fittings, and borewells. The Asset Tracker feature in ApnaComplex maintains service history and AMC details to ensure that the management can carry out timely services and repairs. This helps in ensuring smooth and extended lifespan for various facilities, thus cutting down on repurchasing costs. 

Overhead cost: The digital solutions by ApnaComplex ensure that while productivity and outcome remains the same, the effort and cost to sustain these are significantly reduced. By automating some of the regular functions, the platform can help in reducing overhead costs, including staffing expenses. For instance, ApnaComplex Guard Patrol Tracking is a foolproof system that digitally traces a guard’s movement, removing the necessity of in-person supervision. Similarly, as an app also frees apartment communication from legacy systems like intercoms. 

Budget optimisation: ApnaComplex has extensive budgeting tools that can be instrumental in optimising expenses. One of the most powerful features in this regard is the Budget Variance Report. It analyses the difference between the budget and the actual performance. Other areas with heavy expenditure can be pinned down through Expense Tracking. Similarly, utility expenses can be tracked with Metered Utility Billing. These features can help in identifying areas that consistently exceed budgetary outlays. The management can use the data to put a cap on expenditure. 

As a digital platform, ApnaComplex offers a comprehensive database that collates all information in one place. The financial data collated over time gives us an insight into the financial behaviour of the society. It can be leveraged to improve forecasts, identify areas of improvement, and plan appropriate policies. 

Swatchh Bharat: How Housing Committees are Working Towards cleaner Societies

The old adage of “cleanliness is next to Godliness” is one of the most important tenets in a residential complex or a gated community. Keeping a clean environment requires sustained effort and strict implementation by the management. But what makes it so important and how can a management committee ensure a clean environment within the premises? Read on to find out. 

Why is cleanliness important in a gated community?

The cleanliness of a city falls under the purview of municipal corporations. However, gated communities typically manage many of their civic amenities internally, including the maintenance of clean premises. Hence, the regular cleaning and garbage handling is the management committees’ responsibility. In most societies, these tasks are handled by housekeeping staff that can include cleaners and waste handlers. In some places, gardeners or landscaping staff may also fall into this category as they are responsible for keeping lawns and garden areas clean. These tasks are critical for the following reasons:

  • Maintaining hygiene in the society
  • Keeping the premises clean and free of clutter
  • Ensuring an aesthetic appeal
  • Prolonging the lifespan of assets like railings or water/drain pipes. 
  • Removing any chances of infestations 
  • Keeping a clear path for movement of residents
  • Removing chances of fire hazard
  • Maintaining resale value 
  • Uplifting the spirit of residents

Responsibilities of housekeeping staff

The housekeeping staff is essentially responsible for maintaining clean and hygienic premises. This can include:

  • Cleaning common areas, including walls, rugs, and furniture 
  • Sweeping of roads and other paved areas 
  • Cleaning pipes and drains
  • Dusting, wiping, or polishing of assets like lifts, furniture and other soft furnishings. 
  • Garbage collection
  • Ensuring that water or other waste is not collected at any site for a prolonged period.
  • Sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming common areas
  • Undertaking minor repair and maintenance work. 

How do MCs ensure a clean environment?

Ensuring clean premises requires a continuous multi-level approach by the management. It’s important here to understand that the responsibility for cleanliness does not lie with the management and cleaners alone. It is also the responsibility of each resident to follow all guidelines on littering, garbage disposal, and coordinating with the cleaning staff. The management ensures cleanliness in the complex premises through the following measures: 

  • Regular supervision of cleaning staff to check attendance and performance
  • Formulating garbage collection policies to ensure proper segregation and timely collection. 
  • Maintaining smooth coordination with municipal bodies or private vendors for timely disposal of garbage. 
  • Carrying out timely maintenance of hardware such as pipes and floors. 
  • Ensuring hygienic conditions by removing any garbage pile up or water accumulation.
  • Regularly supervise and analyse STP capability and functioning. 
  • Plan and enforce policies on waste and recycling management.
  • Formulate and enforce cleanliness policies, including waste segregation and littering.

How does ApnaComplex help in maintaining cleanliness? 

A key aspect of maintaining a clean society is timely communication. The implementation of cleanliness policies depends on effective and timely communication. ApnaComplex assists the residential communities in ensuring immaculate surroundings by offering residents, management committee, and the staff a common platform of communication. This can assist in the following ways.

  • MC can inform all residents of various policies through the ApnaComplex app.
  • ApnaComplex Community Wiki acts as a repository of information on various initiatives, articles, tips and newsletters
  • Residents can lodge complaints and suggestions.
  • ApnaComplex Admin Console helps in professional processing of complaints, suggestions and requests through SLA-based matrices. 

ApnaComplex is India’s leading mobile and web-based platform for apartment management and accounting. It leverages a comprehensive ERP that integrates various dimensions of managing a residential complex, from managing finances, to managing data and operations. ApnaComplex is offered as a hosted solution with zero infrastructure setup by the society

How Residents can Help their Elderly Neighbours

The elderly have always been valued members of every community in India. Grandparents, older neighbours, and even unknown seniors are treated with respect and deference. However, urbanisation and the growth of nuclear families have had an adverse impact on this tradition with more and more elderly now often living on their own. 

The increasing isolation of the elderly becomes even more concerning when we consider their expanding population which is expected to rise by 41% in the coming decade to reach 194 mn in 2031. It means that we are likely to have more and more elderly people in our neighbourhood.

Why the elderly may need help? 

In the absence of the traditional joint family, many senior citizens today are often living alone or may not have sufficient help at home. This can be both emotionally and physically challenging for older people. They are highly likely to suffer from anxiety regarding their health. Advancing age also increases the likelihood of severe cognitive impairment and mental and neurological disorders like dementia or alzheimer’s. 

Physically, the aged population is the most vulnerable as the incidence of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes increases with age. It also takes them longer to bounce back from an illness. As their overall energy and strength levels decrease with age, the ability to take up strenuous work also becomes limited. 

But one of the biggest reasons why we must go out of our way to help elderly neighbours are the intangible benefits that we can gain, including wise counsel and companionship.

How can resident associations help the elderly?

Resident associations can take some simple but very effective steps to help their elderly members, such as:

Checking regularly: A small team should be assigned to regularly check on the aged population that lives alone. This should preferably be done through in-person calls since many older people may be reluctant to share their concerns to avoid burdening others. It can also go a long way in lessening their feeling of isolation.  

Assign an emergency team: One of the major concerns among older people is falling severely sick where they may need urgent medical assistance. Hence, it is advisable to assign a team that can be available in an emergency. The team should have contact details of aged residents and their next of kin. They should also make themselves aware of the procedure to follow in case of a medical emergency in terms of notifying family members, calling an ambulance and keeping a tab of nearby health centres.

Ensuring safe neighbourhood: An accidental fall can have a far-reaching impact on the elderly. As bones get more brittle with time, a fracture often takes a very long time to heal, further curbing their mobility. Yet, senior citizens must stay physically active. Hence, care must be taken that walkways are properly maintained and there are no obstacles, bumps, and uneven surfaces. Avoid putting any stairs on walking routes and ensure every place can be accessed by a wheelchair. Similarly, terraces and stairs should always have handrails.

Space for rest and community: The walkways should have benches at certain intervals to allow people to take some rest on their walk. A place for elders to gather and meet their contemporaries is also extremely important as this sense of community can be vital for their mental wellbeing. 

Helping with chores: Reach out frequently to the senior citizens in the society to find out if they need help with chores. This can include carrying out their grocery shopping, driving them to a meeting or religious place, or for smaller tasks around the house. 

Involving in community activities: Make the effort to involve senior citizens in community activities, such as appointing them in an advisory role for community-wide events or religious functions. We can identify people with unique skills and qualifications, such as those interested in arts or gardening, and involve them in related activities.

These are just some of the small steps we can take to create a safe and friendly atmosphere for the elderly neighbour in our community. Remember, frequent visits, phone calls, and just staying constantly in touch with them will go a long way in fostering their wellbeing and happiness.

How does ApnaComplex help in creating elder-friendly societies?

As an apartment management app, ApnaComplex can help in driving elder-friendly environment in a residential complex through the following features:

Gatekeeper: With security being one of the key concerns for most senior residents, entry regulations through ApnaComplex Gatekeeper feature ensures a comprehensive security system. Residents receive real-time notifications on visitors, pre-approve entry of chosen guests or delivery personnel, and can track staff attendance. 

Communication: This feature provides senior citizens an opportunity to connect with others in the community. The app contains discussion forums and groups where they can find like-minded people, seek companionship, or find useful information. It also acts as a crucial information platform through Community Wiki, Notice Board, and Document Repository. 

Online Society Helpdesk: One of the main challenges for many senior residents is ensuring regular maintenance of repair of their home. Today, many housing complexes offer these services for residents. With the Online Society Helpdesk, residents can raise complaints and drop suggestions. It allows the society management to track redressal of complaints, ensuring timely resolution. 

With end-to-end apartment management solutions, ApnaComplex allows resident associations to create a safe, friendly, and convenient place for elderly neighbours.

Graphic with text "How to Improve Kids’ Play Area' with a background of a playground

What to Keep in Mind When Remodeling Kids’ Play Area

There are numerous reasons why children need outdoor playtime. Other than ensuring good physical health, play is also important for their mental health and in learning crucial social skills. Children find friends, learn to interact with others, and develop confidence in their physical and social skills through outdoor activities. Games also play an important role in stimulating their curiosity and their drive to work towards a goal. They get to work with others, form friendships, and learn about group dynamics. Hence, a playground is seen as an essential component in any residential area. Other than attracting families, playgrounds often double up as socialising spots for parents, grandparents, or other caretakers. 

If your society has just a swing and slide for a playground, it may be time to reboot, refurbish, and improve the playing lot. Here are a few essential steps that you can follow:

Pick a good location

The play area can be situated in the middle of the complex or at any corner, but it’s critical to keep it away from any hazardous places like STP, water tanks, garbage area, cylinder storage, and mechanical or electrical closets. Similarly, it should not be located on a terrace even if you have high fences or railings. Children can be ingenious when trying to overcome such challenges.

Include these 3 essential elements 

Every play area should have active, sensory, and creative elements. Active elements include slides, swings, monkey bars, and other similar equipment. Pick any playing apparatus that encourages children to climb, hop, jump, balance, swing, pull or push. The most common sensory play areas are in the form of sand pits where children can be messy. You can also add implements like toy spades or buckets. 

Creative elements can include blackboards, musical instruments like metal pipes, tree houses, or a play house. These are places that let their imagination take hold. Other than these play areas, see if you can extend the playground into green areas, like a garden with trees where children can spend some time with nature. 

Get suitable flooring

Children can very easily fall prey to a sudden accident. It is advisable to go for rubber flooring in active play areas. The rubber surface protects children from falls and reduces the chances of injuries. Today, you can also get rubber mats with interesting patterns. At the same time, make sure that any hazardous elements like sharp objects are removed from the play area. 

Add benches

While children are rarely interested in benches, their caretakers do find them handy. Add a couple of benches or similar seating areas for parents and other caretakers. They are more likely to linger and let the children play if they also have a place to sit and wait.

Ensure regular maintenance 

Regular maintenance of the play area is critical to ensure safety. Apart from regular cleaning and sweeping of the area, we must also carry out regular inspections of the equipment to check for loose bolts or attachments, broken or jagged edges, or any other apparatus that is coming apart. Sand pits must be raked regularly to check for bits of glass, feces, rocks, and other foreign objects. Any issues like stagnating water or pits in the flooring must be immediately addressed. The same goes for play equipment that has been damaged. Keep in mind that this can directly impact the safety of children. For more details on maintaining a play area, read our article here

Play areas are an essential investment for any residential area, necessary for the health and wellbeing of their most precious occupants – small children. The regular improvement and maintenance of the play area are necessary not only for their enjoyment, but also to ensure their overall wellbeing and safety. 

Graphic of building roof with nursery and text saying, 'Building Sustainability with Rooftop Farming'

Why & How to Start Rooftop Farming

Rooftop farming can trace its roots back to ancient Mesopotamia. What had possibly started as an attempt at self-sufficiency, slowly picked up the pace for myriad reasons, from beautification to the setting up of a tranquil, quiet corner atop one’s home. Today, apartment complexes and gated communities have once again taken the lead in rooftop farming, utilising limited urban spaces in an innovative manner while creating a pleasing environment for residents. 

What is rooftop farming?

Rooftop farms or gardens are manmade green spaces atop industrial, commercial, or residential buildings. While a rooftop farm is meant for farming produce, it can also include rooftop gardens which are mostly conceived for decorative or leisure purposes. 

Benefits of rooftop farming

Besides their decorative effect, rooftop farms or gardens have many other benefits, including:

Food for residents: Depending on the availability of space, rooftop farms can be used to grow almost any kind of food, particularly vegetables, fruits, and herbs. With complete control over farming practices, residents can use the rooftop to drive campaigns like organic farming or permaculture. 

Temperature control: Temperature control is a major concern in many of our urban areas. Bare rooftops absorb and radiate heat, becoming part of urban heat islands. These are areas where high human activity raises the temperature. In contrast, rooftop gardens absorb the heat, reducing ambient temperature while improving the air quality. On a large scale, rooftop gardens can have a significant impact in reducing heat islands and improving the air quality in urban areas. 

Recreational: Studies have shown that green spaces can improve mental health, boosting attention, creativity, and memory. Rooftop gardens make ideal recreational spaces for all residents. In the case of a rooftop farm, it can also be a strong binding factor for community building. 

Reducing rain run-off: Thanks to insufficient urban waste infrastructure, rainwater run-off often becomes a worrisome issue during heavy rains. Rooftop gardens can reduce peak runoff by forming a retention basin where plants hold the excess rainfall.  

How to start your rooftop garden?

To start a rooftop garden, the key steps are to prepare the roof, select the right plants, create a watering and drainage system, and install wind breaks if needed. 

Preparing the roof

Start by checking the building codes to gauge how much weight the roof can safely handle. Pick a durable area that can withstand the weight of planters or soil beds. You can use large and small planters, create raised beds, or cover the roof with planting soil like any garden. In case you decide to go with creating beds, start with waterproofing and insulating the roof. 

While most modern buildings have waterproofing, it is still advisable to apply a waterproof layer like plastic sheets, bitumen roofing, concrete admixture, or a polymer coating. Make sure it is root and rot-resistant. You can also opt for an insulation or protection layer made of polyurethane foam, XPS extruded polystyrene boards, PIR panels, polystyrene cement, foamed concrete, or autoclaved aerated concrete. The protection layer is also important for drainage. 

Select the right plants

The plants should be selected as per the air and wind exposure on the roof. Different areas of the roof will have different sun exposure. So, it’s best to gauge the sun’s movement over the roof throughout the day. Take note of areas that are always under a shade, such as the area next to a wall. Whether growing ornamental plants or food crops, pick your plants as per their need for sunlight. Given the limitation of maintaining a specific soil depth, it’s also important to pick plants with shallow roots. You can choose large planters for plants with deep roots, but keep the overall weight in mind. If the roof has high wind exposure, you may have to build some kind of wind barrier. 

Preparing the soil

It’s best to opt for well-draining, lightweight, and aerated soil that is rich in organic matter. 

Drainage and irrigation

Water management, both in terms of irrigation and drainage is critical when it comes to roof gardens. Roof farming usually has a very high water requirement because of high sun exposure. At the same time, efficient drainage is critical to ensure that water does not pool anywhere. Manually watering the roof can work, provided it is carried out regularly but not in excess. Drip irrigation and sprinklers are good options. For drainage, you can use plastic drainage models, porous mats, granular material, or a water storage reservoir. 

Now that you have the basics of rooftop farming, you can start creating green spaces in residential complexes. Apart from working towards food security, these spaces can be critical places for members of the community to meet, relax, and connect with nature and each other.