Insights from Mr. Dhamodharan, Director of Operations, FHDGroup

Written by Vignesh Srinivasan, FHDGroup
Wednesday, 16 January 2019

As architects & designers, we are usually employed once land identification & acquisition for a project is complete or nearing completion. Luckily, in our affordable housing projects, we’ve been able to provide critical feedback on site selection to our clients during their land acquisition efforts. This is especially important given the pricing sensitivity to locational advantage.

Not only has this design thinking helped in identifying the factors that will improve livability upon project completion but it has also given a fair pricing strategy to the developers.

For project success, we believe it is important to see affordable housing projects through the lens of design thinkers – an objective lens that provides visibility and meets the expectations of both the developers and the end-users’ needs.

It is important to find the balance between a product that is selling well in terms of quality and a product that is selling fast in terms of quantity. The win-win situation is when a well-designed product is selling well and fast and exceed the users’ needs.

We believe that we should share this and similar learnings to all our clients as there is a significant impact on the end user’s well-being, home, and built environment as well as the better saleability of the project. In this part 1 of this article, we will discuss 4 key considerations for site selection for affordable housing projects.

Social infrastructure and everyday needs within 2-5kms radius

Given the inelasticity of monthly expenditure, it is important to select a site where there is adequate social infrastructure (such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, shopping, etc) within 2 to 5 Kms radius. In addition to meeting everyday conveniences, a well-located site also reduces commute times for families, thereby saving time and transport costs.

Affordable amenities within and outside a community

Growing families have evolving needs in terms of amenities. It is important to identify a site where there are affordable amenities in the immediate neighborhood such as public and private educational, healthcare and activity centers.

Livelihood opportunities in the neighborhood

Working families in this sector thrive well when there are substantial livelihood opportunities for both genders as well as adult members of the family. Selecting a site close to or with easy public transport access to large centers of employment will also ensure an accelerated rate of sale of the units.

Availability of well-connected public transportation`

Another critical point during site selection is the availability of well-connected public transportation as well as proximity to large transport nodes. This has a significant impact on improving commute flexibility for end-users as well as growth in the capital value of the property over time for end-users. 

Projects where we have helped in site selection

When we collaborated with our client Nebula for affordable lifestyle project Aavaas Hyderabad in 2016, we started with studying their business model for site selection criteria. Based on our previous experience with several large real estate developers, we recommended an alternative approach to product positioning and a more apt typology for the selected location. Our clients found this approach was more aligned to their business goals and eventually agreed for our recommended changes.

Similarly, we worked on the GM Ambitious Enclave in 2017. Here again, we recommend impactful changes to their site selection strategy. The client also felt this worked better with their project vision. Additionally, we recommended changes to the site planning strategy as well as improved massing options for this high-density property. Our collaboration with GM then expanded further with four more projects and has spanned over 3.5 million Sq.Ft.

Be sure to read Part 2

To read the second post in this series where we discuss the land cost in relation to FSI and city proximity, click on this link: Part 2  and find out more about GM Ambitious Enclave. We are continuing to research and efforts on this topic and will be issuing periodic insights. Email us at if you’d like to know how to lead this change and mainstream aspiration affordable housing across cities in India.