Amit Shanbaug, ET Bureau:
The walls were beautifully done up,
the fittings were exquisite and the rooms were very spacious.
Vijayalaxmi Nayak and her family were so pleased with the look and feel
they immediately booked an apartment in the project by a reputed
developer in Bangalore.
The excitement died down when the
Nayaks got possession of thehousethree
years later. It was nowhere close to what they had been shown. The
flooring used ordinary tiles, the fixtures were not classy and the wall
finish was quite plain. "In the sample flat, the rooms looked so big and
perfectly done up, but actually the size was much smaller, and the
ceiling too was not of the same height as showcased," says Nayak.
There's very little that the Nayaks can do now because the sample flat
has long been demolished and they have no photographs or documentary
evidence of what it looked like. Even if they did, it would not have
helped. Chances are the developer had slipped in a clause in the
agreement saying that it reserved the right to alter the specifications
of the property.
The Nayaks are among the legions of buyers who are routinely taken for a
ride by builders, who show them exquisitely designed sample flats.
There's nothing wrong in this exercise since showcasing sample flats is
a standard marketing practice. "It is an actively used marketing tool
for attracting potential buyers and is more effective than brochures and
websites," says Shveta Jain, director, residential, Cushman & Wakefield
The problem is that, as in case of
the Nayaks, thereal
out to be very different from the sample offering. What you get isn't
what you see. The fixtures used could be very different from the
designer sanitaryware you see in the sample. Atul Modak, vice-president
of Kohinoor City Project, admits that some developers use fixtures and
furnishings worth almost 2-3 times the price of the flat itself. This
lends a premium look to the flat, which could deceive the customer.
You cannot blame potential buyers
for getting carried away by the looks of the sample flat.Buildershave
many tricks up their sleeves that give false impressions to the buyer.
For instance, there are no doors between rooms in a sample, which makes
the flat appear more spacious than it really is.
Even the toilets and bathrooms are doorless. Some of the walls are
merely glass partitions. Builders say this is done to allow buyers a
better view, but the fact is that it makes the house look more
commodious. The ceiling itself is much higher than that of the real
The interior designers hired by the
builders to do up the sample flats are experts at creating optical
illusions. They know how to use lighting and placefurniturein
such a way that the house appears bigger. Even the furniture is an
accomplice in this charade.
The customized beds and dining table sets are smaller than the normal
size and the cupboards lack depth. A gullible buyer is likely to think
that the bedroom will have enough space to move around even after
placing a double bed and a study table. What's more, window shoppers are
discouraged from sitting on the furniture or opening too many cupboards.
The finish of the sample flat is also deceiving. It is usually far
superior and gives the buyer a sense of aspirational value. He is ready
to shell out a higher sum for that kind of lifestyle. Experts point out
that the superior wall finish is also because they are made of gypsum,
not brick and cement plaster. "Sample flats are supposed to be
indicative of the kind of life that the buyer may expect. However, the
actual flat is unfurnished and has basic fixtures, fittings, flooring
and textures," says Jain.
The sample house itself may be much
bigger. Such flats are made only for marketing and, therefore, the walls
are much thinner than those of a normal structure. Some of the walls may
just be plywood partitions, which help add precious square inches of
carpet area to the house and make it bigger. "You will see glaring
differences between the sample flat and the specifications mentioned if
you measure the house," says Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases
However, there is no way you can compare the sample with the real. These
flats are demolished after the units in the project are sold out and
construction begins. Kapoor says this is also why photography and
videography are not allowed inside sample flats.
Builders claim this is meant to ensure that these designs are not
copied, but it is not true. The architectural drawing is already
available in product brochures. By forbidding photography, they are only
trying to prevent buyers from collecting evidence of what the sample