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Old 11th August 2021, 17:56   #1
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Default Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

In India, we find ourselves at a point in time when tin cans are being kicked around. There's no popular wisdom in owning one, much less if you go on to own one for more than a decade.

So it came to pass that my elder sister's family recently embarked on a car upgrade quest from her Silver colored, 2008 November manufactured Tin Can, a silver colored 2nd hand Suzuki Swift VXi. Being a Car consultant to family & friends, the quest fell on me to be taken forward.

Introducing the incumbent:
We first set our eyes on it in December 2011 at a Maruti TruValue lot in Chennai. It had barely run 10,000 Km in its 3 years since manufacture. I and my brother-in-law couldn't believe it; we'd seen our fair share of doctored odometers in our prolonged search in the used car market, so there was nothing to be done except to get our FNG mechanic's help evaluating its genuine-ness.

His garage happened to be right across the road from the TrueValue showroom, happily for us. He took one look at the engine and at the odometer and said that it's a genuine case. Perhaps it had been repossessed on a bad loan - who knows? The fact of the matter was, after our mechanic took her for a test spin, we got ourselves a pristine, good-as-new Swift for 3.75 Lacs in December 2011.

The car has been in the family ever since; it has run only 45,000 km more in all the time that has elapsed till now. This understated and ubiquitous car has mostly clocked only highway miles for the most part, on roadtrips to hill stations, temple towns and to assorted far-flung destinations. It has seldom been used on city roads, in stop-go traffic.

In praise of the machine:
In recent times, I remember getting surprised by its superior speed on the highway, when compared to my 2018 TUV 300. I know that my TUV is no speed demon, but this ancient Swift showed me the meaning of speed in a family roadtrip to Ooty from Chennai. All of the luggage had been stowed away in my TUV's 3rd row and the elderly were with me. The Swift was full of the younger ones in the family. And boy, did they make me feel old all along during the trip!

The Swift would beat us by a full 15 minutes to every coffee/food stop on the way. On that trip, it would apparently hit high 3 digit speeds on the highway, putting newer/sportier cars to the test - if the younger ones in the family are to be believed.

Personally, I have never driven it faster than 100 Kmph, given its lack of ABS and airbags and our desi driving conditions. Fresh off the True Value parking lot in 2011, I remember grinning at the wheel of the car since its peppy engine was a revelation for me. And I do recall making a 500 Km highway trip with it back in 2012; I was able to achieve a fuel efficiency of 20 Kmpl by sticking to 2000 RPMs in it at ~80 Kmph.

The Suzuki Esteem's 1.3 litre engine that was plonked into the first generation Swift is still a worthy motor, even today.

The itch for a new car:
Now, you have to understand what sort of a person my brother-in-law (here on referred to as my "BIL") is. He is an "offline" sort of person and doesn't partake in the online frenzies that us younger people are often a part of. Think of him as the quintessential Clint Eastwood spaghetti-Western movie cowboy character, squinting out at a dry world with eyes that constantly size up approaching adversaries far out in the desert. He is worldly-wise (unlike myself) and he knows the true worth of money. He knows where a car belongs in the pecking order of life's needs and wants. Don't get me wrong - he's all for taking out our own cars on every outstation trip; we've never gone by train or bus ever since 2011. It's just that he knows the true financial costs involved in buying and owning a car. In the time that I've been splurging away on transient and depreciating assets, he has acquired many appreciating assets.

He has seen me buy a "SUV" (if you can call the TUV 300 that) in the 11 years that have elapsed since he bought the Swift. He sees all these newer machines being driven around by the rest of us. He has felt the need for a bigger boot space (the fist-generation Swift came with only 235 litres boot space, if memory serves me right). And even he, of all the nonchalant people in the world, has become slightly bored with the old!

The search for a new car:
As a "car consultant", it is my job to evoke and evince interest from whoever it is that I'm trying to help buy a car. So I absolutely went all in, sending used car ads to my BIL. I sent him 3 row utility vehicle ads. These were mere sparks in the desert; I just couldn't get him to smile or even move a facial muscle.

I moved onto sedans - he briefly looked at used sedans such as the Amaze, City etc. But we had to rule them out for parking reasons. His allotted parking slot in his apartment which was built in 2005 only stretches out to 3.9 m; and he needs to park a 2 wheeler width-wise behind the car. Any longer cars would put him in conflict with other residents in the apartment, as there was a common walking space to be used by every resident behind the said parked 2 wheeler

So we moved on to used hatchbacks. But again - most hatchbacks were simply too long for his use case. Obviously, I had to rule out the i20s and Jazzes of the world. Even the Grand i10 was a tad too long, at 3.8 metres. We had to look at used examples of the all-new Hyundai Santro since it matched the First Generation Swift's length at ~3.6 metres. We could've opted for a used Grand i10 and made it work somehow in the parking space, or we could have opted for a Santro - but at that point, it occurred to my BIL and I that we weren't really gaining much over the incumbent car. Power, space, reliability...whichever metric we applied, the incumbent car was still the best car for my BIL! And the Santro would have been a downgrade in power vis-a-vis the Swift. Very quickly, my BIL shut down the entire conversation on cars. He would have none of it. And I didn't think of bringing it up again either.

An unexpected conclusion to the car hunt:
Once it became clear that hanging on to the current car was a no-brainer, we asked our good old mechanic to assess it and he recommended a suspension overhaul and he said it was still a great car. So we went ahead and got its suspension overhauled at his garage sometime in mid 2021; I don't recall how much it cost us exactly. But in the aftermath of the servicing, the car is back to its composed self.

The impact of real estate market on the automotive market:
It would be amiss of us at this juncture to not look at how the real estate market affects our automotive choices - choices we get and the choices we make. My BIL bought this 3BHK apartment in 2005 at a prime location in Chennai for a now-unbelievable price, at a now-unbelievable fixed home loan rate. His Rs.8000 EMI is going to end this year and his apartment's value has multiplied many times over in the time since. There's no room to fault his home for his lack of choices in the automotive market, quite frankly. His apartment is beyond sensible, superb even, as an investment.

However - the apartment's builder in 2004/2005 had seen fit to only provide a parking lot that's yay long (to liberally apply a typical British description of lengths/spaces). The structure itself is well built and has left no room for any complaints. But I see the parking lot there and its full of i10s and first gen Swifts, our own included. My BIL can sell his apartment for 90 lacs today easily...and yet, only a small car can fit in there!

Let's move on to another, more current example; I have been hunting recently for a rental home myself in South Chennai. Every apartment that I saw had only a 4m long parking space provided for each flat. There was a newly built 3 BHK apartment costing 75 lakhs that came only with a 4m slot; there was no way I could park my TUV 300 and my RE Electra and my dad's scooter. We had to reject the apartment. And I found that sufficient parking for a 4m+ vehicle plus 2 wheelers was available only in costly apartments that came with snob value; and these are residential options that my family frowns upon for the snobbery involved.

Anyway, in all apartments with 4m parking slots, there are families that are constrained to buying cars that fit there - if at all they buy cars. They don't really have many options in the automotive market, not unless they're prepared to park in the street or to shell out upwards of 1 crore INR on what I call snobbish residential options.

And if you're looking to build your own home with a spacious parking area, it costs Rs.1500 to Rs.1700 per square foot today (in Chennai) just to build such an open space in your home! A fully built up area in a home will cost you Rs.2000 to 2200 per sq ft today in Chennai, for reference. That's just way too costly. It makes sense for aspiring home owners to just allow space for a small parking area and to spend precious money on the actual home. Most of today's newly built homes will allow only sub 4m cars to be parked!

A lot of this must be obvious to most of us - but this hadn't really struck me until now. Real estate dictates our automotive choices, and how!

Tail wags the dog, or dog wags the tail?
Only a car-crazy person such as myself would ever entertain a thought such as this - "when I build my dream home, I will set aside the entire ground floor as an open stilt-parking area, so that I can buy whatever cars my heart will desire". But the middle class lives in a highly uncertain world that is only supplied with money in the present; the future holds no promises. It just doesn't make sense for the salaried class to allow the tail to wag the dog. Worst come, you've got to be able to surgically excise the tail in order to save the dog! I mean, a car doesn't even figure in Maslow's hierarchy...

The bottomline is this - my BIL is comfortably placed in life only because of his no-nonsense approach to life and his finances. He owns multiple properties, most of which are fully paid for. He has 2 older kids' education to pay for and a daughter's marriage to conduct in the next 5-7 years or so. I tip my hat to him for keeping his wits about him; it's easy for a layman to get drawn into an arms race with folks in the neighborhood who zip around in new cars.

Epilogue:
The 2008 Swift Vxi still does highway runs regularly in the family. I drove it from Chidambaram to Chennai in November 2021, through a mix of broken state highways and national highways. My BIL drove it from Chennai to Hosur in December 2021 and it returned a fuel efficiency of 19 kmpl. It remains faultless and does what is asked of it. As of today, it has only ~57,000 km on the odometer and is a timeless gem in the family. We are prepared to get its Fitness Certification done come November 2023 and we have no doubt that this "tin can" will munch highway miles as long as we ask it to do so.

Last edited by locusjag : 20th March 2022 at 10:59.
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Old 21st March 2022, 06:40   #2
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st March 2022, 08:21   #3
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

Nice write up. Thanks for sharing. It is very true that proper parking is low on the priority for most builders even today. In Bangalore also, most apartments built in the 2000-2010 timeframe never had even one parking per apartment allotted. As a result, if you visit such apartments ( am talking even larger luxury apartment complexes), you see spaces marked for parking all over the place to try to fit in the delta between flats and spaces available. This is of course compounded by the fact that a 2nd car is also a norm in a lot of these places. So when slots itself are limited, not surprised that existing ones are very limited on size.

While it is kind of understandable for older apartments as the number of mass market models were limited and mostly focussed on smaller cars, what is surprising is that even today a lot of builders are focussed on cramming more apartments into the space available and parking is still an after thought. I have recently visited friends who have purchased villas for 2-3 crores in the outskirts of Bangalore and even there, one car barely fits in the parking. If it is a 7 seater types it juts out of the parking. A second car has to be parked on the road.

Proper parking for any sized car was a primary criteria for me when I purchased a flat and fortunately it worked out.

Kind of feel for your BIL though. Getting stuck with such a situation. Fortunately as you have said, he probably considers a car as an A to B kind of thing and running also does not seem to be high. But a good point to remember for anyone planning to purchase/build an apartment or house today.
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Old 21st March 2022, 08:40   #4
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

Why not sell and get a used swift zxi. Same car + Safety
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Old 21st March 2022, 09:09   #5
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Improperly built apartment parking spaces:
Allow me to add on to what South-West Chennai's real estate scene looks like, when we're talking about parking lots.

I live in a rented apartment near Tambaram in Chennai in a structure that was built sometime around 2013. This is my parking space:
Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading-20220214_172739_hdr2.jpg

As you can see - it is quite generous! I have a SUV and a hatchback and assorted 2 wheelers parked there. This must be a great builder and a superb apartment complex, right?

Wrong - my two cars are parked well into a dead-space which no one has access to at the corner. The tier 2 builder got his plans all muddled up and I get ample space but my neighbor only gets this space, into which he has to really struggle to park his car (note the odd front pillar placement):
Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading-20220214_172747.jpg

A handful of apartments have gotten bigger spaces and some have very little in my building. The stilt-pillars (columns) are unevenly spaced throughout in our complex.

My aggrieved neighbor is a colleague, a gentleman and a good friend. The builder hoodwinked him into buying this parking slot, which has a pillar eating into his purchased space. He is an automotive enthusiast and I can tell that he lives to drive but he is constrained to having a Ford Figo Aspire only. That's the biggest car that can be parked in his slot. He absolutely cannot turn a 4m+ car into his slot. I feel bad for him.

And there are scores of other parking slots in my building where you can call them parking slots, but where not even a Hyundai Eon will fit...

In fact there's jealousy and resentment in a few of the residents of my building. How dare I own and park 2 cars? It doesn't matter to them that I haven't actually caused a problem to anyone else. And it's not as if anyone else can park their vehicles in my space either.

And the unevenly placed pillars/columns that you see in my building is something that I've seen in many apartment complexes near Tambaram, including a few built by supposed tier 1 builders!

Last edited by locusjag : 21st March 2022 at 09:11.
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Old 21st March 2022, 09:22   #6
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

If you are buying a new apartment, beware of shrewd early movers who gobble up all the prime parking spots in collusion with the builder and his chamchas. In my apartment we have an excess of parking lots per resident. But when allocation was complete, some gobbled up prime parking spaces where you can park even 4 cars and some were left with dead spaces where you can't even park a two wheeler. There is no transparency in the allocation of parking lots in most apartments.

Last edited by poloman : 21st March 2022 at 09:23.
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Old 21st March 2022, 09:27   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Proper parking for any sized car was a primary criteria for me when I purchased a flat and fortunately it worked out.
...
But a good point to remember for anyone planning to purchase/build an apartment or house today.
Glad to know that you were able to work it out for yourself! In my hunt for another rental option I have come across ample examples where owners are stuck with useless parking spaces.

And my BIL and I have purchased adjacent plots of land where we intend to build our homes with open stilts in the ground floor. We know how costly it is to build it in that manner...so we're waiting and studying the real estate scene (builders, costs, building material options etc.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by H_Dogg72 View Post
Why not sell and get a used swift zxi. Same car + Safety
That is a great idea. But I just can't get Clint Eastwood to bat an eyelid at this point in time! He doesn't think like you and I do...
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Old 21st March 2022, 09:39   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
Improperly built apartment parking spaces:
One of the major reasons for vacating my previous rented flat was it's parking slot. One had to navigate through a maze to reach my spot (and that itself involved a 3-point turn). That's still manageable.

My spot was wide enough to hold my Seltos and leave about 6 inches gap to open the door. So I had to open the door slowly, place my hand on the outer edge of door so my hand touches my neighbour's car when I try to wriggle out. And like that cherry on top, the approach to the slot was a narrow tight 90 degree turn with pillars on one side and neighbour's car on the other, which needed n-point turns. The space was enough for a small hatch but not a 4m+ car. Every time I had some work, I tried my best to avoid taking out the car because of the hassle.

While house hunting, I did (and will do) a recce of the parking and realised that many tier 2 &3 builders build make-shift spaces and call it parking. Mind you, this is Bengaluru I am talking about!

My sister's place in Vijayawada has a well organised parking and the slots are wide enough. However, the 'roads' within the parking are not wide enough for 4m+ car to turn in the spot easily. Again, the length is barely couple of inches more than the length of my car.
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Old 21st March 2022, 09:45   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
The bottomline is this - my BIL is comfortably placed in life only because of his no-nonsense approach to life and his finances. He owns multiple properties, most of which are fully paid for. He has 2 older kids' education to pay for and a daughter's marriage to conduct in the next 5-7 years or so. I tip my hat to him for keeping his wits about him; it's easy for a layman to get drawn into an arms race with folks in the neighborhood who zip around in new cars.
A slightly changed bottom line - Some people like your BIL don't drool over automobiles as you do. You are a Bhpian and all your decisions in life are centered around your next favourite buy.

If you consider 2005, when your BIL bought his apartment, the Car (Swift) was probably 1/4th or 1/5th the price of the apartment. Today, if you wish to build your dream house with 1 full floor of parking, a 1200Sqft within Bangalore is a 3Crore affair. You shouldn't be blaming yourself for splurging on your Favourite SUV which was 1/20th of your dream home cost.
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Old 21st March 2022, 09:49   #10
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

This is a very important aspect. The parking slot can literally determine what you can buy, more than the budget. I mean budget can be stretched, but parking slot doesn't stretch.

For nearly 10 years, I rented an apartment in Bangalore which had a horrible parking slot. I had difficulty parking my wife's i10 at first. The association then moved the makeshift wall next to the parking slot to give some space to open the door. There was no question of upgrading the car while being in that flat. It was a corner slot, and if either of my neighbors park their cars even 6 inches back, I couldn't park the i10. I had to rely on renting another slot for Grand Vitara, and that was not always available. This is in an building where many apartments have large parking lots, and many even have two parking lots.

When we finally decided buy a flat in 2019 in the same building, we knew what came first. First I got the list of all the flat available for sale. Then I visited the basement to check the parking slot of each apartment on sale. Only once the parking slot was acceptable, we approached the owner for negotiation. I could have bought the apartment I rented for at least 40L less (it was smaller), if not for the parking issue. But I opted for a bigger flat just to get a proper parking slot. Now I have a huge parking lot where i10 is parked. The GV is still parked in a rented slot.
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Old 21st March 2022, 10:13   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
Real estate dictates our automotive choices
This is true. At my parents' place (that was built in 1986), I can't think of buying anything wider than 1800 mm. I park my S-Cross with only enough space for the folded ORVMs on the left. Been consistently doing that since the Corolla days in 2017 without a scratch. Ours is among the few houses where cars fit in the house, the others have Carnivals and S-Classes parked on the streets.

We recently moved to our own place in the suburbs, where we took the bigger lot to accommodate the car and scoot. The other lot has exactly 2000 mm. And looking around, ours is among 3-4 houses in the entire area to have a proper parking lot, or just enough to park bikes. They all are maximized for living area. How they get approval for such plans is beyond me.

Many expensive cars are parked on the street. And this area has barely been developing over the last decade or 2 at the most, and quite a few do serious commutes as well.
---
At 57K on clock, your BIL's Swift is hardly used and something he's lived with for a decade. IMO, as long as its reliable, he should grind it to retirement

In similar lines, there was once a signature of a BHPian that read 'Cars are no longer a luxury. Parking space is'. This was even before I became a member in 2010, should be 2007 or 2008.

Last edited by narayans80 : 21st March 2022 at 10:17.
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Old 21st March 2022, 10:23   #12
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When I bought my first car I was staying in a house which had parking space for 2 cars, but the landlord and another tenant already had a car each. So mine had to be parked on the street.

A person from the neighbouring property had reservations about this, as he could no longer enter or exit smoothly with his long car. In about 8 months, I had 4-5 punctures, and being a new to cars I thought it might be regular.

Years later it occurred to me that the punctures might have been the handiwork of that neighbour, given that I did not have as many punctures in more than a decade after that.
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Old 21st March 2022, 11:27   #13
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

Nice thread. Could relate to it very well. Requesting OP/Mods to kindly consider adding the word PARKING LOT in the title as it kinda holds the whole post together. (Parking Lot Case study - The upgrade that wasn't meant to be).

Coming to this point
Quote:
However - the apartment's builder in 2004/2005 had seen fit to only provide a parking lot that's yay long
FSI plays the critical role in car park space. When we bought a Honda City in 2009/2010 it was sad to see only 3/4 of it could fit into our duplex house which was twice the size of our earlier apartment costing 4/5 times more. But from 2012 onwards the FSI was raised and builders were allowed to build one more floor on top which opened up the stilt space for proper car parks. But increasing FSI led to sky high prices in our areas and that is a totally different topic altogether.

Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading-screen-shot-20220321-11.20.47-am.png

Regarding this point
Quote:
Epilogue:
The 2008 Swift Vxi still does highway runs regularly in the family.
This bothers me. A 2008 car was safe in 2008.. not in 2022. There are so many factors that have changed now. The risk quotient is very high on this car on a highway run. My humble request would be to exchange this for a Tata Nexon kind of car either used or new and enjoy the same humble down to earthness for many more years to come. Please ask your BIL to consider this.

Regards
Dev
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Old 21st March 2022, 14:57   #14
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

Parking is one of the non-negotiables I have in life.
Having own work and house is a blessing if you’re inclined to fulfill your whims and fancies.
I want my door to open the full 3 joints without hitting anything. Not surprisingly this is a luxury.
Quote:
Originally Posted by irdevanand View Post
Nice thread. Could relate to it very well. Requesting OP/Mods to kindly consider adding the word PARKING LOT in the title as it kinda holds the whole post together. (Parking Lot Case study - The upgrade that wasn't meant to be).

Attachment 2286694

Regarding this point

This bothers me. A 2008 car was safe in 2008.. not in 2022. There are so many factors that have changed now. The risk quotient is very high on this car on a highway run. My humble request would be to exchange this for a Tata Nexon kind of car either used or new and enjoy the same humble down to earthness for many more years to come. Please ask your BIL to consider this.

Regards
Dev
Let’s be real, it wasn’t safe even in 2008. But that is not the topic for this thread.

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Old 21st March 2022, 16:59   #15
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Default re: Case Study - How parking space affects upgrading

Agree with the limitations of parking space. Fortunately, whenever I have searched for an apartment, parking space has been one of the major decision parameters. Hence never got around to buying a flat.

Planned a house which could accommodate 2 cars in parallel (sedans like City/Verna etc). After construction, however we could not park 2 cars always & easily because of Sump Cover, no space to park two wheelers, space to walk in and out of house. Learnt a costly lesson(made peace with myself) and moved on.

Later, I read on TeamBhp somewhere, where @VNarayan made a point about buying a house. "Buy the one which is slightly beyond your reach. Income will increase few years down the line but size of the house will not". One more quote of his(paraphrasing)- "Your house would reflect your social status. And Aim to buy a house which is above your social status".

I took these words literally to my heart. I bought a much bigger plot where at least 6 cars and 6 two wheelers can be parked on stilt floor. Regret not being able to afford next bigger size plot (it was 80% more expensive). Still a consolation nevertheless. Will start construction once funds are in place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinya_jag View Post
Today, if you wish to build your dream house with 1 full floor of parking, a 1200Sqft within Bangalore is a 3Crore affair. You shouldn't be blaming yourself for splurging on your Favourite SUV which was 1/20th of your dream home cost.
Is your 3Cr estimate including the land cost? If not, its way off mark. A 3 floor house(stilt parking + 2 floors above) can be built on 80L - 1Cr budget with very good fittings and materials
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