Nepali Times
Phenomenal growth in housing colonies

Four years ago when Civil Homes began one of Kathmandu's first housing colony projects, it brought a revolution in lifestyle. It gave new hope to middle class families wanting to buy houses at affordable prices. Executive chairman I R Tamang spoke to us on how his company led the modernised housing trend

How did you come up with the housing colony concept?
Three years ago, the Chaudhary Group introduced the concept of the multi-storey apartment system at a time when Nepal's housing sector had not quite developed. Civil Homes had just started and we thought why not build on a similar concept by building a colony of bungalows. There were risks but the idea caught on.

What were the risks involved?
Since the colony system was a new concept, we foresaw many challenges. In our country, people don't really trust others to build houses for them. Besides, people today are more quality and environment conscious. If you can't sell houses according to their design and taste, then all investment is wasted. The investment is billions of rupees in one colony. But the first phase in Bhaisepati was so successful that we sold all the houses. We immediately began our second colony in Kalanki that second year building about 125 houses. Now for the third phase, we are preparing another colony with 225 houses at Sunakothi.

But has it really made housing more affordable?
Certainly, it has helped. The new generation of young professionals want to live independently. Earlier, they would have had to save for 15-20 years to build their own dream houses, now with this concept coupled with housing grants from banks, they can have a house within year.

Isn't Kathmandu running out of space?
While building affordable houses, we should not try to overdo things. The rate of urbanisation is rapid and we must not turn the city into a concrete jungle. The government needs to allocate specific pocket areas in the city to build houses so that the city can be managed effectively. But there is still a lot of space to build colonies for another 10-15 years. After that we will have no choice but to go vertical. Then we have to promote the multi-storey apartment system.

Is the real estate business better now?
Today, it is the best investment sector. Most Nepalis want to live in the Valley now because they feel secure. Especially middle class families and overseas Nepalis who want to invest in houses. In the last three years, the real estate business has really prospered and helped generate businesses and jobs for many Nepalis.

What is the best thing about living in housing colonies?
The social relations between neighbours is really healthy in colony areas. It is a close-knit community where they share ideas and do things together. They also have user communities to help each other. The best part has been helping the growth of small businesses such as groceries in the surrounding areas.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)