Design Home Solutions

mHS conceptualized DHS to bring construction finance and technical assistance to households. In partnership with BASIX-BSFL, a microfinance institution, the product reached 15 families with 2-storey construction. The technical assistance ensured structural safety, better ventilation, cost estimates, and monitoring assistance to those living in highly precarious structures.

mHS conceptualized DHS (Design Home Solutions) as a service for urban households engaging in self-construction. Through DHS, these families can access construction finance and technical design assistance. A significant proportion of housing supply in India (even as much as 70% in some cities) is being built by homeowners with the help of a local mason or builder. While this meets the need of housing, the self-construction practice is often unsafe, with weak structure and poor light and ventilation. In addition, due to informality of income sources and weak property titles, households borrow from informal sources at interest rates usually higher than 60% per year. In this context, the goal of DHS was to catalyse this informal supply of housing while improving quality of construction.

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DHS is designed as a housing finance product bundled with a technical assistance (TA) service package. The TA is comprised of customized architectural and engineering solutions, including pre-construction advice and monitoring during edification. The long-term aim of DHS is to influence building practices in self-construction through training of local technical professionals (LTAs), bringing awareness of safety in construction and improving quality of life for families. A technical assistance fee payable to the LTA would ensure operational viability, key for the scalability of the solution.

Pilot: DHS was piloted in Mangolpuri, a resettlement colony in northwest Delhi in partnership with BSFL, the microfinance arm of BASIX India. A survey of 1,500 households indicated areas of concern, aspirations for better living conditions, and a demand for finance for home improvements. While safety was of concern, it had implications for cost and floor area. Adding floors in order to expand space for the family and home businesses, as well as for additional income from rent was the main priority for families in Mangolpuri.

The areas of further work —
a) create a value proposition for local technical assistance to serve this market and facilitate linkages with financial institutions
b) undertake engineering and material R&D through collaborations necessary to address unique problems of retrofitting for safety in the incremental housing context

The pilot experience has been documented in a publication: ‘Self-construction: Enabling safe and affordable housing in India’.