Painting Purva Panorama

Over the last several months, I have been part of the group that initiated the painting project for our community. Our apartment complex has 648 apartments. It is spread over 13 acres and has quite a few common utilities and amenities. It has 16 towers apart from a clubhouse. While the complex was completed in 2007, the exteriors have worn out pretty quickly. That we need a fresh coat of paint has been very evident for quite a while.

The initial discussions ranged around why the paint around the structures deteriorated so quickly. After getting in a few applicators, paint companies and the likes for early views, it became evident that the constructor – Puravankara has done a poor job. In their effort to meet profit margins they seemed to have cut corners.

But we needed to move forward. We started getting inputs from different paint companies. Very soon we realized that the cost of painting is more than the cost of running the entire maintenance of the facility for the whole year. It would be the biggest project that we undertake as yet.

Shepherding a project of this nature is fraught with risks. Especially because one is working with public money. The sheer democracy of things tend to make it very difficult to move forward. Everyone has an opinion about approach. Some suggest you start with the applicator, some suggest you start with the paint company. Some suggest you go with the lowest bidder and a few suggest to look at the product value.

Still others claim they know the civil industry well. They quickly suggest where we need a single coat and where a double coat is required. Talks move on to spray painting versus brush paint.

However when it comes to moving things forward, it is extremely difficult to get support. People dont find the time.

I had been laboring with this alone for sometime with one or two gentlemen from the community. The association President had been providing strong support throughout for the endeavour. We finally arrived at a decision to hire a project management consultancy (PMC). Partly because we needed to deal with the vendors at an arm’s length and partly also because, we needed get an objective view of the quotes. A subject matter expert can do that better than us. We also were clear at the back of our minds that no one ought to question our integrity through the entire process. We are after all discussing  a project that could be more than 3 crores INR.

Along the way, we realized that the complex’s structure needed to be addressed. We got a structural review of the situation from the same PMC. They came back mentioning that structurally there are no significant deviations, however there existed several leaks in the structure bringing about water seepage. This had to be addressed first. Insidiously the scope of the project changed and we had to introduce water proofing as the first exercise.

All of this takes time. The residents were getting restless on when painting will actually take off. Our association President recently took them on a tour of the roofs and other spots so everyone gets a fair view.

The above has taken close to a year. Previous associations had commenced the quotes and stopped short. A project of this size is scary. All the more because it is public money. We have not undertaken a project of this size before. Giving a work order covering several crores does not come easily when it is your community’s funds. But this time we are determined to proceed further. We have been fortunate to have had an exeedingly supportive association board, colleagues in the group and in general an understanding set of residents. But there are always those outliers who come in and ask questions out of sync. Some come to the 10th resident meeting and ask questions that were covered in the 1st meeting. Many times it sets us back.

Orchestrating a program at this level has been a major exercise. Mobilizing public opinion, soliciting feedback, setting the right direction for a community activity takes time. Figuring out how to approach from ground zero is even more difficult. Many of us jokingly claim, we can start a painting consultancy ourselves. That we need to set up a PMC itself was severely debated.

In the recent past, we have been fortunate to have had a key member who has picked up the front-ending of all activities. This has been a major blessing for us, Sridhar brings in significantly more subject matter expertise and passion to the work. Some of the technical discussions with vendors has been eye opening. We once had a 12 hour Saturday discussing with 4 different vendors. I could only attend half of it (since, Dyuthi – my second baby had just arrived 2 days earlier into the world). We are close to awarding the Water Proofing contract. This contract size itself is close to a crore. The biggest contract that has ever been awarded from the community.

More updates as we progress further….

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One comment on “Painting Purva Panorama”

  1. Vidhya Shinu

    Good Job! Also you find time for such activities…Not all people take interest…..


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