Owning a house in a port city neighbourhood no longer remains a distant dream – people now have found a way for making their humble abodes through a cooperative effort.
From university teachers, to doctors, to government and private employees, all have now gone for at-cost cooperative housing as buying a piece of land and building a house on it individually is very costly and beyond the capacity of many.
Take for a group of 30 people who created a fund with an initial deposit of Tk5 lakh by each of them. They accumulated Tk5 crore in five years with a Tk20,000 monthly instalment each. Then, the cooperative society named "Thikana" bought 20 kathas of land at West Khulshi in Chattogram. All members again provided Tk20 lakh each to the fund and are now trying to build a multi-storied building.
Madhab Deep, an associate professor at Chittagong University, said, "The way land prices have gone up in Chattogram city, it is not possible for an individual to buy a piece of land and build a house. Besides, buying a flat from a realtor is very costly too. So, we have formed this housing cooperative with like-minded people, which will ensure at-cost housing for us."
Like them, many people in the port city have adopted the concept of housing cooperative to jointly build their dream homes at low costs.
Imrul Kaisar, a South African expatriate from Satkania upazila, along with his 12 friends purchased 6 kathas of land at Tk30 lakh per katha in the city's Shershah Road area.
"We have joined hands to build a house of our choice at a comparatively low cost," he noted.
Many Islami Bank employees have also grabbed the opportunity of erecting a multi-storied residential building collaboratively in Chattogram city.
Banker Ershadul Haque, a partner in the multi-storey building jointly constructed on Khawaja Road in the city, said, "We few people bought a piece of land with our savings and bank loans and built a house on it."
The maximum cost per square foot flat was Tk2,000, while the same costs at least Tk5,000 per square foot while buying from a real estate company, he noted.
Islami Bank officials alone jointly constructed at least 200 multi-storied buildings in different parts of the port city.
Shahadat Hossain, senior vice-president of Islami Bank, said there has been an increasing tendency of building houses under joint management among Islami Bank officials over the last four-five years. Recently, various banks, government institutions, teachers, lawyers, and those from different other professions are also building their houses collaboratively.
SM Kamruzzaman, managing director of Chittagong Properties, a real estate company, "Buying a ready flat costs double the amount of constructing it. So, people are now preferring building houses jointly to buying from real estate companies."
For example, if a flat costs Tk50 lakh, another Tk8-Tk10 lakh adds to it as a registration cost, he pointed out.
A standard flat costs Tk8,000-Tk12,000 per square foot in the city's posh residential areas, such as Khulshi, Sugandha, Nasirabad Housing and Nizam Residential Area, according to the people familiar with the matter.
Nafisa Akhter has been looking for a good flat in the city for the last few months. She said, "We have visited apartments in Nasirabad and Sugandha residential areas. All look good, but what per square foot costs is beyond my capacity."
Real estate companies, such as Finley Properties, Sanmar Properties and Zoinab Builders, charge Tk7,000-Tk9,000 per square foot, meaning that she will spend at least Tk1.5 core for a 1500 square feet flat. Besides, there is a registration fee too, she noted.
"That is why instead of buying a flat, I am now planning to build a house jointly with some of my relatives," Nafisa said.
Abdul Qayyum Chowdhury, vice-president at Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) and chairman at Chattogram Regional Committee, said an increasing number of people from different classes and professions in Dhaka and Chattogram have been building flats cooperatively at comparatively low costs.
It is a good move as it saves money, but they have to maintain standards while constructing houses, given the safety of future generations, he noted.
To ensure quality construction, they can appoint REHAB-authorised organisations as builders if they want, he added.
There are 92 REHAB members in Chattogram, while the number of non-member housing companies in the port city is 30-40, according to REHAB.
Md Didarul Alam Chowdhury, co-chairman at REHAB Chattogram Regional Committee, said all housing projects of REHAB members have been approved by the authorities concerned, including Chattogram Development Authority. So, there is no chance of customers being deceived.
Besides, many good companies are constructing buildings in good locations and posh residential areas in compliance with building standards. So, their flats cost a little high, he pointed out.