Homeownership in India: more than just bricks and mortar

3 December 2019

How LafargeHolcim’s smart blends like ACC Gold Watershield bring innovation to families in India and beyond so that building a house is everything it’s hoped to be.

 

Prakash Shukla, a retired branch manager of the State Bank of India, is building a home for his family in Lucknow, the capital city of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. For most Indians, home-ownership is a lifelong dream tied to societal status and family aspirations. Typically families save up their whole life, to build a house that reflects their long cherished hopes for a home: “It is not about bricks and mortar,” he explains. “It is the promise of the future that it brings for my family. This house secures their future and lets them dream bigger than I could.” He devotes all his time to ensure the specifications are followed in the construction of this two-story house, where he will live with his extended family including his wife, parents, daughters and his son’s family. 

 

ACC Gold Watershield, addresses the main pain point builders have in the country: dampness and seepage. “These are significant concerns, especially for new home-owners,” says Ashish Prasad, Chief Marketing Officer and Head New Products & Services at ACC. Temperatures in Lucknow can vary from 43 degree Celsius in summer to 5 degree Celsius in winter, and in some places groundwater is high. Given the extreme conditions, it’s no surprise that many homes are impacted by water damage which weakens structural elements like the roof, foundation, columns, and beams. Given the emotional and economic gravitas with which home building is associated, such water related damages can cause severe trauma for those affected. 

 

An average 1,200 square foot home is built with around 500 cement bags, which can cost anywhere between 2,500 to 3,125 US Dollars; a significant amount for an Indian salaried employee. “Generally buyers will opt to use ACC Gold for only a third of the total required quantity, as it comes at a 25 percent premium,” explains retail dealer Mr. Manish owner of Bharat Construction in Lucknow, adding: “People are willing to pay more to better protect their homes from dampness and seepage, and it’s the only product of its kind on the market.” The material alone can’t offer full protection which is why the sales teams provide technical support to help train up masons and builders to use the product correctly. 

 

“ACC Gold Watershield was developed based on an in-depth understanding of our customers’ needs,” explains Dr. Karandikar, who is in charge of LafargeHolcim’s lab research in India where the smart blend was developed. Dr. Karandikar conducted extensive testing of minutely controlled process changes in a sustainable environment along with adjustments in the input of raw material dosage in order to get the desired water repellent properties. “The value proposition is clearly defined so it’s attracting consumer attention in our markets,” highlights Neeraj Akhoury, Managing Director and CEO of ACC.

 

India is predominantly a ‘bag’ or retail market, similar to roughly half of the countries where LafargeHolcim operates. Traditional masons and small contractors in many of bag markets don’t have access to high-tech products like ready-mix concrete or dry mix mortars. “This results in lower productivity and higher construction costs for homeowners,” says Wilfried Cassaigne, Senior Product Manager Cement, LafargeHolcim: “The problem is solved by integrating the admixture technology directly into cement which makes more differentiated products available for everybody.” ACC Gold Watershield is exactly one of those smart blends which features smartly formulated recipes that include advanced chemical components offering improved properties like water repellence, strength and speed. 

 

“We’ve been working closely with countries since 2016 to develop a branch of differentiated and often unique products in the bag market,” explains Edelio Bermejo, Head of Research and Development at LafargeHolcim, adding: “Selecting cost-efficient technologies for the bag markets with specific features and benefits for the end-users is key in helping people build more sustainably and safely in many parts of the world.” Smart blends are now available in eight countries, with ACC Gold leading the way together with Romania and their product StructoPlus, and Kenya with Power Max. 

 

Back in India, Prakash Shukla is preparing for ‘Griha Pravesh’ which is the Hindu ritual to celebrate and bless the first entry into the new house. It is important to choose an auspicious date this big day. For Prakash and his family this date has been set for January 15 next year. We wish him and his family a happy moving!

 

Contributors: 

Edelio Bermejo, Head of Research & Development, LafargeHolcim

Jesus Subero, R&D Project Manager Smart Blends

Wilfried Cassaigne, Group Project Manager Smart Blends

 

India: 

Ashish Prasad, Chief Marketing Officer and Head New Products & Services, ACC Limited

 

Dr.Manish V.Karandikar, Vice President-Raw Mix & Product Development, ACC Ltd.

 

Amit Srivastav, Customer Service Incharge, Lucknow, India

Manish, retail dealer, Bharat Constructions, Lucknow, India

Prakash Shukla, house owner and retired branch manager from State Bank of India, Lucknow

 

Interviews were set up by: Priyanka Pande, Innovation hub and Influencer marketing lead, ACC