How this 30-year-old construction company is ensuring safer homes with its home inspection startup

Yourstory

July 19, 2019

If you happen to buy a property in the US, one of the first things you would do even before signing the deal is get a home inspection done. This is to ensure homes, buildings, and offices are safe for inhabitation on a structural front.

While the market is large in the US and the UK, the concept of home inspection is yet to pick up in India.

In order to fill this gap, AN Prakash and Uday Prakash started Nemmadi in Bengaluru in 2017. The startup aims to provide commenced home inspection services to home buyers along with third-party quality certification for builders and developers.

A sister concern of Construction Project Management Consultancy (CPMC), a 30-year old real-estate company, Prakash and Uday, the Co-founders of CPMC, got the idea of starting Nemmadi while talking to many end-consumers.

Uday says, “They would come to us with requests on quality management. Initially, we did not entertain these requests, but soon the numbers steadily increased, and we realised that quality management as a service was something that not just individual homeowners sought out but also the builders.”

The bootstrapped company currently claims to have the likes of Sobha Builders, the Prestige Group, Salarpuria Sattva, and Puravankara as some of its major clients.

How does the model work?

In the B2C model, once the homeowner approaches the team before taking possession of the new flat/villa from the builder, one of Nemmadi’s engineers visits the place and does a thorough check of the civil engineering, plumbing, electrical, and dwelling safety aspects using over 1,500 points checklist.

According to the founders, the inspection is carried out by experienced trained personnel in the industry. This forms the basis for an exhaustive automated checklist that helps in carrying out the inspection thoroughly.

The report also contains the promised specifications check, analysis of hidden dampness using thermal imaging techniques and moisture metre readings, and accurate measurement of area as mandated by the RERA act of 2017.

Further, this helps the home buyer to share the report with the builder to rectify the snags pointed out.

“We are again called to check the rectifications and verify whether all snags pointed out in our first inspection have been rectified,” says Uday.

To make it easier for the consumer and to help with the basic checks, the team has also built an app called dSnag. On the app, the consumer has to select the house type, download the checklist, and click pictures of any defects in the house as guided, step by step.

The app then records the location, direction, and lets you annotate (or jot down) all the details of the defect in an easy to manage window. You can then upload the snag and move to the next stage. Finally, you can share the list with the builder, homeowner, or contractor to fix the issues.

Bringing home inspection into the B2B play

For builders and developers, the service works a little differently. Uday says, the builders and developers generally are keen on enhancing their brand by getting a third-party certification of their construction quality. This eases their process of handover by increasing customer confidence in the quality of construction.

For this, the startup offers a pre-delivery quality inspection service when the flats are ready to be handed over to the buyer. It is the same process as done for the B2C consumer. The next thing Nemmadi does is during the construction quality monitoring.

This is done for the entire construction life cycle beginning from foundation to completion. Here, a quality plan is drawn, to begin with, and later quality assurance and quality control processes are performed.

While the market need was high, one of the toughest tasks for the team was customer education.

“Many potential clients didn’t even know such a service existed, and it took a long time to explain and convince the customers that not only would the developers listen to them, but also it was well within their rights to do so,” says Uday.

Also, he adds that the field of civil engineering is technology averse. “This meant going against the tide and developing an app that would perform a factor of magnitude better than the existing tools, and also something the bottom of the pyramid could use on their android phone with ease and minimal learning,” adds Uday.

The market and future

Home inspection as a market is currently in its nascent stage in India. At present, a few startups like HomeInspektoreGhar, and PPMS are looking to change that. Till now, the home segment has been mostly focussed on services.

In 2014 alone, over 69 home services startups were founded. Of these, some of the popular names include Housejoy and UrbanClap.

However, the market, still unorganised, is believed to be difficult to crack. The market opportunity is believed to be from $100 to $400 billion, and yet, many like Doormint pivoted and shut operations.

In that sense, Nemmadi is purely inspection based. For the B2B customers, the team charges on a per square foot basis. The price ranges anywhere between Rs 2 per sq ft and Rs 5 per sq ft.

In the B2C segment, the cost of inspection per apartment ranges from Rs 7,775 to Rs 10,000. For villas and penthouses, it costs between Rs 9,750 and Rs 12,900. It claims to have a yearly growth of 300 percent.

“We are working on improving the app using artificial intelligence (AI) in such a manner that no human intervention is needed for visual inspection of workmanship,” says Uday, while commenting about future plans.