It is a tool like many others to make sure that optimal utilization of land takes place including its reuse. FAR is also known as Floor space index or FSI and very important point during property buying. It is a ratio of total floor area and total plot area. An example is that the FAR of a 1000 square feet building with a single storey situated on 4000 sq feet lot would be 0.25. The FAR of two 500 sq feet floors built on a 4000 sq ft land would also be 0.25. Also, if the plot measures 2000 ft and its FAR is 2 then the total floor area of all floors included would be 4000 ft.
FAR is not the same for all cities and also varies within the city according to the nature of development of the area and it also varies with the width of the road in front of the area being built. What it means is that plots which face a wider road enjoy a higher FSI. This index is decided by policymakers and the decision is taken after a high level of politics involved.
How FSI corresponds to prices?
When the FAR in some cities like Delhi increased from 150 % to 200 % for plots that were more than or equal to 750 sq meter in size and from 120 % to 200 % for plots bigger than 1000 sq meter then what was the impact on the prices? The density norms should change with increase in FAR in order to make any judgment about prices of houses because FAR alone cannot lead to a conclusion about rising or falling prices of houses.
What happens when FAR norms are violated?
Many cities have witnessed gross violations of FAR norms in the recent past. Technically speaking a Developer should make no changes in the plans without getting prior consent of the people who get allotments. First of all a developer should get the plan sanctioned from the authority and then start selling the apartments. But what happens is that the developer makes promises of open green areas and parks to the buyers and when the project is just about to be completed the developer gets the plan of the building amended and gets approval of additional apartments. This leads to the delay in possession being given to home owners and the entire building could be under the threat of instability and of course the green parks are replaced by concrete
What the courts do in this case is plug any loopholes in the law and make sure that builders cannot change the plan without getting a written permission of all allotees. Secondly, if a builder got the permission from an authority to build 100 flats but ended up building 150 flats then to make sure such discrepancy comes to light there is a requirement that the builder must take a completion certificate from the concerned authority.
In many places where people are suffering from sky rocketing prices of land what has been suggested is going vertical and increasing the FSI. This will lead to better infrastructure and more affordability. I am sure this will help and readers better understand FAR during property buying process.