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Plot Coverage And Set Back Rules

Set back rules ensure theres sufficient space between dwellings for light, air
and privacy
The normal permissible FSI (Floor Space Index) for a special buildings, whether
it is intended for residential or commercial use, is 1.5 which means that the
maximum extent of construction in any plot cannot exceed one and half times
the area of the plot. The factors that are related to achieving the prescribed FSI
are governed normally by the extent of Plot Coverage and Set Back Rules.
Plot coverage is the extent of plot covered by the building(s) or structure and
this is expressed in terms of percentage. It is actually a ratio of the built-up area
over plot area. As per the rules of CMDA, for special buildings, the normal
permissible Plot Coverage is 65 percent. It means that the plinth area of the
construction proposed should not exceed 65 percent of the plot area. By this, it
is implied that at least 35 percent of the plot area is to be left open to the sky
permanently. The concept behind imposing a ceiling on the footprint of the
proposed construction is to ensure that every plot gets sufficient sunlight, air,
privacy and rainwater. Rain water harvesting will facilitate recharge of aquifer
and help in promoting greenery around. The plot coverage is computed by
taking into account all the projections at upper levels" Broadly speaking, it is the
area of the shadow of the proposed building at noon, which is expressed in
percentage of the plot area. It is to be noted that the plot coverage restriction
has no bearing on the profile of a building.
For a special building, there are mandatory regulations in terms of the spaces to
be left between the proposed construction and the boundary of the plot. They
are known as Set Back Rules. The setback spaces ensure sufficient light, air
and privacy not only for the occupants of the proposed building but also to the
immediate neighbours. They also facilitate movement of vehicles around the
building including fire tenders in case of an emergency. Besides, they provide
spaces for parking vehicles. In some cases, they promote landscaping around
the building. In addition, sewer lines with necessary inspection chambers are
normally laid out in the open spaces around the building.
As per Development Control rules of CMDA the setbacks are classified as Front
Set Backs, Rear Set Backs and Side Set Backs. Side Set Backs are spaces to
be left at the sides of a building and are governed by the height of a building
proposed. The rules stipulate that they shall be a minimum of one-third the
height of the building subject to a minimum of 3.5m. The Side Set Back need
not be necessarily the same on both sides. CMDA permits a minimum of 3.5m
on any one side provided the remainder of the total two third of the building is
left on the other side. For instance, for a building of 15m height, the side Set
Back can be 3.5m on one side and 6.5m on the other side. By this option, a
developer would be able to accommodate vehicles parking on the side having
more width. Set Back space is computed by taking into account the space left
between the outer surface of the building proposed and the edge of the plot
boundary. However, unsupported sunshades and wardrobes up to 0.6m and
non-continuous balconies up to 1.0m projection are permitted in the Set Backs.

Structures in set backspaces

Unless or otherwise specifically provided for elsewhere in these regulations, no
structure shall be constructed within the minimum prescribed set back spaces
except the following:
In cases of non-multi-storeyed buildings (including ordinary buildings)
A. Unsupported sunshade, wardrobes, balconies, and other projections from
the main walls, stated below so long as such structures do not fall within
minimum prescribed set-back spaces more than what is prescribed below 1.

Sun-shades 0.60m


Non continuous wardrobes or built-in cub boards above ground floor



Open non-continuous balconies (above ground floor) 1.20m


Open service veranda to kitchen (above ground floor) 1.20m


Architectural projections above ground floor 1.00m


Staircase open landing projections (not affecting driveway) 1.00m


Cantilevered portico so long as it does not fall within 1.5m from the
street alignment or boundary of the site whichever is closer.

The points 3-5 above shall be permitted in the setback spaces provided a
minimum clearance of 0.5m for an ordinary building and 1.50m for a special
building/ group development and for any other non-MSB from the property
boundary or street alignment whichever closer is made available.
B. Motor room of area not exceeding 2 sq.m. each and height not exceeding
1.8m, without affecting parking and driveway requirements.
C. In case of ordinary buildings, open single flight or spiral staircase or open
double flight staircase so long as such structure do not fall within 0.50 m from
the side boundary or 1 m from the rear or front boundary of the site or street
alignment. In case of residential buildings, structures like toilet, change room,
garbage etc. not intended for human habitation and servant quarters are
permissible provided it doesn't occupy more than one third of the plot width, 6m
from rear boundary and 4 metres in height from ground level.
D. A compound wall of height not exceeding 2.0m.
E. Watchman booth not exceeding 2.5m. x 2.5m. in size at each gate and height
not exceeding 3 m.
F. Gate pillars without or with arches with a min. headroom clearance of 5.50m
at least to a width of 3.5m.
G' Meter rooms for meter boxes / electrical panels along the boundary wall or
external walls of the building with the projections not exceeding O.60m from the
abutting walls and the open Transformer without affecting parking and driveway,

subject to the safety measures stipulated by TNEB.

The concept of premium FSI was introduced in the second master plan by
CMDA, and is meant only for specific areas. The master plan permits a
premium FSI of 0.5 over and above the normally permitted FSI would be given
to special buildings (ground-plus-three floors or stilt-plus-four floors). For multistoreyed buildings, the premium FSI was fixed at 1.
As per CMDA norms, the builders will have to pay guideline value of the virtual
land to enjoy premium FSI. In simpler terms, if a builder gets normal FSI of 1.5
on a 100 sq. ft. piece of land and if he wants to enjoy premium FSI of 0.5, he
will have to pay the guideline value (fixed by the registration department) of
33.33 sq. ft. of virtual land to construct the additional built-up area of 50 sq. ft.
Courtesy: Chennai Realty Magazine

Due to the sheer number of construction and development projects being carried out simultaneously,
often the deciding factor for the question Which project is better? is dependent on whether these
projects meet Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) guidelines. Though the CMDA
guidelines for developmental projects are quite extensive, let us look into one of the most important
highlights that buildings should meet in order to receive CMDA approval.
The rules laid down by the CMDA divide buildings into three types, ordinary buildings, special
buildings and multi-storeyed buildings. This classification is based on the height of the buildings,
number of households in a plot and extent of commercial activity. The ordinary buildings are the
buildings that do not exceed a height of 9 m (30) in height. These are generally low ground plus onestoreyed building. The special buildings cannot exceed a height of 15 m (50). These are generally
residential or commercial buildings with more than two floors. The special buildings are, as the name
suggests, a special type of multi-storeyed buildings. These consist of residential buildings with more
than four dwelling units and commercial buildings exceeding 300 meter square (3228 sq. ft.) of plinth
area. When it comes to these buildings, the height of 15 m matters more than the use to which they
are put, be it residential or commercial.
However, most of the buildings, nowadays, fall under the special category section and hence, this is
the topic we will take forward here.

The Floor Space Index (FSI), also known as Floor Area Ratio (FAR), Floor Space Ratio (FSR) and
Plot Ratio, is the index by which the total constructible area can be calculated. This index is used by
the authorities to control the density of development.
Constructible area = Land Area * FSI Index
The FSI for ordinary and special buildings (residential and commercial) is 1.5. This means that the
plinth area should not exceed 1.5 times the area of the plot where construction is being projected. If

the area of the plot where the construction is proposed is 9600 sq.ft, with a 1.5 FSI, the total plinth
area is 14,400 sq.ft. However, there are a few exemptions to the this calculation like parking area,
electrical transformer room, garbage area, caretaker's room, etc., provided the plinth area of such
service areas does not exceed 10% of the total plinth area. Staircase headroom and the lift machine
room in the topmost floor are also excluded from this calculation.
FSI can be availed on all plots that abut on a road that has a minimum width of 30 feet. The premium
FSI for plots that meet roads that have a width of 30 feet or more and lesser than 40 feet is 20% of the
normal FSI. The buildings on plots that abut roads that have a width more than 40 feet and lesser than
60 feet, have a premium FSI of 30% and the plots that abut a road with a width of 60 feet or more
have a premium FSI of 40%. However, premium FSIs are allowed for specific regions only and are
also accompanied by additional premium fees.
Carpet Area, Saleable area, super built-up area and the list never ends. It is the first time end users
who often have questions regarding these terms and rightly so! With the abundant usage of words like
these throughout the purchase agreement, buyers need to be fully aware of these terminologies to
ensure that they are getting what they are promised in the agreement.
Let us have a look at some of the basic terminologies that buyers often encounter in agreement
documents as well as advertisements.
Carpet Area: This term stands for what it literally means. Carpet area includes the area over which
carpet can be laid and takes the complete area inside the apartment into account. A buyer has
exclusive rights over the carpet area. Often a misnomer exists that areas like bathroom and kitchen
are excluded from this measurement. However, buyers should note that these areas are also taken
into consideration. Any common areas outside the apartment like staircase, lift, security room, etc. are
excluded from this calculation. Carpet area also does not include any area occupied by the walls of
the house. However, some builders include balcony in the carpet area while some do not. It might be a
good idea to measure the carpet area and confirm the same with the measurements given by the
In order to measure the carpet area, measure the area of each individual room like bathroom,
bedroom, dining room, etc. and add these up.
Plinth Area: The plinth Area includes the total area that is owned by an apartment owner and
includes Carpet area as well as wall thickness. This includes both the internal and the external walls.
Super Built up Area: This area is the total area that a buyer pays for and includes the carpet area,
wall thickness (plinth area-carpet area) and any common area including but not limited to the security
room, lift, staircase, club house, gymnasium, etc.
Note that a bigger built-up/sale area does not mean a bigger carpet area. Some builders use methods
to calculate the super built-up area which leads to a buyer paying more for a small piece of carpet
area while receiving a lot of other area that the buyer does not care for. If a building does not have

many amenities, a larger proportion of the super built-up area will be held by the carpet area which
means that the buyer gets larger personal area to use.
In modern multi-storeyed projects with premium amenities, the carpet area can be as much as 50% to
70% of the super built-up area.
Per square foot rate: This is quoted by the developer and takes into account the super built-up area
for calculation. This is the reason super built-up area is often also known as the saleable area of the
flat. Comparing the square feet area of different apartments is not the best thing to do as the super
built-up area includes plinth area and common area. Dependent on whether an apartment gives more
or less amenities, the plinth area and the super area might have a higher or lower difference. If the
amenities are basically the same, then comparing the price per square foot might be a good way to
compared different projects. If the difference between plinth area and the carpet area is higher than
10% to 12%, then it might indicate poor architectural planning. In such situations, buyers should
confirm with the builder why such huge a difference exists.
Floor Space Index: This is the ratio between total built-up area and the plot area available. Premium
FSI refers to a larger plinth area allowed due to a higher premium paid.

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