There was a time when people mainly resided in single-storeyed bungalows or duplexes – independent homes. And while most people have still not left their roots, the past decades have seen a massive increase in people opting to stay in multi-storeyed apartments (flats) surrounded by strangers who later become friendly neighbours. The reasons could be many – reduced cost, low maintenance, increased safety, and of course extra amenities. On such amenity is the stilt car parking facility. But, what exactly is stilt parking? Let’s find out.
Stilt Parking: Exploring the Term
The semi-open space reserved on the ground floor of buildings is known as a stilt car parking area. Meaning, this partially covered (covered on the top, open on the sides) space on the ground floor of many buildings is dedicated to the parking of vehicles with the rest of the storeys built above it.
A stilt parking spot cannot be used for any other commercial purposes besides the parking of cars. For example – properties with stilt parking spaces are often described as G+3 or G+4 and so on. Here, the G stands for the ground floor which is dedicated to stilt parking and the number accompanying it stands for the number of floors that are built above the stilt.
Now, a stilt car parking is not the same as open car parking. An open parking space is a completely uncovered lot that is provided within the building premises but is independent of the building itself.
Is Stilt Car Parking Safe for Buildings?
Most people raise questions with regards to the dangers that stilt parking spots pose for buildings. But is it really true that stilt parking can become a safety hazard for the occupants of the building? Well, yes and no – it all depends upon the building’s structural design and strength.
Buildings with no walls joining the stilts are at the risk of collapsing, especially in case of a seismic event such as an earthquake. The upper storeys of the buildings have masonry infill walls while the ground floor does not. As a result, there is a sudden fall in lateral stiffness in the stilt parking space (the open floor) when compared to the upper floors.
In the event of an earthquake, the ‘drift’ or the lateral inter-storey movement on the ground floor will be higher than that on the upper floors. This will, in turn, induce high local stresses in the ground floor, making the vertical steel reinforcement of the building collapse. Meaning, the building will simply ‘cave in’ – the upper storeys collapsing and crushing the cars parked in the stilt parking area. A similar incident did occur at the time of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.
Such unfortunate events can be avoided by providing buildings with high structural strength – installing reinforced sheer walls at appropriate spots and securely stiffening the ground floor columns. This is not merely applicable for new buildings, but even existing buildings with an open ground storey for stilt parking can be retrofitted to increase their safety factor.
What does the Law have to say about it?
Regulation 36 of the Development Control Regulations (1991) specifies that at the time of construction or renovation of a property, the property builder or developer is obligated to offer parking spaces according to the guidelines of the DCR. Meaning, it is mandatory to offer parking spaces to citizens of buildings that are multi-storeyed.
But to do so, the developer or builder needs to obtain the development permission and CC (Commencement Certificate) by presenting the building plan to the authorities concerned. This building plan must clearly specify details regarding the parking spaces (size, measures to maintain the structure’s structural integrity, etc.) failing which the builder may be denied permission.
Once open ground storey buildings are up and in use, they and their stilt parking spaces become the property of the respective societies and the managing committee of each society becomes the sole authority on how the parking spaces are allotted. However, some complexes follow the first-come-first-served rule; some others allow citizens to claim ownership of the parking slot, while some others are simply based on mutual agreement of the building’s residents.