Small apartments usually face several issues during the first few years at several stages. Initial discussions in almost all new apartments revolve around the method of maintenance calculation. Even though the builder is supposed to develop a method and process, and hand it over to the owners’ association, usually small builders conveniently forget this part.
One of the major items in the maintenance discussions that consumes time and energy is how to calculate the maintenance charges for water usage. The usage varies from one housing unit to another and hence it is usually considered not right to charge all housing units the same amount. We, at Mythri Maiden, too faced these issues for several years. Then we decided to install water meters for each housing unit. We had two objectives while making this decision:
- Make owners are more responsible on water usage.
- Make sure the owners pay only for what they use and the common usage will be shared by all.
We faced several challenges while implementing our decision. The main challenge was plumbing. The builder had implemented the easiest and least costly plumbing. Even though each housing unit had multiple water inlets, a common pipe was provided from the tank which was shared between multiple housing units. No single valve was provided to close the water flow to a specific housing unit. To carry out even a small plumbing work in a housing unit, the valve to multiple housing units had to be closed. So we had to redo the plumbing to ensure that there will be one main inlet for each housing unit. This helped in restricting the number of meters required to each housing unit to one. This also enabled each owners to restrict the water flow to their apartment.
Before the actual work started, we visited some of the apartments with water meters installed, such as Aakruthi Silverline in HSR layout. We listened to the owners who implemented them in these apartments. They shared enough data that supported the benefits of implementing individual water metering.
Next question was whether to install mechanical meters and electronic meters. While mechanical water meters are cost effective, the electronic meters offered more flexibility and features.
After several rounds of discussions, we finalised on meters supplied by Smartrhomes. Smartrhomes had their office in our neighbourhood. They offered us electronic water meters with or without a valve, software with accounting capability, and mobile application with usage tracking and cloud access.
Solar cell based modem to transmit real-time water usage data
Water meters on the right collects data and sends these data using ethernet cables to the modem on the left.
Water meters (without valve)
WaterOn, the mobile application from Smartrhomes, provides near real-time information on your water usage. This application has helped me save the water on several occasions. The application contains a dashboard with the usage for the day, last bill, and alerts. It also provides graphical representation of the water usage for specific periods.
The application is available on Google Play. After installation, you need to register before you can actually start using the application. After registration, you start getting continuous data from the Smartrhome servers.
The dashboard provides your usage details, last billed amount, and alerts on the opening screen.
WaterOn Mobile application provides a graph, average usage, high and low usage, and last billed amount. It also displays the numbers of alerts you received during the period and the number of active alerts.
Each apartment had to spent approximately Rs. 20,000 for the implementation. Apart from the cost of meters, this included the cost of changing the GI pipes to PVC pipes. I am not elaborating the details of the cost involved because it may vary from time to time and the materials you use.
We are still in the process of consolidating and analysing the data to find the exact water usage pattern before and after installing the water meters. The data and analysis will be part of the next blog on this topic.