If you want to know about the cluster planning for housing or general building requirements or residential space planning, please click the link.

  • These guidelines cover the planning and general building requirements of low-income housing in urban areas, for houses having a maximum plinth area of 40 m2 including future expansion.
  • The requirement regarding layout planning of low-income housing colonies are applicable to public and private agencies/government bodies.
  • The requirements on design and construction of buildings for low-income housing in approved layouts are applicable to all private and public agencies.
  • low-income housing, also called affordable housing, housing for individuals or families with low incomes.
  • Various state, private, and nonprofit-sector initiatives have helped low-income people obtain housing, and many small-scale actions have attempted to address the problem individually or locally.
  • Governments have often played a key role in the development, management, and funding of housing for low-income people.

1) Terminology

For the purpose of this standard, the following definitions shall apply.

i) Cooking Alcove

A cooking space having direct access from the main room without any inter-communicating door.

ii) Covered Area

Ground area covered by the building immediately above the plinth level. The area covered by the following in the open spaces is excluded from covered area:

  1. Garden, rockery, well and well structures, plant nursery, water pool, swimming pool (if uncovered), platform round a tree, tank, fountain, bench Chabutra with open top and unenclosed on sides by walls and the like.
  2. Drainage culvert, conduit, catch-pit, gully pit, chamber, gutter and the like.
  3. Compound wall, gate, unstoreyed porch and portico, canopy, slide, swing, uncovered staircases, ramp, area covered by Chahhja and the like; and
  4. Watchmen’s booth, pump-house, garbage shaft, electric cabin or sub-stations and such other utility structures meant for the services of the building under consideration.
  • For the purpose of this standard, Covered = plot area – open spaces.

iii) Density

  • The residential density = number of dwelling units / hectare.
  • Incidental open spaces are mainly open spaces required to be left around and in between two buildings to provide light and ventilation.
  • Where such densities are expressed exclusive of community facilities and provision of open spaces and major roads (excluding incidental open spaces), these will be net residential densities.
  • Where these densities are expressed taking into consideration the required open space provision and community facilities and major roads, these would be gross residential densities at neighbourhood level, sector level or town level, as the case may be.
  • The provision of open spaces and community facilities will depend on the size of the residential community.

2) Planning

i) Type of Development

  • The type of development for low-income housing shall be
  1. Plotted developments as row housing/flatted development as row housing or
  2. Group housing on cluster pattern (For more knowledge please click the link Cluster planning for housing).

ii) Layout Pattern

  • In the land to be developed, at least 75 percent of the plots may be of the size less than or up to 60 m2 per dwelling unit in metropolitan towns and 100 m2 in other towns and hill areas. Remaining 25 percent of the plots may be more than 60 m2, however, no plot shall be more than 200 m2.
  • In case of group housing or flatted development at least 75 percent units should have a plinth area (excluding external circulation such as stairs, lifts, lobbies, etc.) up to or not exceeding 40 m2 including future expansion.
  • The mix of plot of different sizes should have a wide range to accommodate the need of lower income group. The project may include more than one site provided they are in the same neighbourhood.
  • The layout should generally conform to the following land use:
Sr. No.Land UseGeneral (Percentage of Land Under Each Use)Hill Area (Percentage of Land Under Each Use)
a) Residential50, Min35
b) Workplaces, school’s institutions, shops, community places, etc.20, Max15
Roads, pedestrian paths, drains, public and semi-public open spaces30, Max50
  • Any neighbourhood development should have provision for basic civic and community facilities, however, where such facilities are available in proximity the same could be considered and, in that case, the area under residential use could be increased correspondingly.
  • If land required under statutory provisions of master plan/development plan is proportionately higher but serves larger city needs, readjustment of the recommended land use pattern may be considered.
  • Such provisions should, however, be carefully reviewed by the planning authorities to keep them to the barest minimum levels.

iii) Plot Area

Plot Size

  • The minimum plot size with ground coverage not exceeding 75 percent, shall not be less than 40 m2 in small and medium town and not less than 30 m2 in metropolitan cities.
  • Plot sizes below 30 m2 but not less than 15 m2 may be permitted in case of cluster planning, however, in such cases the ground coverage and FAR shall be 100 percent and 2, respectively (For more knowledge please click the link Cluster planning for housing).
  • In exceptional cases in metropolitan cities with population more than 1 million the size of plots may be brought down to 25 m2 in cases of low-income housing colonies located in congested areas as decided by the Authority.
  • In mega cities it may be further reduced to 15 m2. In such cases where plot size is below 25 m2, only cluster planning or group housing may be adopted.
  • A minimum of 25 percent of the plot size shall be left open without adversely affecting light and ventilation for habitable spaces and toilet. It shall not be made mandatory to leave set back on any side.

Minimum Frontage

  • The minimum frontage of the plot shall be 3.6 m in width.

iii) Density

The density norms for plotted development and mixed development shall be as follows:

Sr. No.Type of DevelopmentRange of Densities (Gross)
i)Plotted development65-120 plots per hectare
ii)Mixed development:
a) Small towns75-100 dwelling units per hectare
b) Cities100-125 dwelling units per hectare
c) Metropolitan cities125-150 dwelling units per hectare
  • In case of developments with per dwelling unit covered area of 15 m2, four storeyed walk ups without future incremental growth with maximum densities of 500 dwelling units per hectare shall be permissible.
  • In case of four storeyed walk ups, having two roomed dwelling unit where one room is for future expansion, maximum density of 400 dwelling units per hectare shall be permissible.

iv) Height of Building

  • The height of building shall not exceed 15 m.
  1. For buildings up to the height of 15 m, there is no need to provide lifts.
  2. Housing for the low-income group shall preferably be up to a maximum of two storeys.
  3. Buildings for housing beyond 15 m in height should be resorted to in exceptional circumstances and it should be governed by provisions laid down in this Code.

v) Cluster Planning

  • For size of open cluster and open space, setbacks, vehicular access and pedestrian paths in cluster planning, the provisions given in Cluster planning for housing.

vi) Community Open Space

  • In any layout or sub-division of land measuring 0.3 hectares or more in residential zone, the community open spaces shall be reserved for recreational purposes which shall as far as possible be provided in one place or planned out for the use of the community in clusters or pockets.
  • The community open spaces shall be provided catering to the needs of area of layout, population for which a layout is planned and the category of dwelling units.
  • The following minimum provision shall be made for low-income housing:
  1. 15 percent of the area of the layout, or
  2. 0.3 hectares/ 1000 persons.
  • No recreational space shall generally be less than 450 m2.
  • The minimum average dimension of such recreational space shall be not less than 7.5 m; if the average width of such recreational space is less than 24 m, the length thereof shall not exceed 2.5 times the average width.
  • However, depending on the configuration of the site, commonly open spaces of different shapes may be permitted by the Authority, as long as the open spaces provided serve the needs of the immediate community contiguous to the open spaces.
  • In such recreational spaces, a single storeyed structure as pavilion or gymnasia up to 25 m2 in area may be permitted; such area may be excluded from FAR calculations.
  • Each recreational area and the structure on it shall have an independent means of access. Independent means of access may not be insisted upon if recreational space is approachable directly from every building in the layout. Further, the building line shall be at least 3 m away from the boundary of recreational open space.

3) General building requirements

The requirements of parts of buildings shall be as given in below.

i) Plinth

  • The minimum height of plinth shall be regulated on the basis of environmental and topographical condition and higher plinth height may be required in areas prone to flooding.

ii) Size of Room

Habitable Room
  • Every dwelling unit to be provided should have at least two habitable rooms. Even if one room house is provided initially it should be capable of adding a new second room in future.
  • However, in case single room tenements are required to be provided where future additions are not possible, the carpet area of multipurpose single room should be at least 12.5 m2.
  • Such one room dwelling units with 12.5 m2 carpet area of habitable space is permitted only in case of on-site rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
  • In a house of two rooms, first room shall not be less than 9.0 m2 with minimum width of 2.5 m and second room shall not be less than 6.5 m2 with a minimum width of 2.1 m provided the total area of both the rooms is not less than 15.5 m2. In incremental housing the bigger room shall always be the first room.
  • To facilitate incremental housing in case of flatted development or otherwise, habitable space at mezzanine level may be permitted.
  • The minimum size of such a mezzanine floor should not be lesser than 6.5 m2 and such a floor should occupy not more than 50 percent of the room area of which it is a part.
  • Such a mezzanine floor should have appropriate openings to facilitate light and ventilation as per (iv) below. Minimum clear height below and above the mezzanine floor should be 2.4 m and 2.1 m, respectively.
  • As far as possible mezzanine floor should have direct ventilation from the external face of the building. Where this is not possible ventilation through main room may be allowed provided total area of openings in the main room is provided taking into consideration area of mezzanine floor.
  • Such mezzanine floor may be accessible through the main room by a ladder, whose minimum angle with vertical plane should be 22.5°. Height of the riser should be less than 250 mm.
  • The size of independent water-closet shall be 0.90 m2 with minimum width of 0.9 m.
  • The size of independent bathroom shall be 1.20 m2 with a minimum width of 1.0 m. and
  • The size of combined bathroom and water- closet shall be 1.80 m2 with minimum width of 1.0 m.
  • The size of a cooking alcove serving as cooking space shall not be less than 2.4 m2 with a minimum width of 1.2 m. The size of individual kitchen provided in a two-roomed house shall not be less than 3.3 m2 with a minimum width of 1.5 m.
  • The minimum width of individual balcony, where provided, shall be 0.9 m and shall not be more than 1.2 m and it shall not project beyond the plot line and on roads or pathway.
  • No basement floor shall be allowed.

iii) Minimum Height

The minimum height of rooms/spaces shall be as follows:

  1. Habitable room: 2.6 m
  2. Kitchen: 2.6 m
  3. Bath/water-closet: 2.1 m
  4. Corridor: 2.1 m

In the case of sloping roofs, the average height of roof for habitable rooms shall be 2.6 m and the minimum height at eaves shall be 2.0 m.

iv) Lighting and Ventilation

The openings through windows, ventilators and other openings for lighting and ventilation, excluding the doors inclusive of frames shall be not less than,

  1. one-tenth of the room floor area for dry-hot climate.
  2. one-sixth of the room floor area for warm-humid climate.
  3. one-eighth of the floor area for temperate and composite climate; and
  4. one-twelfth of the floor area for cold climate.
  • If window is partly fixed, the openable area shall be counted.
  • No portion of a room shall be assumed to be lighted, if it is more than 7.5 m away from the opening assumed for lightning that portion.
  • The area of openings as given in (i) to (iv) above shall be increased by 25 percent in the case of kitchen.
  • The windows and other openings shall abut on to open spaces either through areas left open within the plot or the front, side and rear spaces provided in the layouts which shall be treated as deemed to be sufficient for light and ventilation purposes.
  • Wherever ventilation/lighting is provided by means of JALI or grills of any material, total area of openings shall be calculated excluding solid portion of the jali or grill.

v) Stairs

  • The following criteria shall be adopted for internal individual staircase:
Minimum clear width:
  • 2 storeyed – straight: 0.60 m
  • 2 storeyed – winding: 0.75 m3)
  • 3 or more storeyed – straight: 0.75 m
  • 3 or more storeyed – winding: 0.90 m
  • Riser: 200 mm, Max
  1. Two storeyed : 225 mm, Min (see Note)
  2. Three storeyed or more: 250 mm, Min
Head room
  • The minimum clear head room shall be 2.1 m.

This could be reduced to 200 mm as the clear tread between perpends, with possibility of open riser as well as nosing and inclined riser to have an effective tread of 225 mm.

vi) Circulation Area

  • The circulation area on any floor including staircase, shall not exceed 8 m2/dwelling unit.

vii) Water Seal Latrine

  • No building plan shall be approved, and no building shall be deemed to have been completed and fit for human occupation unless provision is made for water seal latrine. No dry latrine shall be allowed. Water seal latrines may also be provided on the basis of community toilets or shared toilets as per the recommendation given in (Cluster planning for housing) and Given below.
  • In cluster housing for economically weaker section families, group toilets at the rate of one water-closet, one bath and a washing place for three families may be provided. These shall not be community toilets, as keys to these toilets shall be only with these three families, making them solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of these toilets.
  • Where leaching pits are used, it should be constructed within the premises of the households as it would be economical as well as facilitate their cleaning. However, where, due to space constraint, construction of pits within the premises may not be possible, pits may be constructed in places like lanes, streets and roads.
  • In case the pit is located under the road, street or foot path, the inverted level of the pipe connecting the latrine pan with the pit shall be at least 1.1 m below ground level or below the bottom of the water main existing within a distance of 3 m from the pits whichever is more.
  • The water seal latrine should be properly maintained and kept in sanitary condition by the owner or the occupier. The contents of the septic tanks, soak pits, leach pits, etc., should be periodically emptied. The leach pits should be cleaned only after 2 years of their being put out of service after they were full.

4) Roads and pathways

  • The area under roads and pathways in such housing projects should normally not exceed 20 percent of the total land area of the project.
  • Access to the dwelling units, particularly where motorized vehicles are not normally expected should be by means of paved footpaths with a right of way of 6 m and a pathway of 2 m only. The right of way should be adequate to allow for the plying of emergency vehicles and also for roadside drains and plantation.
  • Where pedestrian pathways are not meant for motorable access to the minimum, right of way of such pedestrian pathway shall be 3 m. Where houses are accessible from one side only pathway may be 2 m wide. The maximum length of such pathways should not be more than 60 m.

5) Other requirements

  • Requirements of fire safety, structural design, building services and plumbing services shall be as specified in NBC-2016. Luminaries for road and street lighting, flood lighting, external hydrant system consisting of water storage, pumping system and hydrant system, boundary walls/fencing, landscaping and plantation shall be provided as per the relevant provisions of NBC-2016.


All efforts should be made to provide maximum amenities/benefits in low-income housing within the estimated cost of such houses.

For achieving the aim of providing higher quality of life and to ensure higher order of operational efficiency at affordable cost, as also environmental sustainability, measures such as integrated waste management, water conservation including rainwater harvesting, integrated multi modal public transportation, energy generation from renewable resources like sun and wind, use of passive technologies for energy generation, use of eco-friendly materials, etc. may be adopted.

  • One water tap per dwelling unit may be provided, where adequate drinking water supply is available. If supply is inadequate, public hydrants shall be provided. In the absence of piped water supply, hand pumps may be used for provision of water supply.
  • Recognizing the need for informal use of space for shopping and informal occupation like roadside repairs, Pan shops, etc., it is suggested that about ¼ of the total shopping area in a layout should be reserved for such informal uses tocater to the needs of low-income families.
  • The infrastructural services shall be provided before the plots are handed over to individual owners.
Off-Street Parking Spaces
  • Off-street parking space for motorcycle/scooter/two-wheeler and bicycle to be not less than 1.25 m2 and 1.00 m2, respectively shall be provided at the rate of one for each tenement.
  • In case of cluster planning, parking space may be provided at community level.
  • In such a case, in addition to the parking space to be provided as above for each tenement, space provisions shall be made for other types of vehicles such as ambulance and disaster management vehicle, and also for additional spaces required for other vehicles, which shall be as decided by the, keeping in view the nature of traffic generated in the city.

6) Site and services schemes

Site and services schemes should provide for the following:

  1. Complete infrastructural needs for a permanent housing, on the periphery of individual plot or a group/cluster plots.
  2. A service sanitary core in the plot.
  3. A skeletal structure of columns and roof or a developed plinth; and
  4. Permission to allow temporary construction on the plot.

While provisions in (1) and (4) are essential for site and services projects, recommendations in (2) and (3) are additional provisions depending upon affordability.

Advantages and disadvantages of low-cost housing

Sr. No.AdvantagesDisadvantages
i)Economic Benefits to the Community – Affordable housing provides direct economic advantages to the immediate community. Since the houses are affordable, people will have extra money to spend for other products. This is going to lead to an increase in the demand of various services and goods further leading to increased employment opportunitiesThe low cast housing will not satisfy all the needs of the people.
ii)Provides a diverse workforce – The best thing about affordable housing is the fact that it accommodates individuals with different skills that are beneficial to the community. For instance, construction workers, bus drivers, cleaners, shop assistants, teachers and nurses are well catered under affordable housing and thus they can provide their important services to the community.The residents have limited money so there will be less likely to improve or maintain their homes or the surrounding environments.
iii)Promotes social and economic integration – Affordable housing ensures low-cost housing due to which such families can afford to meet their respective health and education costs. This is also beneficial as it provides an adequate security of tenure for improving an individual’s capacity to get and also maintain employment. In addition to that, affordable housing enables people not to migrate from their root place.Houses have a simple layout that may or may not have living area separate from a sleeping area and large family inhabit will probably cram 2 people per bedroom and 3 in the living room and make the space overcrowded.
iv)Stronger labour force – Through affordable housing, the employees will live near their respective employment centers, and this leads to a stronger labour force. The work is also going to be done quickly since the people living in the immediate vicinity and can go to work quickly.There will be no choice or control of public type to reside near or adjoin as your neighbors.

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