Model building bye-laws, developed by the Town & Country Planning Organisation - Ministry of Urban Development (2004)

A guide to help effective implementation for Urban Development. It outlines the dos and don'ts along with the laws and regulations that govern it.

Building bye-laws are a set of standards used to regulate various facets of a building everything from its design to its safety features. In these 'Model Building Bye-Laws', the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) under the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has created a guide for State Governments, Urban Local Bodies, Development Authorities to help them play a more effective role in enforcing the implementation of the master plans.

In the Indian context, this model bye-law comes at a time when there is rapid urbanisation happening without a regulatory mechanism and the 74th Constitutional Amendment empowers local bodies to prepare and enforce master plans, for orderly development of urban areas.

The 'Model Building Bye-Laws' contains eight chapters:

  1. Definitions
  2. Jurisdiction and applicability of the building bye-laws
  3. Development code pertaining to residential and non-residential premises
  4. General building requirements
  5. Structural safety and services
  6. Special requirements for occupancy/land development
  7. Fire protection and fire safety requirements
  8. Conservation of heritage sites including heritage buildings, heritage precincts and natural feature areas

Each chapter is broken down to into sections to ensure that the bye-laws cover various aspect of building design, maintenance and safety.

The first chapter provides definitions of various legal, municipal architectural and building terminology. These definitions help in understanding various terms used in the bye-laws and also in ensuring the letter and spirit of the law is followed during its implementation.

Jurisdiction and applicability of the building bye-laws 
The jurisdiction of these bye-laws are dealt with in the second chapter. These laws are applicable to buildings being constructed, change of use/occupancy of building, reconstruction of a building or a part of it. There are separate sections for each case. The bye-law clarifies that existing structures that are lawfully established would
not need to undergo removal, alteration etc.

The chapter also has a section on the procedure for obtaining a building permit. The procedure includes giving a notice in writing to the Authority responsible indicating the intent. Along with this notice copies of plans also have to be submitted along with documents such as sale/lease deed and approvals from various government agencies. These approvals depend on the the type, nature and use of the building. Thus in case of a hazardous building, the approval of the Chief Controller of Explosives and Chief Fire Officer is sought.

Some of the other documents that have to be submitted include a certificate of supervision and execution of drainage/sanitary works.  The Annexures provides the prescribed formats in which these documents have to be submitted.

The chapter also has sections on procedure during construction work, notice of completion, occupancy and completion certification etc.

Development code pertaining to residential and non-residential premises
This chapter of the bye-laws deals with regulation of buildings within a premises. The topics covered include use, open space, height, number of dwelling units, parking standards for residential premises, resettlement of jhuggi jhonpri etc.

The section on development standards for hill towns lists out the factors that need to be taken into consideration for space standards. These include sunlight, degree of slopes, conservation principle, energy needs, communication networks etc.

In the context of parking, a chart is provided which details the Equivalent Car Space (ECS). Thus for a residential area with group housing where plots are above 250 sqm the ECS is 0.50 - 1.50 per sq m of floor space. The chart has ECS for different types of commercial areas, public and semi-public facilities and industries.

The development code for specific types of premises forms part of the chapter. For residential areas, density pattern is followed to work out the pattern of development with respect to the size of the plot, number of dwellings etc. In the case of buildings within a residential zone factors such as FAR, height are to be taken into consideration. While in case of plotted development, points such as sufficient light and air in buildings, protection against noise and dust, open space are kept in mind.

There is chart prepared for plotted housing which looks into type  of housing, FAR, height etc. Guidelines for group housing, resettlement and jhuggi jhonpri insitu upgradation, low income housing, non-residential premises (foreign missions), dharamshala, baratghar, petrol pumps, night shelter, bus stops, swimming pools etc form part of this chapter.

General building requirements
This chapter deals with space requirements of various parts of the building. This depends on occupancy load and purpose of the building. For example the plinth or any part of a building or outhouse, has to located with respect to average road level in a manner to provide adequate drainage of the site but not at a height less than 45 cm.

A table provides the minimum size of different parts of a residential premises for different sizes of plots. For a plot less than 50 m the minimum area of a habitable room is 7.50 sq m, while for a plot larger than 50 m it is 9.50 sq m. The size of doorways, staircases, canopy, projections etc are part of this table.

In the case of group housing the space is the same as for a independent plot. The chapter also has other requirements for different areas of a residential premises. Thus a kitchen should have atleast one window and its floor should be made of impermeable material. While a bathroom and WC will be so situated to ensure that alteast one of its walls open to external air. There are such requirements for basement, loft, mezzanine, and garage.

In case of building sites, there are recommendations for the distance from building sites, minimum size of sites. There is also a section on means of access which categorically states that no building will be constructed to deprive an existing building of a means of access. This section also provides details of the width of road which abuts a building.  Sections on exit requirements, staircase requirements, doorways, open space area and height limitation, lighting and ventilation of rooms etc.

Structural safety and services
This chapter has its base in the National Building Code of India and the Bureau of Indian Standards.

The bye-law suggests that the per-capita water requirements for various uses and different types of buildings varies - in case of a hotel it is 180 litres per person, while in the case of a day school it is 45 litres per person. The water requirements for hospitals, different type of train stations,storage facilities, airports etc are provided. Similarly flushing storage capacities are suggested in another table. The chapter has tables to suggest sanitation requirements for different types of buildings.

This chapter makes special mention of water harvesting and other water conservation techniques. It states that all plots of 100 sq m and above will need to have water harvesting structures. Also buildings with a discharge of 10,000 litres and above will incorporate a wastewater recycling system. The chapter also lists out the types of buildings that will need to have solar water heaters, these include hostels with more than 100 students, individual residential areas with plinth of more than 150 sq m, railways stations etc.

Special requirements for occupancy, land development
Requirements for factories, educational buildings,assembly buildings, petrol filling stations, burial and cremation grounds etc are indicated here. In case of factories, provisions under the Factories Act will have to be followed while in case of assembly buildings like cinema halls relevant provisions of the Cinematographic Rules/Acts will be applicable.

Fire protection and fire safety requirements
As the title suggests, this chapter covers the requirements for fire protection for multi-storied buildings and buildings which are 15m and above in height and low occupancy buildings like assembly, educational, business etc. These requirements work in tandem with other bye-laws found in Chapter 4.

The procedure for getting clearance from the fire department is suggested here. Three sets of building plans along with the prescribed fee are to be sent to the Chief Fire Officer after ensuring the plans are in line with master/zonal Plan. The format for providing information on the various fire safety measures is provided in the
annexure of the bye-laws.

The Chief Fire Officer has to examine the plans, approve them and send it for implementation. Once completed the Chief Fire Officer will provide a "No Objection Certificate" from a fire safety and escape point of view. This fire clearance will be reviewed on an annual basis for particular types of buildings like hotels, hospitals etc.

Conservation of heritage sites including heritage buildings, heritage
precincts and natural feature areas
This chapter of the bye-laws is applicable to all buildings, heritage sites, sacred groves, scenic beauty spots etc, that are listed in government notifications and listed in the Master Plan.

The chapter begins with a definition of different concepts like heritage building, heritage site, conservation, preservation, restoration, reconstruction. It then moves to the responsibilities of the owner of a heritage buildings. The responsibilities include repair and maintenance of the building. However repairs, redevelopment etc have to be carried out after permission from Commissioner of
Municipality. There are other caveats which have to be followed such as involvement of the public prior to alteration of such buildings etc.

The chapter also lists out the role of the Heritage Committee and its composition. This committee will include members of the PWD, structural engineers, environmentalists, historians, chief town planners from different departments and representatives from state archaeological department. The terms of reference of the committee include:

  • Advising Municipal Commissioner on granting development permission
  • Preparing supplementary list of heritage sites
  • Prepare supplementary guidelines on conservation principles

The bye-laws end with a list of annexures that pertain to various forms that need to be filled, when filing for application to make a building.

Download the model building bye-laws here:



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