Focus on Value, Not Cost

Sandeep chaudhry and Dixit Bajaj
“Don’t ask what is the cost of waterproofing, but ask what will be the cost of not having waterproofing,” say Sandeep Chaudhry (President) & Dixit Bajaj (Vice President) of the Waterproofers Association of India (WAI), as they share with Maria R, the objectives and long-term plans of the association.

What are the objectives of the Waterproofers Association of India (WAI)?

Every industry has its own collaborations and associations like Builders Association of India (BAI), Construction Chemical Manufacturers Association (CCMA), Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI), Association of Certified Realtors of India (ACRI) and so on. However, there was no such association to take care of the interests of the waterproofing industry, which is a most crucial solutions provider in any building or structure.

WAI was formed with the aim of bringing quality waterproofing and in finding the right solutions for the construction industry. WAI seeks to bring in some necessary changes in the waterproofing industry through standardization, training formats and through conducting seminars for bringing greater awareness on the importance of waterproofing.

WAI also looks at the well-being of waterproofing applicators and contractors as their growth and development will propel the growth of all those associated with the waterproofing industry, including the manufacturers and the petty labour contractors. Moreover, we want to ensure that any malpractices in terms of exploitation of the waterproofers is taken care of legally and that they are not looked down upon. We are also trying to rope in some construction chemical manufacturers as members.

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What are the major issues and challenges in the waterproofing industry?

The major hurdle in the industry is the lack of standardization of the waterproofing methods and also the numerous over the counter (OTC) products. If people randomly go for products endorsed by a celebrity and do not know the exact applications, then it is a matter of concern. However, such ads are actually bringing awareness about the importance of waterproofing.

Nowadays, waterproofing is not being done seriously, which has caused many buildings or structures to degrade in quality at an alarming rate. Waterproofing today accounts for a mere 0.75 to 1% of the total cost of construction. However, it must be understood that it is this minuscule percent that will save the 99% of the construction cost. If this 1% is compromised, the entire structure loses its life at almost 1/4th the time of its actual life; in other words, if the structure has been built to last for, say 100 years, its strength will degrade in just 30 years. A big issue is that people are more concerned about the cost of waterproofing and not about the cost of not having their building properly waterproofed.

Waterproofing involves a lot of technicalities in terms of site location, climate, factors affecting the strength of the material, and so on. All of these have to be considered when deciding on a proper system of waterproofing. Unfortunately, building designers and, most importantly, the builders do not give much importance to waterproofing as they do not realize that improper waterproofing ultimately leads to failure of the entire building. The manufacturers simply sell their products either to the applicator or to the client without giving them the know-how on the right product and application.

This is where the problem lies, and when the blame game is played, it is the applicators who are made the scapegoats. We plan to undertake skilling of the applicators in formal training sessions at the state-of-art training centre in Goa under the guidance of Samir Surlekar, the present head of CCMA and former head of MC bauchemie.

CCMA is an association which provides quality certification while the role of WAI is to enhance the capabilities of the Waterproofers. We both are working hand to hand with each other because if applicators will grow than only that of manufacturers.

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In India, chemical manufacturers are giving superficial training to the applicators and not certifiable training of 7 or 15 days. Our aim is to provide the technical know-how and application training to the applicators as we want to maintain the quality standards in the industry, with a focus on new application techniques and products that are revolutionizing waterproofing in India.

WAI aims to bring awareness of the importance of waterproofing, standardization and quality through applicator training, workshops and seminars conducted by industry experts for disseminating information about the latest waterproofing products and solutions to architects and builders.

How has the industry responded to WAI?

Though there were talks of forming such an association for many years, it was only in 2017 that the initiative was taken, and we got WAI registered in March 2018. In such a short time, we have already got over 100 members and are receiving an overwhelming response from the industry. It is expected that by the end of July 2018 we’ll have over 200 members.

No doubt, bringing all stakeholders in the waterproofing industry under one umbrella is a daunting task. We’re using many platforms and exploring others to reach out to more and more stakeholders. We are conducting seminars, workshops, conferences etc for bringing all the stakeholders on a common platform and we are in touch with global events like Concrete India, World of Concrete, bauma etc for participation.

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What is WAI’s current structure?

WAI has been conceptualized as a non-profit organization dedicated to the upliftment of the waterproofing fraternity. Our mission is to have a credible, trustworthy, nationwide organization, which will help in elevating the organization to a higher level of recognition and respect for one and all. Though the main members of WAI are the waterproofers, the membership is open to other stakeholders such as leading concrete repair, rehabilitation & allied contractors, manufacturers (of all levels), material & equipment suppliers, importers, consultants, and others related to this industry. WAI offers different types of memberships such as Premium, Associate, Corporate and Platinum Corporate.

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The prime objective of WAI is to enhance the capabilities of waterproofers involved in providing complete waterproofing solutions to upcoming projects and in rehabilitation of old buildings. WAI will provide a unified voice and a dignified platform to the construction industry.

The business agreement or contract for waterproofing is based on both technical and business decisions. At times, we have to take tough decisions to ensure better service. We monitor the progress of the project on a daily basis and make the necessary changes as and when required.

Membership in WAI will serve as a platform to connect the members to a nationwide network of professionals and experts who will support each other and will share updates and information at every step. Currently, we have members in Delhi, Chandigarh, Nasik, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Jaipur, Dehradun, Chennai, Goa, etc. We have the support of BNI (Business Network International) which has 2 lakh members worldwide with 20,000 members in India, and are in talks with FICCI, ASSOCHAM, the PHD Chamber of Commers, CII, and some others. We’re also looking for media partners for WAI’s bi-monthly journal. We envisage at least 25 Chapters in India and 5 Chapters in the SAARC countries with over 500 members.

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