What is Setback in Building Construction?

Setback in Building Construction in Kerala

There are many aspects and terms in the field of construction that the common man is unfamiliar with. The lack of knowledge in this arena often leads to confusion. This leads to complications in building construction. Setback in building construction is one such aspect which is of prime importance in this field.

Setback in building construction

What is “Setback” in building construction?

In simple words, a setback is the minimal open space required around any building or structure. The Kerala Municipality Building Rules sets the regulations regarding setback in building construction in Kerala.

Setbacks are classified as front setbacks, rear setbacks and side setbacks.

The specifications regarding setbacks vary from one area to another. The regulations primarily depend on the size of the plot. Other factors are whether it is one-side or multi-side open plot, the width of the road on which the plot is located and the locality of the plot.

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What is the significance of setback in building construction?

Setback ensures that an individual building or structure receives adequate natural light and has sufficient ventilation. It also protects entities such as water bodies which are adjacent to buildings from pollution by construction and human inhabitation.

Setback ensures that buildings don’t overshadow each other such that it obstructs provisions for sunlight and ventilation. It protects buildings from noise-causing elements such as nearby industries, airports etc. The regulations also ensure that each building has a vehicular access considering the case of emergencies.

Guidelines for Setbacks in Kerala constructions

Setbacks for construction of residential buildings

  • Every building having upto 10 metres height shall have a minimum front yard of 3 metres depth, rear yard of 2 metres depth, side yard of 1.2 metres on one side and 1 metre on the other side. For buildings whose height exceeds 10 metres, the setback increases at the rate of 0.5 metre per every 3 metres height exceeding 10 metres.
  • The minimum distance between the plot boundary adjoining any street and the building shall be 2 metres.
  • The minimum distance between central line of a street and building shall be 5 metres.
  • In case of a group of buildings within a plot or adjoining plots, the land remaining after accounting for mandatory front, rear and side yards shall be considered as the buildable area.
  • There is a regulatory distance between various blocks within the area. The minimum distance between buildings is 2 metres for buildings having upto 10 metres height and 3 metres for buildings exceeding that height.
  • In case a room intended for human habitation does not share boundaries with front, side or rear open air spaces, then it shall be provided with an interior open space of width not less than 2.4 metres.
  • When a part of the plot is surrendered for road development, the setback from the road boundary to the building is reduced. The reduction depends on the breadth of the land surrendered on that side. The minimum distance from the boundary of the proposed road shall be 3 metres.

Set Back for buildings in small plots (below 3 cents)

  • The minimum depth of the front yard shall be 1.80 metres. The mean depth shall not be less than 1.80 metres if the peculiar shape of the plot does not allow the required depth laterally. In this case, at any given point, the minimum permissible depth shall be 1.2 metres.
  • The minimum open space on any one side of the building shall be 90cms and another side shall be 60 cms.  This is applicable provided that no opening other than ventilator at a height of 2.20 metres from the floor level is provided on the side having only 60 cms open space from the boundary. On the 60 cms side, it is possible to reduce or completely eliminate the setback such that there is no opening of any manner on that side of the building. This is possible only if the owner of the plot on the respective side voluntarily agrees to the same.
  • The average open space on the rear side shall be 1 metre with the minimum being 0.50 metre.

Setback for Wells

  • Free Quote The set back for a well from any street is same as that required for a building. In addition, there shall be 1.50metres setback from any other boundaries.
  • The well may be located within or adjoining or away from the building on the plot.
  • Leech pit, sock pit, refuse pit, earth closet or septic tank shall not be allowed or made within a radius of 7.5 metres from any existing well which is used for the supply of water or within 1.20 metres distance from the plot boundaries.

It is important to understand the significance of concepts such as setback while indulging in construction. The awareness regarding these regulations in construction saves the owner from any possible trap and hassles later on.



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