Lafarge, a French company that focuses on cement, concrete, and construction materials is considering expanding in the low-cost housing market in India. Having estimated that the country’s low-cost housing market is worth $238 billion, Lafarge wants to use cost-effective technology, less expensive material, and a more efficient construction process to help cater to India’s urban demand of 21 million low-cost housing units. The company has also provided rural housing solutions.

Lafarge, the French global major in cement, concrete and construction materials, sees huge potential in low-cost housing in India.

Pascal Casanova, director, R&D, Lafarge told Hindustan Times that the company is in talks with more than a dozen players in low-cost housing sector.

Lafarge’s interest stems from a preliminary assessment that the low cost housing in India throws up a market of a Rs 1300,000 crore ($238 billion).
A study undertaken by Escale Responsable for Lafarge in May 2010 found out that the estimated urban demand of 21 million affordable housing units for low income group — in the monthly income bracket of Rs 7,000 – Rs 20,000 – will translate into an opportunity of Rs 13 lakh crore.

The industry considers a house is affordable if it costs less than 40 times of the buyers’ monthly income.

Casanova said that Lafarge’s approach to low cost housing is not just about cheaper material but it is also about making various stages of construction simpler and faster through a variety of measures.

“Our advantage is that being a world leader we bring certain credibility to a project and we can bring together various players. We have cost effective technologies and materials,” said Casanova.

“We are developing various low cost housing solutions. In 3-5 years we will come out with interesting solutions,” he said.

In 2004, it unveiled the first prototype of an affordable house — a 215 square feet one room house with concrete roof at Kolkota at a cost of Rs 40,000. The company also focuses on rural housing solutions.