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‘Building a wooden house is challenging’

In a special interaction with Modern Woodwork, Ms. Yoshiko Fujiki, Founder of ‘Style of Tokyo’ talks about her unique profession as a Real Estate Consultant, how she reach out to major stakeholders of construction industry in Japan, about the new construction standards introduced by the Japanese Government and how she is developing a special software along with Pune-based Indicus Software for Japanese as well as Indian construction industry. Shilpa Vyapari, Founder of Indicus Software hosted this special meet.

 

Modern Woodwork: Tell our readers more about yourself and your company ‘Style of Tokyo’.
Ms. Yoshiko Fujiki: I accidentally ventured into the world of construction. Actually, I am a fashion graduate; but my father used to run a construction company. While working with my father since I was 25, I gradually developed interest in the construction field. Over the period, I took various certifications and completed all the necessary courses in construction and ventured into this domain. Today, I am the founder of Japan-based real estate consulting firm ‘Style of Tokyo’. I mainly consult to individual houseowners. I provide best possible recommendations on choosing a plot to constructing a house in the budget. Apart from this I do consulting for other construction companies as well. I am also on the board of government’s advisory committee, which decides certification process of the construction industry in Japan. I also advice to the Japan’s Ministry of Construction.

MW: Is real estate consulting a new concept in Japan?
YF: Fairly new, so to say. It all started a decade back when I came up with a unique concept of reformation of old houses in Tokyo. Before that, the set practice in Japan was to entirely demolish the old house and reconstruct a new one. But I give stress on renovating old houses by retaining good material and ambience. Many-a-times house owners have limited budget. Hence, in reformation process, one needs to be extremely cautious to not exceed the construction budget as there is housing loan associated with it. That’s why the role of real estate consultant becomes very important who actually coordinates with all the parties and stakeholders and manages everything in the given budget. Since then, I have been providing all the housing services – right from home loan to actual construction by considering budget constraints of the home buyers. At that point of time it was a very new concept. After I have initiated real estate consulting, lot of players entered this domain. I am doing all these things on a broader scale these days. Right from conducting training workshops of construction labours to enhance their skill-set to advising ministry and construction companies, I cover major stakeholders in real estate domain.

Yoshiko Fujiki and Shilpa Vyapari

MW: You deal with wooden housing or concrete housing while giving your consultancy in redevelopment?
YF: I do both and in that too I look after mansions i.e. large apartments as well as individual houses. In Japan, there was change in government’s policy regarding the construction standards in the recent past to ensure earthquake resistant insulated homes. So now, all our houses are insulated from inside as well as outside. The prolonged cold throughout the year in Japan demands insulation so that the heat can be retained inside. This saves on electricity by lowering the use of air conditioner. This rule is now in place and this compliance needs to fulfilled by all houses and apartments. The old houses were constructed with the earlier construction standards. Now when the old rules are getting reformed they have to fulfil revised rules. I consult on this front as well.

I am thinking of building a special software along with Indicus Software for the construction industry to improve their efficiency and quality of their work through augmented reality and other means.
– Ms. Yoshiko Fujiki Founder of ‘Style of Tokyo’

MW: Wooden housing is a very popular concept in Japan which has started gaining popularity in India as well. What are the advantages of wooden house over concrete house?
YF: In Japan, wooden houses are cheaper than concrete houses. Another plus point of wooden houses is as they are lightweight they work better as earthquake resistant. Hinkoi, Sugi and Spruce are the popular wood species. However, the challenges of wooden housing are altogether different. Due to inherent characteristics of wood of shrinking and expanding gaps get created between walls and columns. Due to cold, moisture gets trapped in these gaps and it results into fungus very quickly. Hence, while constructing a wooden house one has to ensure combination of good quality wood and material that does not create such gaps. As a real estate consultant I do consult on these crucial points as well. Actually there are lot of similarities in Okinawa and India. Earlier there were no wooden houses in Okinawa due to weather problems and especially humidity. But now lot of wooden houses are coming up in this region. So, whatever applicable for Okinawa is probably good for India and Indians can import wood that is being used in Okinawa for wooden housing.

MW: Are you planning to start rendering your services to Indian construction industry along with Indicus Software?
YF: I would definitely like to look forward to it. I see a lot of problems in the overall Project Management in Indian construction industry. I found it very strange when I came to know that in India construction budget of an house or apartment gets exceeded and possession schedule gets delayed. In Japan, as we find shortage of human resource, we give utmost stress on higher productivity and higher efficiency. Hence, I am building a special software along with Indicus Software for the construction industry to improve efficiency and quality of work through augmented reality and other means. I have been discussing about this project with Shilpa Vyapari, Founder of Indicus Software that will work as collaboration tool between different stakeholders associated with a particular project.

Interview by:
Niranjan Medhekar