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com/Build-a-House Do not hire a contractor, makes your plans, get estimates for every aspect of th e house from slab, to roof joists, plumbing heating and air, lumber, etc. Pick t he brains of the folks who give you estimates. They will know a lot. After you e stablish the estimated cost add 10 to 12% for overrun and find a bank that will make a loan to you actting as your own contractor. Talk to the bank he can tell you how if possible or who. Do all the work you can yourself but realistically y ou will need help. Hire different people whjo specialize in each aspect of build ing. ( the plumber, the elctrican, the concrete man, the roofer, the framers, ec t.) After the loan is approved go back to those who helped with estimates and as k for bids explaining that you are going to build and get several bids from repu table people. They will cut each others throats to get your business if you're l ucky. Pay nobody until after they have completed thier work, never up front. Buy premaid cabinets or better yet build them yourself. Cabinets are expensive. Lea ve off the basement if you don't live up north. You do not need one in the south . Use 104 templtex siding of some other such. Its ceahper than brick or stone. I f yo wish have the slab man leave a brick ledge and add brick, stone later. Tin roof can save on insurance. Tile floors cost more than composite tile or carpet but tile will last much much longer. Don;t skimp on windows. Get double hung ins oltated, and use plenty of insulation too. ask local lumber dealers to give you a contractors discount. Sometimes it can be 10% and some may deliver materials f ree as you call for them. Buy all your appliances at one time from the same deal er and ask for the discount again. They can and will do it. Good luck. I did it tiwce. I built my last home in 1996 and it took me 3 months from start to finsh. It cost $46,000 for 1700 sq ft. Thousands less than estimat ed by my lumber man. It was worth about $90,000 the day I finished it. Lumber is higher now but its still doable.

To do most of the work yourself. That is the cheapest way in all honesty. There really is no difference in pricing from stick built to systems built homes. Also , you are on the right track building a 2 story instead of a ranch as most of yo ur cost is eaten up in basement and roof trusses. You considerably cut down base ment size and the amount of trusses with a 2 story. My advice, shop around. Get quotes and bids and do not jump into anything. Build ers go over, most often, so be careful! Our builder went over 22k on our new hou se, it was a nightmare! Also, it is ok to cut corners on certain items. You do not need the most expensi ve tub surround, carpet or countertops. However well insulated windows are a goo d call. An appraisal will not judge your home by the brand name of the items in it, just that they are newer. Do not stick money in where you do not need to. --I would like to submit that any clay based construction strategy would be counte r production because construction with clay or clay based building materials cau ses huge degradation of soil. According to reliable estimates, more than 15000 he ctares of land is degraded every year in production more than 350 billion bricks . On the other hand India produces more than 260 million tonnes of fly-ash. Ther efore, it is desirable that solution of cost effective housing should also addre ss the issues of soil conservation, fly-ash utilisation. Additionally a quality solution also should deal with issues like energy conservation during manufactur ing process of housing materials and during the life time of use, fast construct ion, comfort needs of inhabitants in terms sound insulation and thermal insulati

on both in extreme hot and cold climates in different places of India, safety fr om fire and earthquake, storms and corrosion. Land is scarce already in our big cities and towns. In rural India too, where ag riculture and related occupations are the principal source of livelihood, early introduction of horizontal utilisation of space in rural housing makes enormous sense. Unit cost of AAC may be higher compared to un-burnt clay bricks, but if o ne factors in savings of land and soil, utilisation of fly-ash, savings from hig h rise construction, saving in energy cost in manufacturing and due to efficient insulation, fast and ease of prefabricated construction, cost advantages of mul ti storied row houses with maximum common walls and common roofs and floors and the longevity of a permanent construction done with AAC blocks and plain floor/r oof slabs, it is possible to achieve a cost close to $300 for the size of dwelli ng units, which are shown in the graphics in the article. Coming to the size of dwelling units, it is good to remember that joint and exte nded families live together. Dwelling units easy pass ownership and usage three or four generations. Often easily two or often three generations live together. Dwelling unit size and architectural design must recognise this and address thes e issues. In urban centres in India, site of colonies of small dwellings for poo r and low and even middle income groups developing fast into slum like condition is not uncommon. Aerated Autoclaved Concrete technology and products fulfil all the above needs. Fortunately, AAC technology and building products are well established in USA an d gaining acceptability in India now. Only requirement is that US AAC industry m ust take some initiative to form collaboration with thermal power units to manuf acture AAC building products. I emphasise again that use of AAC building product s is spreading fast. If the present 350 billion burnt clay brick based construction is to be replaced by AAC blocks, there is need for more than two thousand plants with capacity of three million cubic metres of blocks each. Congratulations to Mr. Vijay Govindrajan and Ms. Christian Sarkar fot their grea t initiative and wish them success. --------------A Cheap Way to Build Houses Whenever the problem of providing low-cost houses for the Indian urban dwellers is discussed it generally arouses feelings of dismay and pessimism. For when the requirement is presented in concrete figures, its cost seems impossibly high co mpared to the spending capacity of the people and the government. This staggerin g disparity between the means and ends is one of the reasons why not enough seri ous effort is being made to find realistic solutions to the problem. However, the situation is by no means hopeless. The problem can be stated anew s o that what at present appear to be its negative aspects are converted into asse ts. It is possible to provide a metre plinth area containing a room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a latrine for Rs. 4,000, Inclusive of development costs, even in majo r cities. This means that such house would cost about Rs. per month an instalmen t payments spread over 20 years. It should, therefore, be possible even for a pe rson earning Rs. 150-200 a month to own this house. To understand how this is possible let us first look at the so called negative a spects of the present housing situation. The most difficult problem is that of t he very great number of people needing houses. But all these people also constit ute a vast and free labour force if the housing design allows the maximum use of unskilled and semi-labour. This is a tremendous asset. The second major problem is the land requirement of such a great number of house s. Densities of up to 250 people per acre can be satisfactorily achieved with on ly single-storey, buildings. This results in surprising bonuses, single-storey b

uildings can be easily designed to be built on a self-help basis; situated at th e ground level close to one another, they can generate a feeling of community am ong inhabitants and the land is used most intensively. After all, the argument t hat urban land is extremely expensive makes sense only if one accepts the presen t system of checkless private speculation based upon it. In fact, the cost in la rger social terms is only equal to the value of the product that is foregone whe n it is taken out of an alternative use, such as agriculture. Thus, land can als o be viewed in a positive light. The third bogey is of the limited resources of the poor man which make it impossib le for him to pay for his house. The positive aspect of this is that it is preci sely the poor man, with no other immovable assets who would be most keen to own a house, if the price is right. And, once he becomes a house owner, he might very possibly change from being a fringe member of society (for even being an anti-so cial clement) to become a responsible citizen, for he will then be having a posi tive stake in society. This kind of change might well provide a boost to the nat ional economy. Thus, the contention is that low-cost housing, instead of being a depressing national problem, can be tackled to become a major resource for the country. To illustrate how this can be done, a specific housing scheme was worked out in response to the house design ideas (urban) competition organised by the housing and urban development corporation (HUDCO) and cosponsored by the Hari Om ashram trust, Najiad (Gujarat) in February 1975. The scheme proposes a solution on a fi ve-hectare urban site. The density proposed was 120 dwelling units per hectare, with provision for primary and nursery schools, convenient shopping and an elect ric substation. Out of the five-hectare total site, these community facilities o ccupy 0.82 hectare. The houses provided are of two types type A has a plinth area of 22.5 sq. m. and c ontains one room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a latrine: type B has a plinth area of 40 sq. m. and contains two rooms, a kitchen a bathroom and a latrine. Of the total houses (600), two-thirds (400) are of type A and one-third (200) of type B . All of them are single-story houses together covering a plinth area equal to 3 3 percent of the total site. Every house has, in addition to the plinth area men tioned earlier, an open-to-sky courtyard of about six sq. m. which is so attache d that it is completely private and accessible from every room in the house. The houses are grouped in threes two of type A and one of type B to share walls and plumbing lines. This basic module of three houses links up with similar modules in various ways to generate small communal open spaces joined by pedestrian path s which lead to the community facilities the larger, open spaces and schools. Close attention is paid to the design of the open spaces since one of the major objectives of the planning is to make intensive use of the land. Most of the cit ies in our country have a climate suitable for outdoor living for a major part o f the year. Especially, if houses are small and the size of the families are lar ge, people tend to be outdoors anyway into the adjoining open spaces. This can a lso make for a rich community life. However, this active community interaction t akes place generally when the open spaces are small enough to be maintainable wi thout an army of gardeners and their scale is intimate enough to relate directly to each house. Anyone familiar with the government housing colonies in New Delh i, will recall how barren and desolate are the large open spaces between the hou ses. In our scheme, the open space between, three houses, is just large enough to be adequately shaded by one medium-size tree (please see diagram). This is felt to be the appropriate scale at which the inhabitants can relate satisfactorily to o ne another, and the space can be maintained by them. With one tree for every thr ee houses, the entire site can become a network of shaded spaces between houses

which will lower the temperature of the housing area by about five percent in su mmer. Tree which shed their leaves in winter should be selected so that sunshine enters the houses in the cold months. These 200 odd trees would be cheap to pla nt and the comfort they would provide in terms of controlled micro-climate would be amazing. Another important climatic variable is the orientation of the houses. The planni ng ensures that all houses are oriented to catch the monsoon winds. The ideal or ientation also makes it possible to exclude the sun from the houses in summer an d allow sunshine in the winter. Thus, the houses are long and narrow, allowing t he breeze to cross-ventilate every room through the private courtyard. The long, narrow plan also makes for a short span for the roof, thus making the construction easier and cheaper. The roofing can be of a light, standard panel t ype, which can be erected by even unskilled labour. The cheapest variety would b e a sloping roof, but with a little additional cost a flat roof could be provide d. The flat roof would provide extra terrace space for each family. The scale of the building being small, the majority of the labour for constructi on can be provided by the inhabitants themselves, thus causing a great saving in cost and generating employment opportunities. At the same time, this participat ion in the building activity would lead to a much higher value being placed by t he dwellers on the physical environment. This could lead to a much healthier ove rall environment. The construction possibilities, however, have not been explored fully yet. The b uilding industry growth rate is very slow, and a large scale housing programmes, the speed of construction is an essential requirement. Prefabrication of buildi ng components is therefore very necessary. Of course, in the Indian context, any attempt at prefabrication requires careful thinking and selection so that the p rocess becomes labour intensive. There are already national ratings and factors which is tackling these problems but the efforts seem to be geared more to satis fying the existing multi-storey-building syndrome. An innovative spirit seems to be lacking. There is also a tremendous scope for innovation in the servicing infrastructure for urban dwellings. We are at present, facing acute shortages of power and wate r in the cities, also out sanitation systems are outdated and expensive. Even if we can provide houses cheaply, we will have great difficulty in servicing them if we have to rely on the existing systems of their extensions. The answer may again lie in taking what appears to be a negative factor and reve rsing it into an asset. Natural sources of energy such as the sun, wind and chem ical (some say alchemical), action of plants can be the generators for new servi cing systems. There already exists a small but expanding body of theoretical kno wledge dealing with these aspects. But a really serious effort to apply this kno wledge is still lacking.