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Alka K. Jain, M. Tech (VNIT Nagpur ), MICE

Engineers Without Borders, Mumbai Chapter
Tel. No. +91-9167697756

Accessibility to housing for low to moderate income groups in India has been experiencing a severe
decline since year 2008. This paper presents an innovative design for construction of low cost
housing in any type of terrain. It is primarily a frame structure built using steel hollow section and
GI light weight section roof consisting of GI profile sheet, instead of brick or block work, A system
of wall panels made from fiber cement sheets, EPS (Geofoam) and mortar is used. These wall
panels act as a non structural member. Various types of mortars based on costing are proposed like
cement mortar, lime mortar and special mortar made in combination of sand, cement and Bentonite
(for thermal insulation). Foundation system is proposed as slab on grade with wire mesh 300 mm
above ground level for normal terrain.
KEYWORDS: Sustainable development, affordable housing, environmental friendly, speedy
construction, easy for maintenance
The main categories of housing solutions being discussed in India today are slum upgrading, mass
housing for rehabilitation, market provision of housing for lower income group and mixed models
that recommend the development of a mix of rental and ownership housing by the private and
public sectors. Despite strong demand for affordable/low cost housing, limited supply has been
generated by government and nongovernmental housing providers.
Various options for low cost housing were worked out by various people. The major factors like
cost of construction and time period of construction put low cost housing into medium cost housing.
Time period of construction is the most important factor for low cost housing. There are various
prefabricated building methodologies, techniques and material available by taking its economical
advantages and adoption it can be achieved. This paper identifies and discusses affordable housing
system. By adopting this technique the gap between demand and supply can be brought under

The basic idea is to design structure which has properties like environment friendly, light weight,
easy to maintain, easy in construction and offering stability in wind and seismic loading. For any
type of building the foundation, columns , beams, floors and roofs are the most important
components, which can be analyzed individually based on the needs. The methods of construction
systems considered here are namely prefabricated structural frames, brick / block less walls and
prefabricated roofing.
Conventional building materials like burnt bricks, steel and cement are higher in cost since they
utilize large amount of non-renewable natural resources like energy, minerals, top soil, forest cover
etc. The continued use of such conventional materials has adverse impact on economy and
environment. Environment friendly materials and technologies with cost effectiveness are,
therefore, required to be adopted for sustainable constructions which must fulfill some or more of
the following criterion:1. Be self sustaining and promote self reliance.
2. Recycleable.
3. Utilize locally available materials.
4. Utilize local skills, manpower and managing systems.
5. Be accessible to people.
6. Be low in monetary cost
Fig-1 shows typical plan having one unit built up in 72.25 sq.m. Two units are combined to
optimize resources and material.

Fig-1 Typical Floor Plan

Fig-2 shows typical foundation system for a structure. It consists of Grade slab with peripheral
beams founded below ground level. Thickness of grade slab is 100mm and beam width is 150 mm.
The advantages of this slab technique are less expensive and sturdy. Slab-on-grade foundations are
commonly used in areas with expansive clay soil. It is generally accepted by the engineering
community that slab-on-grade foundations offer the greatest cost-to-performance ratio. Concrete
grade slabs are monolithic with the peripheral beams located. These monolithic slab footings are
thickened areas of the slab, located beneath bearing and exterior perimeter walls of the slab. The
Plot on which a concrete slab is placed should be graded before foundation construction begins.
Plots can be graded to drain surface water away from the house slabs and walls.

Concrete slabs and footings should be supported on undisturbed natural soils or engineered
fills. A well-constructed slab should have a capillary break between it and the ground to
prevent groundwater or moisture from wicking up through it. This capillary break is
usually built beneath the slab by using a layer of gravel in conjunction with a plastic vapor
barrier. Fig-2 shows typical details of the grade slab.

Fig-2. Typical Section of Grade Slab

Hollow steel sections are used for columns. Tubular steel sections are available in a wide range of
circular, rectangular, square and elliptical forms. They give greater flexibility in use and higher
strength-to-weight ratio than conventional sections. This enhances efficiency and reduces cost. Steel
is lighter in weight than other construction materials. Steel structures can be easily bolted,
connected, modified, repaired, reused and recycled. Steel itself generates very little waste and can
be fully recycled. Steel construction is dry, dust-free, and comparatively less noisy. It reduces site
construction time.
Purlin section:
Various types of purlin sections are reviewed to suit our requirement like cold rolled section, tubular
section, hot rolled channel section and angle sections and Z sections which are available in the
market. Analysis and design was done for a span of 4.25m and loading consider wind load (zone 4,
47 m/sec), Live load (0.75 kN/m 2 ) as per Indian standards. Cost optimization was done based on
weight of section. Section shown in Fig-3 we choose as purlins for our roofing system. It is 1.5mm
thick, 152 mm deep and weight is 36 kN/m.

Fig-3 Typical Section of Purlin

Roofing sheet:
We can purchase corrugated, barn-style metal roofs, but todays roofing industry offers wide range
of profile roofing sheet as per availability in market and to suit the architectural style. We suggest
0.45mm thick, Zinc-Aluminum alloy coated roofing sheet.
Wall system:
Wall system is made up of fiber cement board and light gauge steel studs which may be fabricated
in the factory. Typical view is shown in Fig-4. Various thickness of wall can be formed like 75mm,
100mm, 150mm etc. Exterior side cement board thickness is 8mm and for interior side is 6mm.
Light gauge steel studs gives support to cement board before and during construction. Industrial
glue is used for connecting board and studs. Void between two boards will be filled. There are
various options to fill this void like cement mortar, cement concrete, soil cement, lime concrete and
stone dust with cement etc. Based on cost and availability of material any filler can work. We
propose stone dust with cement as stone dust is waste product from crusher and cost wise

Fig-4 Typical View of Wall System

If thermal insulation is a factor then Bentonite (clay), sand and cement or EPS (Expanded
Polystyrene) sheet can be used. Expanded Polystyrene, EPS, geofoam is a super-lightweight, closed
cell, rigid, plastic foam. Its unit weight puts it in a separate category compared to other types of
engineering lightweight materials. Its density is about a hundredth of that of soil. It has good
thermal insulation properties with stiffness and compression strength comparable to medium clay.
Material prices vary depending on the density of EPS as well as the job size and location. EPS
density appears to be the main parameter that correlates with most of its mechanical properties.
Compression strength, shear strength, tension strength, flexural strength, stiffness, creep behavior
and other mechanical properties depend on the density. Non mechanical properties like insulation
coefficients are also density dependent. EPS densities for practical civil application range between
11 and 30 kg/m3 .

Innumerable types and sizes of doors and windows can be used in single and similar buildings.
These involve the use of additional skilled labour on site as well as off site and also wastage of
expensive materials like timber, glass etc. Economy can be achieved by: (i) Standardizing and
optimizing dimensions; (ii) Evolving restricted number of doors and window sizes; iii) Keeping this
we propose fly ash polymer door shutters with steel frame and steel sheet window shutters.
As our wall system does not require plaster, exterior grade paint is propose for external surface.
Ceramic tiles are used for flooring.


A model of portal frame was drawn in the structural design analysis program (STAAD Pro) Fig-5,
the worst load combinations applied to the frame and the frame analyzed. Once the worst case loads
on this frame have been analyzed, the program outputs all deflections, bending moment forces,
shear forces and axial forces for each component of the frame. These loads were then be checked
for compliance against the Indian Standard recommendations.
Loading is considered as per IS 875, wind load (zone 4, 47m/sec), Live load (0.75 kN/m2 ) and dead
load of roof system. Based on analysis and design result column section 96 x 48 x 3.2mm, 6.71
kg/m suited our requirement.

Fig-5 Model

Based on reaction forces at base of steel column, grade slab with beam is analyzed in SAFE (Finite
Element program). Bearing capacity of sub grade is 150 kN/m2 . Deformation, forces and soil
pressure was checked. Fig-6 shows soil pressure and deformation of grade slab. Steel wire mesh is
provided as reinforcement for grade slab and for beam reinforcement is provided based on analysis.

Fig- 6 Soil Pressure and Deformation of Grade Slab

Mass housing targets can be achieved by replacing the conventional methods of planning and
executing building operation based on special or individual needs and accepting common
denominator based on surveys, population needs and rational use of materials and resources.
Adoption of any alternative technology on large scale needs a guaranteed market to function and
this cannot be established unless the product is effective and economical. Prefabrication is an
approach towards meeting the above requirement under controlled conditions. The above
methodology for low cost housing is less sophisticated and involves less capital investment. Cost of
construction can be reduced to 550.00 Rs/sq.ft.
As the structure is prefabricated and light weight can be easily transported any where can be
constructed within a 7 day period. Considering this, it can be use and as temporary structure and
also in emergency conditions.
1. Only ground structure not G+1.
2. Study upto the parameters indicated. Change in earthquake zone will need to be further

1. Rinku Taur and Vidya Devi (2009) Low Cost Housing, ACSGE-2009, Oct25-27, BITS Pilani
2. Lal A.K., `Hand Book of Low Cost Housing.?
3. National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007, Govt. of India.

4 . Standards and Specifications for Cost Effective Innovative Building Materials and
Techniques.? BMTPC.

5. Study on Low Cost Incremental Housing for UP State.? BMTPCD, Adlakha and Associates
6. IS -875
7. STAAD Manual
8. SAFE Manual