On February 9, 2016, Nepalhilfe conducted several meetings with our technical team (Ram Maharjan representing MTEEC, or the Management Training Environment and Engineering Consultancy, and Rajib Awale), the house owners (Kanchi Dahal, Krishna Prasad Dahal, Chetan Nath Dulal, and Badri Phuyal), and Valentin Schmid from the Deutsch-Nepalesischer Kulturverein e.V. (DNKV) regarding the clarification of the technical aspects of the house designs and the terms of agreement for all parties involved.
First of all, the house designs created by our technical team are compliant with the Nepali government regulations being implemented for earthquake resistant construction, with the exception of replacing the government-mandated wood frames with steel frames inside the walls of the houses. This is because steel is stronger, more durable, and more economical to work with in terms of its availability in the market and the manpower required to work with it. Well-seasoned wood is not only more expensive in the market, but the manpower required is more specialized and is not as readily available as the manpower that can work with steel. Steel will also be used for the doors and openings.
The coverage area encompasses 487 square feet (45.24 square meters). Two types of building methodologies for stability have been combined in the house structure to achieve a double effect. The first is a load bearing scheme of thick masonry walls of steel and sun-dried bricks, and the second is a method involving the welding together of steel supporting pillars, with three horizontal steel bracings in the middle to prop them further. The first method will stabilize the structure via the sheer weight of the walls, and the second method will help to ensure the integrity of the box shape as a whole. These steel bracings will be covered with concrete inside the walls. No cross bracing will be added since the structure does not have a long span, and it will make it more difficult for the masons to work on the wall if there are cross braces, which will decrease the overall building efficiency.
The house designs are cost-efficient in the sense that they make use of locally produced materials, local manpower, and local building knowledge. We have opted for building with mud and sun-dried bricks (reinforced with steel frames) over concrete due to the fact that mud and sun-dried bricks are better adapted to the local climate in Nepal. The house will include 14-inch (0.36 meters) partition walls that will provide partial insulation in the house, and these partition walls along with the mud and sun-dried brick outer walls will ensure that the house is warmer than a concrete house would be. Additionally, the use of sun-dried bricks will serve as a sustainable building model for the house owners and the communities, and we have refined these local techniques to make them more effective.
For the roof, metal trusses will be used for the frame and corrugated iron (CGI) sheets will be used for the cover. Prefabricated plastic had been initially considered for the cover but it was found to be too expensive, so CGI sheets are being used instead. Wood cannot be used for the reasons listed above. Acquiring bamboo might be more economical and it would allow us to save about Rs. 20000 (5-10% of the cost), but the treatments required add to the expenses and the finishing is much more complicated, which in turn will consume more time.
Aside from sun-dried bricks for the walls, there will also be a foundation of stone with mud-based mortar, which is compliant with government regulations. However, if the house owners are capable of providing bricks for the construction, then bricks will be used in lieu of stone to decrease cost.
Skype Meeting Between Nepalhilfe and DNKV
The designs are also created with flexibility in mind, and if necessary they can be changed or added to in the future. For instance, it is possible for the house owner to add a second storey if desired, although the technical team recommends that only light building should be used for the second storey in such a case.
The total cost estimations differ per house, depending on how many materials each family can provide. In the case of the Jhaukhel families, for example, one house costs Rs. 666,000 (Kanchi Dahal) because the family can salvage some of the building materials from their old house, and the other one costs Rs. 827,000 (Krishna Prasad Dahal) because the family cannot provide any materials at all.
MTEEC will be in charge of finding specialized laborers such as masons for the construction work. Mr. Maharjan and Mr. Awale are freelancers who will take charge of the project management. The house owners will also contribute what they can in the way of food and beverages for the laborers.
The house owners have also agreed on the responsibilities that they must fulfill during the project, one of which is to work on getting approval of the blueprints from their Municipality Office. The Municipality must first approve the blueprints before the building can commence, and this is expected to take a minimum of 2 weeks. Once the Municipality approves the blueprints, the building is expected to take approximately 2-3 weeks. The tentative construction time is in March.