Budgets are obviously limited for most every project in Nepal, while at the same time the need for affordable housing and schools is almost endless – hundreds of thousands of new, safe structures are needed. Here are a few suggestions to rebuild sustainably and affordably.
Gravel bag foundations: The recently built school by First Steps Himalaya survived the earthquakes with no serious damage. They used a gravel bag foundation on a rubble trench like we have been promoting for years. This can save thousands of dollars in foundation costs. Foundations like this are best on rocky, stable ground. Search this blog or get my ebook for more information about gravel bag foundations.
Mortared stone foundations: Softer soils typically need a reinforced foundation. Instead of the usual concrete foundation, consider using a mortared stone foundation to save on concrete. This is what Holy Himalaya Builders used on the after school study center in Goldhunga, Nepal.
Double earthbag walls on terraced hillsides: Building on steep slopes is tricky at best. One suggestion is to rebuild on existing stable building sites. If space is limited, as it typically is, and there is risk of mudslides and rock slides, consider building double earthbag walls on the side facing the hill for added safety. Integrate the two earthbag walls with barbed wire and possibly overlapping the bags or tubes. The outer wall could be shorter than the main wall. Use a swale or trench around the building to drain the building site.
Polypropylene tubes are less expensive that bags, plus they are about twice as fast.