Monday, March 22, 2010

Mud house - 4

This is a continuation from the blogpost, Mud house - 3 where we looked at 'The site' and 'The walls'. We now go on to discussing the next steps.

3. Plastering & Flooring
Preparation of the floor and plastering of the walls is carried out at the same time. It is a task usually undertaken by women. A mud floor is usually 4 cm thk. The plinth comprises of earth that has been excavated from the foundation trench. To obtain a 30cm high plinth, more earth may be acquired from the surrounding areas.

In order to avoid cracks on drying, sand is mixed with the mud in the proportion of 1:5 i.e. 1 part sand to 5 parts earth for plastering as well as for the flooring mix. For plastering and flooring together, no.of persons required are 8 women for completing the work in 1 day. The mud floor is allowed to dry for a day and then cowdung is spread on the mud floor. The walls are whitewashed from the inside and the outside. The whitewash may be available in packets of 3 kg. The walls of a 3.0m diameter house usually require 4 packets of whitewash.

4. Roof
Whilst the wall is being constructed, the wooden members that make up the loft are placed on the wall before the last 60cm of wall is raised so that these palmyra members get embedded in the wall. As soon as the wall upto 1.8m height is completed, the midhi or loft may be constructed. This comprises of 4 beams in palmyra placed across the room with battens spanning across the beams. The battens rest side by side so as to leave minimum gaps between them. This is then covered with 8cm of mud layer. Over the midhi, a support system is built in order that the palmyra members forming the core may rest on it.

The roof frame uses Palmyra, Sarvi and Ruvvala wood. Near Haripuram, the village in Visakhapatnam district where this mud house was built, Ruvvala was freely available but the charge for carrying each bundle to the site of construction had to be paid. The roof frame used 6 bundles of Ruvvala. The number of palmyra trees that were used for the pitched conical roof structure were four. It is preferable to buy the wood in wholesale i.e. to purchase the trees and have them cut as per requirements.

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