City life can be a real pain in the derriere. You’ve got high levels of pollution, high rent and maybe your next door neighbour is a chubby dude who watches TV shirtless with the door open. It’s rarely a walk in the park. However, most of us just go through the routine of cribbing and moaning about how this sucks and that sucks, finishing up with the empty, yet hope-filled, decree, “man, I’m gonna pack it up and move to a farm, you know, build my house and maybe grow a few plants.”
However, Priyashri Mani and Nishita Vasanth are made of something different, and coincidentally, made their house out of something different too. These two young ladies decided to rusticate themselves in the hills of Kodaikanal and built their own sustainable mud house in Shembaganur. Now a couple of things tend to go through our minds when people build their own houses - firstly, good for them, and secondly, how long until the thing collapses upon those poor folks?
Not to be debbie downers, but the structural integrity of a self-built house is more than just a little important. Just because you used recycled material doesn’t mean you have stored up enough good karma to avoid scaffolding the whole shabang.
The point we’re trying to make is Priyashri Mani and Nishita Vasanth did it right; their cute little cottage has been standing strong for over two years now, which is particularly impressive given the degradation of soil Kodaikanal experiences during its monsoon season. That’s why we’d like to share their technique for the rest of the environmentally conscious (or perhaps just the crunchy granola crowd) that wants to build their own home, and survive.
I. Collect old cement sacks made of polypropylene, a non-biodegradable plastic.
II. Fill bags with mud and stack one on top of the other for the walls.
III. Use barbed wire between the layers of bags to act as a binding material.
IV. After the bags are stacked use mud or clay to both provide support, as well as, smooth out the walls.
V. Use tyres as the holding structure for the windows.
VI. Plaster walls of the house with cow dung and lime plaster.
VII. A south Indian oxide flooring technique was used for the floor. If you don’t know what oxide flooring is, don’t worry, neither did we. Check out Livspace’s article on it here.
VIII. The house’s ceiling is comprised of a thatched roof with crossed wooden poles for support.
There were many small finishing touches these two had to accomplish, but the list would never end if we went into those. Nevertheless, these two did a smashing job, and their technique should help others who might be trying to build themselves a little bit of paradise away from our hectic and polluted urban spaces.
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