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Nicaragua Project Description -
High Quality Low Cost Housing
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Based on the experience of the model house several possible improvements were noted.

Less Cement in Floor
It is easier to place stones in the floor if they are not fitted to closely to each other. After a time the workers became more lax in their fitting of the stones, this resulted in wide joints and the use of more mortar than necessary.

Wall Sole Plate
The test house was built with 4X4 posts set on top of steel pins and with horizontal 2X4 placed between the posts at the bottom. It would be better to use a 2X4 continuous on the bottom and place the 4X4s on top of this, nailing them to the 2x4. Steel rebar will come up from the footing, through the sole plate, be bent over and then nailed to the sole plate. The continuous 2x4 on the bottom will distribute the load more evenly from the post to the footing. It will tie together the bottom of the wall independently of the foundation. It will make a better connection between the wall and the foundation.

Where the posts are freestanding, for example on the veranda, they will be set on the steel pins as was done with the test house.

One of the reasons for not using the continuous bottom plate initially was that the house was to be built in stages without all walls completed. The walls would then be filled in at convenient times in the future and according to the varying needs of the specific family. Since the freestanding posts are better set independently on the steel pins and the posts for unfinished walls would be freestanding, we initially chose to set all posts on pins. In retrospect we think that it would be preferable to anticipate all future walls and install the continuous bottom plate. This would however allow less flexibility in location of walls in the future, a disadvantage.

Roof Tile
Roof tiles should be nailed or tied to the roof sheathing. This will avoid tiles falling in high winds or earthquakes. In a recent earthquake in China, one of the major causes of injuries was falling roof tile.

The quality of the roof tile can be improved. It was more porous than necessary and not as strong as possible. This can be achieved with technical assistance both from professional tile makers in the region and from trained foreign and national technicians.

The foundation is excellent given the extreme limitations on budget. We were told that San Dionisio is not a seismic zone. In zones with greater earthquake risk it would be desireable to incorporate horizontal steel in the foundation and to mortar all the stone.

A tree planting program should be undertaken in parallel with the tree cutting. Lack of trees and transportation costs will quickly become a limiting factor on a large scale program. Planting Caņa Castilla. The coop had to purchase caņa castilla. When we went to buy it, most of the growers had sold all they had grown. Since it will be ready to harvest in 2 years it makes a great deal of sense to immediately plant it, thereby increasing local production, eliminating a cash cost and guaranteeing an adequate supply.

Prepared for: Ministerio de Desarollo Agropecuario y Reforma Agraria MIDINRA Region VI Miguel Barrios Johanning, Director By: Groundwork Institute Huck Rorick, Executive Director Steve Sears, Program Associate August 6, 1986 Revised December 6, 1986


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