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Nicaragua Project Description -
High Quality Low Cost Housing
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Actual Cost of the Test House:

The model house is large and of high quality. With appropriate maintenance we expect it to last indefinitely. Buildings of similar construction are still in use after 100 years. We also expect that it will be a desireable building not only for poor campesinos who are living in terrible conditions and will be happy with any form of improvement, but also for well to do people. That is, we expect these houses to be desireable even after the people have raised their standard of living significantly. This means that the houses becomes part of a national investment that grows in value each year.

A number of people who have visited the model house, although liking it a great deal, have said that this house is too fancy and too expensive for poor campesinos. So we had best start by indicating exactly what the government will have to do to obtain these houses, and what the owner/builders will have to do.

The government can get these houses by providing a cash investment of C$300,000 per house (this is for Cordobas in Mar-May '86, naturally this figure must be adjusted for inflation from that time). This is 1/2 the original minimum budget. It is 1/3 the cost of contracts the government currently has for constructing houses that are much smaller. It is slightly more than the cash for the Plan Techo which is 1/3 the size, lacks walls, and is less durable. It is about the same as the budget for other self-help houses of much smaller size. (* As with the other building systems, these costs do not include government overhead of running the program, including design, inspection, etc.).

The users must dedicate about 550 person days of labor. In the case of the cooperative in San Dionisio this means 11 weeks of work for the 10 persons they have assigned to work on their housing.

With the severe housing problems of the displaced and of the population at large and with the desire of the government to show rapid results, there is a great pressure to see a large number of houses completed in a short time. This can of course be done, but it means that outside labor must be brought in and that a larger sum of money must be spent. This gives the sense of great production because a lot is produced in one place. However, bringing the workers and resources from elsewhere means that less is being done in these other places.

The schedule we have used here is based on people doing all of the labor on their own houses. While this means that each family will have to wait a significant time to get its house, it also means that from a labor point of view every single family in the country could be working on their own house simultaneously.


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