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Low Cost Housing Applied Research Casilla, Ginette Jane Ellamil, Raphael Esperanza, David Lumucso, Jay-Ar Manaog, Ramly Adamson University

Arch. Christopher Coma September 25, 2012

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH INTRODUCTION Today more than one billion of the world's city residents live in inadequate housing; worldwide, 18% of all urban housing units are non-permanent structures and 25% do not conform to building regulations (Habitat, 2001). Between 40 and 70% of the population in most Philippine cities live in informal settlements. This situation is mainly due to urbanization and increases by natural population growth and in some cases political, economical manipulation have caused land restriction and further worsened the problem. Thus, the pressure on the increasing demand of housing has become a challenge and a problem to authorities, beneficiaries/users, suppliers, engineers, contractors and nature. Many studies, seminars, workshops and researches by governmental, universities, private institutions, NGOs, etc., have tried to find solutions for low-income housing. Unfortunately the solution is not unique, peoples need and necessities are different even within a city. The definition of an "adequate shelter or house" varies considerably. It has to consider weather conditions, cultural, social, economical factors but it is agreed on that it should be more than a roof over one's head. Moreover, the selection of building materials should meet the local conditions to improve quality of life by building new structures or by improving existing structures. The dilemma cost-quality-size plays an important challenge in low-income housing projects for engineers and architects regarding housing within a sustainable framework. In general sustainability intends to develop new approaches to manage urban settlements and to integrate energy and environmental issues, moreover addresses the integration of technical

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH factors to social, economical and environmental issues. Low-income housing should not denote low quality, and it should not be design as a survival shelter. The evolution (improvement) of building materials is a continuous process, technology has created substitute materials by improving natural raw materials or by developing synthetic materials, called in this study "processed materials". Construction techniques also have been positive influenced by technology specially saving time and specialization of skills. The proposed plans and details will served as possible prototype for a low cost housing that could provide as a adequate shelter to low income families as well as a good example for the applied laws of the BP 220.

THEORY FOR THE PROJECT Sustainability for the Housing Project Awareness of environment and sustainable development has increased since the 1970s. However only during the last decade these two issues have been considered jointly in the overall framework for sustainable urban housing. In general sustainability intends to develop new approaches to manage urban settlements and to integrate energy and environmental issues. The following aspects of sustainability are regarded as the two most important for housing: Balanced sustainability, which refers to the evaluation and relative importance of the four pillars for sustainability: social, economic, biophysical and technical sustainability. This requires the building of the capacity of authorities in order to establish interrelated

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH procedures in the housing delivery systems to achieve efficiency regarding planning, financing, management and construction performances. Technical sustainability implies good quality materials and serviceability in the built environment. Diversification and innovation of design and building materials have to meet the needs for durable and safe structures (Walker, 1999, p.18-22). Technical sustainability also implies sharing of information at all levels (Towards sustainable Urban development, 2000, p.16). Furthermore, the overall goal is to achieve the same or equivalent service by using less material and energy. It also implies energy saving during the construction and performance of the structure, moreover to minimize damage in nature as a result of urbanization (Walker, 1999, p.16-18). Furthermore, the use of materials by the current generation must not hamper the housing possibilities of future generations. Sustainable urban development, including low-income housing projects, can be seen as alleviation of certain social problems and promotion of good physical health and family environment for this and future generations.

House Wall Systems House design involves structural functionality, purpose (Rioja, p.3) and aesthetic issues that can be achieved through traditional or contemporary technological approaches. Whatever approach is used, "a house cannot be built without fundamental knowledge of building materials and construction". Design and construction techniques differ depending on the external loads and local conditions such as geology, soils, climate, and natural hazards.


Evolution of traditional materials (mostly raw) and methods has helped to understand social values and needs (Marshall & Kearney, 2000, C.2), while engineering designs enhance the search for solutions in the appropriate production and use of materials and construction techniques. "Appropriateness" of a building material or construction technique can never be generalized. Factors such as industrialization of the country, material origin, material price, transport facilities, volume of elements made of selected material, climate compatibility, understanding of properties and handling, workers skills, social acceptance will determine appropriateness. 40% of material resources of the world are used in buildings. It is therefore important to assess the environmental consequences for building projects and achieve the same level of service life in building material performance using less natural resources and energy (KTH & NTNU, 1998, Borg & Trinius, p.3). In this sense, contemporary technology has achieved efficiency, through the creation of substitute processed and

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH prefabricated materials, as well as mechanized construction methods to speed up the delivery time (Webb, 1987 and 1989). Building components and building materials have different service live times regarding aesthetic, economic, functional, physical and technical performance over time (KTH & NTNU, 1998, Melby, p.3, 4). It is therefore important to differentiate between the main elements of a structure, such as foundations, floor, walls, roof, ceiling, opening frames and sanitary elements. Walls and foundations play important roles in the stability of the structure as well as in the percentage of the total cost and construction time. The choices of design of wall systems and foundations are closely related. The materials and construction techniques can be based on traditions or on more industrialized methods using specialized skills, computerized manufacturing and design processes and sophisticated equipment.

Local regulations stipulate technical requirements, and performance tests, on wall (and other) systems in most countries. Typical parameters that are considered include: Structural strength; defined as resistance to all likely loading, e.g. compression, tension, flexion, impact, etc. Structural stability; defined as resistance to gravity (e.g. dead loads like self weight and live load like overweight), uplift forces and horizontal loads (e.g. wind loads). Special requirement and/or in-service performance; defined as resistance to e.g. seismic design, vibration or cyclical loads, accidental loads, door slamming forces, attachment of fitting, condensation and fire etc.

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Thermal performance; defined as the result of the process whereby the design, layout, orientation and construction materials of the building modify the prevailing outdoor climate to create an indoor climate. Acoustic performance: refers to the amount of noise transmitted from both outside and inside the building to a specific room. Water resistance and damp-proofing; defined as the state when no dampness is visible on the inside of the external walls of a building for human habitation under normal weather conditions, while the damp proofing elements should comply with standards. Durability; defined as a period for which the specific material or structure fulfils its intended function satisfactory when subjected to normal use, assuming reasonable maintenance at regular intervals.

There are typically three common wall systems being used in house construction, (i) massive (ii) frame and (iii) core. A comparison of advantages and disadvantages among the three systems is shown in Table 3.2. Improvements of wall system design aim to: reduce waste, reduce amount of required materials, simplify assembly and increase accuracy and speed of construction. Advantages Reduced number of materials and components Materials could be manufactured in situ High thermal capacities (common in hot arid climates) Medium to high resistance to dampness Medium construction speed Accessible information for design, construct and maintenance Disadvantages High quantities of the same material needed It needs wall finishing to perform well Needs support and centering during construction (verticality problems may cause the failure of the structure) Possibilities of insects and vermin attack




Medium resistance to natural hazards High construction speed Medium innovative design and construction techniques

Increase variety of components, equipment and skills Intermediate level of accessibility of information for design, construct and maintain Compulsory use of wall finishing Partially or totally imported material Need industrialized production rises basic cost Needs Environmental control during manufacturing Special design and connections Less access information for design, construct and maintenance High skill workers Sophisticated and conventional equipment during construction Higher possibilities of insects and vermin attack


Very high thermal performance High resistance to dampness Very high construction speed Lighter elements to erect Reduce site work High innovative design and construction techniques

Massive wall system A massive wall system is a construction based on one type of material (a base). The type of material is commonly soil, natural or synthetic fibres, masonry, etc. It can be used with or without additives, moulding, binder (see Appendix IV), and special surface protection. An important characteristic of the system is the self supported walls. Use of constructions techniques and equipment varies depending on selected material. Adobe is a mixture of earth and water. Emphasis has been put on investigating ways to increase the stability and resistance to erosion using various additives. Burnt clay bricks need no painting, oiling or preservatives. Furthermore they are fireproof and, if properly used, waterproof and insect and fungus proof as well. They have low

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH thermal expansion resulting in less cracks than in cement. No extra materials are needed except mortar. Rammed earth walling systems are formed by compacting earth in temporary or permanent forms. The main research had been focusing on form-work alternatives and performed in Australia, United States, Peru and Ecuador to mention a few.
Negative aspects with soil constructions: Pressed soils need large amounts of material. Non-stabilised soils show excessive absorption of water, causing tracks and deterioration by frequent wetting and drying (swelling and shrinkage) as well as weakening and disintegration by rains and floods. Low resistance to abrasion and impact, if not sufficiently stabilised or reinforced. Low tensile strength, increasing vulnerability to earthquakes. Low acceptability amongst social groups, due to numerous examples of poorly constructed and maintained structures. Commonly lack of references for building performance and standards. Relatively high-energy consumption during manufacturing of products such as burnt clay products. Impurity of soil results in weak bricks

Concrete blocks and concrete brick They can be hollow or massive with mortar or interlocked as a dry-stack masonry system. The masonry could be a non-reinforced or reinforced load-bearing wall, depending on local conditions and standards. Construction could achieve efficiency if well supervised and performed. The mortar can be traditional Portland cement or cement mix with lime and/or rice husk ash. Negative aspects with masonry: Long term shrinkage of units placing wall under tension thereby increasing cracking Mixing of mortar must be done under control to obtain good results or cracks may appear

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Necessary to plaster and paint with waterproof painting Requires on site supervision Methods of jointing must be controlled


Timber This is probably one of the most commonly used materials for houses. Flexibility in design depends on the type of timber and needs of the end user. Modular systems are incorporated to gain efficiency and time during construction. Negative aspects with timber: Maintenance is needed Deforestation in large scale causes environmental problems Storage needs to be covered Sensitivity to fires and biological agents

Reinforced cement This is a mix of water and cement which has been reinforced with polypropylene fibre, glass fibre or steel / steel mesh to increase compression and flexural resistance. The fibre mix in situ is not common. The walls are often consist of prefabricated panels, decreases the lead-time for erection and assembly of elements. Negative aspects with reinforced cement: Shrinking could be uncontrolled if no additives are incorporated Difficult to achieve even density in fibre mix if mixed by hand Certain reinforcements need special calculations

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Frame Wall System A frame, or skeleton, wall system consists of vertical, horizontal and angular members (timber, steel, reinforced concrete, etc.), joined together to form a load-bearing framework. The space between the members can remain open or be filled with different materials. These materials will either give the characteristics of solid walls (e.g. masonry) or lightweight walls (e.g. composite boards). The use of filling material, in addition to the roof structure, helps to stabilize the whole construction and prevent distortion.


Natural fibre frame This is a traditional technology with variety of shapes and construction techniques, governed by climate conditions and specific social environment. Single fibres are less resistant to compression but in larger quantities, and if twisted and interlocked, they can be used as structural elements. In-fill material usually consists of leaves and other types of fibres Negative aspects with natural fibre frame: Low life performance, requires extensive maintenance Vulnerability to biological agents Tendency to absorb moisture, accelerating the deterioration process Low resistance to physical impacts Rapid propagation of fire

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Aluminium frame This system can be combined using cement board panels. The panels are produced with a range of different densities, combined with additional isolating materials. They can be spray painted and also mixed with polystyrene to increase thermal and sound insulation properties. Walls need special accessories in order to provide inter-panel locking. The system has been found to be structurally resistant, well insulated and easily mounted if handled properly. Negative aspects with aluminium: Not a standard solution, recommendations for usage is needed Specially designed range of fixing accessories Panels must be stored and handled with extra care


Steel frame This type of frame is able to encase many different materials: concrete or mud, precast panels, polyurethane foam, timber particle board, bricks, etc, thus allowing a large variety of solutions. The design of prefabricated steel frames, especially the interlocking links and clamps, varies from company to company. Negative aspects with steel frame: Special design for joints Anti-corrosion measures must be considered

Timber frame This type of frame can be made in site or be prefabricated. The cladding has many possibilities, such as timber particleboard, fibreglass mesh with cement and plaster or fibre

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH cement sheeting. The layout is flexible to users need and the elements easy and fast to assemble under supervision. Negative aspects with timber frame: Special design for joints Need for supervision at site


Core wall system The core wall system consists of a combination of materials: (i) an inner, or core, material that commonly uses a polymer matrix resin to achieve desired requirements such as temperature performance, chemical resistance, fire resistance etc. (ii) an external layer as protection or cladding such as mortar, and (iii) an outer reinforcement of metal sheets, fibre etc.

Polystyrene This type of material is used to increase thermal insulation properties. New solutions have been developed since almost a decade ago and are still being improved. An example of this is "CasaBona", an integrated structural system made of sheet metal profiles supported by blocks of expanded polystyrene, developed by Professor Gudni Jhannesson in Sweden. A special machine is needed to manufacture the metal profiles. The design has differed depending on location. Negative aspects with polystyrene: Special equipment for manufacturing. Relatively high base cost


LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH This material is used as core in a lightweight three-dimensional welded frame with sprayed concrete to achieve the required thickness. It is a monolithic wall system with many properties similar to conventional building elements. The most suitable use is for one-storey buildings and for certain industrial purposes. Typical characteristics are: structural stability, crack resistance, excellent thermal properties, good moisture barrier, good fire resistance and rapid assembly.


Metal web or Wirewall This consists of an expanded metal web filled with conventional cement mix, developed in South Africa. The walls are mounted in galvanised channels with a rod pile foundation system. The floor is a reinforced mesh and the roof of alternating tile type. It is quick to mount and no special equipment or skills are needed for construction and assembly. Negative aspects with metal web or wirewall: Walls need to be plastered If the walls shall be cover with sheet steel or aluminium, additional accessories are required Foundation needs special accessories and in most cases a ring beam of reinforced concrete Special machine required to manufacture the expanded metal web

BUILDING MATERIALS The combination cost-quality-size with respect to low-income housing is an important

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH challenge for developers, engineers and architects. The starting point for any house design is the selection of appropriate materials, where availability plays an important role (Stulz & Mukerji, 1981, p.1-4). "Appropriate" building materials should consider resource level, durability, reparability and recyclability during the service lifetime. Service life can be defined as aesthetic, economic, functional, physical (use and maintenance) and technical performance (KTH & NTNU, 1998, Melby, p.3)


Raw (Natural) Building Materials Raw natural building materials have been used before the modern processed building materials were used and before industrialisation took place. Many cultures have found their own way to improve their life by utilizing structures, which were traditionally built with raw materials (Bryan, 1985, p.25-29). Construction methods have been passed on from generation to generation among different cultures, thus traditional construction methods vary from country to country and even within some countries (YVBSG, 2001, p.1). Traditional techniques involve local labour and the use of available natural raw materials such as earth, soil, natural fibres, natural rubber, stones and timber.

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH The advantage of natural raw materials is based on environmental principles (renewable, energy efficient, recyclable) and social involvement (self construction, family and community working together). Disadvantages of natural raw materials are their dependence on local availability, water absorption, resistance to natural hazards, such as hurricanes, earthquakes etc., resistance to eventual impacts, contamination susceptibility (soluble salts, biological agents, etc.) and social acceptability.


Processed Building Materials Processed building materials refer to materials (which could be natural or man made) such as concrete, ferro-cement and other fibre cement mixes, glass, metal, polymers and recycled materials. "Processed materials" are substitutes for raw materials and are generally regarded as more technologically developed/advanced, with altered chemical, mechanical or physical properties. The choice between processed- and natural raw materials should always be based on local requirements. The advantages of processed building materials are: specialized applications, improved properties, higher productivity and timesaving during construction. The disadvantages of processed building materials are: failure to meet the realities of local conditions and a high base cost for manufacturing/processing and transport (Spence & Cook, 1983, Preface). Assessment of advantages/disadvantages of processed materials can have economical, technical and environmental approaches, e.g. environmental impact in manufacturing can be justified if the final product is durable (KTH & NTNU, 1998, Melby, p.17).

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH It can be appreciated that, through time, conventional processed materials such as cement, steel and plastic have already been combined with natural raw materials for building purposes, but it has become necessary to allow technology to influence the use of non conventional / alternative and recycled materials. Table 4.2 shows the main differences between natural raw and processed building materials.


Important factors to bear in mind in the selection of such materials are: Resources : Local or imported (partially or totally), quality and durability. Manufacturing : Time and delivery, factory distance. Construction : Level of skill and/or knowledge, maintenance and/or restoration, equipment and techniques, natural hazards, safety conditions. Cost : Market price, transport price, construction. Environment : Amount of energy consumption during manufacture, renewable or nonrenewable resource, wastage and pollution.

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Social Factor : Acceptance by beneficiary/user and authorities.


As far as it is practically possible, the final goal of providing "adequate housing" must prevail over distorting factors that can adversely impact on the quality of materials and final outcome of the dwellings. The selection of the materials will result in social, economical and environmental consequences through time.


Stabilized Earth Brick (SEB) Technology The primary purpose of LCH/RoadPacker, SEB technology is to support and encourage low cost housing in any country where there is a distinct lack of conventional housing. The biggest advantage - is that our response is immediate. Not only can our product be used in the planned creation of new permanent communities - but more dynamically in the unplanned event of natural disasters. When typhoons, flooding, and earthquakes render thousands of people homeless - the immeasurable benefits of this system of home building really kick in. The ability of disaster rescue units to offer immediate effective

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH assistance is dramatically enhanced because they need very few raw materials. They can move into a declared disaster area and begin to provide the rudimentary requirements for that community to return to a position of normalcy. Benefits of the SEB building system it is truly low cost it is the most energy efficient building system it produces attractive buildings of high strength it has a host of environmental advantages over other building systems it uses the most widely available and least expensive building material in the world - earth it involves unskilled local people in erection of the buildings - thereby encouraging 'ownership'.


Stabilized Earth Bricks (SEBs) SEBs on the other hand use a relatively low amount of cement and other energy intensive products and a small amount of Road Packer Clay Brick Stabiliser which greatly increases the strength of the Stabilised Bricks and renders them completely impervious to water. The bricks are made of ordinary insitu clayey soil rather than sand

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH and gravel which goes to show that the use of the appropriate LCH technology is commercially viable.
SEB machine


Compressed Earth Blocks (CEBs) for walls, beams, columns CEBs are walling elements that are produced from a mixture of soil, a high % of cement and water, and compressed by a manual or hydraulic press with a maximum nominal compaction force of 8 tons. Special moulds are available for beams, columns and electric wires. Special bricks may be made for multi-storey buildings.

Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB)





Micro-concrete roof tiles for roof Micro-concrete roofing (MCR) technology meets the growing demand for high quality roofing. MCR tiles are a cost-effective and extremely versatile roofing material. MCR tiles can be used on steel and wood under structure to make attractive roofs on residences, farm houses, gazebos, highway constructions, verandahs and pavilions. In areas with heavy rainfall, MCR tiles are used extensively for cladding material offering both waterproofing and aesthetic appeal. It has been used extensively in cost effective housing schemes, workplaces, restaurants and poultry farms. Micro-concrete roofing tiles are ideally suited to replace thatch and fired clay tiles in rural areas.

LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Advantages Offer more value for money Are highly durable they have the life of concrete Are lighter than other roofing tilesallows cost saving on understructure Can be easily installed Can be easily dismantled and reused Can be coloured to users preference Reduce heat gain Do not make noise during rains


Comparative table of costs for corrugated iron and fibre or micro-concrete roofing


LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH RECOMMENDATION The main recommendations are: Secure a common understanding (professionals, politicians, authorities, users, etc.) of the definitions of "adequate house", structural stability and safety and control to achieve a quality structure Increase co-operation amongst institutions and access to information and education Make people aware of new concepts and ideas of alternative housing materials, by use of show cases, information brochures, lectures, etc. Concentrate on walls designs and materials that are durable, flexible and that need a minimum of maintenance and service Initiate programs to produce materials and structures locally in order to create jobs


LOW COST HOUSING APPLIED RESEARCH Reference Ballerino, Camila Corts(2002). Building Materials & Engineering Design. South Africa. China Building Materials Academy (2005). Environment Friendly Building Material Technologies for Low Cost Housing. Beijing, China Hingorani, Pritika (2011). Revisiting Upgrading: Low Income Housing and Infrastructure. India Shelter Initiative for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption (2011). Sustainable Building Practices for Low Cost Housing.