Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Build a Hut

When building a house you first find some clay, which is everywhere. Get a few pieces of wood and mold your bricks (pics soon). Lay them in the sun for a few weeks, then you'll want to fire them. Since you don't have any electricity and a kiln anywhere nearby, build a "chimney" out of the bricks. Basically they stack them up kinda like a pyramid with little compartments in the bottom where they put some firewood. Then cover the whole thing in fresh mud to seal it off. Fire it overnight, let it cool, and you've got yourself some fresh new bricks (pics to come soon). Usually people just make the bricks where they are going to build the structure, so you don't need to move the bricks.
 Cement can be bought in town, but most people just use clay again to mold between the bricks. Houses don't last forever around here, with the rainy season, termites, kids, etc. The first bricks are dug about half way into the ground, string and stakes make for straight lines, and you just eyeball to make it level.
 Windows are typically just holes in the laying of the bricks, sometimes people get fancy and put the bricks in diagonally. I wanted wooden framed windows that I could put chicken wire on, as well as have a little chicken door/flap/thing. Some houses don't have doors either. I went ahead and got a door made with a frame and all that. I got a sliding lock and instead of drilling a hole we lit a fire and heated up an metal rod, then sizzled away the hole.
 On the inside there is a big log dug into the ground that holds the top log in place. Angled sticks are nailed into the top log and just lay along the edge of the structure.
Patrick and Mayben tying reeds in a grid along the sticks. Villagers typically use a type of bark soaked in water that works like a rope, then dries hard. Peter untwisted some rope I had to tie for this job. Yes I paid them, gave them some money to go get fish at the market, then my cat stole some.
 There are several types of grass that grow around here. (I actually measured one at 15 feet tall, and that's not getting into bamboo) This grass isn't ideal, I think the good stuff grows later before the rains start, but this'll do. I don't think the chickens will mind. The grass is sometimes tied, sometimes just layered and held in place by it's own weight.
And you're pretty much done. I'll go back and put some plastic underneath the grass on the inside to keep the dust down and some leaks under control. Most villagers don't have plastic inside their huts. So, all the materials can be found nearby, in fact you can build the whole thing for free if you don't include a door or labor. Most villagers can do all of this, although some specialize in brick laying, thatching, carpentry, etc. to make extra cash.

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