Japa Housing Project Report: May

minga

The plan for this month was to prepare the property so that the construction can begin. An area large enough to store the materials needed to be dug, and the ground prepared to build stairs. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a harder project than we thought. The ground is rock. Salvador has a long-handled chisel tool, but it not possible for him to get very far.

Rocio met another builder who works with different materials. She explained the situation to him, and he suggested that a steel and concrete construction would be better under these circumstances than the traditional bricks and concrete. Some of the materials are more expensive, but they are durable. It isn’t necessary to have a large storage area, it takes fewer men to do the work, and the house can be built closer to the road. The new contractor, Gustavo Picón, lived in the US and speaks English. He has built several houses in the area using this method. Including, to Rocio’s surprise, a house built for her uncle.

Gustavo visited the site with Rocio, took measurements and made suggestions. While the original house plan called for two platforms in a stair formation, Gustavo thinks it will be less expensive to build a two-story house, 7 by 7 meters, set on steel posts that are set into the rock.

It was Salvador’s job to rent a drilling machine to make the holes for the posts. The job should take three days. It was his plan to rent the machine for two days, Friday and Saturday, so that he could also use it for free on Sunday, and also because the weekend is an easier time to organize a minga. Unfortunately, the machine was not available that weekend. When he tried to rent it for the next weekend he was told it is only available on a Wednesday. He feels rather discouraged by this.

We met with Gustavo to go over the costs of the construction. He is very moved by the Japa family’s plight and is doing a great deal of the work without charge. He will draw up a contract and plans. We intend to release $1,000 to buy some materials, but these have not yet been purchased pending digging the holes. The plan for June is to get the holes prepared, though it may take three weeks, to buy the materials to build the first platform, and hopefully, for the actual construction to begin.

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