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Low cost housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the concept is applicable to both renters and purchasers in all income ranges. Housing costs considered in this guideline generally include taxes and insurance for owners, and usually include utility costs. When the monthly carrying costs of a home exceed 3035% of household income, then the housing is considered unaffordable for that household. (In India,70% of the population lives below the poverty line and there is huge demand for affordable housing.A lot of developers are developing low cost and affordable housing for these population. The Government of India has taken up various initiatives for developing properties in low cost and affordable segment.)


When housing is affordable, low- and moderate income families are able to put nutritious food on the table, receive necessary medical care, and provide reliable daycare for their children. Research has shown that the stability of an affordable mortgage or rent can have profound effects on childhood development and school performance and can improve health outcomes for families and individuals. Low-income families tend to spend their residual income to fulll. Residual income is the income left over after paying for housing, transportation, and utilities the three items in the budget that are most in uenced by where one lives. The net gain for the local economy is maximized when the source of the housing subsidy is non-local (i.e., federal/state government or philanthropic) in nature.


When it is well developed and managed, affordable housing offers many benefits, to the community, developers and residents. Community: The community benefits from affordable housing because it contributes to sustainable and dynamic local communities, by: providing housing for a diverse local workforce providing direct economic benefits to the local community, including increased demand for goods and services which in turn provides increased local employment opportunities accommodating people with the different skills required to support communities, such as shop assistants, bus drivers, construction workers, cleaners, nurses and teachers meeting the needs of the growing number of smaller households living in high-cost areas

promoting economic and social integration ensuring that families housing costs are not so high that they cant afford to meet education and health costs and that there is sufficient security of tenure to improve their capacity to obtain and maintain employment.

Residents: Residents of affordable housing benefit because it provides housing that: is more affordable than that already available in the private market, thus still allowing adequate income for essential expenses such as food, clothing, health and education integrates with the community provides a way for people to remain in areas in which they have lived for a long time, and to live close to their support networks, during changes in life circumstances such as divorce, retirement, or recovery from a long-term illness or injury. Developers: Developers of affordable housing benefit because: some local policies to promote affordable housing offer significant financial incentives for developers for example, through the provision of density bonuses affordable housing provides housing close to employment centres, which supports a strong labour force and a vibrant economy there are often attractive returns to be made, especially from mixed developments or joint ventures.


The fact is that Low cost housing is done by proper management of resources.Economy is also achieved by postponing finishing works or implementing them in phases. The building construction cost can be divided into two parts namely: Building material cost : 65 to 70 % Labour cost : 65 to 70 %

Image source : Houses How to reduce building cost? By Lauri Baker.

Areas from where cost can be reduced are:1) Reduce plinth area by using thinner wall concept.Ex.15 cms thick solid concrete block wall. 2) Use locally available material in an innovative form like soil cement blocks in place of burnt bricks. 3)Use energy efficiency materials which consumes less energy like concrete block in place of burnt brick. 4) Use environmentally friendly materials which are substitute for conventional building components like use R.C.C. Door and window frames in place of wooden frames. 5) Preplan every component of a house and rationalize the design procedure for reducing the size of the component in the building. 6) By planning each and every component of a house the wastage of materials due to demolition of the unplanned component of the house can be avoided. 7) Each component of the house shall be checked whether if its necessary, if it is not necessary, then that component should not be used.



INTRODUCTION: Mr. Baker has been in this business of low-cost housing for nearly half a century and has acquired immense experience of indigenous housebuilding techniques in various parts of India and is at the same time well versed in modern techniques also. Although born an Englishman, he came to India after taking his degree in architecture and for some time worked with Gandhiji during the pre-independence days. It must have been during those days that Mr. Baker developed his love of the poor and the passion to serve them. The following pages attempt to show graphically the current and often expensive ways of building. IF you have to build your house on a terraced site, it is less expensive to place it in the middle of the terrace. Excavation : When exchanging the trenches for the house foundations, labourers dig out the soil and throw it in all directions, especially outwards. After the basement walls have been completed they then shovel all the soil back again as infilling. If they shovel the soil inwards it will already be where it is wanted for infilling and some of the expense of excavation and infilling will have been saved.

Foundation : The extra and more costly foundation and basement wall that has to be built if the building is near the edge of the terrace.

THE object or function of the foundation is to spread out the total weight of the house over the ground below it. For small single and double storey houses an 18-inch (45cm) wide foundation base is usually fully adequate on most soils and there is not often the need for the wider concrete layer beneath the basement wall. Where stone is available, the ordinary simple 18-inch thick random rubble wall is perfectly adequate to carry the full load of a single or double storey house unless the soil is very poor or loose or of different consistencies.

IN some districts stone and brick is not available. But some sort of foundation is needed to carry a mud wall above. The foundation trench can be excavated, the soil moistened with a little, water and then replaced with layers of bamboo reinforcement inserted.

SOMETIMES stone is available, but only in small irregular shaped lumps. These make a very poor wall that usually cracks and crumbles. Wood or metal moulds can be made of suitable sizes. (Say 12" x 8" x 6" or 12" x 6" x 4" etc.) and these lumps are placed in the moulds and the spaces filled in with a weak lime or cement concrete. This produces neat rectangular blocks with which walls of different thicknesses can easily be constructed.

Proper bonding : Masons are often more concerned with the outward appearance of a stonewall than with its strength and stability. A plan of a stonewall as it is usually built, with big flat-faced stones on the outside while the middle of the wall is filled in with bits and pieces. BUT if stones should be bonded, that is they dovetail in with stones on the other side of the wall and therefore give a much stronger and more durable wall. A properly bonded stonewall hardly needs mortar, and certainly a mud mortar is adequate, whereas the upper typical wall is not really safe without using a cement or lime mortar.

A common practice is to have the main walls of a house in 9-inch thick burnt bricks, sitting on the top of an 18-inch random rubble (roughly shaped stones) basement and foundation. This means that there is a step where the 9-inch wall sits on the 18-inch wall below, and rainwater tends to seep in and weaken the lower stonewall. For single and double storey houses it is better to put the outer side of 9" brick wall flush with the outer side of the 18" stone wall so that rainwater running down the wall does not soak into the wall. This is also less costly because the stone 18-inch wall surrounding a room of a particular area (say 200 sq. ft.) is larger (cubic content more).

Walls : Bricks are often slightly irregular in length. So even if you can get a smooth fair face on one side of a wall, the other side will be lumpy and irregular. Therefore, many builders say, you must plaster the wall. But plaster is costly (it accounts for up to 10% of the total cost of a building). Also there is the painting and maintenance cost of plaster too. The mortar can fill over the sunken ends of the brick to produce a special fair face on the second side of the wall. Plaster is not required and a pleasing pattern has been made. No painting and no maintenance costs.

Brick bonds : IF burnt-brick is available, and if a 9-inch thick wall is required, 25% of the total number of bricks, and of the cost of the wall, can be saved by using a RAT-TRAP Bond. It is simple to build, looks well, has better insulation properties and is as strong as the ordinary solid 9-inch brick walls.

Flooring : Almost every sort of floor has to have solid base under it. Fill the basement with sand or soil at an early stage it will get trampled down solid as work is done above it. After the roof is on, collect all the broken brickbats side by side, touching each other, on the rammed earth. Mix a small, heap of sand and lime on top of the bricks then spread it out and brush it in so that it fills the cracks.

Filler slab : TIMBER is becoming too scarce and costly. As there is quite a lot of unnecessary concrete in an orthodox RCC slab we can replace some of this redundant concrete with any light weight-cheap materials in order to reduce the overall cost of the slab. This alternative RCC roof is called a FILLER SLAB. For fillers we can use lightweight bricks, or Mangalore or country tiles etc. This will reduce the cost of the orthodox RCC slab by about 30 or 35%. As roofs and intermediate floors account for 20 to 25% of the total cost of a house, the saving by using a Filler slab is considerable.

Windows : Windows are costly. One square foot of-window can cost up to ten times the cost of the simple brick or stone wall it replaces. A window has varied functions to look out of, to let light inside a room, to let in fresh air, or to let out stale air, and so on. In many of these situations a JALI or honeycombed wall is just as effective. Far from being a lot more costly than the basic wall, if made of brick it can be less costly than the house wall!

When a window is a necessity it is quite a costly item.The simplest window consists of a vertical plank set into two holes (or pivot hinges). The traditional design consists of two short wood pieces with a circular hole in each, and the vertical shutter has two small round protrusions to fit into the-holes. Only a nine-inch wide hole is necessary for the window. This is strong, simple, inexpensive, very little labour, no iron mongery, lets in light and air and provides security.

Lintels : Lintels are usually made of reinforced concrete. Steel and cement are used. Very often a lintel is not necessary over door and window openings up to four feet in width. Ordinary brick-on-edge, is all that is required. If something stronger is necessary, a hollow arrangement of brick-on-edge,filled with one or two steel rods in concrete will carry very large weights of wall and roof-etc. above.This type of lintel is less than half the cost of the orthodox reinforced concrete lintel.

Doors : Door frames cost a lot of money and are often not actually necessary. Planks can be screwed together by strap iron hinges to form a door, and this can be carried by hold-fasts built into the wall, thus eliminating the outer door frame altogether.

THE door shutter itself is costly because it uses a lot of wood and quite a lot of costly labour. The simplest door is made of vertical planks held together with horizontal (sometimes diagonal) battens.

Building orientation : IF the site is a sloping one, less excavation and less filling up is needed if you place the building parallel to the contours, and not cutting across the contours.

SMALL flat-roofed boxes in long rows absorb a lot of heat from the sun. Pitched roofs absorb less heat and of course still less heat is absorbed if fruit shade trees are grown on the south and west side of houses, the houses are very much more comfortable to live in.

Transportation : Some-building materials are there for the using. Cut them, or dig them out and carry them to the site, and they are ready to use. Some such materials need shaping and trimming. Others have to be processes or manufactured into more complex materials. For example, some limestones can be used as building stones. Burn them in a kiln and they turn into lime, which can be used with sand and water as mortar or plaster, or it can be used as paint. By adding other ingredients and a lot of manufacturing processes and a lot of energy (or fuel) we produce cement. By using lime, which we can make, simply and with little energy and transport, on the building site itself, we could save a lot of building money.

Local material : At present cement and sand only are commonly used. This is easy to mix and use and it sets quickly. Similarly good strong mortars are made by adding surkhi to lime and sand. Adding to the lime, or lime and surkhi mixes, a small amount of cement can solve the slow setting problem.

Latrine : The DEEP PIT LATRINE, which is effective in all but very rocky sites. There is a pit about 3 feet in diameter and as deep as you can dig it. A reinforced concrete filler slab with a latrine pan set into it (and a hole for a vent pipe) is placed above the hole or Pit. If the soil is sandy or loose the top 2 or 3-feet of the pit is lined with a 4.5-inch brick wall (or a well ring will do). A screen wall and a vent pipe are built above the latrine slab.

Natural material : A good nature bamboo can also be split in half and used as a permanent shuttering for reinforced cement concrete ribs between brick units (three burnt bricks previously joined together with mortar to form a small slab). This is a rural version of an orthodox reinforced brick slab (RBC).


A R T I S TS V I L L A G E, 1983-1986

Each house is freestanding and does not share any party walls with its neighbours which make it truly incremental, allowing its family to extend its home quite independently, as and when the need arises.

Located on 6 hectares of land just 1km from the city center of new bombay, the project demonstrates how high densities including open spaces; school etc. Can be achived with the context of low-rise typology designed to accommodate 600 families where individual plot areas vary from 45mt sq to 70 mt sq.

The houses built on incremental planning - they grow from single lean- to roof (for the very poor) to the urban town- houses(for the well to do)

The site plan is structured by a hierarchy of community spaces.

Openings are permitted on any external wall that abuts the courtyard.


Source of image :

The site plan shows that the orientation of the houses is around the common area. The planning is clustered. The stream is passing though middle of the site. Open spaces and common areas are facing to the stream.

Project demonstrates how high density housing (500 people per hectare) can be achieved in a low-rise typology, while including open to sky spaces and services, like schools, that the community requires Overriding principle to give each unit its own site to allow for expansion (Incrementality) Consequently, families do not share walls with their neighbors , allowing each to expand his own house (Participation) Houses constructed simply and can be built by traditional masons and craftsmen generating employment for local workers (Income generation) several plans exist that cover the social spectrum, from squatters to upper income families (Pluralism)

Yet, the footprint of each plan varies little in size (from 45 sqm to 70 sqm), maintaining equity (fairness) in the community Scheme caters wide range from the lowest budgets of Rs 20000, Middle income groups Rs 30000-50000 and Upper income Rs 180000.

Though ratio of costs is 1:5 the variation of plot is much smaller , from 45 to 75 square metres. Seven units are grouped of 88 meters

3 cluster combine to form a larger module of 21 houses surrounding space of 1212 metres.

3 such modules interlock to define the next scale of community space approximately 2020 metres

The houses are structurally simple , can be built and altered by local mistries Scheme caters wide range from the lowest budgets of Rs 20000, Middle income groups Rs 30000-50000, Upper income Rs 180000

Though ratio of costs is 1:5 the variation of plot is much smaller , from 45 to 75 square .

source of image :

Basic concept was that plot are to be allotted to the most needy persons at the price they can afford. Services such as internal water supply, sewage, road, electricity and gas to be provided as the allottee pay their monthly installments.

The development of the scheme is incremental; the internal services are limited to the basics, at the start only the communal water supply and public transport to the city center are provided.

The incremental housing proposal allows a person to construct with five different options in plots varying from 45sq.m to 70sq.m. according to their affordability.

The scheme with self financing without any element of subsidy from the government.

Speed and standard of development thus depend on installments, and the financial risk of the public agency is minimized as the work carried out on deposit basis and not on recovery basis.

The above list of suggestion for reducing construction cost is of general nature and it varies depending upon the nature of the building to be constructed, budget of the owner, geographical location where the house is to be constructed, availability of the building material, good construction management practices etc. However it is necessary that good planning and design methods shall be adopted by utilizing the services of an experienced engineer or an architect for supervising the work, thereby achieving overall cost effectiveness to the extent of 25% in actual practice. 25 million families Without homes! Reduce building costs And build them now!

Books : HOUSES : How to reduce building cost ? By Laurie Baker. CHARLES COREA, by Kenneth franmpton, Topic name- Intremental housing at belapur. LAURI BAKERS Brick work, published by Cost ford centre of science & technology for rural development. LAURI BAKERS Mud, published by Cost ford centre of science & technology for rural development. ng/Who+Benef






1. 2.

Shovel the soil inwards for infilling, so that it will be already there where one wants & thus the cost of excavation and filling will be reduced. The foundation trench can be excavated, the soil moistened with a little, water and then replaced with layers of bamboo reinforcement inserted, so that cost will be
reduced. Stone wall is usually built with big flat stones for exterior while the middle of the wall filled with bricks &pieces instead of this if they dovetail in with stone on otherside of the wall, it will give much stronger,durable wall, thus reducing the cost factor.














RAT-TRAP bond can save upto 25%of the total number of bricks & cost of the wall can be save. Looks well, simple to build, good insulation properties, strong. For single & double storey houses it is better to put the outer side of 9 inch brick wall flush with outer side of 18 inch stone wall so that running down the wall doesnt soak in to wall, thus reducing cost. Usually, plaster cost upto 30% of total cost of the building & again there is painting and maintainance cost. Instead of this exposed stone/brick wall can be constructed which doesnt need any painting & maintainance. Steps to reduce the cost of flooring- i)Fill the basement with sand/soil at an early stage. ii)After the roof is on place the broken brick bonds side by side on ramp earth. iii)Mix sand & lime on the top of brick surface & spread it out. Instead of window a jail or honey comb wall is more effective & if that of brick wall then it can be very less costly & also if necessary window can be replaced by the simple form consisting of a vertical planks into two





7. 8.



holes. Jalis are cheaper give permanent light & ventilation. A hollow arrangement of brick on edge filled with one or two still rodes in concrete will carry very large weight of wall & roof. This type of lintels is less than half the cost of the R.C.C. lintel. Cheaper doors can be formed by screwing up planks by strap iron hinges carried by hold fast into the wall. Shutter can be made up by vertical planks held together with horizontal battens. FILLER SLAB- Instead of R.C.C. slab we can use light weight bricks, mangloore/country tiles. Instead of slab for houses pitched roof can be used. This protects from heat & fungus, doesnt need plastering & maintainance.






If the site is sloping less excavation less filling. Orient the building parallel to the contour line. Pitch roofs absorbs less heat & still less heat is absorb if fruit shade trees are grown on the south & west side of the house. NATURAL Lime stones can be used as building stone MATERIAL burn them & they turn into lime which can be used with sand & water as for mortar & plaster & even can be used as paint. TRANSPORTATION Indians spends lots of money in importing cement from Corea. Cement can be replaced by lime which we can made, simply & with little energy & transport on the building site itself.