Ferrocement is gaining popularity due to its versatile use in construction and architecture. It can be use to make storage silos, boats, architectural sculptures, etc. But its real use in Civil Engineering perspective is as a construction technology to develop low cost housing. For developing countries with high demand of housing, ferrocement can be effective and low cost alternative of conventional construction material. Due to its durability and less labor intensive nature of construction, ferrocement can be more economical due to locally available material and availability of cheap labor in developing countries. In different part of world, new construction material s are being explored to reduce the cost and to protect the environment. We can say that Mexico, India, Thailand, Cuba, US, Brazil and Columbia are pioneers of low cost ferrocement houses.
Concept of a Modular House
Different researchers have proposed various techniques to construct a small housing unit using ferrocement technology. Technology of ferrocement can be used to construct a housing unit using monolithic construction, shotcreting and modular construction etc. Considering the modular construction methods being more economical, ferrocement panel can be used as walls element of a house. Ferrocement wall panels are based on self-help concept, these panels can be easily assembled with help of steel plates and bolts. These wall panels are two dimensional structural members due to its very small thickness. Wooden trusses can be used as roof of the house to make structure light weight and low cost. In roofs, ferrocement can also be used as slabs, folded plates, shells, box, channels, and domes. Ferrocement can be economically used with galvanized iron sheets and asbestos cement sheets for roofing. Here it must be noted that asbestos cement sheets are hazardous and must be avoided to protect environment.
Studies show that cost of ferrocement depends on method of construction therefore to keep the construction low cost, appropriate method should be adopted. Prefabricated ferrocement panels are one of the possibilities for the solution of many problems in construction including cost minimization. Prefabricated construction methods are generally low cost therefore, ferrocement panels may be used as prefabricated construction material to form structural system. These panels are affordable and easy to use due to their low cost, light weight, handling ease and low maintenance efforts. These panels can also be used as roof or floor for low cost housing.
Ferrocement is low cost material with excellent engineering properties and high cracking strength. Use of electrical energy in buildings can be reduced by use of hollow ferrocement walls. Ferrocement can be opted for construction of houses due to easy availability of its constituent material, easy repairing and lower maintenance cost.