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El Salvador Eco Home 2024 Update!

Well, as usual, things aren't moving as fast as we would like. I blame it on the American mindset 😛 Progress is progress though and we are moving forward with the build! We have almost finished the basic cob work and the earth bags are now completely coated inside and out so the sun will not be able to damage them in any way.

We have definitely hit some road bumps while trying to figure out the roof. We wanted to do at least a bamboo frame for the roof as it would be free materials for us, all-natural, and wouldn't contribute to deforestation or pollution.

Bamboo is tricky though. It needs to go through a curing process and when we called bamboo farms here we found out that they don't cure it first. So we decided to chop down the bamboo with the last moon cycle and attempt to fire cure it. The fire curing didn't seem to work. It is supposed to naturally release resin that would protect the bamboo from any critters or mold. Nothing seemed to happen aside from some exploding bamboo!

Curing bamboo the more traditional route takes months. It has to be soaked in a solution for at least a week if not a couple and then dried out for a couple of months. That doesn't work with our timeline! Now that we are aware that the fire method only works on certain species of bamboo, we know to start curing far in advance for any future projects.

Without the bamboo to work with, we have been assessing the best roof structure possible. We would like it to be natural but these days we have also been contemplating metal. Honestly, we are still brainstorming and need to figure it out ASAP because it is the next step. Most options we have assessed are fairly expensive, not by American standards but for people living in El Salvador.

We want this way of building to have a ripple effect and understand all the costs involved so we can replicate this for many families in the future, so we are being a little anal in our analysis. Many of the roofing options we have explored would cost about $3,000 and that would essentially double our expenses...which we didn't plan for. Also, the house is built to be earthquake-resistant and we need to make sure the roof is too.

One positive aspect of the build that has locals excited is how cool the house is. The workers in the surrounding fields come over to take a break because even without a roof, the house is nice and cool inside. This is a huge perk of building with earth bags that will provide a much more comfortable way of living for the locals. Many locals live in metal shacks with metal roofs or the homes are made from cement blocks and metal roofs, it makes it pretty hot and uncomfortable to live in.

Once this house is built we will have a space for volunteers to come and help with future projects. We discovered that in El Salvador if you have the deed to your property then most people qualify for a $3500 grant to help them build a house. The material cost of these homes is just around that, labor makes up the rest of the costs. We need to start learning more about how this program works but it has us excited that with the help of volunteers, we could essentially build these homes with very little fundraising required. We have a couple of potential families in line for the next house and are excited to start exploring those relationships and options to see how we can best help.

We are grateful for how much progress we have made even if we didn't make it as far as we were hoping in 2023. Thank you so much for your continued support. Every donation, no matter how small, makes a huge difference to us and the lives of our workers. We truly appreciate you being part of our journey.


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