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Green Building Concept Home

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Hilery finished the Green Building Academy in Guatemala a week ago and we are getting started on our first concept house this week! She learned so many different techniques and approaches that we have decided to experiment on this first house so we can gain first-hand experience and knowledge to figure out what techniques will be most cost-effective and time-efficient here in El Salvador.

Green building in El Salvador is the way to go for EVERYONE! It is such a smarter way to build when you factor in that it will be earthquake and flood-resistant, have a naturally temperate interior, and is using a lot of free materials that are readily available.

Here are some details of our plan for the first home that will hopefully teach us all the lessons we need to learn in order to build homes for those living in severe poverty in El Salvador!

Most of the building materials we need are free! Tires, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and cob will be free resources to use for most of the build. Things we will need to pay for include:

  • Delivery truck for tire collection and drop off at the property.

  • Truckload of gravel and possibly dirt to pack the tires and river sand for the cob.

  • Electrical components for wiring the house.

  • Water tank and gutters for rainwater collection system.

  • Septic system and plumbing set up for kitchen and bathroom.

  • Toilet, sink faucets, shower head, etc.

  • Plastic sheeting to go under the flooring and foundation.

  • Plywood for framing and bamboo for columns and beams.

  • Windows if we can't find recycled options.

  • Roofing material.

  • Cement and rebar for bond beam and possibly other elements.

  • Tarps to protect the work area as it is in progress.

  • Chicken wire for the ecobrick walls.

  • Polypropolene bags for the earthbag bedroom.

  • And we expect some unknown costs to pop up too!

For this first build, we will have to buy a few basic tools that we don't already have. Then, the more labor we can afford, the quicker the build will go!

Labor in El Salvador doesn't cost a lot... that is part of the poverty issue. One month of minimum wage is $370 for a six-day workweek. Most laborers don't even make that much so we are hopeful the more people we can hire, the more people we can help out of poverty in a different way as well.

Overall we are estimating that the house itself will require $5,000 in material costs and that will cover some of the labor for specific jobs like the septic system and electric as well.

To cover the cost of four laborers working on this full-time for the next two months, it would be $3200. All in all, this home should cost less than $8,500 to build!

Now, in terms of building a house, that is a super affordable home!

But that is a lot of money when we consider the number of people that need our help. There are two million people in El Salvador that live in homes that are essentially shacks with dirt floors and no plumbing.

We are hoping that in this process we will be able to spread the word and teach people how to build this way for themselves. If families and communities came together to do this, the labor costs would diminish. You could also have dry latrines that would help you eliminate some plumbing costs and the septic system. This means we may be able to come up with a design that would cost about $3500.

Our fundraising goal for the first concept home is $8500. Any excess may be used to hire an additional person so we are helping more people with this first project. When we complete this home we will compile a full materials list with costs and how-to videos so anyone could replicate this process.

This is the first of many homes and we are so excited to get this project off the ground. If you would like to donate, please do!!


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