Sunday, June 6, 2010
Our Future Home
As I mentioned earlier Elton's already been making arrangements to start building our house in the village. First order of business was to place an order for bush poles.
African construction is quite informal... so different from American. You don't need building permits, deeds to the land or make a lot of fuss over the stuff we normally would. Since Elton is a member of this village, there was little formality other than to chose the location. We picked a lovely shaded spot under a tree just near his paternal grandmother where they recently took down an older house. And in the spirit of recycling we will reuse some of the termite mud from the old house to build ours.
The style of construction we are using is the traditional mud house with some American-friendly modifications. I originally wanted a concrete block house. But relying on Elton's wisdom in construction, I realized how much more economical and time-efficient it would be to build a mud house which is nearly as strong. It is basically a frame made out of thick bush poles as the support, thinner bush poles as the rafters which are then packed with mud from a termite mound. When its dry it looks just like concrete. It will have a zinc sheet roof and a poured concrete floor (one of the modifications). I also requested a shower and toilet inside the house which will be made out of concrete block...also something you don't normally find in a traditional home. They have more of a shower/latrine surrounded by a grass fence. If you have more serious business to do, you head to the bush. At this point a toilet and shower are almost moot because there is no running water in the village. The manual pump on the borehole well in the village has been broken for nearly 8 years without being fixed by the government. They have to travel quite a distance to fetch water. We bought a new pump head thinking it would solve the problem, but alas it hasn't. We've applied to the government water company to dig a new well but they said it won't happen until January 2011 unless we can pay something to the equivalent of $10,000 USD which is, of course, out of the question. Be praying this complication works out.
The other sticky wicket is the cost of a transformer to get our village hooked up with some electricity. We've heard it can cost nearly N$30,000 plus labor which at an approx. 7.9% exchange rate... you do the math, it's expensive! Not only would it service the whole village, but it might help solve some of our water issues if we could use an electric pump. We're exploring the other options like solar power, battery or generator. Fortunately for cooking we can get a gas stove, but for our other modern conveniences like a refridge, TV/DVD, laptops, and Elton's playstation we need to make other means.