The last time we were here, I mentioned the fact that many builders are exploring alternatives to the popular building materials and that I would’ve loved to touch on that howbeit briefly then, but opted to leave that for a later time. It appears that the latter time couldn’t come any sooner. I know how financially draining it is to start the building process till the foundation is completed. You may decide to take a break afterwards to recover or continue with the zeal with which you started, with financial backing to finish what you started.
I will introduce to you today, something out of the ordinary, but is fast gaining ground and reputation with builders nationwide, which you may want to explore while building. I prefer to come at you this way so that my post won’t be exactly like other posts on building or owning your home in Nigeria. This method and type of material will be largely dependent on the climate and weather though, but if things go right (and they can easily do), you will be the better for it, and by that I mean even your pocket. What I am talking about includes the use of MUD BRICKS, the advantages of which will be the body of this treatise. Those who look down on this alternative to burnt bricks or the normal sand and cement blocks do so because they lack the information required to make the informed choice on this alternative building block, especially when a BUNGALOW of say a 3-Bedroom flat is what is on your mind to build.
The advantages in no particular order of importance, are as follows:
1. It is far LESS EXPENSIVE to fabricate – You will spend almost half the cost of building with sand and cement blocks than it is to build with mud blocks. A 9-inch and 6-inch block costs about =N=150 and =N=120 respectively while to mould each mud brick/block with lateritic soil/laterite costs about =N=10, though you’d have to use about 10 trips of tipper loads of laterite to make enough blocks to carry the building to lintel level.
Now, if what is required to build a bungalow is 3,500 blocks, you will spend (3,500 x =N=120 ➡) =N=420, 000 on the 6-inch block, to carry it to the lintel.
Should you opt for mud bricks. 10 Tipper trips of laterite at =N=8,500 per trip will cost you =N=85,000, of which 3,500 mud bricks will be moulded at =N=10/block, at the cost of =N=35,000.
Therefore, the cost of building to lintel level for a bungalow using mud bricks will cost you (=N=85,000 + =N=35,000 ➡) =N=120,000 only, far less expensive than cement blocks at =N=420,000 (by about =N=300,000?). Wow!
2. A sensible option SECURITY wise – The security situation in Nigeria is such that security must now be factored into every decision one makes, and such cannot be overlooked even in building your own home. Mud bricks aren’t hollow inside and like Kevlar can’t be penetrated by bullets. I make mention of this because of the many cases during armed robberies as reported in Lagos, innocent citizens far removed from the scene of bank robberies have fallen from stray bullets that managed to find their way to them in the relative “safety” of their homes, of which none in recent times survived. In one sad case, a mother and her baby lost their lives in the Festac area of Lagos, when they were hit by a stray bullet of the guns of armed robbers operating at a bank in the area.
3. TEMPERATURE MODERATING Capacity – Mud blocks/bricks are popular in the rural areas of Nigeria simply because of this singular characteristics. In very hot weather as is wont to be in Nigeria, the house remains relatively cooler compared to the heat without it, and vice versa during the harmattan and extreme cold weather conditions.
Disadvantages include the following:
1. WEATHER relatedness – No sane builder will try to build using mud bricks during the rainy season, unfortunately if peradventure it rains during the dry season while the building is still being constructed, the building may collapse (especially if it is exposed to rainfall for a long period of time, even days).
Hence, apart from the fact that building using mud bricks can be done during the dry season alone, and may affect the builders plan if in the rainy season he desires to start building and therefore impatient to wait, can lead to alteration of plans. It is important that ROOFING arrangements be made once building has started such that once done, the roofing is done to protect the body from direct rainfall, before going ahead to cementing the sides, of the building amongst others. Only dry season provides the perfect condition for building using mud blocks.
2. If you need five bags of cement with sand to completely finish the sides of a three bedroom-flat bungalow, you will need seven bags of cement with sand to accomplish same with that done with mud-bricks, but even that is nothing compared to what you would have saved in total expenses.
At a time there’s much talk about promoting things indigenous to us, this is definitely one time tested building material that is regaining it’s pride of place amongst builders in Nigeria. It is something even the government must begin to look at if the vision of building SOCIAL HOUSING for all is to move from a fleeting illusion to reality. I shall stop here for now, let you digest this, till I come your way again with valuable tips for owning your home in Nigeria. Mazel Tov!
NB. The Naira exchanges to the dollar officially at =N=198.27 to $1.