A Young Son Helps Out
Casita Linda, A.C. April 29, 2011
Quarterly Project Report www.casitalinda.org
I am happy to report that Casita Linda just recently completed building our 38th home for the desperately poor living in this area of Central Mexico.
In addition to bringing you up to date on several of our newest families for whom we have built homes, I am excited to report that we have improved our ability to tailor the size of our homes to the specific needs of the family to be served.
Up until recently we have been tied to a “one size fits all” model. This works fine when the family being served is large and needs all of the space in our regular casita – about 600 square feet, including two sleeping lofts.
Working with a University of Guanajuato architect, our construction team has figured out a way to use the same basic footprint as our regular casita, 13’ x 26’, but to modify it in two ways, making two other size casitas a possibility. What we now call the “medium” sized casita is 338 square feet, and it has no sleeping lofts. We simply lowered the barrel roof by about 6’, eliminating the lofts, resulting in a one-story house. We can still divide the space in various ways.
The third version, the “small” sized casita, is approximately 286 square feet. This is one-story, like the “medium”, except it is 4’ shorter in length. This size would be perfect for an elderly couple with no children, or a single mother with one child. Being able to choose among these three alternative sizes allows us to build in a more cost-effective manner, enabling our donors’ contributions to stretch further, serving more people and using less labor and materials.
We also have improved our building material. The bricks we use now are a step up from what we used previously. We did many houses with adobe blocks but they were very heavy and the walls required bracing (buttresses) to support the roof. While adobe is more "green" than the usual red brick, it is not as green as most people think. The adobe is laced with a petroleum product in order to waterproof it.
The grey block we now use consists of "tabicon", a material made from pumice. The tabicon is mixed with cement in a 10-1 ratio and voilá, we have a very light, very green, very strong brick with good insulating properties. There is less weight on the foundation, they are cheaper by about a third, and they are all exactly the same size and require no special preparation (enabling faster construction).
We are now on the 5th day of building Casita 39. Because of the needs of this extended family this house is the “regular” size, but is configured with three rooms on the ground floor, each with an exterior door. The two end rooms will be private accommodations for two different families while the center room is a sheltered common space which also has access to the loft, where a third family grouping will live.
Thanks to you and other donors, Fidencio and his extended family now have a small home that is safe and secure, and which will protect them from the severe winter weather and the upcoming rainy summer months.
There are countless others like Fidencio and his family. They are hardworking and industrious people whose fundamental quality of life would improve if they lived in a Casita Linda house. And so we ask for your help in making 2011 a record-breaking year in the annals of Casita Linda’s history. Your generosity, when combined with the gifts of others, will allow us to build at least 7 new homes this year. The need is truly urgent.
We invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with us. How might we further improve the living circumstances of these desperately poor families? Please add a comment to our report, or email your questions and suggestions to us directly: email@example.com
William Greenfield, Executive Director, Casita Linda, A.C., San Miguel de Allende, MX
Walls going up with new "tabicon" gray blocks
Family Members Observing a Site Planning Meeting