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close this book Self - Help construction of 1-story buildings
close this folder Detailed planning for construction
Open this folder and view contents Planning foundations
Open this folder and view contents Planning floors
Open this folder and view contents Planning walls, windows, and doors
Open this folder and view contents Planning roofs

Detailed planning for construction

After the size and floor plan of a new building have been decided on along with its site and position; and after a preliminary assessment of the construction materials that may be used has been made, the next crucial step is to develop detailed written plans (or blueprints) to guide each part of the construction. These plans must answer several questions about each part of the building from the ground up:


• How deep in the ground must the foundation be set?

• How thick must it be?

• How high must it be?

• What will the foundation be made of? Will it be reinforced?


• Will the floor be made of cement or packed earth?

• How much should it be raised above the level of surrounding ground?

• How thick should it be?


• What will the walls be made of?

• How thick should they be? Should they be reinforced?

• How will window and door frames be made and exactly where will they be placed in each wall?


• What will the roof be made of?

• Will it be flat, set at an angle, or set at several angles?

Many of these questions are interrelated. For example, the design of the foundation depends in part, on the weight of the walls and roof it must support; and the design of the walls and roof depends, in turn, on the foundation. Thus, in order to plan the construction effectively, the builder must be able to make some basic decisions about either the foundation or the walls and roof before determining all their exact specifications.

When in doubt about a detail of the construction plans, the field worker or community member may want to seek advice from an experienced local contractor. In most cases, however, construction plans can be drawn successfully for simple 1-story buildings by anyone following the suggestions in this manual.

This part of the manual is designed to help the field worker or community member,

• first, to understand key methods/principles of construction and key technical characteristics of basic materials;

• second, to proceed step-by-step to consider how these principles and characteristics should influence their basic design; and

• third, to actually draw his/her own detailed construction plans.