Technical briefs - construction

Practical Action helps poor communities to make the best use of their own labour and to use locally produced building materials and techniques that they can afford and manage.

Assessing the technical problems of brick production

Problems that can occur in brick making are addressed including ways to change the normal production method to ensure quality, and tests to check bricks strength.

Building with Stone and Earth part 1

It is shown how to combine stone and earth as building materials and how to build a earth building.

Building with Stone and Earth part 2

It is demonstrated how to build a square building out of earth and stone. Furthermore an alternative 'single skin' wall is described.

Clay as a binder

Information on how to make the perfect clay for construction and simple tests to ensure it's strong enough but also cheap enough.

Earthquake resistant housing

This shows different construction methods for building supported houses to resist earthquakes to prevent destruction and make deaths/casualties of inhabitants minimal.

Flood Resistant Housing

The project in Bangladesh about low-cost disaster-resistant housing is explained.

How To Measure The Energy Used to Fire Clay Bricks

A way of gathering and presenting information on brick firing is explained so that the energy use of a kiln can be calculated and the efficiency can be compared to others world-wide.

Hydraulic Lime

Hydraulic lime was an important cementitious material before the arrival of cement but is little used now, except in conservation work.


It is explained how lime is produced and what raw materials are required.

Mud Plasters and Renders

The process of coating and protecting walls of earth houses, buildings of stone and fired brick with mud plasters is explained.


Pozzolanas are materials containing reactive silica and/ or alumina which on their own have little or no binding property but, when mixed with lime in the presence of water, will set and harden like a cement.

Ten Rules For Energy Efficient, Cost Effective Brick Firing

The ten most important rules for brick firing are introduced, with a special focus on energy efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Transitional Shelter

Important steps in planning transitional shelters following a disaster in order to optimize the matching of needs with the availability of land and other resources.

For more technical briefs on construction please visit Practical Action's main website.  Access is free but you will be required to register.

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