Clay houses now with metal roof structures

Joss Meyer   

In 2002 when the rainy season started, we couldn’t roof some of the new houses as we had been waiting about six weeks for the wood for the roof structure. Due to this delay some of the houses had to be plastered three times, because the rain washed the new plaster away.


This is not the only reason why Peter Arndt (project director) thought about other options. Namibian trees are scarce and the few existent ones are not suitable as construction timber, so it has to be imported. And we have termites! They could get through the clay walls into the roof structure and basically eat it. Using poison can prevent this, but this will not last forever and, besides the costs, it is ecologically questionable.

All the houses on our premises show some termite damage. Installing a metal structure repaired one roof. In May we changed the next roof. But this time, we did it with our own metalworker - students.

They got the chance to experience work uncommon to their usual job. We chose 75mm lip-channels as rafters, some of them with a span up to 4.0m at 1.5m intervals. To place the tiles on the structure we used 25/25mm angle iron.

Based on this experience we have started to build the houses in the CHP program with a light metal roof structure. But now we build the rafters from the same angle iron, using a 6mm round bar to brace. Until now we have been producing these rafters up to a length of 3,30m

You are here: Home Past editions July 2003 Clay houses now with metal roof structures


Bernardo RhynerBernardo Rhyner
Swiss - Canadian
Spanish, English, German and some French.
Construction with ecomaterials, implementation of housing projects


In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.