House building in Kathmandu

This metal frame with a corrugated tin roof is the frame for the new house
This metal frame with a corrugated tin roof is the frame for the new house

I looked long and hard at how on earth to build a house in a foreign land myself. Even with the assistance of 30 unskilled volunteers recruited at a youth meeting this would be a major undertaking. I figured that I could probably do it but it would require a massive time commitment and it would be very expensive (I am a white westerner and for some reason everything costs us more). Another major concern was that the building had been started and I could not really figure out what their thoughts were about foundations. After studying how other buildings were being constructed it became clear that the construction methods here were completely different to the ones we are used to in the UK. We needed a change if plan so our next idea was to see if we could get a local builder to run the project with us as volunteers helping them out but no one was stupid enough to take that on.

The builders at work
The builders at work rendering one of the rooms.

We ended up getting prices from two contractors but both of their prices were high and so finally we spoke to an Indian builder and got a reasonable estimate significantly cheaper than the contractors. I insisted that we have a written contract with him and this was interesting. I was called to a meeting with the builder and the people who the house will be for, we sat in a circle and went through each item haggling prices and then scribbling down the final agreement on a page of lined paper. We got to the end all of the materials and then there was some discussion about the labour cost for the whole project. They finally agreed a sum of around £870 at which point I realised that for me to do the work was a ridiculous proposal depriving local people of work (even if very minimally paid). I then learned that the “contract” was now complete and that the scribbled list we had made with prices written down was now a formal document.

We worked with the volunteers to clear the site ready for the builder and then the building work started the folowing day (and continues today). It’s not being build the way I would do it but it’s being built and the guys will have a house they can move into before we leave Nepal. We will have the joy of being able to see the results of all that giving come to fruition.

Door frames going in
Door frames going in

So now we have some new and exciting problems! Firstly I had Dave and Helen coming over to help build a house that I was no longer building.

Dave and me making the kitchen units
Dave and me making the kitchen units

They had made a costly decision to respond to a Facebook post of mine asking for tradesmen to come and give me a hand. I managed to come up with a few jobs we would do to help with our project and a few things to do for other people too. Little did I know that they would arrive in the week of the biggest Hindu festival; Dhasain (it’s like their Christmas and everything closes down for at least three days), in the middle of a fuel crisis and at a time when cooking gas is running out. The other problem was what should we be doing now? This is an on going and unresolved question but we are learning a lot about following our inspirations, about the real character and need of the Nepalese and also about ourselves. We are determined to not be driven simply by need but try to seek our calling and respond to the Holy Spirits intuition. This is so hard when we are daily confronted by disabled beggars, street children and poverty but unexpected generosity seems to be something God specialises in. It’s a joy to partner with him! I will share one example – earlythe other morning I was off to the ATM to withdraw some money for the building project. On the way back I spotted this boy picking through the litter with his white sack over his shoulder and I felt I should bless him so I sat down and deliberately filmed him knowing that when he saw what I was doing he would come over to me.

A little chap with a big load - litter picking
A little chap with a big load – litter picking

Sure enough he came and I asked his name and was surprised when he understood me and replied with confident English. I gave him some rupees and he ran up the road and bought a balloon a happy boy. These small acts of kindness are a real blessing to us and make it all worth it!

The outside wall getting rendered.
The outside wall getting rendered.

In the meantime the building work carries on without us. We still have to pay around another £900 to complete the house but we are confident this money will arrive and beyond that we hope to have funds enough to look for another project hopefully out in one of the villages that were completely destroyed in the earthquakes. Once again we are determined to not simply be driven by need but to follow God. Please continue to support and pray for us. All of this is only possible because of your generosity and support.

Completed kitchen units ready for painting
Completed kitchen units ready for painting
The site viewed from above
The site viewed from above

One thought on “House building in Kathmandu

  1. Another enthralling account of your experiences. No doubt your presence is much appreciated by those you come into contact with. Great to be able to read all about it x

    Like

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