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Nepal, April 26, 2010

How to Mix and Pour Concrete Floors by Hand in Nepal

Hand-built concrete home
How do you pour concrete to build a new second floor on a house in Kathmandu, Nepal? By hand. Yes, every single ounce of cement is mixed, moved, and set by hand.

First, the concrete ingredients are put into the mixing hopper. Gravel, sand, water and cement mix are all shoveled in with hand labour - not even wheelbarrows are used! Gravel is shoveled by two people (one working the shovel, the other using rope to help) into a basket strapped to the body of a third laborer who walks it to the hopper.

Then, the only mechanical device in the whole operation - the concrete mixer - combines the ingredients into the wet concrete slurry. This is dumped into a bucket, from which its scooped onto platters. The piles of wet concrete slurry are then passed, hand over hand, up the two-story ladder to the concrete form on the second floor of the house.

At the second floor, the slurry is put into the only wheelbarrow, and then rolled to the leading edge of the pour. Its dumped out and then hand-floated to form the future smooth second floor. Just watch this video to see how its done:

Now back in my youth, I did all this work with my father. Form Builders, Inc built the wood forms and steel frames in which concrete was poured to make beams, arches, floors and the like. But we used modern mechanical and pneumatic tools, so it's amazing for me to see how Nepali construction work is so labour based.

Again, the only machinery in the entire pour was the concrete mixed, and the only wheeled device, a single wheelbarrow. I can't even imagine trying the same activity in the USA.

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