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SELECTION OF MATERIALS ( CHRISTINA) Characteristics of Mud Mud is extensively used for construction in rural areas, as it is readily available and widely accepted. Mud is an alternative building material that is significantly cheaper than conventional brick and concrete, and is also environmentally sustainable. Mud has been used as a construction material in Devikulam for centuries. Mud is truly natural, cheap and locally available in Devikulam. It decentralizes the construction process because it utilizes local material and technology and thereby obviates the need for a contractor, and it costs much less to maintain mud buildings. It is strong in compression and so makes good walls. It can also be made strong in sheer and tension through addictives and reinforcement. Besides, mud also provides excellent heat insulation, so the internal part of a mud building is cooler in summer and hotter in winter than a building made with steel and concrete. Due to this property, mud houses are most suited in tropical and sub-tropical climatic conditions. Nevertheless, mud is eroded easily by water, which makes its use difficult in areas with high rainfall or possibilities of flooding. It has low tensile strength, which means mud roofs are difficult to make. It is susceptible to mechanical damage. Rodents can easily make hole in mud walls and under the floor, or thieves can dig their way into the house. Mud does not grip wood properly, so gaps often develop around wooden doors and windows in mud walls. Consequently, mud houses often have few openings and are badly ventilated. Mud soaks up water and becomes very heavy. As a result, the wooden beams supporting a mud roof begin to sag, the mud cracks and the roof start leaking. Due to the behavior of mud that has low tensile strength, mud houses
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