On Friday, February 20, 2009, Build Change visited Luorong, a village in Sichuan, China, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2008. Despite the cold, forty-two people participated in the two-hour training led by Build Change construction trainer, Chen Ting. The training topics included the basics of good housing construction, as well as how to sign a good contract with a contractor.

Two women, both married to men with the surname of Du, live in Lourong. They live in a house cobbled together from concrete blocks and corrugated asbestos sheets. They asked for our assistance in designing a safe new house.

Our engineer, Yang Tianjun, spoke to each woman in turn, going through a checklist that Build Change has developed, called the Homeowner Preferences Survey.

It includes questions like:

  • How many people will be living inside the house?
  • Do you want your toilet inside the house or out back?
  • What kind of materials do you prefer to use for the roof?

When the homeowners see that the features they value will be included, they become more receptive to the aspects of the design that make the house more earthquake-resistant.

A well laid-out house, one with symmetrical walls and sufficiently spaced doors and windows, is safer during an earthquake. Build Change engineers also assist homeowners in estimating the cost of hiring builders and buying construction materials.

After taking the survey and working with us to develop a house design, the Du families are empowered to rebuild a home that will protect them in future earthquakes.