Timber replaced by concrete in home construction

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By Baburam Karki,Barahakshetra, Nov.1: Wooden houses were once an iconic feature of Nepal's villages, be it the lower hills or the plains, rural areas across the country used to have cosy wooden homes, with walls made colourful with clay and mud, and artistically carved struts and columns.

Tourists both domestic and international alike, would consider themselves lucky if they get to spend a night in one of these wooden buildings. For them, the comfort offered by these houses is far greater than anything urban bungalows have to offer.

Unfortunately, these mud and wooden houses are vanishing day by day, with villagers choosing to replace traditional houses with concrete ones. Ghanashyam Karki, a resident of Prakashpur, Barahakshetra Municipality–10, is one of them. He recently demolished his 30-year-old wooden house and built a new one with cement and bricks.

There was a time when it was both a fashion and status symbol to build houses with timber. "After the restoration of democracy in 1990, people rushed to build wooden houses," Prakashpur local Humar Jung Basnet, informed. "These homes are cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They give us a unique experience."

Basnet still lives in the wooden house he built 47 years ago. Unfortunately, he is in the minority. One of his neighbours Shyam Katuwal sold his old wood house not too long ago to move into a concrete building.

Wooden houses have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years. "Those who lived in such houses were greatly respected in the society," another local Durga Prasad Paudel shared. "But wooden houses seem to have fallen from grace now," the 86-year-old lamented.

However, he shared that change public preferences is not the only reason for their downfall. "It is hard to find wood now. Even the forests do not have big trees anymore. Even a small quantity of wood costs thousands of rupees now,” he said.

Meanwhile, the disappearance of wooden houses has cost villages their beauty, felt Bir Bahadur Karki. “The native houses gave our villages a unique look whereas concrete buildings have destroyed the sight of the village,” said Karki.

As per the data maintained by the municipality, 885 concrete houses have been constructed in Barahakshetra.  

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