A Cheap Modular System Will Provide Better Shelter to Indians With Shoddy Metal Roofs
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Much of the world will go to sleep tonight under a corrugated iron roof, a quite bumpy, ill-fitting way to cover a house. They'll get hot in summer, get no insulation in winter, and the thing will probably crack and corrode before too long.
The alternative from ReMaterials, an Indian startup selling a new type of roofing system, is more expensive, but a lot of better. Made up of a series of interlocking panels, it offers waterproofing and insulation, and at one third of the cost of a concrete roof.
Founder Hasit Ganatra came up with the concept while doing a survey of Indian homes three years ago. He noticed that families tended to spend all their money building the walls of their homes and then not have enough for the roof. And, he saw that when families couldn't afford concrete—which costs $7 to $10 a square foot—they inevitably turned to iron, which, after insulation, costs about $1 per square foot.
"I thought 'Why is there nothing else in the market?'" Ganatra says.
ReMaterials' recycled panels are made of cardboard waste and coconut fibers held together by a natural binder. Then they're covered in a waterproofing material. The company's installers place the panels on beams and lock them together with S-shaped grooves. When assembled, the whole roof's holes are covered up with a sealant.