IIT Madras Innovates Eco-Friendly Low-Cost Houses

Author – Goutham V


The need for low-cost houses in India is gigantic in proportion. Exact estimates are still to be worked out but government sources say that two crore dwelling units are required in the country, 90% of which are low-cost houses. Hence, the central government has launched a mission called ‘Housing for All by 2022’ and has also provided incentives to builders in Union Budget 2016-17. As per the provisions, 100% deduction for profits to affordable housing schemes, under which homes will be built up to 30sq m in the four metropolitan cities and 60sq m in other cities.

IITM-GFRG Eco-Friendly-Low-Cost-Houses

There have been numerous efforts to build low-cost houses across the country. Most innovative among them is the method created by IIT Madras students, who have built low-cost, eco-friendly houses by using ‘Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum’ (GFRG) panels. They have successfully built a housing unit, which was constructed within a month using pre-fabricated GFRG panels made from waste gypsum.

The fertilizer industry produces around 2,000 tonnes of gypsum everyday in the form of waste, which is dumped over a large area. This waste is re-processed by calcining it into gypsum plaster, which forms the raw material for gypsum panels, which are manufactured in Mumbai by Rapidwall Building Systems, Australia.

IITM-GFRG Eco-Friendly-Low-Cost-Houses

The manufacture of these boards is done in three stages:

  • Firstly, the gypsum plaster is spread on a special table, on which glass fibers are poured.
  • Secondly, another layer of gypsum plaster is poured by using specific equipment to leave a gap between the two layers and then it is left for hardening for 30 minutes.
  • In the third stage, these boards are removed and dried faster in a special chamber.

These panels are cut into required sizes using a computerized machine at at the factory and brought to the construction site to used for all parts of the building, right from walls to staircases to roofs. Trenches are first dug at the construction site and the bottom surface is plastered with cement.

IITM-GFRG Eco-Friendly-Low-Cost-Houses

The foundation is made of conventional fly ash bricks and plinth beams are cast on it. The entire gap is filled with soil and then plastered with cement. This process takes 11 days to complete.

Special structural design

Then walls, staircases and finally the roof are built using gypsum panels. The hollow gaps between two panels of the roof are filled using the concrete mixture and they are also reinforced. Special structural design is prepared for the building to withstand lateral loads such as earthquakes and storms. PhD students from IIT Madras struggled hard to design the structure for seismic loads.

IITM-GFRG Eco-Friendly-Low-Cost-Houses

The Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council of India has approved the design. All hollow parts at the joints are filled with concrete and vertical walls are reinforced. These serve the purpose of conventional reinforced concrete columns. Gaps are provided for plumbing and electric works. The conduits are made before concrete is placed on the roof. Care is also taken to drain rainwater by providing a slope.

A multi-storey house can also be built by using gypsum panels as walls in the similar manner done at the ground floor. The joints are filled with concrete.

IITM-GFRG Eco-Friendly-Low-Cost-Houses

Cost and disadvantage

Under the pilot project, the low cost house of 500sq.ft costed around INR 575,000. Not only the house can be built with in a month, this construction is eco-friendly as well. Gypsum, which is dumped over a large area as a waste, is being used effectively. The only disadvantage is that these gypsum panels cannot be used to build curved structures, but concrete can be used to accomplish curved structures.

These panels are being manufactured at FACT-RCF Building Products Ltd in Kochi, a joint venture between Fertilizers & Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mumbai, in collaboration with the Australia’s Rapidwall Building Systems. Proposals are being mooted with the Indian Government to set up manufacturing units to produce GFRG panels across the country to further scale down transportation costs of these panels.

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  1. Am from Hyderabad & very much interested to construct house by using this technology. But am unable to find the right contact in Hyderabad. If possible please let us know the companies who build individual houses using this technology in Hyderabad.

    Thanks in advance for your prompt reply.
    Best Regards

  2. Hie im from Zimbabwe Africa. Can these gfrg panels be exported to zimbabwe africa, I would love to construct this type of building but India is too far, I dont know if it is possible to order these materials and they come to zimbabwe.

    Thanks in advance. Shepherd

  3. I am currently living in Australia and I could see lots of houses where water seeps through the ceiling.
    The reason why I mentioned this is because I could see an Australian man giving a presentation.
    Wave to think before taking a decision as the Australian companies think of completing the project on time.
    I wont go for it.

    • Hello Vinodh,
      The idea of the material is from Australia, but the design is by IIT Madras professors.
      And the water seepage issue is because the Australians use cement concrete slabs and the wall panels are of Gypsum, whereas in the above mentioned technology even the slab is of gypsum panels. So, there won’t be any problems like seepage and all. I’ve personally visited the above house in IIT Madras there are no such problems.

      • Hello sir,
        We are Plaster of Paris manufacturer from Bhutan. We are interested to make such Panel and gypsum board using your technology. How can we get ur technology in Bhutan?

      • Hi, we are interested in building a house using this technology from iit Chennai, can we get their contact info, it anybody you can do this in Banglore

  4. HI,

  5. Kindly send the possibility of building this house for own use. Kindly provide the details who can provide the construction support

    • Hello Mr. Rajesh, As of now, this technology is more profitable when done for mass housing projects.

  6. Dear Sir,
    can you provide details about such person who can build house in nagpur Maharshtra . as I wanted to buit eco friendly home.

    • Hi Bhumika,
      Please check the construction manual created by FRBL for basic guidance – http://frbl.co.in/
      if you need help from an architect in actually constructing this house, please mail us at editor at ecoideaz.com

  7. Sir,I am an Indian from Agartala, Tripura. I want to built a eco friendly home . Is there any possibility in my state . Pls.provide.One thing..I am comfortable to talk with my Rastriya language.Thank you.

    • Hi Pugazh,
      thank you very much for your interest in building a low-cost eco-friendly house. i will send you details on your mail

    • Hello Anupama,
      The estimate depends on the place you wish to construct because, the main cost component here is the transportation. If you just look at the construction then it would be a different scenario though.

  8. Hi There,

    My name is Shrikant, couple of questions on this model.
    How durable is this construction.
    Will it last the coastal rains and the seepage of water.
    Can this be build in Konkan District, I am planning to build a house there and my budget is less than 10 Lakhs. Please let me know how we can build this.



    • Hello,
      You can see that a house has already been built in IIT Madras in 2013 and is still in good condition without any seepage (I visited the model house in 2017). Chennai is a city on the beach side and you might have an idea about how the rains in Chennai are. And regarding the budget, transportation of those GFRG panels is a key factor in deciding the entire cost of the house. The only places from where you can get these panels in India which I know are Kochi and RCF Mumbai. Your area matters too.

  9. Hello Sir,

    I am Sinil from Kerala , needs your attention regarding GFRG availability from Cochin and Mumbai not happening production and delayed.

    Can you advise another alternative solutions to import from China or other neibhouring country. Can we import are material and machine to set up factory.

    Your valuable response appreciated.



    • I didn’t know that the production here has stopped! Importing the panels from neighboring countries is not at all advisable as the cost goes very high and it no more justifies the title. Setting up a factory, yes, can be done, I’m not sure how good will that business model be! Please once again try contacting those people and find out regarding the productionl

  10. Hi Vinod,
    This is Rajasekhar from Andhra Pradesh. I am very much impressed with this technology to construct low cost homes. I would like to construct 2 floors on existing ground floor house in Gannavaram. 700 after each floor.
    Can you please let know how much cost it Wii be?
    As soon as I get an approval from CRDA I will contact for construction.

    Please give me the contact for construction too.

    • Dear Rajasekhar,
      Good to know that you thought of this technology.
      Did you get the required approvals from CRDA?
      If so, please contact us. We’ll help you out.

  11. SIR

  12. Sir I am MURALIDHAR from Karnataka near to mysore, I need information to build eco friendly budget home pls send me details

    • we are land dvelopers based in bangalore and nellore, andrapradesh.
      we require low cost construction for our project in nellore near maipadu beach of 18 acres extent.
      please send me more details along with your terms and conditions for our persual and immediate start off

  13. dear sir,
    I intend to building 3 storey 3bhk appt building at gurgoan, india with stilt, each floor of 2200 sqft, pl inform abt viability and durability of the reported construction, can contact no. b intimated. also any other points which u may like to share.


    kamal k. karihaloo

    • Dear Kamal,
      This structure is earthquake-resistant building approved by The Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council of India. I’ve personally visited the model house in IIT Madras and it is perfectly safe and durable.
      You can contact me on [email protected] for more details.

  14. Sir, I am Rajan. I am impressed with the concept. I want too construct house in Sindhudurg Maharashtra . I need your guidance. I want further details on Material availability etc.

  15. I am impressed with your concept. I want too construct house in Tamilnadu. I need your guidance. I want further details on Material availability etc. Cost of multi storey building. Give your consultation for marketing and discussion on this subject.

  16. Sir,
    I am from Bangalore very much interested in adopting this eco-friendly concept, i like to under go training on this new concept pl provide me the rquired details

  17. Sir,
    I am Krishnakumar from Kerala, an Architect by profession , I am Impressed with the concept. Right now I have a project in hand,13 low cost houses in 52 cents of plot, area of each unit is around 550 sq.feet. Could you please send me the contact details be intimated in Kerala.

  18. It looks very impressive.this product launched by IIT Chennai in 2013 around 5 years ago.Is there any feedback from the user on the stability reliability and the seepage etc.

    I would like to give a turkey contract who can build and get necessary approvals from the authorities.

    I Have 2 plots to build each around 800 sqft.

    I request the concern to provide me the details of the above quarries.

  19. Sir,
    Can you please let me know the following :-
    1. Durability of the this type of homes compared to conventional homes
    2. Is there any Construction company in Thanjavur District who has the expertise in building this type of homes. Please let me know the contact details.

    • Dear Raghavan,
      GFRG house can last upto 90 years whereas conventional can last only upto 30 years after that you will find either cracks or seepage or some structural problems.
      You can contact [email protected] for more information

  20. i am in chennai .
    how to contact to you ?
    we are interested in your idea.
    please also send the cost estimate for 500 sq.feet individual house
    please response quickly.

  21. SIR,
    we are interested in this idea.
    send us the cost estimation for 500 sq.feet upto 2nd floor.
    we live chennai.
    how to contact you please send us in reply ?

  22. Dear Mr. Goutham Veerabathini
    Well done and all the best in your effort in promoting Eco-Friendly housing.
    I am planning to construct a small eco-friendly resort in Yelagiri Hills.
    Would it be feasible to transport the panels and construct in a hilly area?
    Many thanks in advance. Best wishes
    Dr. G Murali (Chennai)

  23. Dear sir
    I am senthilkumar from dharapuram .near Coimbatore I am interested to construct this type house. Please let me know the full details

    Who will support for this house building in my area. Please do the needful

    Mean time I would like to construct a small shead to government purpose. Any idea we can get approval. Please send me the particulars


    • Hi Senthil,
      Thanks for approaching us. yes we have some expert consultants based in Chennai who can help you

      • Hello sir I am from Gujarat I’m interested in small farm house making in Surat area. Whom should I contact?

  24. Hello sir,
    This is tanushree, I am from Bangalore we have decided to build a house in Bangalore I wanted to know the details sir

  25. Hello sir,I am from the cement industry having pup up number of plants in India and other countries also . My specialisation is plants projects from concept to commissioning. May I know more details of addresses and contact#s for panels and expertise for manufacturing the same.
    Thank you sir well in advance.

  26. Hi Sir,
    I am from a village near Tirupati, Andhra pradesh & very much interested to construct house by using this technology. But am unable to find the right contact. If possible please let us know who build individual houses using this technology.

    Thanks in advance for your prompt reply.
    Best Regards

  27. I also has plans to build a house and appreciate if you could let me know whom to contact for full details. I can be contacted by email at.mail below

    • Dear Sir,
      Please email [email protected] with your location where you want to build, the area, budget estimate etc.
      Also, let us know if you are planning the house in near future or just want to know about it.

  28. Dear gautham,
    Great innovative work. I am Meenakshi Sundaresh. I would like to build a small eco-friendly house at Aathur village, Chengalpattu near Chennai. I need the contact details for that. Can you please help me in this regard.

    • Dear Meenakshi,
      Thank you.
      I would like to know what is the area you would like to build in and also, as you are telling it is a village, I prefer it would be more economical and suitable if you go for a modern Mud-house. Anyway, thanks a lot for appreciating me for the article. Please email [email protected] for more discussion.

  29. Hi Gautam,

    Great to know bit about GRFG housing technology shown in Madras IIT. I would like to know whether the same is already spread across the country? I am from Odisha..my ancestors property is in a remote part which is arnd 120 km away from..state capital. I would like to build a low cost farm house in arnd 600 sqft. Is it available in near by Bhubaneswar? What would be the estimate cost?

    • Hi Garnayak,
      Thanks for your interest in this interesting idea. but this technology is not easily available across India. It is only available in specific cities such as Chennai, Kochi, Mumbai, etc. due to limited availability of manufacturing facility of the GFRG panels

  30. Dear Gautham,

    Great idea. I am Srinivasan. I would like to build a eco-friendly house at Chennai. I need the contact details for that, can you please help me in this regards. Thank you.

  31. Haiii goutham,
    Good evening!!
    Great to know about the GRFG technology in housing and I want to build such a house at my place Andhra Pradesh.So I want to know the details about the builder…please send me the details to this email

  32. Hai Goutham,

    Need your help for building a house .. please let me know how much you cost for 600sq.

    Imran Shariff H

  33. Hi sir Gotham…

    I have emailed you and requested for quotation of your product for 700sft which located in hyderabad, still I haven’t get any reply,,, please can you respond

    Respected Sir

  34. Hi Goutham,
    Akshans here. Im really moved with GFRG and its advantage but as we know that GFRG has 2 disadvantages;

    1) it requires a lot of space for cranes ;
    2) it somehow becomes costly for construction single house;

    How can we overcome this challenges. Please guide us.

  35. Mr. Goutham Veerabathini, what about temperature maintenance inside the house , is it flexible at summer time, and not mention about plumbing and electrical works , if it is reasonable then i want to construct in 2000 sqr.feet

    • Yes, the temperature of the house is a just as a normal house and in summer, it is a little bit cooler compared to the normal house. And all the pulmbing and electrical work can be done through those gaps inside the panel where we didn’t place concrete. So, all the wiring and piping goes inside the wall only.

      • Thank you for your kind reply Mr. Goutham, can you please give contact persons who are doing this projects nearest to my Hometown (Ananthapur, Andhra Pradesh) it 210KM for away to Banglore

    • I suppose termite attack is most common on wooden structures. The GFRG panels are not made of wood. So, it can logically be concluded that this is termite resistant.

  36. Hi. I am an Architect from Hyderabad. Can you help me with detail of this technolgy that can be used for a school campus with G + 2 structure and area of about 30,000 sft in total.

  37. Hi bro, I am a Civil Engineer with two years of working experience. I am delighted and excited to work and know a lot about GFRG panels and other green house construction projects. Can you recommend me for working in GFRG construction. Thank You.


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