A significant number of colonias still exist without property documents or connections to their local municipalities. Due to a lack of resources and support, many residents are not able to protect their homes from risks of natural disasters. Their main priority is having a roof over the heads, the rest of the problems are dealt with as they come.
Solutions such as the use of plastic tarps and digging trenches around the house are implemented to prevent the structure from flooding. The terrain intensifies the probability of a colonia flooding; being on the outskirts of the city causes the hill gradient to bring water into the spatially spread out settlement. Most of the materials used in the construction are good conductors of heat. During summer, the air gaps caused by a patchwork of various materials used prevents thorough ventilation. Inhabitants spend energy and time taking measures to cope with harsh climatic conditions.
Constructing their home with disaster mitigation in mind, or even modifying existing structures to meet resilience needs, is difficult for residents. If a household is economically stable and can afford to do so, they may build their houses with a stronger foundation at an elevated level. For others, the monsoon is a challenging and laborious time.
During the monsoon, regular heavy rains lead to Lucina’s home flooding with several inches of rainwater, blackwater, and greywater on a weekly basis. The flood causes the structural members to rot and produces mud holes in the home that remain unstable for days after the rains. A temporary solution to achieving soil stabilisation is the pouring of dirt, rocks, and concrete.
Many families discover solutions concurrently as they face problems and build accordingly with the resources available to them.
Community participation is a valuable tool that allows for the distribution of construction knowledge and creates a sense of ownership through participation. The following home designed by [inform]al is to be built by minimal skilled labour and easily maintained and upgraded. Materials will be sourced from local suppliers and distributors. A family member who owns earth-moving equipment will complete the site work and excavation. The Jimenez family’s upgrade project is unique because they have property rights to the land and have lived on the undeveloped land parcel for 14 years.