COSTFORD uses all the Baker construction systems such as Rat Trap Bond walls, Filler Slab roofing, exposed brickwork. They have extensively used the Laurie Baker vocabulary in most of their constructions such as brick jali or latticework used along verandahs, around courtyards or as compound walls with concrete or stone copings and brick gateposts, patch-pointing, brick corbelling, etc.
COSTFORD strongly believes in preservation of the environmental resources and, hence, promotes the use of energy-efficient materials, which minimize the use of high-energy consuming materials such as cement and steel. They use natural stabilizers such as lime instead of cement. They do not favor the use of stabilized mud blocks, as they believe that a greater amount of cement gets consumed in the production of stabilized mud blocks, than in constructing masonry with fired bricks. Instead they stabilize the mud blocks with rice-husk and lime.
They also experiment with renewable building materials such as bamboo, which they use as reinforcement for the foundations with lime concrete or for slabs where they use bamboo as an exposed form with concrete on top.
COSTFORD believes in truthfulness in the use of materials and so they put together the materials used for erecting the structure in a manner, which is aesthetic and naturally pleasing and which negates the need for any further separate and costly finishing.
COSTFORD has a multi-disciplinary technical support teams which providing assistance and guidance. These people are from diverse fields such as architects and engineers, scientists and researchers, economists and analysts. These people provide technical assistance by suggesting cost and energy effective science and technology solutions for the various development programmes such as housing, micro enterprise etc.
Moreover, COSTFORD has also been able to train various people and organise them in team, which forms COSTFORD's task force.
Research and studies
They undertake research and development activities on topics such as identification and documentation of location specific vernacular architecture and building materials, innovations and improvements in traditional systems and materials for building construction, development of cost an energy effective techniques and materials for building construction and participatory local level development.
Moreover, they have also been conducting a series of studies on topics relating to Local Level development, Decentralized Planning, Gender Issues and Work's Manual for Local Governments
COSTFORD undertakes Skill development and upgradation programmes in the field of housing and construction. They have trained a large number of masons, students, engineers and architects. They do not use any specific tools for training. They have produced a set of 60 CDs, which talk about the technology mooted by Ar. Laurie Baker. They use it to sensitise the participants. They strongly believe in a practical hands-on, on-the-job approach for training, supported by theory, which is explained through lectures and discussions.
They believe in a participatory construction process and hence, wherever possible, they try to train and sensitise their clients in the construction techniques. Their technology transfer efforts can be seen in the design and construction of houses for Tribals and Weaker sections, public building like Panchayat offices, agricultural offices, primary health centres and other public building, institutional buildings, energy saving devices and drudgery reduction devices.
Moreover, they conduct training of Panchayathi Raj functionaries in the topics of participatory rural appraisal and Panchayat level resource mapping, cost-effective options for location specific problems and issues, gender issues and participation of women in all programmes, responsive and effective administration with transparency at all levels, and good governance and management.
R&D / cataloguing / publications / dissemination of information
COSTFORD had published many manuals, booklets and handbooks for the promoting the appropriate techniques that they believe in. They have also conducted many workshops, seminars and exhibitions for popularising the same. They have also published a set of books hand-written by Laurie Baker, which give guidelines for constructing different kinds of buildings in various rural and urban contexts, using local materials and skills.
However, Mr. Sajan feels that COSTFORD has been so involved in the construction activities that they have not been able to give much importance to documentation of their works. Moreover, being strongly influenced by the life and thinking of Mr. Laurie Baker, like him, they do not put an emphasis on self-publicity and believe in popularity that is gained through their work and through the word of mouth.