Found an interesting article in the use of cement to build simply and inexpensively.
Offered by Pat.
Ferro-cement on the Homestead
by Ken Davison
While we have very little money to do what we want to get done on our homestead, we do not feel that we are "poor". How can anyone be "poor" when they own their own land and grow their own food and all their vehicles are paid off? While we don't think of ourselves as poor, we still have very little cash and many projects. We have found that you can do projects with little money and lots of labor, or you can do them with little labor and lots of money. We usually have more time than we do money, so we are constantly looking for ways to complete projects and save.
My experience with ferro-cement started as a young man, by reading about how to build ferro-cement boats. The idea of using chicken wire and cement construction is not at all new. The old timers called houses with this type of construction "Chicken wire & cement houses", which pretty well described them. The main difference between the old "Chicken wire" walls and the "ferro-cement" is the amount of chicken wire used. In the old type of construction, only one layer of chicken wire was used and this was just to hold the cement to the side of the wall. With ferro-cement, 2 to 5 layers of 1 inch mesh chicken wire are used, depending on where they are being used and what strength is required. Cement is the strongest when it is less than one-forth of an inch away from steel reinforcing. In ferro-cement, the overlapped chicken wire is the reinforcing, and all of this wire is what gives it its great strength and ability to withstand stress. By having several layers of chicken wire, with the cement being forced to fill in all the spaces, a very strong cement structure is the result.
If this is sounding pretty simple, it's because it is simple, but it works. There are many ferro-cement boats, still in service that are over 50 years old. Think of the stresses these boats have to endure while on the high seas. Hopefully your house or barn will never be subjected to this kind of stress. If it ever is, I don't want to be in your neighborhood! If the use of chicken wire and cement for outside walls has been around for such a long time, how well does it hold up? Even with one layer of wire, the walls work well. Many walls never had any sort of "sealer" applied and many were never even painted, and yet most lasted for as long as the house was used. Many did develop cracks and had to be repaired from time to time, however. This was not due to flaws in the cement work, but from the house settling as it aged.