Concrete construction is common in Central America and other
Latin American locales. Other than being hurricane and
earthquake resistant what are the advantages and disadvantages
of this construction?
Not to mention, in a lot of areas in the world, trees big enough and
straight enough to make lumber out of, are a long expensive distance
away. Even in southern US coastal areas, because of the climate, I'd
look real hard at concrete- I own a house in Lake Charles, LA, and the
climate down there rots anything wood-based in a few short years.
The other thing that makes AM right is the cost of the Simpson clips
necessary to make a stick built home wind code compliant in a place
with a wind code. That can easily be another 70% over the cost of the
wood and a pant load of extra labor. Basically every vertical stick
gets a clip in each end.
It is certainly tough, when used with a lot of steel rebar but it is
expensive and hard to insulate.
They took a swing at that with air entrained concrete (Ytong etc) but
it is still expensive compared to stick framing.
I will ask about that. We will be looking in upscale
neighborhoods in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and maybe sourthern Spain;
all are earthquake zones. Construction standards has been a
concern. Many of the listings make a point that the house was
built or upgraded to American standards.
It is difficult to insulate? I thought one of the advantages
was the thermal mass helps moderated the temperature. Or that a
different thing? In Costa Rica the humidity is hard on wood.
In the tropics, I doubt there is any question. I would go with
concrete or concrete block with doweled cells (#5 rebar and poured
solid). You use lots of steel.
I can send you a set of plans with the steel and concrete schedules to
get an idea but you basically build a matrix of steel and concrete
from the footer to the roof with straps that go over the roof trusses
embedded in the top of the walls.
If you build it with Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF's) it is very easy to
insulate. They are used on 4% of US housing construction now and are
growing in use in other countries. Check out www.integraspec.com or
www.greenblock.com or others for more information.
Concrete is termite-proof, stands up top high humidity and winds, and
if properly built, can be pretty well earthquake proof - not to
mention fireproof - should build all of California out of concrete.
The new Insulated Concrete Form construction is fully insulated and
can be easily finished with local stucco, or even , I hear, adobe.
Having been to Mexico several times, their construction techniques leave a
lot to be desired. I have seen shoring made of tree limbs. It is also
common that if you think you may be adding a floor at any time in the
future, to just let the rebar stick up for ten feet all around the perimeter
of the building, and in all bearing walls. I have worked concrete and
construction in the US. There are obvious areas within the pour where one
can see different consistencies of concrete, rather than a monolithic pour,
as in poured all in the same day. Their construction looks like they had
enough to do just this much, so they poured that much, or mixed it on site
or in a tumbler by the sack, then came back at a later date and did more.
The walls show lines of different concrete pours. They also look like they
have never heard of a concrete vibrator.
I would say in Mexico, cost would be a factor, and speed of progress. As
mentioned, less likely to be hit by insects or wind or weather. In that
climate, also, it stays cool, and in the "winter" retains heat.
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in mexico, taxing starts at building completion. with rebar sticking out of
the top, they can say that construction isn't completed and so shouldn't be
taxed. buildings sometimes are never "completed".
Concrete construction is not hurricane or earthquake resistant unless it
is carefully designed and carefully constructed as designed, and neither
of these conditions apply to most of this construction in these and
similar countries. Ask the folks crushed under concrete buildings in
Haiti how well the concrete construction resisted earthquakes.
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