Open house: a Canadian company sees Latin America as a springboard for its assembly-line homes.Margarita Margarita (märgärē`tä), island, 444 sq mi (1,150 sq km), in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Venezuela. With many smaller islands it constitutes the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta (1990 pop. 263,748). Bahamundes just wants a safe place to call home. The 36-year-old widow lives with her four young boys in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in the El Volcan ghetto, about 30 kilometers outside of Santiago. She moved there in 1996 and pays a small monthly mortgage. In 1997, heavy rains made her children sick.
"My house would get wet and mold mold, name for certain multicellular organisms of the various classes of the kingdom Fungi, characteristically having bodies composed of a cottony mycelium. The colors of molds are caused by the spores, which are borne on the mycelium. started to grow, and the doorframes would droop," she says. "Two of my children got pneumonia pneumonia (nmōn`yə), acute infection of one or both lungs that can be caused by a bacterium, usually Streptococcus pneumoniae as a result of the leaking, which gave me depression and a temporary epileptic epileptic /ep·i·lep·tic/ (ep?i-lep´tik)
1. pertaining to or affected with epilepsy.
2. a person affected with epilepsy.
One who has epilepsy. condition because of my stress:' The government repaired her home in December 2003, Bahamundes doesn't complain about the delay, but she is worried if it can withstand earthquakes.
"So far so good;' she says with a furrowed fur·row
1. A long, narrow, shallow trench made in the ground by a plow.
2. A rut, groove, or narrow depression: snow drifting in furrows.
3. brow brow (brou) the forehead, or either lateral half of it.
1. The eyebrow.
2. See forehead.
the forehead, or either lateral half of it. . "It doesn't leak (programming) leak - With a qualifier, one of a class of resource-management bugs that occur when resources are not freed properly after operations on them are finished, so they effectively disappear (leak out). This leads to eventual exhaustion as new allocation requests come in. anymore,"
Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. is the most urbanized area in the developing world, but much of its housing is substandard substandard,
adj below an acceptable level of performance. . Land squatters account for as high as 60% of total housing in most countries, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the United Nations.
A Canadian homebuilder thinks it has the answer. Rockport Homes builds houses on assembly lines using patented technology called shot-crete. The company sprays strong, high-pressure, quick-drying concrete into molds that dry out to become factory-built homes. Trucks then carry them off to the site where they are assembled to order for the owner. It's cheap and fast--one home takes only four hours to build and one week to install, costing US$8,000 for a 37-square-meter unit. The homes are resistant to hurricanes, fire, floods, termites, and they are seismic-proof--ideal for an earthquake-prone country like Chile, where it chose to build its first foreign plant.
Rockport chose Chile because of the country's housing deficit of 750,000 units, says Nelson Riis This article or section is an autobiography, or has been extensively edited by the subject, and may not conform to Wikipedia's NPOV policy.
Please see the relevant discussion on the . , vice president of Rockport Homes. The government says the country will build 105,000 homes a year beginning in 2005 to help narrow the deficit, according to the housing ministry. Rockport has not signed contracts with the Chilean government yet but, given the demand, and the government's variety of credits and subsidies available for new housing, the company decided Chile was the right place to build its first production plant abroad.
"The difference with some countries is that they've actually set aside the resources or identified the need to help people get affordable housing" says Riis. "Chile is perhaps a little more economically advantaged than others, and it actually has programs in place to assist people to afford their first home purchase."
Savings largely come through lower labor costs. In the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. and Canada, labor accounts for up to 70% of the total cost of building a home. Materials account for the rest. In Chile, the cost of labor represents 40% of the price of a home, according to the Chilean Chamber of Construction. The government reports similar figures. However, Rockport says it can trim labor costs down to 16% thanks to its assembly-line approach.
"The days of building a home on-site are coming to an end," says Riis. "The prices we're quoting are the lowest in the world for a house of this quality," he says.
Private-sector developers are target customers for the technology too, says Riis, a former member of Canada's Parliament. "I've always said that if we could find a private-sector solution that didn't require public investment we'd be miles ahead."
A number of contractors are interested in purchasing Rockport homes, such as the private Casa Grande Casa Grande (kä`sä grän`dā), city (1990 pop. 19,082), Pinal co., S Ariz.; inc. 1915. It lies in an irrigated farm area near the Casa Grande Mts. development project on the outskirts of Santiago, says Riis. Rockport has also spoken with state-owned copper miner Codelco to supply homes for workers at two of its larger mines in northern Chile. Rockport expects to begin production in Chile by year's end. It will source all materials in the country, thus providing jobs, 200 directly and 700 indirectly.
Cheaper solutions. The government can provide cheaper housing solutions than Rockport. It can build a wooden house and sell it for $5,000, but such units last less than a decade by design, and they are usually sold to families after emergencies such as earthquakes. Otherwise, public housing normally costs around $7,200 for unit of about the same size as a Rockport home, although not made fully out of concrete, says Juan Jose Guixe, head of the southeastern division of the public works department Many governments worldwide have had departments or ministries referred to as the Public Works Department either formally or informally.
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"Building a new house or apartment block here can take months or more than a year. Just repairing a house takes us three to four months, and a year for an entire neighborhood," he says. "Speed is crucial, and this company has an obvious advantage there." Repairing cheaper houses can cost more than building a new one, says Guixe, who says that the government is spending $8,000 to repair homes damaged in 1997, a year of unusually heavy rains, even though they are worth just $5,000.
The private sector, meanwhile, says Rockport homes are a deal. Today, the government would sell a house of the same size and materials of a Rockport unit for $11,500, says Emanuel Vespa, an economist with the Chilean Chamber of Construction. That figure is too high to be fully covered by a government subsidy, which makes Rockport's technology more attractive, he says. "Houses made purely of concrete for [$8,000] or less? They don't exist in the Chilean market," says Vespa.
The Chilean government is glad Rockport came to the country, says Camilo Sanchez, manager of technology and construction for Chile's housing ministry. Any process that reduces labor costs is welcome, Sanchez says.