I have made reference here to the fact that we (there are actually, in fact, *three* gringas ;-) are starting a business based here in Maya Centre Village (Stann Creek Dist, between Dangriga and Placencia, at the entrance to the Cockscomb Preserve). Naturally I have had some inquiries and, at the risk of "advertising" in this public space, I have taken the liberty of adapting the following from a reply I wrote recently:
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Storm Engineered Structures (a trademark of Avalon Enterprises, Ltd. of Belize), based here in Maya Centre Village (with an "office" of sorts in Dangriga), is a start-up hurricane-resistant-home manufacturing company which we've been putting together for the past several years.
I am an engineer and entrepreneur, with 25 years background in business, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and project management -- mostly (but not entirely) in the USA.
Following the hurricanes of the preceding few years -- and observing the reaction here in terms of the ramping up of (expensive, often unsafely built, and IMO, ugly) concrete construction -- I set about designing a modular system which would incorporate the structural design approach of the steel-frame-on-concrete-pile system usually reserved for bridgebuilding and towers, with the economics of preassembled manufactured modules, and the traditional architecture of the hardwood-clad coastal Caribbean home [please see full-color rendering below; for floorplans and other details, see contact info below].
Installed costs are expected to be similar to a well-built wood-frame house, and roughly half those of an equivalent, safely-constructed concrete home.
Our foundation is of prestressed concrete piles driven anywhere from ten to thirty feet, depending on the substrata [note that the attached rendering shows a concrete shear core -- part of a poured-in-place system we can offer -- this core is not present in the driven-pile foundation recommended for coastal locations].
The frame (usually elevated 7 to 9 feet on the piles) is an integrated welded cage of heavy-weight galvanized steel channel (quite corrosion resistant).
The exterior cladding is of wood board-and-batten, usually varnished, with a decay- and flame-retardant treatment available; and all exterior appointments (save the roof deck and foundation) are either of hardwood or trimmed-out in hardwood. Access is provided for periodic inner-wall inspections (included with the warranty).
The roof deck is of "architectural profile" (as opposed to corrugated) sheet steel, which is first galvanized (hot-zinc-plated) and then coated with a baked-enamel finish. We recommend the sky-blue for minimizing heat-gain. The roof itself is insulated with rigid insulation (note that batting is *not* appropriate to this environment, despite its common use here) and properly ventilated (also not the norm here).
The interior is finished in a combination of woods and drywall, with hardwood floor and trim, wainscot, and fully vaulted ceiling. Interior (raised-panel) and exterior (French) doors are of mahogany, as is the line of cabinetwork we offer.
Initially we are offering two configurations in two formats. The formats available are (1) "complete" -- which includes all interior partitions [floorplans available; see contact info below] and doors, electrical, plumbing, bathroom fixtures, cabinetwork (if desired), and even curtains -- literally everything but the furniture; and (2) "finished shell" which includes the "envelope" and bearing/shear walls, completely finished inside and out (including hardwood floor, exterior doors, and windows), but no (non-bearing/shear) interior partitions, plumbing, wiring (provision is made for subsequent plumbing and wiring), cabinets or fixtures -- this format is intended for home builders who need or desire to control their own interior layout. (We might even consider offering an "unfinished shell", but probably only without trademark or warranty.)
The configurations initially available are a 2-module, 28'x28', 800 SF "base unit" (which in the "complete" version is a one-bedroom, one-bath, with kitchenette, living area, veranda, and walk-in closet), and a 3rd-module (which can be added at any time so long as access is available) which brings the home up to 1200 SF at 28'x42', with the "complete" version now being three-bedroom, two-bath.
Though the design is mine, we also work with both a consulting architect and a structural engineer in The States, and we are using the Modified Texas Hurricane Code as our reference. Additionally, so far as I am aware, we will be offering the only home warranty in Belize (please write me if you know of any other builder here who warrants their work).
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We are currently at the stage of "building up to building". At this writing, we are building the workshop in Maya Centre where the modules will be assembled, and we are preparing lots in the Sittee Point subdivision (near Hopkins) where the first units will be placed. We hope to have a portable "demo" trailer available in the near future.
As to schedule, we hope to be up and running in the workshop within the next two months (March-April 2004), with the first home to be installed somewhere around May-June (2004) -- but we are, of course, talking in terms of "Belize Time"...
We hope to have the "demo trailer" ready for viewing around the end of this month (March 2004), or beginning of next.
You are most welcome to visit us in Maya Centre Village (entrance to Cockscomb, between the Hummingbird-Southern Hwy junction near Dangriga, and the Placencia road-Southern Hwy. junction) anytime, regardless of what stage we're at.
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For contact info, floorplans and renderings, and any questions you have, please write to me at my public email address: [email protected]
Thank you for reading.