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'Growth Rings' of Cash Houses

February 14, 2016

Each layer reveals personal and technological circumstances

Here in Central America, homes and buildings go up slowly, over decades. Instead of mortgages, people use cash—at the pace that cash flow allows.

Because of this, folks often finish one floor and occupy it for years before adding the next story. The backs of buildings rarely get finished, so they reveal a lot. In these unfinished sections you can see the layers of progression and prosperity.

Each layer has its own materials and construction type, depending on what was available, affordable, and trade practice at the time of construction.

Like rings on a tree, the layers denote the ages.

Fernando Pagés Ruiz is ProTradeCraft's Latin America Editor. He is currently building a business in Ecuador and a house in Mexico. Formerly, he was a builder in the Great Plains and mountain states. He is author of Building an Affordable House and Affordable Remodel (Taunton Press).

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