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South American SIPS (Stucco Insulated Panel System)

August 19, 2015

A faster way to build affordable housing in a tropical climate

I first saw this construction method in Cairo, Egypt, where I hear they build skyscrapers using a similar system, but I had never seen it done.

Until now—some folks are doing it down the street from me in Guayaquil, Ecuador. It is a quick build when compared to standard block and stucco.

In most of the world, the word construction is practically synonymous with concrete and material (stucco made from cement and sand). The jobsites are wet and messy, and the structures go up slowly.

When it’s always 80-degrees, insulation and airtight building envelopes become a meaningless waste of energy—we never heat and rarely cool.

To improve the construction cycle and reduce labor costs, a system of building units SIPS style foam panels are made from Styrofoam (yes, nothing fancy, the lowest quality expanded polystyrene) with wire mesh panels.

There’s nothing like living in an all concrete home (I live in one) when it comes to a solid feeling underfoot—I can creep around after midnight without the floor creaking to wake up my wife.

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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