[Homestead] Tropical concrete construction

Don Bowen don.bowen at earthlink.net
Thu Sep 9 22:00:26 EDT 2004

At 9/9/2004, you wrote:
>Have always been mildly interested in coconuts in the northern hemisphere 
>ever since I flew a Grumman Widgeon into a small Bahama Island I was 
>interested in buying---one time quite a palatial residence with automatic 
>diesel generator.  Unfortunately the salt air got to the rebar in the 
>house walls and the resultant rust swelled and cracked all the concrete.

Mention was made earlier of using concrete construction to weather 
hurricanes.  I was on the Island of Saipan last June for the 60th 
anniversary of the invasion.  There most houses are built of concrete block 
using Chinese cement and local coral limestone as aggregate.  Last year I 
was on Rota and watched an automated block plant in operation.

Due to a quirk in the laws and human nature that says something is never 
truly finished, most buildings have exposed rebar on the tops of the outer 
walls.  This means the building is unfinished for tax purposes and allows 
the homeowner to add on in the future if needed.

Saipan is a small tropical island and very humid.  Cars do not last more 
than about 10 years and it is the rare one that does.  Most Toyota pickups 
more than about 5 years old have the tops rusting off.  I saw a 10 year 
Toyota car with the passenger side window falling out the bottom of the 
door.  About the only things that last more than about 10 years are Nissan 
pickups.  That rust attacks rebar and many houses have large chunks of the 
walls falling off as those oxygen atoms combine with iron and increase the 
size of the rebar.  My brothers house has leaks where rebar in the ceiling 
is popping the concrete apart.

He just went through a typhoon that almost lifted the roof off the 
carport.  A woman who he works with had her kitchen roof blown off.  Many 
houses there have the kitchen outdoors.  The lowest low is 70.  The girl 
from FSM did not  know what a coat was.

Don Bowen
Awl Knotted Up Woodworking
Valley Center, CA             http://www.braingarage.com

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