Revolutionising Residential Real Estate Engineering Principles
Whilst the creation of socially cohesive, affordable and environmentally friendly housing ecosystems can simply no longer be avoided by the many countries with huge deficits, there can be little hope for a future of sustained growth unless key engineering principles are meticulously adhered to.
Unfortunately, however, the sector has never convincingly been able to adapt to the technical demands established by reputable housing finance institutions. Such organisations are unable to run the risk of underwriting loans where important technical standards have been compromised so that financial affordability limits of the lowest income groups are catered to.
The copyright protected Fez Tá Pronto Construction System – based on knowledge gained over 25 years of Brazilian sector experience – has effectively surpassed the inefficiencies that hold back progress within this massively in-demand market. The incorporation of patented gypsum plaster blocks (that possess a number of important technical benefits, highlighted below) within the streamlined methodologies enables high-spec, durable and resistant homes to be built cost effectively and subsequently sold at considerably lower (and genuinely affordable) values.
Most importantly, previous projects in Brazil have been surveyed by internal engineers and subsequently approved for mortgage finance purposes by the Caixa Econômica Federal (financial administrators of the Minha Casa, Minha Vida program), Banco do Brasil, Banco Itaú and Banco Real (now part of the Santander Group).
Fez Tá Pronto – A Semi-Industrialised Construction Process
Blame for the sluggish progress witnessed in Brazil´s low income housing sector is often attributed to inefficient labour management operating in line with over-complicated building procedures, particularly during the masonry and utility instillation processes. As a result, projects often take longer than planned – producing a range of cash-flow and other financial management problems.
The Fez Tá Pronto Construction System serves to eliminate the commonly recognised operational downsides without corner cutting and abandoning definitive engineering fundamentals. Contrary to what is often assumed, the patented gypsum plaster block is only used in essential masonry processes and not for foundations, structural support, slabs, roofing / coverings or in any of the external infrastructure facilities adopted in our condominiums.
Engineers and technical specialists that analyse the project will therefore see that we are not rewriting core construction principles – but merely adapting the very versatile nature of gypsum plaster´s practical use in construction, enabling utility consolidation to be undertaken simultaneously with block mounting in a manner never before witnessed amongst the incorporation of other key benefits.
For this reason; combined with the inherently detailed logistical management processes where hard workers are financially incentivised (more productivity = more pay); the construction system enables productivity to reach levels formerly viewed as unrealistic – with developments mounted (regardless of scale) in 50% less time compared to models used by the leading Brazilian construction companies. Our technical presentations, for example, demonstrate a conservatively estimated 18m² of consolidated masonry per block mounter and assistant per day (compared to a maximum of 5m² achieved under standard methodologies).
Streamlined Labour and Construction Site Management / Logistical Processes
Today, amongst environments of low paid, incapacitated and inefficiently deployed workforces on many Brazilian building sites being the norm – combined the heavy labour, social charge, national security and tax obligations involved in the administration of real estate development projects – it is difficult to see how the affordable housing sector can genuinely move forward at the scale necessary.
The semi-industrial nature of the Fez Tá Pronto Construction System presents a unique compilation of mechanisms that enables these difficulties to be categorically overcome. To provide some outline, using the development of apartment blocks as a reference:
- The initial stages of the project are undertaken by contracted land preparation, infrastructure, foundation and superstructure specialists;
- The subsequent masonry mounting, the most laborious stage of any project, is executed via the deployment of teams of block mounters (trained in no more than a few hours), unqualified assistants (one accompanying each block mounter), electricians, plumbers and carpenters – with team sizes being adjusted according to the number of units in the block and the area of each floor;
- All teams will also have a manager with proven experience. Whilst the slabs (with inbuilt staircases) are subsequently installed (by a third party specialist), the mounting teams are strategically moved to initiate or resume the consolidated masonry on other blocks – with this cyclical team allocation process being repeated until all floors (and accompanying superstructure) are completed;
- Upon the completion of the floors, third party contractors will be used to construct the in-built roofing structure (with waterproofing, guttering and other treatments) – complementarily incorporating solar panels (with heating tanks), cisterns and the completion of the dual hydraulic network;
- Shortly after the completion of a floor the following building site contractors initiate work: plasterers (internal / external), gypsum coating specialists (ceilings and walls), window / door fitters, painters (internal / external), decorators, external fitting specialists, tile setters (walls and floors) and skirting fitters as well as general labour and cleaning staff;
- We also have on site stock takers, a security team, assembly line monitoring staff as well as on-site administrators (including an accountant), development masters and a chief (supervisory) engineer.
It is the detailed logistical / management planning, combined with the rapid ability to mount consolidated masonry (regardless of project size) – all outlined in detail in our Data Room – that means that our entire staff base is not left idle at any point and production times are significantly reduced.
Adherence to Technical and Engineering Norms in Brazil – NBR 15.575 (Revised)
After taking some time to be fully concluded, the 200 updated technical requirements stipulated under norm 15.575 established by the Association of Brazilian Technical Norms (ABNT) (Performance Guidelines for Residential Buildings), governing construction production chains, will be fully enforceable as at July 2013. The norm is essentially divided into 6 broad areas: (i) general requirements; (ii) structural system requirements; (iii) flooring requirements; (iv) internal and external masonry requirements; (v) roofing requirements and (vi) hydro-sanitary system requirements.
Readily open to any form of technical audit deemed necessary, a range of reports / detailed chronological diagrams / calculation logs / work diaries will demonstrate that all aspects of the Fez Tá Pronto Construction System will fall very comfortably under these revised (and arguably more scrupulous) standards, in addition to a range of other ABNT norms as well as the standards established under the Brazilian Program of Housing Quality and Productivity (PBQP-H). Some of the most important factors include long term durability (building lifespan), vibration, stability, resistance to all the elements / season changes, fire proofing, the consolidation of plumbing / wiring, hydro-sanitation, electrical consolidation / safety, serviceability, roof protection, waterproofing, versatility and environmental adherence.
Exceptional Properties of Fez Tá Pronto Gypsum Plaster Blocks
The use of gypsum in the construction process dates back 7000BC, when it was applied in its rawest natural rock form of in Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and Syria (Aram). Its growth continued for both decorative and construction purposes in Babylonia, Mesopotamia and Assyria. Research has also demonstrated that the ancient Egyptians crushed gypsum into powder before mixing it with water for use as a mineral bond for building blocks. Such methodologies were adopted to construct the Sphinx, the tomb of Tutankhamen and the great pyramids. The ancient Greek popularly used forms of gypsum in the construction of temples and historical evidence is also available of the use of gypsum plaster as a building material between 327-287 BC in Phoenicia. In 1765, French chemist Lavoisier analysed the make-up of gypsum which – in line with the discovery and mining of the material in the Montmartre district of Paris – led to an emergence of “Plaster of Paris” as a building material.
Today, the use of gypsum plaster blocks in the construction sector is often misconstrued due to being incorrectly perceived as a substitute for drywall – a product where a thin film of the material is placed between two placards of reinforced paper meaning that, once moistened, most masonry is destroyed and unsalvageable.
Fez Tá Pronto gypsum plaster blocks, however, function entirely differently due to the fact that the post-manufactured material possesses a number of important physical features that adhere to the most exhaustive global building material requirements. Indeed, Brazil´s construction industry has used gypsum plaster blocks for internal and external structures for the last 30 years – however many projects have failed to produce proven and scalable results in practice, invariably due to a lack of understanding of adapting gypsum in line with established construction norms.
Fez Tá Pronto Gypsum Blocks External and Moist Area Usage
Another misconception often made in relation to gypsum plaster blocks is their inability to be used beyond internal wall partitioning – often prompted by the tainted reputation of drywall mentioned in the last section, which, in fact, has very little in relation to gypsum´s use in a block form, as well as lack of understanding of the physical and chemical properties.
Engineering and technical auditors will be presented a wide range of academic and sector based research which demonstrates the various advantageous inherent capacities of Fez Tá Pronto blocks (under various extreme wet and dry environmental conditions) even without being internally and externally plastered.
The Brazilian Supply Chain and Production Capacity of Gypsum Plaster Blocks
Brazil is in a particularly fortunate position of having one of the largest reserves of gypsum in the world, yet its scaled use in the country´s construction industry as a key project component is largely focused in northern Pernambuco, undergoing a relatively slow growth trajectory since the 1960s. Albeit largely inaccessible at the present time, there are also notably-sized (albeit relativey unexplored) reserves in the states of Bahia, Pará, Maranhão, Ceará and Tocantins.
Generating employment and income generation in what remains a poor region of Brazil, a 1-3 minimum salary apartment building will require approximately 1,625 standard blocks (due to the low overheads and strong profit margins, we pay our manufacturing staff well). The moulded blocks are delivered to the south of the Brazil between 14 and 21 working days. Whilst there are some risks may emerge in relation to the very poor state of the country´s highway network (although a noticeable amount of infrastructural reform is underway), our scheduling and logistical planning incorporates a range transport and other practical delays. With larger scaled projects, we will transport the calcinated material to the project´s location for blocks to be produced on site, creating notable cost and energy savings.
Fez Tá Pronto Brazilian Housing Units
We do not prioritise the construction of single storey housing developments to due urban demands being so high and the associated infrastructure complications (i.e. the need for waste, water, electrics and illuminations to be spread over larger tracts of land). Due to the financial viability of our apartment block model, we therefore focus on structures of between 2 and 6 levels (depending on local planning permissions) under the following specifications:
1-3 minimum salary housing unit (47.7m² constructed area space with a living room, 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and service / laundry area) (based on a 264 or 256 unit models) – low-maintenance developments will be constituted into blocks of 3 or 4 levels (12 or 16 units per block), each apartment has its own 5.5m x 2.2m external car parking space) with the following installations: entrance gates (vehicle / pedestrian); 2 lane main road (with sufficient space for heavy vehicles; an entrance cabin incorporating a toilet and wash basin (for condominium management staff); 24 hour CCTV (16 cameras and monitoring system, located and operated via the entrance cabin); trash cans (2 x 180/240 litre and 4 x selective recycle bins per 12/16 unit block); grassed leisure area (including children´s play apparatus and seating) with each block possessing 12/16 externally lockable postal boxes and disabled / elderly ramp access for ground floor residents. Some external visualisation examples can be viewed by clicking on the link to the right (the Campos dos Goytacazes project).
4-6 minimum salary housing unit (57.2m² constructed area space with a living room, 2 bedrooms (one with en-suite facilities), a bathroom, a kitchen, a service / laundry area) (based on a 2-phased 288 unit model) – developments will be constituted into blocks of 2, 3 or 4 levels (8, 12 or 16 units per block, depending on local height restrictions), each apartment with its own 5.5m x 2.2m car parking space) with the following installations: entrance gates (vehicle / pedestrian); 2 lane main road (with sufficient space for heavy vehicles; entrance cabin incorporating a toilet and wash basin (for condominium management staff); 24 hour CCTV (20 cameras and monitoring system, located and operated via the entrance cabin); trash cans (2 x 120/180/240 litre and 4 x selective recycle bins per 8/12/16 unit block); grassed leisure area (including children´s play apparatus and seating); soccer / basketball area (soft concrete), kiosks with sufficient BBQ facilities for all residents usage with each block possessing 8/12/16 externally lockable postal boxes and disabled / elderly ramp access for ground floor residents.
Fez Tá Pronto Construction in Relation to Other Low Income Housing Technologies
Our work has led us to be introduced to a number of other construction materials purporting to tackle the 35 million-unit annually rising global housing deficit (UN data) – examples of which include pre-fabricated concrete walls, cement boards, ecological mud bricks, bamboo structures, recycled waste blocks, containers and filled gypsum plaster blocks.
From a general perspective – whilst exploration and research into new materials for low income housing must always be welcome, and without disregarding the work of our peers, cautionary steps are necessary to ensure that construction technologies do not end up imposing more harm than good. Indeed, without incorporating fundamental technical / engineering standards that sufficiently meet the expectations of the developed world real estate markets, the shelf life of such materials and techniques will be too short. It is therefore important for us to move beyond the notions of incremental microfinance and single storey housing produced with impractical materials – understanding that the problem has become far too large for such strategies to be successfully implemented.
The Fez Tá Pronto Construction Systems´ innovation not only comes from the proven technical characteristics of internal and external gypsum plaster masonry, but the core interrelationship of procedural, logistic and management processes that form the copyright itself. Gypsum plaster blocks are indeed becoming increasingly recognised as a valid building material but their inclusion within the methodologies we use actually forms a small part of the success of any construction project we execute. Indeed, without the system´s incorporation, it is almost certain that developments will confront problems – some of which may be irreversible unless significant further investment is applied.