[Walls ready-click for larger view]
The walls of the guest villa are ready for concrete.

Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page

Report #7:
September 25, 1997



Since our September 9th report about building on a Caribbean island, we have

Hints: Click on any small picture below to see it larger and visit the Site Map for previous and future progress reports, house plans, bookstore and references.

Request for Help!

We are looking for a high-quality source of stainless steel door hinges and other hardware. If you have had good experience with a supplier anywhere in the world and the hinges have held up well over time, please send us the name and telephone numbers. Thanks!

Guest Villa Walls

For this building, we are using a method called Insteel 3D panels, developed by an Austrian company, manufactured in Georgia and Mexico. The system consists of wire mesh panels with a foam core. The structure assembles quickly, you then cut out window and door openings, spray with concrete (similar to spraying gunnite for swimming pools). Advantages claimed: strength, insulation, quick and simple construction. The panels themselves are more expensive than concrete blocks, but labour should be less [although our experience in Anguilla indicates that it can be significantly higher!]

The 3-D Panel

Components of the installed panel include

  1. Foam core for insulation.
  2. Wire mesh on inside and outside.
  3. Welded truss of wire cross pieces.
  4. Sprayed concrete on both sides ("shotcrete").
These panels are 4 feet wide and come in almost any length. They can be used for the walls and roof, and in St. Martin and St. Thomas they are used for cisterns and foundation walls as well.

We visited the 3-D sites on St. Martin and talked to the owners in St. Thomas whose 3-D panel homes went through Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. They said they had no damage during the hurricane with their Insteel structures, while concrete block walls sometimes blew in (it should be noted that US builders do not always put reinforcing rebar in their concrete block walls, while Anguillian builders go overboard on rebar).

3-D Panel Web Pages

The Insteel company doesn't have any product information on the Internet, but users and distributors in Uraguay, Anguilla, and Mexico do

Step 1: Install Rebar Rods

The Guest Villa is a one-bedroom structure including a small kitchen and space for a desk and computer. (Villa plans) The foundation and cistern were completed two weeks ago out of concrete block and poured concrete. We took a break for Hurricane Erika and the peak of the storm danger. During that time the container of 3-D panels arrived on the island.

[Geoff cutting rebar also]

Step One is to drill holes in the slab for 3' lengths of rebar, which are cemented in with a special cement-glue. These rebar rods must be located in precise locations to tie into the panels. Therefore they build the slab first, then layout the walls and mark the precise rod locations. Above you can Geoff Sims-Davies cutting rebar to 3' lengths.

[ drilling holes] [Johhny blowing out the rebar holes]

The crew showed up on Saturday night, ready to drill, but it was raining and the cement dust turned to muck in the rain and threatened to burn out the drills. Luckily, the next day was sunny and clear. Below is a picture of the installed rebar rods.

[rebar rods driled into slab]

Step 2: Frame Up the Walls

[ Holding up the first wall] [levels wall- brace it] [Rod inserting a panel over pipes]

The panels are very light - a single man or woman can lift one into place. Since the utility conduits stick up from the slab and will go within the panels, you must first burn out slots in the foam with a blow torch. The panels are levelled and temporarily braced. They are then connected with overlapping wire mesh sheets and fastened with wire ties using a special gun.

[corners strengthened with extra mesh and rebar] [burn out room for concrete around rebar] [conduits come up for the panel box]

The corners of the building are strengthened with extra mesh and rebar. The final house will have concrete posts and beams just like a standard Anguilla house. When the walls are up, extra rebar is inserted wherever a post in desired, then the foam is burned out in and concrete is added to make a structural column or beam that is also integrated with the wall mesh.

The last picture above shows the electrical conduits coming out of the floor for the electrical panel box.

Step 3: Sub-Frames for Doors/Windows

[wooden sub-frames inset for windows] [extra support at corners]

As described in our August 22nd report, we purchased wooden louvered windows in Puerto Rico. For each opening, the workers cut a hole in the wire mesh, cut out the foam, and build a wooden subframe, which is then stampled to the mesh. Extra wire support was added at the corners, as you can see in the picture above.

The exterior electrical work is done and the walls are now ready for concrete to be applied to the outside.

Next Progress Report: Spraying the Concrete

Site Map: Links, Plans and Other Info

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Plans of the Main House

Plans of the Software Center

Plans of the Guest Villa

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Beach Shack Contact:

Mary Ann Green
Box 931, Shoal Bay, Anguilla, West Indies
Fax: 264-497-3295
[Home] [Mail] URL: www.beachshack.ai
Email: maryann@beachshack.ai