Why use Bamboo?
Bamboo is a beautiful, strong, sustainable building product that with proper treatment should last for generations in a properly constructed home.
How strong is Bamboo?
Stronger than steel for its weight. Higher in compression than concrete, for load bearing structures. It is even more flexible than wood.
What about insects?
Our bamboo is treated with a boron product widely used in the wood and bamboo treatment industry. This product is virtually non toxic to mammals, but is toxic to insects. Wood beetles and termites avoid it. Our bamboo is treated in a fashion where the treatment spans the entire wall thickness of the bamboo culm, so that no matter where you cut it, it is always treated.
What about fire?
Bamboo is naturally fire resistant, much more so than most conventional building woods. When you add in the Boron treatment, the fire resistance goes up. Borax and Boric acid are used as fire retardants commercially.
How does your plumbing differ from standard systems used in Panama?
We use PEX water piping, which is new to Panama. It is more expensive than PVC but is the only system that is legal to use under a concrete floor. There are no joints in the tubes under the floor, only above floor. The tube does not come in contact with the concrete, though it is rated and used for in floor hydronic heating.
We use a Bio-Digester septic system which allows the effluent to be utilized for irrigation if desired.
I am a plumbing contractor, and the system is designed to be properly vented and the vents are installed under eaves out of direct rain. No tees are installed under toilets ensuring good drainage.
How does your electrical system differ from most Panama construction?
We are using wall systems utilized in North America, mostly for commercial construction. Therefore, we can use romex wiring. This reduces costs of materials and labor. 95% of wiring is above floor. We also install a secondary box near the main panel with a conduit to the outside, to separate out circuits for easier installation of a PV solar system or generator.
How does your system make these houses affordable?
It isn’t by saving on materials. We use higher quality and more costly materials in many parts of construction than most other systems. We save on labor. We also save in some key areas like foundations. We are not supporting a heavy block home with a tile roof. By repetition and use of molds and jigs, we are able to reduce the labor costs while maintaining higher quality of materials. In the end product, you get a better value in the materials utilized and a more consistent quality product produced in a shorter time frame. All of these factors add up to a more affordable home.