Another panel-system building kit for home construction in the islands
We have discussed the "force-10" pre-fab panel kits for home construction on this website a few times in the past. Now there is another panel kit being used in construction on STX that people might also want to check into. The website for information about the product is: www.thermasteelcorp.com
You can check out a house going up on Lot 228 in Judith's Fancy. The builder said the first floor walls went up in about one day. It took them a couple days to put on the floor deck between the first and second floors. Then the second floor walls went up in a day. Two weeks later they had the roof on and now they are ready to work on the wiring. Another house under contstruction that poured its slab the same time as this property is still sitting at the slab stage. That property owner is watching the house on 228 go up with amazement at the speed.
The guy building the house out of the thermasteel product said that the kit for the walls cost him about $10 per square foot ($30K for a 3000 square foot house). He didn't use their panels for the floors or the roof on this house but might the next time around now that he's had the chance to work with the product and see what the possibilities are.
The panels look like thick styrofoam slabs with steel wrapped edges. They go together like an erector set similar to how the Force 10 panels hook together. You then tape the seams and stucco the interior and exterior when you are ready to finish the walls. You wind up with a house that exceeds the Dade County hurricane codes and has a really high r-value for insulation to help with your A/C costs.
There are a lot of options in how you use this product and you can design your floorplan however you would like and the company pre-cuts and measures all your panels and ships them along with an instruction sheet on what pieces go together where. It saves so much in time and effort and labor expenses that you can build a house much cheaper than other construction methods allow. For the do-it-yourself'er, this product enables someone to construct their own house without the back breaking labor of stacking brick on brick with traditional masonry block and also makes it possible to complete a house within a reasonable timeframe.
If anyone else has experience with this product, please contact me with your experiences as I want to hear as much feedback as possible.
The builder I met who is constructing a two-story house out of this product in Judith's Fancy said the product is produced in the States so he didn't have to pay excise tax on the kit when it arrived on STX. I don't know exactly who he purchased it through. I'll try to get that info.
The photo galleries on the thermasteelcorp website show all kinds of house designs, from affordable homes to mansions to commercial buildings to ski resort type chalets. You can design your own floor plan. You don't have to choose from a few that are offered and pre-designed as with so many other pre-fab panel kits. DPNR has issused at least this one permit for construction with the product, so they don't have an objection to it if the house plan is approved by your architect and engineer.
Another benefit to this product was that it can be built up to 5 stories tall versus Force-10 at only 2 stories tall. You can also put on whatever kind of roof you like with thermasteel. Force-10 requires that you use their ceiling system which doesn't allow the high vaults that are popular here. The guy building the house in Judith's Fancy put in a wood beam ceiling with tongue in groove cypress and then insulated before putting on plywood and elastomeric roof top. There just seems to be a lot of flexibility with this product.
Force-10 homes are less expensive to insure than cinderblock because the manufacturer guarantees the product for 20 years if it is constructed by one of their authorized/trained contractors. I have asked that question about thermasteel and am waiting for the response and information. Since these are being built through the southeast hurricane zone, there is a good chance that they are not more expensive to insure.
Here is one that is offered here on STT:
To their credit, ThermaSteel pioneered the steel-framed EPS panel system in 1975. The exterior and interior finishes are conventional. You might also take a look at GigaCrete. It's a radical simplification and re-invention of the concept of a super insulated steel framed structure. In this case, rigid EPS panels are pre-engineered to slide into and also cover (insulate) the patented steel frame, hence, breaking the thermal bridge. Exclusive fire-rated non Portland mineral-based coatings of immensely high strength (up to 10,000 psi) and durability are sprayed directly on the erected Steel/EPS shell, inside and out, thereby encapsulating the entire structure from roof to base. No wood or drywall is used. It's green. Two workers with simple tools can erect a house in less than a week. Waterproof, hurricane proof (200mph) and zone 4 earthquake resistant. Recently, GC established a subsidiary in USVI.