Construction techniques and
architectural styles will vary from region to region and from country to
country. The selection of material should take into account accessibility,
cost, durability, and appearance as well as skill levels of construction
personnel and local construction practices. If the construction techniques and
materials to be used are too different from those used by construction workers,
then it may be necessary to train them to ensure quality work.
The use of sawn wood in the primary
structure is problematic in humid climates due to deterioration, dry rot, and
termites; Without chemical pressure treatment, such wood is often not a
suitable material. In regions of the Caribbean and Central America that have
been deforested, wood must be imported, raising the cost of construction and
relegating it to uses of specialties such as logs, beams, and internal walls.
Reinforced concrete (concrete
reinforced with bars or steel fabrics) in the form of a block or panel as well
as enhanced concrete blocks are used in urban sites, where owners and builders
build multi-story buildings. Reinforced concrete has been shown to have
excellent resistance to earthquakes and excellent resistance to wind, fire, and
termites. It is a widely used technique that is accessible due to a large
number of local production plants. The brick made of cooked mud and reinforced
with concrete in the equines and around windows is another commonly used
material. Adobe (walls of earth or blocks reinforced with straw and cooked by
the sun) is a construction material that is particularly appropriate for arid
climates and where access to the site or area is limited.
In some areas, prefabricated modules
(as well as those for roofs and wooden panels) can be employed, simplifying the
construction process. Because it minimizes the need for intermediate elements
for frameworks, roofing with zinc-coated galvanized steel has become popular in
many regions. Unfortunately, it transmits heat, and when it rains, it produces
noise. One method to alleviate the heat problem has been to make roofs with
double layers of corrugated material, providing an air source to allow heat to
escape. Due to the force of the hurricane winds, terraces made of blocks or
concrete plates are preferred, especially for those structures that serve as
shelters and places of public assemblies such as schools and churches.
Finally, composite cement and wood
panels made from a blended mixture of wood fibers, chips and fiber, and cement
are used for interior and exterior walls in small house projects instead of
solid and thick reinforced concrete panels. They can be finished with a cement
mortar “stucco” to look like concrete constructions.
A factor in the selection of materials
is the criterion of conservation and environmental impact. Bricks need wood
fuel to be made, but that is not the case with panels and concrete blocks.