Construction Methodology at Coco Beach

The following description of our construction methods is written to provide a basic understanding of the methodology used to construct villas at Coco Beach. Further details are available upon request.

At Coco Beach all villas are build using very strict standards of construction. The villas build are both earthquake and hurricane resistant due to the usage of sufficient concrete and other reinforcements. The structural integrity of the villas is warranted through the usage of licensed contractors and architects. It is important to note that Coco Beach has no major hurricane risk, but given the location of Panama, some limited earthquake risk does exist.

At Panama Portfolio we use two different construction methods, each with specific advantages; the “seismic block and concrete method” and “concrete KMS paneling method” Both these methods are described below for reference purposes.

Deviations from these methodologies are at the discretion of the building manager and will be explained in detail.

Building methodologies

Method 1: Normal Seismic Block and concrete Method.

The construction method is strong and permanent ( Hurricane and Earth Quake Resistant).

FoundationsSteel reinforced concrete foundations.
SlabThe slab is 150 mm and steel mat reinforced with under the slab the integration of electrical and plumbing pipes.
WallsThe walls are built from cement 6” , 4” and 8” blocks with mortar  (cement) , each wall has concrete grat 2 mm steel reinforced columns that start from the foundation to roof height and are connected together with 12 mm reinforced “ Ring Beams” which forms the base for the roof trusses to be placed onto.
The columns and Ring Beam are for seismic/earthquake protection.
RoofThe roof trusses are made from galvanized steel beams, which  are welded and rust proof. They sit on the ring beam and are secured by steel re-bars being welded to the trusses and roof truss ties that pass under the ring beam. This prevents roof
damage from strong winds.
Roof tiles are secured by galvanized 3” or 4” screws. Roof coverage can be steel or clay tiles with this method.
PlasterThe entire house is concrete plastered.
WindowsChoices between aluminum and PVC windows are advised, but wood can also be used.
DoorsSteel doors, wood doors, aluminum doors can all be used.

Method 2: KMS Panels – Concrete Gunite Spraying Method

The construction method is strong and permanent (Hurricane and Earth Quake Resistant).

It is a polystyrene sandwich panel with galvanized grated mess on each side, plastered by means of a Gunite Method.

Major benefit is the insulation property, which potentially reduces electricity usage by up to 30%.

FoundationsSteel reinforced concrete foundations. The slab has re-bar that is spaced at 1m intervals that is cemented into the wall panels.
SlabThe slab is 150 mm and steel mat reinforced with underneath the slab electrical and plumbing pipes.
WallsThe walls are built from KMS sandwich panels, with galvanized steel mesh on each side, the walls are connected to the slab by re-bar.
The walls are plastered by the method of Gunite applied mortar applied under pressure using a compressor, ensuring maximum penetration.
The walls are plastered with two “coats or applications” of the pressured mortar and the smoothed and skimmed as per a normal wall.
The walls look and feel like normal concrete and block walls but with far superior insulation properties.
The walls are unlikely to have any settling or plaster cracks due to both sides being plastered over the galvanized wire mesh on each side.

Roof building methodology

Option 1:
The roof trusses are made from galvanized steel beams, which are welded and rust proofed. They sit on the walls panels and are secured by steel re-bars being welded to the galvanized mesh on the walls. Roof tiles are secured by galvanized 3” or 4” screws. Roof coverage can be steel or clay tiles with this method.

Option 2:
The very same panels as in option 1 but larger. Larger 6” panels are secured to the walls, and the roof is a flat roof. The house has a 100 mm concrete roof, covered with a Gunite cement application to seal the walls to the roof slab. The roof has a 3 -5 degree run-off for water dispersion. This does allow for a terrace on the roof.

Plaster used

The entire house in Gunite method applied, concrete plastered walls.

Windows used

Choice between aluminum and PVC windows are advised, but wood can also be used.

Doors used

Steel doors, wood doors, aluminum doors can all be used.

Comparison between both methodologies

Given the above building methodologies it is important to note that the cost differences between the different methods are minimal, as the second fixed structure method takes longer to set up, but is normally quicker to finish. Construction time periods are similar using both building methodologies.

Our construction manager, Gary Wilson, will be happy to discuss further details relating to our building methodologies with you.

Hurricane and Earthquake Resistant Building Methodology

Please let us re-assure you, Panama has no major hurricane risk. Please review
the website of the National Hurricane Center https://www.nhc.noaa.gov and you will find that hurricanes normally are created above the warm waters of the eastern Caribbean and Western Africa, after which they move west and veer off to the north, i.e. towards the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Florida, USA.

Panama is located too far south and is not in the path of the majority of hurricanes.
There have been only 4 hurricanes that impacted mainly the Bocas del Toro area in the north-western part of Panama, however Coco Beach is located at the Pacific Coast, a totally different area, and therefore shielded from hurricanes moving west.

We like to be exact, therefore we hereby describe the four hurricanes and tropical storms that impacted Panama in the last 50 years. The only tropical storm ever to make landfall in Panama is tropical cyclone “Martha”. “Martha” made landfall in the Bocos del Toro area in 1969 and it impacted mainly Bocas del Toro due to severe rainfall. Hurricane “Otto” caused the only 9 fatalities recorded in Panama due to hurricanes in the last 50 years (1996) and again mainly impacted Costa Rica and the north-western area of Panama (Bocas del Toro), not Coco Beach. In 2005 hurricane “Beta” impacted mainly again the Caribbean north-west of Panama, and to our knowledge did not result in any reported fatalities. Finally in 2017 hurricane “Nate” impacted mainly Costa Rica.

What is important to realize relating to Panama and hurricanes:

  • No hurricane has ever made landfall in the Coco Beach area of Chiriquí.
  • Hurricanes are extremely rare in Panama as Panama is located too far south and is not in the normal path of hurricanes;
  • Hurricanes are always west to northwest bound, and therefore mainly impact the Bocas del Toro area, far away from Coco Beach.

What is important to realize relating to Coco Beach and earth quakes:

  • Coco Beach villas are build to withstand earthquakes in accordance with Panamanian earthquake building code
  • There is an earthquake risk at Coco Beach, since 1941, a total of 9 earthquakes have been recorded in Panama and Costa Rica which caused moderate damage, this compares to 48 earthquakes of similar magnitude recorded in California USA in the same time period.
  • Our construction manager, Gary Wilson, is happy to address any of your concerns and explain the exact measures taken to build earthquake resistant villas at Coco Beach. To a large extent these are similar to the measures taken in for instance California, USA.

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