Build a House Out of Styrofoam Legos? Nothing Could Be Greener

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By Susan Fogel
“I was 15 minutes into my winter getaway, when I started telling people I was going to live here.” says Kelly Hoogers, 48, from the frozen north we know as Alberta. After five years in La Paz, Hoogers says he sometimes misses the orderliness of life in Canada, but he would rather live with a little disorder and sunshine, then face winters where the mercury dips to 40 degrees below zero.
Hoogers is the Green Prophet, telling all that will listen that he has a better way to build a house. To follow the “gut feeling” he says he had about staying in La Paz, he needed an income. He looked around for opportunities and found home construction. In a town where every other Gringo has a spec house for sale, this could have been a risky venture. But when your story is that you can build a house faster, with no loss of design detail, is fire retardant, does not grow mold, has no formaldehyde, no trees died in the construction, and will be warm in winter and cool in summer, is quiet, and will save you hundreds of dollars a year on electricity, people listen.
Hoogers worked with an ICF product that has a huge share of the Alberta home construction market in Alberta and built his first few homes in Mexico with the insulated concrete form. He has since become a distributor and convert to Novidesa, a Mexican foam material. In McAllen Texas, the University of Texas used Novidesa for their new buildings. Novidesa meets US standards and because it is manufactured in Mexico, Kelly can build his homes for 25% less than the cost of his first projects. In fact, he can deliver a finished 2,000 square foot home with dual pane, low-e windows, custom cabinetry, and a 12 × 20 foot swimming pool for US$125 a square foot.
Kelly says he heard foreigners complaining about their concrete block homes. They were always cold in winter and hot in summer. He is continually surprised that people that know about insulation and dual pane windows will come here and not seek out those materials for their homes. He says it is naivete, a romantic notion about life in Mexico, and just not knowing about the options.
The material, called Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) is thick, dense foam. The foam walls are filled with poured concrete and take a tenth of the time it takes to build a concrete block home. The outer walls of his home in El Centenario, were put up and the concrete was poured on the tenth day, three days later the roof was poured. During the construction process, there was a steady line of pilgrims coming up the mountain to see what Kelly was doing. With Novidesa, the walls and roof are completed in one pour, which results in a more solid and stronger home.
There is very little waste in an ICF home. After completing a garage, Hoogers said he had one black bag of waste. You will not be paying for several round trips of dump trucks removing building waste. Hoogers says some detractors call them “plastic houses” or think design options are limited. He says he can build a house in any design a client likes. No design detail will be lost because of the foam construction. There is an ICF home in Mulege without a straight line in it. The roof has a wave-like design and 80% of the walls are rounded.
The August-September CFE bill for Hooger’s 2,000 square foot home was under 450 pesos, which is about US$37. When Hoogers bids a project, he lives and dies by that bid. But since he does not need a big crew, his labor costs are lower. He can deliver the product and leave your architect and engineer to finish the house. He can train a crew or he will put up the walls and complete the shell and you can bring in a finish team. Or he will build and finish the house for you.
Hoogers has a design team made up of Carlos Rocha, a civil engineer, Elizabeth Valdez, an architect, and Exie Mascorro, a civil engineer. All three of his team speak English and understand the needs and demands of the foreign client. Visit their website or call their office 612-166-2085. They also have an office in Cabo San Lucas, 624-154-0959.
Kelly’s house is in El Centenario and can be seen by appointment. He has four building lots with beautiful views and would love to build a dream home for you. Kelly’s website is and his office number is 612-124-8540. Hoogers and his crew have connected themselves with suppliers and contractors that understand the concept of green construction, which makes their job, and your home-building experience a smooth one that comes in on budget.
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