Construction Updates

Construction Update 04 – July 2017

After completion of the installation of Piles on Building 1, we took a step back and assessed the performance, reliability and accountability of using 1 of only a handful of contractors in Belize to build a 6-story structure. We looked carefully at the construction management process, availability of skilled labor and the risk of being held ransom by contractors and or sub-contractors. What we discovered was evaluated carefully and led us to the conclusion that the risk for project overruns, delays and potential risks of inadequate structural and building methodology was just too great for us to feel comfortable committing to any contracting firm.

This led us to re-evaluate the structure and look for ways to accelerate construction without sacrificing structural integrity, while giving us better control over the construction timeline. Building in Belize has been done the same way for many years; traditional concrete mason construction with reinforced steel and poured concrete, CMU blocks etc… This is all good and well for a 2 or maximum 3 story structure, but once you go up to mid-rise levels, your wind loading and structural stresses double and in some cases, exceed that. Albert Einstein described it best when he defined the “Definition of Insanity” – “To continue to do the same thing day in and day out and expect a different result”.

We needed to have the required hurricane rated wind loading, structural bracing for lateral loads and enough flexing within our superstructure to handle seismic loads. We had already done that with our piled foundation, but now we needed to go vertical and ensure all loads where properly distributed through the structure.

Palm Reef is a unique project that will be setting standards for development in the region for some time. This will not be limited to fit and finish or facilities and amenities, but needs to extend through to the engineering and construction of the project. After a lot of research and meetings back and forth we have finalized the projects construction methodology.

After evaluating construction trends and looking very carefully at mid-rise developments globally, we decided to bring new and faster construction techniques to Belize…

After months of design, engineering and evaluation, we are proud to announce that we have formally entered into a contract with Allied Steel Buildings in Ft Lauderdale to build the superstructure to Florida Building Code (IBC 2009) for hurricane Coastal Seismic Regions. The superstructure will be manufactured using hot rolled 16-inch steel structural members that are then hot dipped galvanized for corrosion protection and shipped down to use. All connectors will be bolted, and the design literally shaves months of construction off the project timeline.

It is Allied Steel’s privilege to work with Palmetto Holdings Limited for the Palm Reef Resort on this fantastic project. We are incredibly excited to be working in Belize on what will be one of the region’s finest developments.

Allied looks forward to growing our working relationship by providing the future expansion of the project while contributing to its long-term success. – Allied Steel Building

This was a challenging task as we had to ensure that each vertical steel column sat in the same position as the original, traditional concrete column, however, we managed to achieve this thanks to Allied Steel’s engineering team. Each column will be hidden, floors will be poured concrete with no visible difference to the owners, and all ceilings and floors are traditional concrete. The challenge was how do we make this building look and feel like a traditional concrete building, but under the skin make it stronger, lighter and faster to build.

Palm Reef Superstructure Front View (From Beach)

Palm Reef Elevated Front View (From Beach looking South West)
Notice how the structure is designed to exactly follow the shape of the Palm Reef building

16 Inch Beams Horizontal and Vertical

The speed in which this building can be manufactured and constructed is incredible. Allied Steel has a factory in Corona, Mexico that will assemble and pack the structure in containers and truck it down to us in Belize. Assembly is very simple; each piece is numbered and is raised by a crane and bolted in place.

The Challenges

1) Pile Caps Re-design Due to the new superstructure design, we have had to re-engineer and re-design our Pile Caps to ensure proper bracing and support, which included: re-design of pile caps, anchor bolt embedment design, grade beam design and base plate design for connecting beams to internal pile cap structures. We have formally entered into a contract with Maheias Engineering to design, build and install the sub-structures. The engineering teams at Allied are now working with Maheias Engineering on the ground in Belize to finalize the design and mobilize the construction of the new Pile Caps. This is underway at present and we look forward to updating you as they get these completed.

2) Exterior & Party Walls Now that we had the superstructure figured out, we needed to get a construction solution for our exterior and party walls that could seamlessly work with this new structure. Poured concrete floors and ceiling slabs with pans and reinforced steel grids were selected so we have now effectively reduced the buildings weight by a healthy percentage. But how could we now connect the walls to the structure? Another evaluation process started, with us finally settling on again another newer and more effective construction process that will shave more time off the construction while bringing major benefits to the project.

We have found the solution and decided to move forward on using ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms). These are now being used throughout the Caribbean and are ideally suited to our building design; better insulation, faster construction and less weight. The latter being vitally important, since we do not require the exterior walls to handle any major vertical loads from the floors above. These are now only needed for bracing glazing systems and mainly lateral loads, such as wind.

Easy modular construction that fits over the extruded vertical rebar and raises up from the floor slab, down from the ceiling slab, are then joined to vertical steel supports inside the ICF blocks. Finally, concrete is sprayed in to the ICF space and we have a light, strong wall with a vapor and insulation barrier on each side, exterior finish is done with concrete/stucco and interior can be finished with many different options.

Maheias Engineering uses a laser to survey the Piles to pinpoint their exact locations so they can move forward with the Caps

Construction Update 03 – Nov 2016

Newly constructed 65ft 14”x14” Piles in Belize city transported daily to Placencia. Pre-stressed friction Piles ensure our load capacity is within our tolerances and requirements for the structure. Inspection and measuring of the resistance of each Pile. Over 70 Piles have now been driven as we start planning the foundation substructures, Pile Caps and water and waste holding tanks.

The former 1 bedroom D unit and the Jr. Studio H unit, joined to create new D unit, a competitively priced 2 bedroom lock off.

The Private rooftop deck has been redesigned to attract meetings, incentives, conferences and event business for the hotel and rental program.

Construction Update 02 – May 2016

Initial removal of test piles, building footprint clearing, excavation and levelling of Building 1 footprint. Site works setup, clearing and levelling of construction yard for contractors & sub-contractors, storage yard and site construction offices and workshops. Clearing and cutting of access road from Phase 1 building site to construction yard and site works.

After extensive and comprehensive design and engineering upgrades to Palm Reef Resort, Phase 1, Building 1, broke ground on May 03, 2016.

Construction Update 01 – May 2016

Reception Building exterior upgrade and completion of hard finishes for condo hotel reception interior.