SAN JUAN – Given the need in Puerto Rico for safe and resilient structures due to the frequency of natural events, as well as to help eradicate irregular construction that endangers the lives of many families during these events, the secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), Manuel Laboy Rivera, announced on Thursday the free availability of safe home plans.
“When Hurricanes Irma and María hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, about half of the single-family residences were of informal construction. It is estimated that 47 percent of the homes on the island were built without the use of formal plans and were not designed by professionals, and through these plans we address this situation, ”Laboy Rivera said in a written communication.
“Through these plans for the development of safe homes, we offer an important tool for the construction or reconstruction process of thousands of homes affected by Hurricane María, as well as by the telluric events at the beginning of the year. In addition, we discourage informal construction and encourage the use of the new Building Codes, ”stated Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced.
He explained that the project consists of four models of modular housing of social interest to choose from. The modules are available in models of one or two floors in concrete, wood, and in combination of materials. They are modular designs to which (in a planned way and with the assistance of a professional) modules with more rooms can be added.
The main module is a 20’x 24 ‘house with two bedrooms, living / dining room, kitchen, bathroom and balcony. The options of modules to add are two (2) of 10’x24 ‘each. If a family uses the plans with all the modules, the house would have up to 5 bedrooms and two bathrooms.
In addition, the Assistant Secretary of the DDEC Permit Management Office, Gabriel Hernández Rodriguez, indicated “each house is designed according to the new Puerto Rico Construction Code 2018 (PR Codes 2018). Although its conceptualization arises after the hurricanes in 2017, the structures meet all the requirements for seismic movements. The structural design is based on winds of 190 miles per hour (mph) and the maximum seismic accelerations according to current codes.
For her part, the architect Astrid Díaz, whose architecture firm led the project, stressed that an important aspect is that it is the first time that the concept of “Safe Room-Safe Room” is included according to the parameters of FEMA P-361 in where the family can spend an emergency safely in their own home. This room has its structure and foundation independent from the rest of the house and withstands base wind loads of 250 mph.
The architectural design is modern, minimalist, and incorporates elements of our culture and context through the balcony, the distribution of spaces, lighting and natural ventilation. Each house includes connections for cistern, solar heater and useful equipment. All terrestrial models are designed to meet the physically handicapped according to the requirements of the “American with Disabilities Act”.
The secretary of the DDEC added “each family must complete the process of designing construction plans with the help of a licensed engineer or architect. You should take these secure blueprints to an engineering or architecture office to have the home located on your site and meet the final design requirements prior to applying for building permits. Once the plans are certified, they will be submitted to the OGPE to complete the corresponding permits through the Single Business Portal (SBP) digital platform. For more information you can contact the Permits Management Office ”.
The Plano Seguro project was coordinated by the DDEC Permit Management Office, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary group, such as: FEMA and STARII Stantec & Atkins North America, along with ADV Architects and the architect Astrid Díaz as part of the team of STARR II, the Puerto Rico Building Codes Committee, the College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico, as well as the College of Architects and Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico and the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus.
To download the Insurance Plans, access www.ddec.pr.gov/plano-seguro/. The initial information required of the applicant is simple and the plans are available in PDF or Auto CAD format.
For more information you can communicate through email [email protected].