PALM SPRINGS -- The latest innovationis being touted as a game changer in South Florida that could end up revolutionizing the construction industry.
The concept seems simple.
"We're building adult size Legos to build adult size homes," said Ken Smuts, president of Renco USA, a Miami-based company that is using renewable composites to create foundation blocks used for house building.
Smuts traveled to Turkey and brought the renewableidea back with him.
He said he put it through the rigors of insurance industry testing for wind, fire and water ratings.
"We did our impact testing for Miami-Dade County and we reached our approvals through Tallahassee," Smuts said. "We've tested this up to a failure point of over 250 mph wind. A typical concrete block that's not reinforced breaks in compression at about 1600 PSI, this block breaks at 16,000 PSI. That's 10 times stronger."
He said the new design aids in erecting the homes quicker.
"We don't have to use tools, we don't have to use heavy equipment and the building literally flies up (with) eight weeks to build," Smuts said.
Building is like how the timeless toys for kids are used.
There are 22 unique Lego-like pieces. And a construction crew follows a color-coded diagram while snapping together the pieces.
A glue is used to create a chemical bond that is stronger than the material itself.
The inaugural project is a 96-unit apartment complex in Palm Springs, located just west of Lake Worth in Palm Beach County.
Officials say construction costs are 20 percent less expensive than traditional construction.
The savings could eventually.
"We've seen rates in the building process 40 percent lower for builder's insurance," Smuts said.
The concept has gone from being similar to a toy that is now a renewable, composite interlocking system that some say could be the first transformational approach to construction in more than 100 years.
Smuts says Renco is a couple of months away from having a fully operational factory in Jupiter, where the company will manufacture the composite blocks.
The company aims to start mass production, erecting a minimum of 5,000 apartment units a year. And the company plans to transition into building single-family homes in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
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