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Cost Study: Colombian Red Clay Block vs. SupaBlok™

This cost study compares the cost of building an unfinished wall with SupaBlok™ cellular lightweight concrete blocks versus the red terra cotta blocks popular with low cost home construction in Colombia. The cost information presented in the table below was provided by an architect in Bogota and is based on a wall section of three meters by three meters. Only direct material and labor costs for building the red block and SupaBlok™ walls are presented.

The red clay block size used was 30 cm wide by 20 cm tall by 12 cm long and the SupaBlok™ size was 30 cm wide by 15 cm tall by 15 cm long. The red block wall consists of unreinforced red clay blocks bound together with mortar and bordered by a steel reinforced (rebar) column on either side and a rebar reinforced bond beam at the top and bottom. The SupaBlok™ wall has a vertical length of rebar about every meter for column reinforcement and grout in every hole. A labor rate equivalent to US $1.85 per hour was used.

On a square meter basis the SupaBlok™ wall was found to be a 59% cheaper than the red block wall which was the lowest cost method for building affordable housing. While SupaBlok™ costs more than the red clay block its construction method minimizes labor costs resulting in a lower overall cost. The red clay blocks require occasional cutting and mortar between all joints while the interlocking SupaBlok™ is mortarless and rapidly stacked. By choosing to build with SupaBlok™ very significant cost savings can be realized.