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SUBE: Building Monolithic EcoShells in Peru


Image: La Peña, Lambayeque — This is SUBE’s first project (138 pre-sold homes on 10 acres).  They hope to break ground in October 2010.
Image: Agricultural leaders check LaPeña’s plans — The leaders of the Homeowners Association meet with Carlos from SUBE to talk about plans for the area.
Image: A Low-income project in Piura — This area, unused because of sandy soil and poor access is perfect for low-income housing.  It is along the Pan-American highway and surrounded by grass huts and tin sheds (new homeowners).  With proper planning we can bring water, sewer and quality housing to the people here.
Image: Current Housing near Piura — Currently areas like this are the only hope for many low-income workers.  This area stretched for nearly 8 miles.  Most of these are little more than straw mats with dirt floors, and little or no protection from rain and sun.
Image: The Competition — This home is a luxury to folks moving out of a cardboard and straw house but Monolithic Ecoshells can provide quality and safety and, for the same money, mean larger and more comfortable housing.
Image: Proposed Housing — Twenty-thousand homes are needed in Piura. This competitor’s development is in the concept stage (350sf homes on a 450sf lot).  Domes can be built more economically, giving people more house for their money.
Image: Lambayeque Park — This is a near-by park in Lambayeque. The city is very serious about improving their public places and attracting tourists
Image: Chiclayo Plaza de Armas — When you come to Chiclayo this is one of the first things you’ll see. Parks are everywhere in Peru.  They are surrounded by the commercial center and allow social interaction on warm evenings.
Image: Peruvian Delicacy — During a recent trip to Peru to research the proposed project with SUBE, Mike South (Monolithic Vice-President) asked a waiter for some local fare for dinner.  His meal, shown here, was baked guinea pig.
CUY (pron: cu-i) is a traditional Peruvian meal.  Cuys (or Guinea Pigs) are often raised by Peruvians for special occasions, and can now be purchased, nicely packaged, in super markets (right next to the chicken feet).

A Life-Changing Encounter

With little concern about hearing anything that might impact her life, in 2008 Lynda Eggimann, a real estate investor in Pocatello, Idaho, attended a real estate conference. But there she learned about Monolithic EcoShells and their ability to survive earthquakes.

Lynda immediately thought about Peru, a country she knew well and visited frequently, that included loved ones, and that suffered from devastating earthquakes and poverty.

What she heard at that conference prompted Lynda to do more research on Monolithic and Domes For The World and, in May 2009, attend a Monolithic Workshop to learn and participate in the actual construction of an EcoShell.

With that under her belt, Lynda and Carlos, her partner and native of Chiclayo, Peru, initiated SUBE International, a for-profit company with a mission: to build quality, affordable, safe homes for low-income, working families in Peru. They envisioned those homes as EcoShells that they officially named Pecasas or homes for Peru. Each would have a living area of 450 square feet, running water and electricity.

Getting Started

Lynda said, “Carlos and I spent time and resources understanding the market potential and economic factors affecting Peru’s housing market. We also had excellent contacts in government and construction and an experienced team ready to go.”

They planned to begin in Peru’s coastal, northern area that needed more than 6000 homes and where they had good contacts. SUBE’s first project: 138 pre-sold homes on 10 acres of individually owned lots.

In January 2010 Michael South, VP of Operations at Monolithic, and Andrew South, VP of South Industries, traveled to Peru. “They found a lot of very unclear government regulations, so they asked me to find Peruvian engineers to do the engineering for the infrastructure,” Lynda said.

A Change of Plan

Lynda described today’s economy in Peru as “among the strongest and most stable in the world. They have a diverse income from mining, fishing and tourism and are safely on the path to prosperity.”

Nevertheless doing business in a foreign country presents its challenges. “We have had lots of surprises, countless mañana or business-as-usual delays,” Lynda said.

A Compromise

To satisfy regulations held by all levels of Peru’s government, Lynda and Carlos agreed to a compromise that will allow them to build boxlike homes, recoup their investment and complete their first Pecasa project. “But this first, ultimately square-home project will also give us the time and the funds to build a small group of EcoShells as model homes, where business and community leaders can kick the tires, walk through the home and get a feel for life in a dome. We should be moving dirt in October,” Lynda concluded.

Note: SUBE’s Facebook has more information on SUBE, including photos.