Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2013 Contents Roshan Baboolal swears that
up to a dozen young married
couples visit his office weekly
desperately wanting to find
out what they can do to build
an affordable home.
Baboolal, chief executive officer of the fam-
ily-owned Therml Impact Affordable Homes
Company Ltd (TIAHCO), profiled these cou-
"They re in their early 20s, been married
for about a year, have two incomes totalling
$15,000, and live with their in-laws," said
Baboolal, in an interview at the company s
Biljah Road, Chaguanas, office, on June 6
Baboolal acknowledges some truths about
residential real estate: there s a demand for
houses which are pricey (upwards of $700,000)
and a shortage of what he described as "build-
able" land, that is, approved for home con-
struction. Buying a decent piece of land to
build a house can set one back by $400,000.
Baboolal describes Therml Impac technology
as expedited polystyrene (EPS).
"It s not styrofoam, which is a brand of
EPS," Baboolal said. "This is an industrial grade
brand. We manufacture it here. We also man-
ufacture and sell mouldings and ceilings from
He listed the pluses of building a home from
this type of composite panel:
• it s fire retardent
• makes an excellent firewall
• has been in use in the United States and
Europe for the last 60 years
• it s bullet proof
• extremely resistant to earthquakes that
measure 7.5 on the Richter scale
• hurricane resistant up to 165 miles per
• sound proof
TIAHCO bought the Therml Impac franchise
from Therml Impac International in California,
United States, for US$6 million for use in the
English-speaking Caribbean, Guyana and Suri-
name in 1997.
"It s not allowed to be used in Mexico and
the United States. The franchise is geographic.
It caters to the Caribbean housing market."
In the last 15 years, TIAHCO has constructed
more than 2,600 multi-family, duplexes, town-
houses and single family units in Trinidad "all
under the auspices of the Housing Develop-
ment Corporation," Baboolal said.
Prior to going into the housing market, the
TIAHCO Group owned Caribbean Drydock
Ltd (Caridoc), but sold it.
He said the company spent several years
after acquiring the franchise doing "substantial
investigation" and research, training its staff
and promoting the system to stakeholders in
the construction sector.
"We needed to understand what our plat-
form was," Baboolal said. "It took us a few
years to understand the system."
He said no fewer than 19 prefab systems
have been introduced to T&T in the last 30
years, most of which have "failed, probably
for want of understanding."
"We did not want this to be number 20."
Baboolal said the panels are designed for
industrial and commercial uses, hotels and
the entertainment industry.
"A lot of it has to do with low-income and
The TIAHCO executive said the company s
focus is not to build houses, but to get people
in the Caribbean to familiarise themselves
with the technology, and so doing, demonstrate
it can build.
"We take local people, train them and certify
them," Baboolal said. "If you wish to go on
your own and buy the housing kit from us,
Baboolal said if someone has their own
housing plans, TIAHCO s enginering depart-
ment can do a "retranslation" and "panelise
the house into a kit." Baboolal made it clear
the company does not build what he described
as "sweat boxes."
"The kit is like a jigsaw puzzle. If the entire
house is filled with steel, windows, doors, cut
outs and first fix for all electricals and plumb-
ing, then box all that in a container and our
guys start erecting things.
"Then we use a process called shotcreting
application of a special mix of concrete and
38 minus gravel and high pressure spray that
measure into the panels to form a concrete
skin. A day after, you plaster as normal or
finish that you require," he explained.
He said it took the company 18 days to build
the Tunapuna headquarters of the Land Set-
tlement Agency last month for $179,000.
Even the four-storey, 80,000 square foot
industrial building TIAHCO is housed in all
Therml Impac: floor, walls, partition.
Continued on Page 7
BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 2013 • WEEK TWO
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Farah's Court at the intersection of the Southern Main Road and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway was built using termal technology. Inset:
Roshan Baboolal, CEO, Therml Impact Affordable Homes Company Ltd.
A thermal panel under construction.
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