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Re: CMU fence in HAITI

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John - I was in Haiti shortly after the quake and saw many of the those block walls.  However, I haven't been involved in a while and was more concerned with building repair, so I can't give a specific recommendation

The normal construction is as follows (in sequence of construction):

Stone foundation
Build cmu wall - no horizontal or vertical reinforcing, dowells are not common -  but leave 8 to 12" gaps every 10 to 20 feet
place cage of 3#3's or 4's with #3 or smaller ties at gaps 
pour gaps with concrete

We could tell how they were constructed, because they were down all over the place. Common failures included the concrete pilaster pulling out of the stone foundation. Still, even with the poor construction, many of these walls were still standing, so I don't think you need to deviate too far from how they do things.  Also with only a 6 foot wall, you shouldn't have much problems working with the local practices.  Most of the privacy/security walls there are more in the range of 8 to 10 feet tall (you might verify the 6 foot, since these walls are around any household that can afford them and alway higher - with either glass shards or razor wire at the top)

 Just having a US engineer on board is a great first start.  It is probably best to stick with something similar to current construction.  Tighten up the Pilaster spacing to something reasonable.  See if an embedded pole type foundation will work for you (a poured concrete foundation isn't common here).  Use bond beams (they are common for home construction, but rarely used on the walls)(their bond beams are formed and poured, not a knock-out block).  show how to embed the bars (to the point of defining sequence)

Most important, is remember what you are dealing with.  Concrete is site mixed and their mortar isn't much different from the concrete in composition.  The workers are illiterate and not used to looking at drawings.  Sketches need to be concise and clear. 

One of the organized efforts in Haiti is They have many ongoing projects and could probably give you some recommendations. 

Rich Kipke

On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:20 PM, Jws Consulting <> wrote:
Hi everybody,

I have been asked for advice how to build 6 ft high CMU fence around the house near Port-au-Prince.
This is obvious seismic problem.
In this case, the house has been damaged and people sleep outside. So, the fence became the equivalent of the outside wall.
I do not want to give them wrong advice and to waste their money (coming from their US relatives), so please help.
I am doing this pro bono, obviously.

Thanks and have a BETTER New Year
John W. Sieszycki
ph.: 514-332-9165
email: jsieszycki(--nospam--at)