General FAQ

Everything you need to know: FAQs on am‑cor inc., our Prefab Kits, and the am‑cor Ferrocement Construction System

What are your goals?

am-cor inc. aims to change the world one build­ing at a time. We be­lieve that through a com­bin­a­tion of glob­al think­ing, en­vir­on­ment­al aware­ness, and con­struc­tion in­nov­a­tion, people can in­ex­pens­ively build green, sus­tain­able, and beau­ti­ful build­ings that will with­stand nat­ur­al dis­asters, rising en­ergy prices, and the test of time.

How long have you been in business?

am-cor inc. was foun­ded 2000. An­gus W. Mac­don­ald pat­en­ted the am-cor Sys­tem in 1996. The old­est am-cor struc­ture is a res­id­ence built in 1996, and is in­hab­ited by the ori­gin­al happy own­ers.

How long do am-cor buildings last?

If our cal­cu­la­tions are cor­rect, am-cor struc­tures should last as long as the Ro­man Pan­theon, which is ap­prox­im­ately 2000 years old.

I'm a builder/contractor, and I want to build am-cor Kits. How do I get started?

We provide con­tract­ors & build­ers with free, on-the-job crew train­ing dur­ing con­struc­tion of your first am-cor Kit.  Once your crew has suc­cess­fully com­pleted and en­closed an am-cor struc­tur­al shell, we'll cer­ti­fy you as an am-cor Build­er. We'll also refer you to Kit pur­chasers in your re­gion. Check out the Contractors sec­tion for more.

In­ter­ested in sug­gest­ing am-cor Kits to your cli­ents? Contact us about cus­tom­ized build­er classes, tu­tori­als, and con­tract­or dis­counts.

Why use the am-cor System?

You should build with the am-cor Sys­tem be­cause:

In­ex­pens­ive am-cor con­struc­tion is less ex­pens­ive than: stand­ard re­in­forced con­crete block & ma­sonry, precast, met­al build­ings, stick-built, SIPS, etc.
Fast To Build am-cor Kits are: pre­fab­ric­ated & pre-en­gin­eered, ar­rive ready for im­me­di­ate as­sembly, and are as­sembled in a frac­tion of stand­ard con­struc­tion time
High Qual­ity am-cor build­ings are bet­ter con­struc­tion for a lower price: dis­aster res­ist­ant (hur­ricane, fire, tor­nado, earth­quake, flood); mold, mil­dew, in­sect & ver­min res­ist­ant (ter­mites, rats, etc.); and en­vir­on­ment­ally friendly
Green & Sus­tain­able am-cor shells are made of 100% re­cyc­lable ma­ter­i­al, and have an ap­prox. 60-80% lower car­bon foot­print than stand­ard con­struc­tion; am-cor build­ings are in­her­ently sus­tain­able, and re­quire vir­tu­ally zero main­ten­ance

Nor­mally, build­ing con­struct­ing can be quite chal­len­ging, even for pro­fes­sion­als! Things are even more dif­fi­cult if you want to build your own home. We aim to make the en­tire con­struc­tion pro­cess much sim­pler:

  • The am-cor Sys­tem re­duces the num­ber of steps & com­plex­ity
  • Each am-cor Kit comes with a de­tailed Field Manu­al, de­scrib­ing & aid­ing con­struc­tion from start to fin­ish
  • Much less labor/ma­ter­i­al/waste is in­volved in am-cor con­struc­tion
  • A contractor / builder can spend much less time on site, and only needs ex­per­i­enced trades­men for code re­quire­ments (e.g.: elec­tri­cian, plumb­er)
  • A home-own­er can DIY much con­struc­tion, ex­cept for trades re­quired by code (e.g.: elec­tri­cian, plumb­er)

How do I use the am-cor System?

We man­u­fac­ture am-cor Sys­tem pan­el­ized fer­ro­ce­ment con­struc­tion Kits, called am-cor Kits. These Kits are shipped to your build­ing site, where they are as­sembled to cre­ate a steel frame which is then coated with am­cor­ite fer­ro­ce­ment mix­ture to cre­ate a unibody build­ing shell.

You can or­der one of stand­ard plan Kits, or design your own. Most of our cli­ents hire a builder/contractor to as­semble their Kits, but you can also do it yourself (DIY).

See also:

I'm a designer/architect, and I want to design an am-cor Kit. How do I get started?

Great! You'll love the am-cor Sys­tem, as it was de­veloped by an ar­chi­tect, for ar­chi­tects. De­sign­ers, Ar­chi­tects and En­gin­eers are wel­come to design am-cor build­ings for their cli­ents and for pub­lic­a­tion on the net as standard am-cor Kit plan sets.

Check out our  Architects & Engineers sec­tion, our Designs sec­tion, and contact am-cor inc. for a down­load­able pdf of the am-cor Spe­cific­a­tion and the am-cor Design Manu­al.

I want to use the am-cor System for my home/office/development. How do I get started?

Contact us with your plans and ideas for pri­cing, and see our Developers sec­tion!
If you already have a site or build­ing plan, or have a gen­er­al idea of what you want, check out our sec­tion on Designs and Pricing.

Your am-cor Kit is en­gin­eered in ac­cord­ance with your plans.  We can con­sult with you, your ar­chi­tect/en­gin­eer, and your con­tract­or for the most ef­fi­cient struc­ture and greatest en­ergy sav­ings. All am-cor Kits are fully code-compliant, and we'll en­sure our plans are ac­cept­able to your loc­al code au­thor­ity: your Kit in­cludes an am-cor Struc­tur­al Set , which is com­piled with your ar­chi­tec­tur­al draw­ings for per­mit sub­mis­sion.

We help en­sure fast, easy struc­tur­al ap­prov­al.

I want a factory to make am-cor Kits in my region/country. How do I get started?

Re­gard­ing the Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity Kit and in­vest­ment pro­gram, please contact us. There are a num­ber of Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity setups avail­able, de­pend­ing on on your needs. Be pre­pared to provide am-cor inc. with some data re­gard­ing your Kit man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­ject:

  • Es­tim­ated an­nu­al quant­ity of am-cor Kits to be sold
  • Es­tim­ated an­nu­al Kit floor area pro­duc­tion (M2 or sq.ft. of com­bined total build­ing area)
  • An­ti­cip­ated build­ing type of the ma­jor­ity of the Kits you in­tend to pro­duce
  • Your group's cap­ab­il­it­ies in the re­gion
  • Ac­cess to in­dus­tri­al raw land for Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity con­struc­tion, or in­dus­tri­al space for lease

Costs can vary de­pend­ing on re­gion­al vari­ations in labor, ma­ter­i­als, tar­iffs, taxes, se­cur­ity, etc.
As a gen­er­al bench­mark, ba­sic low cost am-cor house Kits in emer­ging eco­nom­ies can be loc­ally man­u­fac­tured, as­sembled, and fin­ished for ap­prox­im­ately very low rates. Please contact us for the latest Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity pro­gram rates.

In each Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity Kit, we provide a com­plete, end-to-end setup pro­gram, in­clud­ing:

  • Everything in­cluded in a standard am-cor Kit
  • Quick con­struc­tion of a Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity us­ing loc­al labor & ma­ter­i­als
  • Sim­pli­fied mass pro­duc­tion of am-cor Fer­ro­ce­ment Kits
  • Zero en­ergy fact­ory build­ing (off-grid)
  • Zero en­ergy man­u­fac­tur­ing equip­ment
  • CNC link to Kit design sta­tions, raw ma­ter­i­al in­vent­ory, pro­duc­tion pro­gress
  • Kit man­u­fac­tur­ing crew train­ing
  • Kit design train­ing
  • Kit field as­sembly crew train­ing

am-cor inc. man­ages pro­duc­tion in your Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity, en­sur­ing op­tim­um ef­fi­ciency, ad­vanced qual­ity con­trol, and free as­sembly line soft­ware, hard­ware, and pan­el tech­no­logy up­grades.

Do you ship internationally?

Yes, we are happy to ship in­ter­na­tion­ally. Or­ders to Mex­ico & Canada are usu­ally filled by flat­bed or en­closed trucks. In­ter­na­tion­al or­ders not in the con­tin­ent­al USA are sent by con­tain­er ship.

Do you provide financing for your Kits?

We provide full sup­port to help our cli­ents qual­i­fy for stand­ard mort­gages as well as pre­fab/mod­u­lar loans.

While we don't provide dir­ect fin­an­cing, our cli­ents have had no trouble fin­an­cing their pro­jects through stand­ard mort­gages.  

We also have ex­per­i­en­ce find­ing fund­ing if you are plan­ning a lar­ger de­vel­op­ment or an over­seas pro­ject, es­pe­cially for low-cost hous­ing in the de­vel­op­ing world.

Contact us for more in­form­a­tion!

Is the am-cor System cost competitive in developing economies?

Yes: when pro­duced in a loc­al Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity, us­ing loc­al labor, and when com­pared with oth­er per­man­ent dur­able and dis­aster res­ist­ant con­struc­tion types, the am-cor Sys­tem is def­in­itely cost com­pet­it­ive in de­vel­op­ing eco­nom­ies.

The over­all cost of con­struc­tion: in­clud­ing site pre­par­a­tion, site cleanup, cart­age of waste, time, pro­ject over­heads, and ma­ter­i­al al­lot­ment, is much lower us­ing the am-cor Sys­tem than any oth­er meth­od.

The reas­on for this lies in the in­nov­at­ive geo­metry of the pat­en­ted am-cor pan­el design and build­ing shell design:
  • Ferrocement struc­tur­al ma­ter­i­al does not fill the pan­el, but cre­ates a con­tinu­ous stress skin, leav­ing the in­side hol­low
  • Light­weight pan­el design and util­iz­a­tion of loc­al sand, ce­ment & wa­ter lowers trans­port­a­tion, and keeps ma­ter­i­al costs low
  • Easy to snap-to­geth­er pan­els save as­sembly time and cost, util­iz­ing un­trained labor to quickly as­semble Kits
  • The thin seam­less Fer­ro­cement coat­ing joins all pan­els to­geth­er to cre­ate a single struc­tur­al unit, the shape of the en­tire build­ing shell
  • Each room in the build­ing be­comes a struc­tur­al cell in an emer­ging mar­ket na­tion
  • The struc­ture is em­bed­ded in the build­ing found­a­tion in a way to res­ist flood­ing, hur­ricane, tor­nado and earth­quake
am-cor Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity as­sembly line design in­cor­por­ates com­pletely in­teg­rated design/man­u­fac­ture meth­ods, to en­sure con­sist­ent qual­ity Kit pro­duc­tion on sched­ule, and un­der budget.

The am-cor product line of ef­fi­cient and beau­ti­ful schools, homes, com­munity struc­tures, hos­pit­als, mar­ine and oth­er build­ing types provides dur­able life safety struc­tures at the most com­pet­it­ive cost.

Contact us for more in­form­a­tion.

Can Ferrocement provide low-cost housing in the developing world?

Yes.  Ferrocement tech­no­logy, as used in the am-cor Uni­fied Steel & Ce­ment Sys­tem:
  • uses less raw ma­ter­i­al
  • fast to as­semble & com­plete
  • can be as­sembled by un­skilled labor
  • easy to trans­port to re­mote sites (Kits can kit in one or more pickup trucks)
  • min­im­al site dis­turb­ance
  • low Car­bon foot­print
  • most dur­able, VOC free, dis­aster res­ist­ant, and en­ergy ef­fi­cient con­struc­tion type in the low cost per­man­ent product range.
In de­vel­op­ing na­tions, am-cor af­ford­able hous­ing Kits can be man­u­fac­tured loc­ally in an am-cor Fer­ro­Fa­cil­ity, sold for about US $10/sq.ft. and com­pleted for an­oth­er US $10/sq.ft.  This total of US $20/sq.ft. for dur­able, dis­aster-res­ist­ant struc­tures is a UN and World Bank bench­mark for low cost hous­ing, which up to now has not been con­sist­ently achieved for mass pro­duced, beau­ti­ful, dur­able, healthy and safe hous­ing.
Last up­dated 2011-02.

See also:

What exactly is Ferrocement?

Fer­ro­cement is a con­struc­tion meth­od, char­ac­ter­ized by highly re­in­forced, com­pos­ite ce­ment & steel, thin con­crete shells. It is not new tech­no­logy; in fact, Fer­ro­cement & stand­ard re­in­forced con­crete con­struc­tion were in­ven­ted & pat­en­ted in the same coun­try and time peri­od: 19th cen­tury France. While re­in­forced con­crete was quickly ad­ap­ted to build­ing con­struc­tion, Fer­ro­cement was ini­tially used in boat hull con­struc­tion.

Check out the Overview of the am-cor System and our sec­tion on Ferrocement.

Is Ferrocement new technology?

No! Fer­ro­cement is tried and true tech­no­logy: very strong, and very dur­able.

The am-cor Sys­tem's pat­ents & tech­no­logy al­low Fer­ro­cement to be used for mass pro­duc­tion of light­weight, dur­able & sus­tain­able pan­el­ized build­ing Kits. Bring­ing Fer­ro­cement con­struc­tion meth­ods in­to the main­stream solves many prob­lems fa­cing today's con­struc­tion in­dustry, and the world.

Check out the Overview of the am-cor System and our sec­tion on Ferrocement.

What exactly is amcorite?

am­cor­ite™ is a pro­pri­et­ary Ferrocement ad­mix­ture. De­veloped by An­gus W. Mac­don­ald in col­lab­or­a­tion with one of the world's lead­ing ce­mento­lo­gists, am­cor­ite has seen years of field test­ing and re­fine­ment.

am­cor­ite's prop­er­ties:
  • Can be mixed with stand­ard, af­ford­able, read­ily-avail­able in­gredi­ents: Port­land ce­ment, wa­ter, and sand.
  • Cre­ates a thin, ex­tremely strong, Fer­ro­cement struc­tur­al stucco-like stress-skin.
  • In­creases work­ab­il­ity & ease of ap­plic­a­tion over tra­di­tion­al mixes.
  • Sets quickly; in­creases strength over time.
In com­par­is­on to stand­ard Fer­ro­cement mix­tures, one of the main ad­vant­ages of the am­cor­ite/Port­land/sand mix is that it is re­mark­ably for­giv­ing: easy to mix, easy to work with & ap­ply, and hard to get wrong - with any type of sand.
In fact, am­cor­ite is the "secret sauce" in the am-cor Sys­tem: many have tried to rep­lic­ate the am-cor Sys­tem's sig­na­ture disaster-resistant, thin, high strength Fer­ro­cement struc­tur­al stress-skins, but have failed. Their build­ings crack, spall, or are ex­pens­ively over­struc­tured; in fact, one com­pet­it­or's build­ing even col­lapsed!

Learn more about am­cor­ite and the am-cor Sys­tem's cap­ab­il­it­ies in our System sec­tion.

How is the am-cor System green & sustainable?

The am-cor Sys­tem's Ferrocement struc­tur­al skin has a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing prop­er­ties.  The struc­tur­al ex­ter­i­or sur­face of am-cor build­ings is a seam­less, unibody, highly re­in­forced steel & ce­ment com­pos­ite, which al­lows for:
  • Far less ma­ter­i­al used than stand­ard con­struc­tion:
    • 1/8 ce­ment
    • 20% less steel
  • Com­plete in 2/3 time of stand­ard con­struc­tion
  • Sus­tain­ab­il­ity: ap­prox­im­ately 40% smal­ler car­bon foot­print
  • High dur­ab­il­ity
    • Dis­aster res­ist­ance in­teg­rated in­to build­ing struc­ture
    • Ex­tremely low main­ten­ance over the build­ing's life­time
See our sec­tion on Green & Sustainable Construction for more, in­clud­ing in­form­a­tion on LEED cred­its.

Can I fix an existing building with your System?


am‑cor Exo­Struc­tures can be used to:
  • Quickly fix any ex­ist­ing struc­ture: met­al, con­crete, ma­sonry, wood, etc.
  • In­ex­pens­ively add struc­tur­al in­teg­rity (far cheap­er than re­place­ment)
  • Add weather­proof­ing, mois­ture & air bar­ri­ers, su­per­insu­la­tion, and earth-tem­per­ing.
See our am‑cor ExoStructures sec­tion.

Installation of ExoStructure w/insulation around existing building Installation of ExoStructure w/insulation around existing building

Is Ferrocement really disaster resistant?

Yes. The Ferrocement am-cor Uni­fied Steel & Ce­ment Con­struc­tion sys­tem is res­ist­ant to:

  • hur­ricanes
  • earth­quakes
  • tor­na­dos
  • flood
  • fire

The am-cor Sys­tem is ex­tremely strong, due to the true com­pos­ite nature of Fer­ro­cement. The steel & ce­ment are struc­tur­ally uni­fied in­to a single, seam­less stress-skin build­ing shell, which does not rely on fasten­ers or joints (e.g.: screws, nails, bolts, etc.), as in stand­ard con­struc­tion, and is dir­ectly in­teg­rated in­to the build­ing's found­a­tion. The build­ing's Fer­ro­cement skin is the struc­ture. As such, forces in­flic­ted on the build­ing's struc­tur­al skin dur­ing a nat­ur­al dis­aster are dis­trib­uted throughout the stress-skin, even to the found­a­tion.

See our Disaster sec­tion for more in­form­a­tion and real world ex­amples.

When you say prefab…

We know what you're think­ing!

am‑cor Ferrocement struc­tures dif­fer from oth­er "pre­fab houses". Our build­ings are:
  • Ex­tremely strong and dur­able, not cheap or flimsy
  • Made of high qual­ity, long-last­ing ma­ter­i­als (steel & ce­ment)
  • Truly safe and disaster-resistant
  • Fact­ory-made to ex­act di­men­sions & spe­cific­a­tions
The am‑cor System is pre­fab­ric­ated in that all Kit com­pon­ents (wall, roof, floor pan­els, fasten­ers, etc.) are fact­ory made to pre­cise spe­cific­a­tions. Each am‑cor Kit is as­sembled and coated with Ferrocement on site, pro­du­cing a strong, dur­able struc­ture.

See also:

What is the am-cor System?

The am‑cor Sys­tem™ is a mod­ern, Ferrocement con­struc­tion sys­tem, fea­tur­ing:

  • true com­pos­ite, in­teg­rated steel & ce­ment struc­tures
  • unibody, seam­less, ex­ter­i­or stress-skins
  • high flex­ib­il­ity & ad­apt­ab­il­ity
  • high strength-to-weight ra­tio

The am-cor Sys­tem is a simple, fast, af­ford­able way to build green & sus­tain­able build­ings. Ar­chi­tect An­gus W. Mac­don­ald in­ven­ted & pat­en­ted the am‑cor Uni­fied Steel & Ce­ment Struc­tur­al Sys­tem after search­ing for after searching for a better alternative to stand­ard con­struc­tion meth­ods. He wanted something that was simple to con­struct, quick to erect, cheap to build, and above all, beau­ti­ful, dur­able and sus­tain­able.

The am‑cor Sys­tem is tried and proven: am-cor struc­tures have weathered tor­nadoes in USA’s Tor­nado Al­ley, hur­ricanes in Flor­ida & the Carib­bean, and floods on Vir­gin­ia’s East­ern Shore. Our build­ing shells are internationally code compliant, and has been ap­proved by the US Army Corps of En­gin­eers for con­struc­tion in storm surge areas.