Cracking Chile's home market?

To crack the Chilean housing market, a United States trade organization is building a plywood wedge. The American Plywood Association plans to build a house in Chile - but not for sale or profit. It is to be a demonstration display for Fundacion Chile, a joint venture of government agencies and private-sector organizations set up to help alleviate the country's housing shortage. Estimates show the country needs about 750,000 new dwelling units, but is producing only about 40,000 per year.

Because most middle-level homes in that country have traditionally been built of brick or concrete, and earthquakes are not uncommon, there has been some resistance to the use of wood construction.

The association's three-bedroom home of 1,126 square feet may help dispel some of this reluctance. When set up it will be securely fastened to the foundation - a factor that has helped support wood framing under earthquake shock conditions in places like California.

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