Thanks for the response. Although I wasn't clear in the original post, I've sort of already done what you suggest. Houses here are not really built to what most would consider a safe building standard. There's also no set or customary building technique here that all of the house builders use, like we have in the US.
The house I'm currently living in for example, has a "chapas" roof, which is just galvanized corrugated steel. That's it. No insulation at all. There are wood ceilings in some of the rooms, and the air space acts as a sort of insulation. But it's entirely inadequate. I have plans to spray expanding foam polyeruethane insulation in about a month.
To give you more of an idea, it's not uncommon here for a builder to pour some sort of foundation, then a slab, then pour steel reinforced columns in the corners and every 6 feet apart, then put a masonry roof on the posts, then come back and fill in the walls with cinder blocks. In other words, cinder blocks here are for filling in voids, not for bearing loads. And a builder might use a mixture of cinder blocks and hand-formed red bricks depending on the situation.
In paraguay, it's worse. People intentionally leave rebar hanging out of posts because you don't have to pay taxes on a house thats "unfinished". So people try to not finish them in creative ways.
Insulation is rarely used here because it's expensive and hard to find. Power tools are rarely used because of their cost also. Small cement mixers are common. But something like a compressor and air hammer for demolition on existing concrete or cinderblock walls would rarely be used. They use a chisel and 2lb sledge. Most things are done by hand. Tools are expensive. Labor is cheap.
I belong to a group of expats here who have concluded that the building standards here are simply behind and unacceptable. So we're looking for ways to replicate here what we would consider standard building practices in the US. They're just now starting to get building materials that are common-place in the US.
Having a house built here using things like steel studs, drywall, OSB, hot water run to every faucet, insulation, central air, house wrap, wiring and plumbing entirely inside the walls... all normal stuff, are considered luxury items. They would call this an "american" home. You'll pay a premium for it. Finding a contractor who could execute it correctly would be highly problematic. It would take four times longer than we would expect. And it would cost several times more than we would expect.
So a lot of people here keep right on building the same old way and have all kinds of mold and condensation problems to show for it. Substandard foundations are everywhere, which you can see from the cracks in walls from settling problems. They also don't care about drafty windows and doors because they consider an air-tight house to be unhealthy. Really old houses are even designed to allow rain water to just flow through the house... goes in one door in a bedroom and runs out the front door. They put little channels in the concrete thresholds to allow water to escape. You have to step over the creek running through your livingroom.
We replaced all the windows in our current (60yo) house with aluminum windows. They're single pane though. The old ones were original and look like they were welded up with steel angle iron and painted. No screens.
We also have a 100yo house on the property. We won't be renovating that one since it would be cheaper to build a new one. That has 4" thick mud walls that were plastered over and painted. The lath in the walls was made from woven tree branches. The entire wall is peeling away from the hand-formed-brick walls now.
Fun stuff. So in short, there ain't no good standard techniques here.
And anything resembling normal in the US would be a vast improvement.
Edit: oh, no earthquakes here ever. And no tornados or hurricanes either. And it never snows more than flurries, so no snow loads. If there are any problems here, it's probably that the environment is too wet, and maybe occasional insect problems.