Table of Contents

If you are new here, welcome. You might want to start with ~ Looking Through Thousands Of Photos ~ Here is a pretty good overview of our shipping container house build. It has finished video and photos plus a good number of photos showing our construction process. This post is a good one to start with if you are new to this site. ~ And by the way, I have written lots of non-construction stories of our experience living here in Panama. You can drill down in the below Table Of Contents to read them.

Blog posts in order, newest to oldest listed below ~

Adding Solar Power To Our Home ~ What the title says.

Furnishing The Greenhouse ~ I build and install all the things I need for the aquaponics system. Plus other non-related projects and pictures.

Home Network And Security Cameras ~ I run 2,000 feet of CAT-5 cable and install a network router and equipment plus 16 security cameras.

Greenhouse ~ Construction ~ Over the course of a year, we build a greenhouse for an aquaponic system.

Preparing To Plant A Pepper Plant ~ I Wonder How I Can Over-Complexify It? ~ An introduction to a greenhouse, aquaponics, new security cameras, solar array/battery backup, and home network improvements.

Too Much Brown ~ And ~ Good Bye Jabo ~ The second bedroom colors are all wrong. Time for a significant update including removing two container doors and building a glass block wall. Also, we say good bye to our wonderful dog, Jabo.

Our One Of A Kind Orchid Wall ~ We built a twelve foot high kind of whimsical wall for orchids.

Reserve Water Tank ~ Part II ~ And Our Art Studio Below ~ Finishing the reserve water tank and building our art studio.

Humans Need Not Apply ~ A story about automation Cynthia and I encountered in a recent day and how this relates to the USA 2020 presidential election.

Art Show Today ~ I’ve been painting watercolor pictures. Here are my obras de arte.

We Love Our Home ~ We had this house for sale for several years. Over that time we have really loved living here and have decided to take the house off the market.

Five Reasons To Have A Reserve Water Tank ~ Part 1 ~ We start work on an elevated reserve water tank.

April Is April Appreciation Month ~ I talk about what happens in the nature that surrounds us in the month of April. Also, I show off my homemade lock pick set

EXTERIOR VIDEO! ~ I shot and edited a seven-minute video of the exterior of our shipping container house.

PHOTOS! ~ This post has a slide show of 93 photos of the completed house.

Birds Win Big ~ I finish applying the window film so that birds won’t fly into the windows. Nice photos of the front of the house.

Skirting Sinks And Dotting Windows ~ I made some aluminum boxes to cover the pipes under the bathroom sinks.

Drawer-ing To A Close ~ Kitchen Cabinets Are Done! ~ I make and install the kitchen cabinet drawers.

Hung Out To Dry ~ Kitchen Cabinet Doors ~ I made and hung the kitchen cabinet doors.

Kitchen Cabinet Progress ~ I build wooden “carriages” in the metal-framed kitchen cabinets. The carriages will be mounts for the door hinges and drawer slides. I also post some photos of some of the glass beads that Cynthia made recently.

Watching Wood Dry ~ I cut and plane some wood for the kitchen cabinets.

Birdbath 2.0 Plus Kitchen Wood Procured ~ Armando makes the birdbath stands look like tree stumps with vines wrapped around them. And finally, it is time to start the kitchen cabinet build. We get wood.

Essentially Electrifying ~ We complete the electrical wiring, install switches and lamps. Also, I tear apart my new GoPro camera and install a mod kit to accept other lenses.

The Last Bathroom ~ Details of the half-bath off of the living room. Also another trip to Medellin, Colombia.

350-Pounds Of Concrete Hanging On The Wall ~ We make some heavy duty picture frames and hang photos on the long wall in the living room/dining room/entry. These things are beasts!

Is It A Carport Or A Bohio? ~ We lay tiles in the carport/bohio.

Unexpected Progress! ~ We pour the concrete floor in the carport.

A Week Working With The Walkway ~ We purchase the remaining tile for the walkway from the front door around to my shop. Ramiro paints the front gate, and Cynthia makes a new slumped-glass bowl.

Five Years In The Making, My 200th Post ~ I answer the question, “Would you do it all again?”

And Then, Just Like That, We Had Back Steps ~ We build a set of concrete block/concrete steps to the back door. I also add some interior wooden trim.

Working The List & More Plants Arriving Daily ~ More and more finishing touches plus we plant 64 new plants in the yard.

More Paint, A Stunning Bowl, And Three Bird Baths ~ I keep painting, Cynthia has a new bowl to show off, and we make three concrete bird baths for the yard.

A Brush With Paint And Cynthia’s Glass ~ I get going on painting the loft and window/door frames in the living room. Cynthia shows off some of her new slumped glass pieces.

A Few Finishing Touches ~ We install a lot of plumbing fixtures and wire a bedroom and bathroom. We also spend a few days in Medellin, Colombia.

Lovely In The Night ~ Armando and I pour some concrete counter tops, I paint a hallway and make a diamond plate ceiling, and I paint the front window frames.

It’s A Good Thing I Take Pictures ~ Too many items to keep track of — painting, electrical, forming counter tops, and more.

Front Steps Tile DONE ~ Glass Block Bathroom Window Underway ~ We have laid the last of the tiles on the front steps. Beautiful! Plus, we start the concrete bench in the master bathroom and the glass block wall above the bench.

A Seasonally-Appropriate Story ~ We give our workers the best present ever. And they return the sentiment.

Step By Step ~ We continue working on tiling the front entrance steps. I also start making a bench in the master bathroom shower.

Furniture! ~ Kitchen Lights ~ And Of Course, More Tile ~ We buy furniture for the house. I find time to hang the lights in the kitchen, and we lay more floor tile.

BIG TILE FLOOR DONE! ~ We have finished tiling the entry/living/dining room floor. Plus, we made good progress tiling the roof deck floor.

Some Disassembly And Assembly Required ~ I convert our expensive stove from natural gas to propane. Plus, Cynthia and I build a dining room chandelier from a washing machine drum. Plus photo of a owl on our back fence at night.

Flush With Pride & Lofty Ambitions ~ I install the first in-house toilet, plus we tile the master bedroom floor and start tiling the floor in the loft. Plus a photo of a beautiful, ornage bromeliad.

Teflon Wife, Undercarriage Plumbing, And Some Tile ~ Cynthia has a total hip replacement in Savannah Georgia, I plumb under the containers for a toilet, and Hanibal and I lay some bathroom floor tile.

Yet More Glass Block And Tile… ~ As it says…

What, A Real Vacation? ~ We take a two-week vacation in Medellin, Colombia.

More Tile ~ We continue laying floor and wall tile plus a new rock wall and a glass block wall.

Tile Month Continues ~ Floors And Walls II ~ Plus Cynthia’s Lamp Shades ~ More tile, more tile, and more tile. Cynthia has success with her glass lamp shades.

August Is National Tile Month ~ We hire a professional tile installer to help us move the project along.

Turnaround ~ The driveway turnaround area had been our sand and gravel storage area. Now with most of the concrete work done we could make improvements to this part of the driveway.

Four Counters And A Long Bench ~ Armando and I build form work for a long seating bench in the living room plus four more counter tops throughout the house.

Not Much, You? ~ Minor progress, a vacation, the flu, and an update on Cynthia’s health.

Five Tables And A Waiting Game ~ Ramiro and I fabricate five tables for the house. Also photos of the back of the house with all the rockwork done. Plus, Cynthia heads to the States to see her cardiologist.

Driving To Macano ~ I spent a morning driving to the pueblo of Macano, picking up a very sick woman, and driving her to Central Salud in El Valle. Post has a video of the drive to Macano.

1,000 Rivets Later… ~ We install the big ceiling in the living room/dining room.

I Thought The Day Would Never Come ~ We have finally painted all the way around the house. Some pretty hibiscus flowers are in bloom too.

Another Hangover And A Good Roughing Up ~ We build another roof overhang and Armando puts rocks on the container support columns.

Exterior Paint ~ We get the front of the house painted.

Stairs, Glorious Stairs ~ We clean the cement debris from the diamond-plate steel stairs and oil them.

All Glassed In ~ The last of the big glass is installed.

GLASS! ~ We begin putting the large glass panels in the living room/dining room. We also build shelves in the kitchen pantry, doors for the pantry, and continue with the garden path project.

In The Kitchen Plus This, That, And The Other ~ The kitchen isn’t done, but it is operational! Plus, we weld the fence, and plant plants, and make a pathway around the house. Good turtle photo and garden photos.

Kitchen Floor ~ Five Days In ~ Making progress on the kitchen floor ceramic tile installation.

Kitchen Floor Tile And Garden Bonanza ~ I begin installing the ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen.

Kitchen Cabinets ~ Aluminum Siding ~ Not What You Think! ~ I put diamond plate aluminum sheeting on the kitchen cabinets.

Concrete Kitchen Counters ~ Part 2 ~ We fill air holes and apply an acrylic sealer to make beautiful concrete counters.

Counter Tops ~ How we fabricated concrete counter tops for the kitchen.

Front Door Swings! ~ Aramis and I make a big, pivot-style front door.

Glass Block Window In Kitchen And Roof Deck Door ~ We installed a glass block window and also the door from the loft to the roof deck.

The Kitchen ~ Part 2 ~ Building the kitchen cabinets.

Starting The Kitchen And Other Progress ~ We install corner posts for the kitchen cabinets and prepare to pour the kitchen floor.

Mezcla! ~ Walls Around The Staircase! ~ Here we stucco the foam building panels at the stairway walls.

Time To Build The Staircase ~ Part 1 ~ How we built a diamond plate steel staircase, including bending the metal with my home made sheet metal bending brake.

Back Yard Addition ~ We bought two vintage streetlamps. I stripped and repainted them and installed them in the back yard.

A Lofty Accomplishment ~ The concrete floor in the loft over container #2 is complete.

All Decked Out ~ We pour a concrete roof deck on top of container #1.

The Making Of A Hangover ~ We build a roof overhang on container #1.

Too Much To List ~ We continue installing windows, cutting out walls, using the scrap container walls to make other walls, we repair the muddy road to our house, and how to drill a hole in tough steel.

Moved! ~ We have moved into our shipping container house. Camping in style!

Almost Ready To Move In ~ Windows, doors, glass; we will move in in a week or so.

Push To Move ~ We are working on doors, windows, and security bars so that we can move in next week or so.

A Bunch Of Things ~ In this entry we pour the last of the front steps, extend the roof where all the water pours off of the Big Roof, made some doors, and extended the foundation to in front of containers #1 and #2.

Walkway Roof, Rain Gutter, Front Walkway Floor ~ The Big Roof is just about finished. I install a rain gutter on the carport, and we pour the concrete walkway in front of the house.

The Big Floor Pour ~ We pour the large living room/dining room concrete floor between containers two and three.

Trimming The Big Roof & Prepping The Big Floor & Framing The Walkway Roof ~ I cut the metal roofing on the west side to match the angle of the roof. I also put down the rebar in the Big Floor and worked some more on the roof.

The Big Roof ~ Part 6 ~ The Big Roof is just about done. Some interior shots in this post.

The Big Roof ~ Part 5 ~ And Thank You Zach! ~ Continuing on, I start the roof over the outside roof deck.

The In Between Roof ~ Armando and I build a roof above container #3 to shed water from the adjoining roofs.

The Big Roof ~ Part 4 ~ I continue working on the roof between shipping containers.

A Slight Diversion ~ I Play Plumber At The Rental House ~ I install a new well pump at the house that we rent.

The Big Roof ~ Part 3 ~ I continue working on the roof between shipping containers.

Heads Up Armando ~ Let’s Double Down On Accident Prevention ~ A neighbor receives a nasty head wound. I take him to the hospital.

The Big Roof ~ Part 2 ~ I continue working on the roof between shipping containers.

Big Metal In The Air ~ I Begin The Big Roof ~ Part 1 ~ I raise the first beam over the open space between containers #1 and #2 and frame the east wall directly below the beam.

Big Wall Upright ~ The 40-foot long wall is finally standing upright.

Big Wall Up But Not Upright Yet ~ Today we moved the 40-foot shipping container wall up onto the roof where it will become the wall between the loft inside and the roof deck outside.

Big Wall Down ~  In this post I remove a 40-foot long shipping container side wall.

Major Breakthrough ~ We Can’t Container Ourselves! ~ Today I cut two doorways and one window opening in container 2.

Big Floor Ready For Concrete ~ We have completed all the framing and decking the big floor. Now we are ready for concrete.

Just Armando This Week ~ Some Blocks, Some Repello ~ Armando builds a block wall at the west end of the living room and applies repello (stucco) to the edges of the front steps.

Front Steps ~ Part 2 ~ We finish pouring the front steps.

Progress On Big Floor And Front Steps ~ We start the front step project.

Sammie The Sloth ~ We visit a young sloth being raised by a couple in El Valle.

Floor Tiles Chosen, Block Wall Built, The Trash Report, House Named, & Neighbor’s House For Sale ~ Title says it all.

House Blueprint, Car In The Carport, Floors Poured, Holes Dug, Big Tree Felled ~ Title says it all.

Floors! ~ We Pour Concrete Floors In Our Shipping Container House ~ It is finally time to pour the big floors in containers 3 and 4 and in the space between them.

This And That ~ A Bunch Of Little Things ~ We’re all over the map on this post.

A Bathroom Sink & The First Concrete Floor Inside ~ I make a pedestal sink in the half bath, plus we pour the first concrete floor in the house.

DIY Sheet Metal Bending Brake ~ Part 3 ~ It Works! ~ My homemade brake is operational. I posted a video of the brake in action.

Interior Walls ~ Part 4 ~ We finish the second coat of repello (stucco) on the interior walls in our shipping container house. Now, what color to paint the walls?

Ceiling The Deal ~ Installing The Ceiling Between Containers 3 And 4 ~ We build the ceiling in the stick built part of the house.

Feeling Flush ~ Outdoor Bathroom Operational ~ Here is the bathroom by Cynthia’s studio and my shop.

Interior Walls ~ Part 3

More Interior Walls ~ Part 2

Easy Stairs And A Splendid Walkway ~ This post shows the entire process of building a walkway and steps under the carport.

Chop Shop ~ Our garden, indeed our neighborhood, was overrun by a massive leaf cutter colony. Video.

Finally, A Concrete Sidewalk And Steps ~ In this post we form and pour a walkway in front of containers 3 and 4 and also in front of my shop. New steps lead up to my shop from the driveway.

DIY Sheet Metal Brake ~ Part 2 ~ I continue building my eight-foot DIY sheet metal bending brake.

Cynthia’s Glass Studio ~ Part 3 ~ We finish Cynthia’s glass bead making studio and I tell a story about a disappearing cat. Plus a photo overlooking the volcanic crater with the town of El Valle below.

The Convoluted Story Of The Snake Skin In The Bird Nest ~ I repair our clothes dryer and find a bird nest.

Bending Under Pressure ~ I Need A Brake ~ Part 1 ~ In this post I begin building an 8-foot sheet metal bending brake.

Another Garden ~ We plant a lush tropical garden at the back of our property.

Cynthia’s Glass Bead Studio ~ Part 2 ~ In this post I work on the interior of Cynthia’s glass bead making studio.

Sparks Fly On Cynthia’s New Studio ~ Plus Armando Makes A Planter ~ I start building Cyn’s glass bead studio and Armando makes a planter by the carport columns.

Clerestory Windows ~ I install four windows high on the wall in container 4.

It Was A Matter Of Aesthetics ~ Cynthia and I plan for a hydroponic green house attached to the side of my shop.

Tile On Columns, Plant Pots, And A Garden Upgrade ~ The five columns are tiled, our plant pots are assembled and planted, and we build a low stone wall around the big garden.

Tiling Columns ~ Three Down, Two To Go ~ Installing porcelain tiles on the five columns.

Front Columns Tiled And Much Ado About Zero ~ We finish tiling and grouting the front columns, plus I tell a story about renewing my Panamanian driver’s license.

100,000 ~ My Hit Counter Adds A Zero ~ The hit counter on my blog turns 100,000.

Update ~ Cynthia ~ Cynthia and I return from a week in a hospital in Texas. She has been misdiagnosed and incorrectly medicated for two years.

First Window Frame Installed ~ Plus Odds ‘n Ends ~ I install the first window frame, tile for the columns arrives, I clean the jobsite, finish the carport roof, pour concrete for the plant pots, and paint an exterior test color. I also tell the story of why Cynthia is going to an epilepsy hospital in Texas.

Odds ‘n Ends ~ We do odds and ends around the project.

Carport Roof ~ Part 2 ~ Dry Underneath ~ We finish building the carport roof.

Slow News Day ~ Being Tourist ~ Here are some photos that our house guest D and I took around and about El Valle. We visit the frog sanctuary, go birding, ride the zip line at the Canopy Adventure, drive through El Valle, and drive out of the crater to Cerro la Cruz (Hill with the Cross).

My Shop ~ Part 9 ~ The Workbench ~ This is how I built a rolling workbench for my shop.

Carport Roof ~ Part 1 ~ We build a column to support the carport roof and weld some framing members in place.

In No Particular Order ~ The Past Few Weeks ~ A bunch of odds and ends including some big projects including pouring an on-grade slab and a slab on the roof of container four.

I Was Rattled ~ Septic Redo ~ We have to redo the septic tank because pressures in the ground crushed the plastic tank.

Shipping Container Door Frames ~ I build three door frames and install them in the container siding.

On Vacation ~ I take a two week break that includes video of a drive in the country, a Catholic non-service, and Cedelinda’s parrots.

Lunch, A Cemetery, And To Grandmother’s House I Go ~ Cynthia and I have lunch at the new Mamma Mia Tuscan restaurant, we visit a cemetery, and I tell about taking Cedelinda’s grandmother to a doctor appointment.

My Shop ~ Part 8 ~ The Floor ~ We pour the concrete floor in my new shop.

Against Doctor’s Orders ~ Cynthia Goes Horseback Riding ~ Cynthia takes a ride on the wild side.

My Shop ~ Part 7 ~ Electrical, Repello (Stucco) and Pizza ~ We install interior electrical, finish the repello, and have a pizza party.

My Shop ~ Part 6 ~ The Roof ~ We install the roof metal on my shop.

How Not To Work ~ Chicken Mom hatches five eggs this morning. This and the Christmas tree needs to be taken down.

My Shop ~ Part 5 ~ Rafters & Stucco ~ Just what is says.

Three Reasons Why I Like Panama ~ Road service, dolls by the side of the road, and a long load on the roof of my truck

Windows ~ Part 2 ~ Frames Welded ~ I have all the frames welded for the first set of windows.

My Shop ~ Part 4 ~ Walls And Beams ~ The concrete block walls are getting higher and we have a couple concrete beams poured.

Delicious Tempeh On Our First Attempt ~ We make Indonesian tempeh, a soybean mainstay.

My Shop ~ Part 3 ~ Walls Going Up ~ We are up about four feet with the concrete block walls on my shop.

Happy Birthday Jabo ~ Our dog turns four. Photos from four years.

Stove Talk ~ We go stove shopping.

My Shop ~ Part 2 ~ Columns & Footings ~ We build the columns and wall footings.

My Shop ~ Part 1 ~ We begin construction on my workshop.

Windows ~ Part 1 ~ I start the process of installing windows in the containers.

My New Oxy-Acetylent Tank Cart ~ I build a cart to hold tanks for gas cutting and welding.

My Latest Contraption ~ What Is It? ~ I post a photo of something I am building and ask you to guess.

Paint! ~ We Paint Some Interior Walls And Ceilings ~ Just what it says.

Pop Up Garden ~ In this post, we plant a flower garden.

Sunday Afternoon With A Good Book ~ To Catch A Thief ~ No, we neither read the book nor sat back and watched the movie; this post is about catching a thief in our neighborhood. Sorry, no photos this post.

Interior Walls, Wiring, & Plumbing ~ Projects in Progress ~ This post is mostly about building walls inside shipping containers.

A Big Floor And Some Small Stuff ~ In this post, I frame the floor between #3 and #4, build some interior walls, and do some minor stuff.

Hurricanes I Have Known ~ With Hurricane Irene disrupting the East Coast of the States and heading toward my brother’s house and my girl cousin’s house in New England, I’ve been thinking about my experiences with hurricanes.

Welding Frenzy ~ Welding On Shipping Containers ~ I have to make a forty-foot long weld on the roof of container four. I talk about welding rods and technique.

Alan Gets Blog Cred ~ Rethinking The Roof On Container Three ~ In this post I talk about the roof over container three. I planned to pour a concrete slab but this has changed.

Wallito ~ In Spanish the word ending -ito signifies affection or diminutive stature. In this post, I tell about the short wall I just built, hence the new English word I coined; wallito.

About Time ~ Clocks, time, and memories. This entry is a complete time waster. No real news, no house progress, only one photo.

Walls And Faucets And Street Signs ~ We make decisions about interior walls. We pull our faucets out of storage and drool over them. Plus a “caption this” whacky street sign contest.

Here’s The Plan ~ I show photos of a model of the house and talk about the layout of the rooms and the design of the big roof.

A Really Cool Experiment ~ We buy two chest style freezers and convert one into a refrigerator.

It Takes A Pueblo ~ A day in the life story about 500 bags of cement for a local pueblo and a trip to the health clinic.

To Varnish Or Not To Varnish ~ I take some time off from our house to refinish windows for friends. But is varnish the correct product to use?

Cats Earn Keep ~ Our house cats bring our attention to a poisonous snake in our kitchen.

Cutting Metal, Making A Wall ~ I cut a metal wall section from container #4 and use it to close in the space between #3 and #4.

Running Water ~ I finish connecting electrical and plumbing and get the well operating. I also put the heavy lid on the well enclosure.

Sliding Home: The Front Gate Ready To Roll ~ The front gate is done. Lots of photos.

Soap Box Slow News Day — Coconut Oil ~ I have been eating coconut oil for about a year. It has a lot of health benefits.

More Front Fence ~ I talk about whether to hinge or slide the front gate. We fabricate and install a track to slide the gate on.

The Front Fence ~ We start work on the front fence and columns for the main gate. I work on a design for the gate.

A Roof In Time ~ We get a roof built just before it rains. I talk about how I design stuff.

THE TRASH REPORT ~ I document the trash produced on this project so far.

Well… Done. Almost. ~ Victor finishes the well. I talk about what pump and equipment I have to buy.

Well… ~ Victor arrives with an antique well drilling rig and starts making our well.

We Have Containers ~ The containers arrive. The crane operator struggles and struggles.

Decision Time ~ We decide on where to get the containers. The price of containers has risen dramatically so we decide to make a one sory house instead of a two story.

Rest, Reconnoiter, Regroup ~ I take a vacation and ponder sourcing our shipping containers.

Everyone Knows It Can’t Be Done / Steel Plate Column Tops ~ Fabricating steel plates for the tops of the columns.

Septicly Speaking ~ We build the septic system.

A Valuable Exercise ~ Under the cover of darkness, I use the laser level to check the heights of all the columns. Some adjustment is necessary!

Which Way To The Pool? ~ Placing sand and gravel under where the containers will be located.

Curbed And Contained ~ Pouring concrete curbs to keep weeds from creeping under the containers and to keep the sand and gravel under the containers.

Like Grazing Sheep / Columns Are Poured ~ The footings and columns are completed and the forms are removed.

Just Another Pretty Face: Pouring Footings And Columns ~ Bailing water and pouring concrete footings and columns.

Close: Digging Footing and Column Holes ~ I set up the batter boards to locate footings and columns for the containers. We begin digging holes for the footings and columns. I make forms for the concrete columns.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors ~ More fence work, fence poetry.

Rain Doubt ~ Working on the fence.

Back At It ~ We work on the property line fence.

My Little Red Wagon ~ I paint my wagon yellow. Dog Jabo takes a ride.

Pocket Knife ~ I spin stories about the pocket knives I have owned. How to sharpen a knife.

Paint Your Wagon ~ We work on the electric service entrance wall. I use the wagon I built to haul cement.

Ditched ~ We dig a drainage ditch at the rear property line.

Music ~ About Panamanian Folkloric music.

Ramblings Eureka ~ The surveyor completes the job. We get ready to dig a drainage ditch and build the fence.

Ramblings I ~ Stories from our experience living in Panama. Photos of a huge rainstorm.

1,536 ~ Chain link fence talk, making the electric service entrance wall, talking about footings and columns to support the containers, fabricating rebar assemblies for the footings and columns.

Road Service ~ Choosing a surface for our driveway, plus a story about driving in the mountains.

Style ~ I talk about the decorating style of the house.

Stamped ~ Our building plans have been approved by the numerous government agencies.

Rock ‘N Roll ~ We build a driveway.

Connections ~ How we plan to obtain the shipping containers.

Stumped ~ The guys pull lots of stumps out of the ground.

Neighborhood ~ Photos of our immediate neighborhood in the mountains of Panama.

Slowly ~ We burn the brush and build a driveway entrance concrete slab over the drainage ditch. The surveyor arrives.

Burning Desire ~ The lot is cleared. Now we can burn the brush. Now we can walk the lot and decide where the house will go.

Clearing ~ We start clearing our property to see what we bought.

Plan ~ An overview of our house design.

Architect ~ We hire an architect to draw plans for our shipping container house.

22 thoughts on “Table of Contents

  1. Guys nice going! I have been spending time in Nicaragua looking to build a container home as well. Just wondering why you chose Panama? I have heard a lot of things about it but have no first hand knowlege. Would be so kind to share your thoughts on Panama?

    Wish you happy and safe times on your new home.


    • Hi Larry,

      We chose Panama because of the overall package: For a Latin American country the democratic government seems stable with a strong constitution. The U.S. dollar is the currency here, the roads are pretty darn good, there are modern grocery stores and malls that rival those in the States, the climate is excellent with no hurricanes. Health care is available and very good. We find the people overall very friendly toward us especially if we try to use Spanish and don’t act like ugly Americans. There is a lot of work on the infrastructure here including a massive expansion of the Panama Canal, a lot of improvements in roads, a new Panama City bus system is being implemented, a subway is being built, and a bunch of overpasses are about to be built in the city to alleviate the horrible traffic problems. Crime exists but there is little violent crime toward our community. Our property taxes are much less than in the States. Panamanians are used to North Americans because we had the canal for so long. Mostly because of drug trafficking there are frequent police road blocks and checks, but we are usually waved through with a smile if we smile first. Of course there is no Paradise. The government red tape and the Dept. of Redundancy Dept. can make you pull the hairs out of your senior citizen ears, but overall we think there is much less graft and bribery than other Latin American countries. Traffic signs and lines on the roads are mere suggestions and taxi drivers all believe they are gods and own the roads. But one person’s pain is another person’s passion. Living here is certainly an adventure best learned about by putting your feet on the ground here. Every day we are glad we are here. Good luck with your project! Fred

      • Hi Fred,

        I have The idea Of building a home using conteiners for a long time. I sell bicycles for living and I have a bike store in El Valle de Antón. Western I also have a beatifull peace Of land. Would you be interested in helping me with The construcción of another House using containers after you aré done with yours.?

        • Hi Michael,

          I think I know your store — is it at the El Rey plaza? I’ll stop by and say hi.

          After working four long and hard years on my place, and a year left to go, I’m pretty sure that I want to retire — that is to play my guitar, paint watercolor portraits, and learn more Spanish. I’d be more than willing to give you the tour here and answer any and all questions, but I think my tools need a rest! Thanks for your comment. Fred

  2. Hi guys.

    Love the design of the house..

    Any chance of sending me a copy of the floor plan? I am looking to build one of these in Australia on a block in the bush.



  3. Great job documenting the home building. My husband and I have been talking a lot about container homes, and have been considering Panama as the first choice location. Finding your blog is like hitting pay dirt! Thanks!

    • Thank you Laureen. Please feel free to dig down through my blog, but remember, I’m making this house up as I go! Panama has been a big adventure. We have been here just over six years now and would probably do it again. Just remember, there is no paradise! Panama — if you have patience you will lose it. If you don’t have patience, you will learn it. Good luck with your expat planning. Fred

  4. The house looks wonderful. We are in the early stages of finding a property to fit a container house. What types of steps did you have to do to get it approved? I know here in the states most people struggle because the square footage and therefore keep homes on wheels to bypass zoning laws. Did you find any unique issues in Panama using containers as the main structure? Thank you, and keep up the great work! Ed Valdez

    • Hi Ed,

      Sorry for the delay, it was vacation time. It was really easy to get the project approved. All we had to do was pay enough money to have the plans drawn… If you go all the way back in my blog (Table of Contents) you can read about our approval process in two posts — Architect and Stamped. The architect and the engineer consulted on a few issues but it was really no big deal here. The only inspection will be the final one when the fire department shows up to make sure that the main panel at the front of the property is connected correctly. Personal responsibility reigns here! Thanks for your comment. Fred

  5. My wife and I have been very interested in shipping container architecture for some time now. We are in conflict with the location….lol. I say Panama. She says Hawaii. We are a family of seven……soon to be eight. I have so many questions. I would love to take my inquiries offline. If this is possible, send me an email? Love the blog.

  6. Hola Fred. we are in the beginning process to build our house in a shipping container, can you tell me how much you spend in your containe house and it is possible to talk with you in Panama, we are living in Balboa Ancon, my cel phone (removed for privacy), we appreciate your help,
    thanks in advance,

  7. Fred,
    I’m in Panama currently on vacation visiting my wife’s family. I’ll be in the Coronado area the 6-8th, I would love to see your house and pick your brain for a hour. – Rick

  8. Hello there!

    I just came across your website from a pin on Pinterest, and I think this is great work… All the efforts you have put into this are commendable and are an inspiration to those planning on working on similar projects.

    I hope I can replicate the same here in Kenya with what I can learn from you…

    God bless.

  9. This is an amazing idea and a beautifully put together blog. I’m just wondering what part of Panama you are in? I live part time with family in Boquete and am currently looking at property in Bocas Del Toro for a similar idea. I would love to pick your brain a little bit about this project.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Bryn,

      Thanks very much for your comment and compliments. We are just a couple kilometers outside of El Valle de Anton (up the mountain from near Coronado). The biggest issue that you will have that I didn’t have to contend with here in the mountains, is insulation and cooling. I don’t have any experience with this, but investigate two-part urethane spray foam (YouTube it). If I had to seriously insulate, I wouldn’t consider any other insulation. Pretty much everything I know is here in my blog, and I made most everything up as I went along. I’d be happy to answer a question or two, but our climates differ a great deal and I may not have an answer for you… Thanks again for writing. Fred

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