Starting The Kitchen And Other Progress

I, and Cynthia even more so, are very excited to have the beginnings of the kitchen underway!

The three-inch concrete floor seemed to be a good place to start. It is big and messy and is a good task to do before the finished cabinetry is installed.

But first I had to consider that we will have three islands, each with a heavy concrete counter top. I want firm foundations for these masses of concrete. Also, I needed to plan for electrical and plumbing floor penetrations. So it seemed logical to embed the island corner posts in the concrete floor, Then it would be easy to locate the floor penetrations.

By the way, our cabinets are going to be made of metal, not wood. With this in mind, Aramis and I cut one-and-a-half-inch square tubing, and using scrap pieces of angle iron, affixed each island corner post. Here they are all installed:


Here is a detail of how we affixed the corner posts to the floor:


Using self-drilling roofing screws, we screwed the angle iron scraps to the floor then welded the corner posts to the angle iron. I held the posts plumb while Aramis welded them to the angle iron.

The next photo shows that I have the electrical and plumbing stubs in place. Also, Armando, Aramis, and I placed four pieces of 4’x20′ welded wire mesh to reinforce the concrete. It was a challenge to lift the unwieldy mesh and thread the island corner posts through the holes. We still need to raise the mesh off the floor and add some rebar here and there. We plan to pour next Tuesday (two days from now):


The short doorway in the wall on the right is for under-stair storage.

While Aramis and I worked on the floor, Armando repello-ed the smaller wall sections that we just don’t need a larger crew for. He has finished the inside of the loft wall:


The electrical receptacle boxes are buried in the wall. I drew a map before the repello was applied; now I need to measure, locate the boxes, and whack the wall with a hammer to expose the electric boxes.

Armando also stuccoed inside and outside of the 4’x8′ closet in the kitchen:


Way back when I framed the roof, I didn’t want the beam at the front wall of the house to hang below the ceiling in the loft. While this was good for the loft, it was not-so-good for the row of windows above the front door. So when I haven’t needed Aramis’ help, he has been welding double 2″x6″ carriola filler blocks in place at the top of the front wall of the house:


Here is a closeup:


These filler blocks will frame the windows once the glass is installed.

For a long time, Cynthia and I have been unsure where to put the back door. Not that we will use it very much because the back yard is soggy and buggy (the roof deck is a much better place to entertain) but it is important for emergency egress. Earlier we were going to put it where the big closet is in the kitchen, but the closet seems like a higher and better use for the space. So after several meetings of the Design Committee, we finally settled on a good location for the door — in the hallway between the living room and the master bedroom. This location provides for a quick nighttime exit should there be a fire or other emergency. Aramis and I made and installed the door:


This is a good spot for the door because there is already a roof overhang. During the dry season we will build a landing, stairs, and a path around to the front of the house.

And finally, we went stove shopping. This has been a hot item (haha) for some time. I wrote about it two years ago in Stove Talk. Timing was good, because I had to plan for spacing in the kitchen.

On advice from Panamanian friends, we went to Elga, a commercial kitchen store on Via España near the fancy El Carmen church. This store is jam packed with kitchen goodies. Cynthia was in cook’s heaven. All the clerks were busy with other clients, so we were free to wander. There were several no-nonsense, all-business commercial stoves that had potential. But one model stood out from the crowd because it had much more design embellishment, or bling if you will.

After the previous “pretty” stove that we bought, we were skeptical. But this stove seemed to have it all: gas, six burners, a full size oven with three racks big enough for full-sized cookie sheets, and no button for chicken nuggets or other prepared food nonsense! And I could see the little red hearts surrounding Cynthia when she discovered that it was a convection oven. “This is it. I want it!”

But not so fast. I pulled out the smartphone and Googled the brand, American Range. After a few minutes of searching I found very few negative comments. I visited the American Range website and learned that this model was a Commercial Residential model. I learned that Commercial Residential was a commercial stove with lipstick; all the durability of commercial but designed for high-end residential kitchens. I was sold, too.

Finally a clerk was free and gave us her undivided attention. She gave us wonderful, actual service (a rarity in Panama). We left with the range loaded in the back of the Honda.

The next morning, it took three of us guys to unload the heavy beast onto my little red wagon. Here is is, still wrapped up and covered with sticker paper. Please excuse Cynthia’s drool marks:


That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

8 thoughts on “Starting The Kitchen And Other Progress

  1. A house with a real kitchen becomes a home, any pavo for Acción de Gracias?
    A thought crossed my mind; you are high up and in a house with lots of metal. Any thought on a lightning rod(s)?

    • Hi Alex,

      Yes, the kitchen. We are making good progress as I am anxious to get the camp kitchen out of my shop! We had Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving day) with a group of friends, a grand feast if there ever was one.

      Lightening rod? Perhaps, but it looks like more than a wire and a stake in the ground. We’ll see. Thanks for your comment, Fred

        • Thanks for the link Alex. In the NPR show they mention the book, The Box. I read it a couple years ago and was impressed by how much the shipping container changed the world; dockworker jobs lost by the tens of thousands, manufacturing labor pool jobs deflected from the United States to around the world, ports being made obsolete, cities spending billions on new ports, and fortunes made and lost. All of this continues today with the expansion of the Panama Canal — billions of dollars being spent in the States to build new ports and mega-huge distribution centers for mega corporations. It was an interesting read that I recommend to anyone interested in shipping container housing because you can feel more of the history of in the container house movement.

          • yeah!

            Containers had become ubiquitous—and in addition to cheap goods, they were bringing a new set of social problems. Stacks of abandoned containers, too beaten up to use, too expensive to repair, or simply unneeded, littered landscapes around the world. Globalization is often described as involving the movement of information, people, and employment, but it is largely about the movement of goods, and the cheapest way to move products around the globe is in containers.

  2. Very wrll done indeed. Inspiring to say the least. How much was the build in total and how many days did it take?

    Thank you in advance


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