House Blueprint, Car In The Carport, Floors Poured, Holes Dug, Big Tree Felled

A lot of odds and ends the past two weeks.

First, I was talking with my brother on the phone and he said he would like to see a current plan of the house. Here you go, Bob. The yellow areas are the containers themselves and the numbers in the circles indicate which container is which:

House Plan as of 27 Jan 2013

In the drawing, I left out a half bath in the front left corner of my shop. It has a toilet and a shower.

And here is a short video explaining the house:

With the piles of sand and gravel dwindling from mixing concrete for the floors, we marked the first time that we could drive the car all the way into the carport. The marching band didn’t show up so we went ahead without it:

We completed all the floors in #3/Space/#4. Here are a couple photos:



Another little task that we completed is to wash all the concrete splatter off of the walls. Now we are just about ready for paint! We are going to choose the floor tile first, then all the paint colors.

I also sanded most of the door frames in the house. They were covered with concrete splashes and hand prints and had nicks and dings from wheelbarrows navigating the doorways. Now they are ready for a new primer coat of paint before painting the finish color coats. No photo.

Conflicting Priorities Department: Our goal has been to get the back part of the house (containers 3 and 4 plus the space between) done so we can move in and camp while we complete the rest of the house. But the dry season is upon us and it will be gone all too soon in April or so. So gritting our teeth, we resigned ourselves and agreed to stay in the rental pit for a couple of extra months so that we could make outdoor hay while the sun shines.

With the big floors poured, I had Armando work outside on the big space between containers #2 and #3 (living room/dining room). Just as we did for the space between #3 and #4, we will construct a floor off the ground and pour a concrete slab. In the next photo Armando has most of the column foundation holes dug, and the resulting dirt moved to the back garden:


After digging the columns, I laid out string lines and had Armando dig a foundation trench for a block wall that will support the east end of this big floor. Here is the trench all dug:


The plastic bottles on the rebars keep Jabo from poking out an eye. These rebars will connect the existing walkway slab to the new slab that will go to the front door.

One afternoon Armando was drooping under the hot sun. So I had him stop digging, sit and have some water, then I moved us into the much cooler house to pour a raised platform for the washer and dryer in the laundry room:


There was a big tree, of no significant note other than being big, just off the master bedroom porch. We actually planned the house around it, but It has been leaning closer and closer to the house and routinely dropping large, heavy, dead branches onto the roof. We could see that there was only bad to come as the next branches to fall were really quite large. So one day I got into my safety harness and removed most of the high branches. It was really exciting to be swinging a machete at the top of a 24-foot ladder that was perched on the roof of container #3. A great view, too. After removing the branches, I hooked up a couple of tow straps and a come along to pull the tree in the right direction. Here is the tree, down. Even Jabo seems sad about it. But the good news is that we can now plant a really pretty tree of our choosing farther away from the house:


Bonus Photos: 

Jabo has been enjoying the coolness of the sand pile and didn’t mind one bit when I buried him:


Reminded me of being a kid on the beach. Yes, this is me, about 60 years ago being buried alive:


And finally, El Valle is located in a volcanic crater. The rim is a mountainous ridge. One of the ridge formations is called La India Dormida (The Sleeping Indian Princess). Legend has it that she said that when she laid down to take a nap that she wouldn’t awaken until her prince returned from war. Apparently he is not back yet. Hint: her head is at the right side of the ridge with her body at the left:


Armando has an orange and mandarin orange grove up and over La India, then up and over the next mountain. It is a long, strenuous hike. When the crops are in, he makes three trips a day on foot, carrying large sacks of produce on his shoulders down to market.

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

Here’s The Plan

Regular readers will remember a previous post or two when the price of containers went through the roof and we were having difficulty finding a crane that we could afford to raise two containers to form the second floor. We decided to amend our plans to make a one-story house. Now, we rarely think about that old two-story plan and we are happy with what we are currently building.

For some time I have been promising to take some pictures of the (rudimentary) scale model of the house and post them here.

Here they are:

This is the view from the east. The four containers are marked 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Referring to the photo above, the kitchen is at this end (east) of containers 1 & 2. The TV, computer space, and our hang-out area is at the far end (west) of 1 & 2.

Between 2 & 3 is a 24-foot space that will form the front entry, the dining room, living room, and stairs to the roof deck above 1 & 2. The roof over this space is very simple, but creates a big surprise, exposed in the next two photos.

This end (east) of containers 3 & 4, as well as the 12-foot space between them, will be my shop. The far end (west) of this space will be our bedroom, master bathroom, a half bathroom, and a big closet that will have a dehumidifier.

The location of the laundry area is unconfirmed as of this moment, but I have promised Cynthia that we won’t have to go into town to do our laundry!

When we were buying containers, we wanted to get a 20-footer to make a guest casita and storage room (deposito in Spanish), but the price was the same as for a 40-footer. So the plan now is to take some of the metal that I cut out of the containers and build the casita myself.

The roof surprise is next:

View from the south-east.

Above, rotating just slightly to the south-east, you can see that the roof has a low-slope, late-1950s style. But it is on an angle creating some interesting geometry. Roofs in Panama are all about shedding a large amount of rainfall, and this low-slope is very common. Steep snow-shedding roofs just aren’t necessary here and look out of place in my opinion. Swiss chalet in Panama? Huh? Maybe if you are homesick for Switzerland, but don’t push it.

Hot air balloon view from the east.

Above, you can clearly see how simple the big roof is; it is just a big rectangle with one corner cut off at the bottom. But on its 45-degree skew it packs an understated design punch.

To give you a better idea as to the size of this roof, the long beam on the leading east edge will be 65-feet long. I’ll weld it up on the ground and have some fun with ropes and mirrors getting it up in the air.

The triangular open area between 2 & 3 creates a covered entry, and the prow of the roof forms cover over much of the roof deck.

Monster gutters and a sloped concrete roof on container 3 will move rainwater off to the west. It should provide a dramatic cascade during our tropical downpours.

So that’s our new plan.

My window painting gig is coming to an end. I had to weld up another scaffolding to safely get one last window done. Now I have to second and third coat a few windows and touch up some tired areas of the house and I will be done. The owners of the house and I are really happy with the way the job is turning out; the new transparent paint really showcases how badly the polyurethane failed after only three years. But ask me in another three years how our grand experiment in paint vs. varnish turns out; I’ll be hanging by my thumbs in the meantime.

The top window is done and we have moved the scaffolding down one level. Armando sands and preps this window. Compare the top left window with the one on the right. What a difference!

IN OTHER NEWS: In It Takes A Pueblo, I made two errors because of my incomplete grasp on the Spanish language. I now have the full stories:

1. The 500 sacks of cement were a gift to the families in the pueblo from their elected representative, the diputado (deputy). Aparently the diputados have discretionary funds. Some fix the remote dirt roads, some give sacks of cement. Remember this come election time, dear voters.

2. The young boy with the goose egg lump on his forehead that I took to the Central Salud wasn’t in a car accident as I thought. Turns out that he and his older brother were playing with rocks. Big rocks according to their sister, and the younger boy got in the way of an airborne boulder. No TV for a month… wait a minute, they don’t have a TV because they don’t have electricity in their home. At least the kids aren’t couch potatoes!

That’s all for now.