A word on Insulation
We live in the mountains of the tropics, Boquete at 3000-6000 feet. There is no heating or cooling loads or requirements. We just open our windows a little bit more or less. Roof insulation here is more for sound than heat. Wall insulation, practically not an issue. This is one of the relatively rare geographical areas in the world with these climatic conditions!!! But here in the tropics, the closer you are to the equator, and especially to sea level, the more insulation will pay for itself. Especially if you plan to Air Condition. Think 20% per year return on investment (or more). What’s your banker been giving you lately? What if energy prices went up in price?
Insulation ain’t cheap. But it’s a one-time expense! And you only have one chance to install enough! ½” thick, of the roll out foam can cost as much or more than the sheetmetal roofing. And worth every penny!!! And not just in energy savings, but in your comfort and TRANQUILITY!
What we are offering with our kits:
So we are offering the standard sheet metal roofs with an appropriate amount of insulation as needed for the climate and your budget…. OR
The more expensive system of asphalt shingles with all the above listed advantages and a moderate extra cost.
There are a few ceiling options.
The PVC paneling that comes in colors and wood grain is easy to clean and acts as an insulation and sound absorber. It can be painted so it just looks like siding type panels. It is very reasonably priced. It weighs less so there are some structural advantages. This is what we offer in our package.
A split bamboo product, where the bamboo culm is randomly split and flattened. Looks quite nice and is probably the most affordable option next to the PVC ceiling. A layer of tar paper is placed above so the cracks appear to have a black surface, then insulation on top. This is more expensive and is offered as an option.
Gypsum is too heavy and too difficult to tape and paint on the inside, so its off the list for ceilings.
Let’s talk Floors and Foundations:
It’s hard to beat a concrete slab floor for price. And they are obviously pretty solid and down to earth. Concrete is not the lowest embodied energy product, but if your building lot can justify it, it’s a savings to put it on a slab and not on a raised subfloor. Our prices are for a slab floor on a level building area. The costs to bring the area to this state are not included, and therefore will change from lot to lot.
And there will be times when leveling a building pad will not be cost effective compared to the costs and or advantages of a raised floor. This is why we cannot include these parameters in our pricing.
We do some interesting things with our foundations and subfloors. The system design is designed to carry the weight to posts, but it also distributes it across the entire foundation perimeter. So our foundation designs are really both a perimeter foundation system and a post and pier foundation. Our designs also allow for a “floating” foundation design, where the floor can easily be modified to be strong enough to support the foundation and literally “float” on the ground. These types of foundations are used over unstable ground, like sand, or fill, where firm ground is either impractical or cannot be reached. Liquefaction zones in San Francisco Bay fill would be an example of an area where floating foundations would be utilized.
When we are able do slab foundations, our design gives us the ability to literally build the entire structure before we pour the floor and 90% of the perimeter foundation. This also has a few advantages, when needed. We can place all the electrical and plumbing in the walls and floors at one time. We can concentrate on raising a roof to work under during the rainy season. The floor gets poured in the shade, which makes for a better pour and cure. We can pour the floor on a rainy day, when we want, not when the weather allows.
Above ground floor framing systems:
While these are more expensive than a simple slab on a flat grade, making a site flat can sometimes be more expensive than framing a floor. Framing a floor has other advantages when used with our building system. Since our buildings are very lightweight (only a fraction of a concrete block building, or M-2) they can be cantilevered over hillsides, similar to houses in Western California. This makes presently unbuildable lots (in much of Latin America that uses block construction), buildable at reasonable prices. Other advantages are availability to plumbing and electrical under floor. Elimination of potential moisture problems of floors built ongrade, allowing installation of wood flooring, carpet with greater confidence.
Some things that are not included:
The prices quoted are for a house built on a flat lot, unfilled. If the foundation needs adjusted for a filled lot, or a sloped lot that will be quoted as an extra, as will all site work.
No septic system or grease traps are included, but we have some recommendations for an approved system that can be used to water trees with the effluent, eliminating the need for a leach field. Location specific.
The plumbing is stubbed out from the house with a main water valve. The water pipe to the water source is not included. No pressure system is included, not everyone is in need of one.
A small water heater is included. Using a larger instantaneous water heater is of no value, for reasons that we can explain in person. The house is plumbed for hot and cold water.
An electrical panel and breakers is included with the principal conduit stubbed out of the house ready for connection to the main breaker at the utility meter. The run to the meter and wiring from meter to panel is not included. A whole house Lightning protector by Delta is included. (This should be mandatory in every house in my opinion.) This whole house lightning/surge protector COMBINED WITH a plug in strip surge protector(not provided) before sensitive equipment will reduce or eliminate damage from surges. These are one time insurance policies.
These are changes that the customer can make to customize their home based on their taste and budget:
- Plumbing fixtures
- Electrical fixtures
- Tile and flooring
- Paint colors and qualities
- Floor plan additions using add-on kit sections.
Please note: we are in the construction business, and would prefer to make our money constructing the shells of these houses, not in the final décor. (Tile, plumbing and electrical fixtures, cabinets, fancy paint jobs, etc) We have good control of the construction times, up and until we get to some of the subcontractors, like Tile, Cabinets, Etc. We can only be as reliable as our subcontractors allow us to be. Sometimes there are scheduling conflicts with subs in construction, like several projects that started at different times, finishing at once.
If you want tile, fixture, etc customizations there are two ways to go. We need to charge 20% on top of our costs to maintain a profit margin, pretty standard in the industry. This also makes us responsible for damages to products, so it acts as an insurance policy in a way. And we need top pay 7% ITBM and charge the customer 7% on the marked up price. That’s a tax on a tax.
How the customer can save money:
If the customer wants to take over the project and run the Cabinets, and Tile and Installation of fancier plumbing and electrical fixtures, they can make a significant savings in doing this last part themselves. Being the final details, the customer is in the position of getting exactly what they want. Savings for the customer to purchase and install these parts of the house can be upwards of 25% or more. This can be discussed personally as it is project specific.
For more details or a quotation on any project from a carport or a gazebo to a 2-3 bedroom house, please contact us.