Welcome

At home sailing but thinking about what needs to be done at the Villa in Panama0081-300x145

If you are thinking about building a home in the Republic of Panama or just love Spanish Colonial Revival homes, interior design or architecture, you’ve come to the right place.

I made a decision to start this blog for a few reasons, chief among them is to pay tribute to the many people, websites and service providers that have helped me gather the required information to bring together the design elements of a Spanish Colonial Revival home.  My own experience has been to gather the information from a wide variety of sources and none of those sources were conveniently in one place. With this in mind, I hope this blog proves to be a good source of information for those of you contemplating your own SCR adventure.

More importantly, for those of you who have made the decision to build a home in the Republic of Panama, the challenges of building from scratch, getting around the obstacles, red tape and costly construction mistakes may be the best value offered by this blog.  Or, at the very least, a good source of amusement. I’ve tried to include as much technical information as I can so there’s some reference for those of you building your own home that goes beyond a photo of completed work.

Building a home in a foreign country from 6000 km away can be a stressful and tiresome experience.  Still, my love and passion for design and the idea of bringing together people, material and design elements into one unified glorious quantifiable entity keeps me focused on the excitement that will bring much happiness and joy when the home is finally complete.

My Adventure begins in June 2008….

Please feel free to comment or add to the discussion.

Copyright in force. No redistribution or publication without permission.  I try my best to acknowledge any photos that I have not taken personally.  Examples of SCR homes that I have obtained from internet sources that carry no direct source is simply due to the fact that none was available at the time.  If you have copyright on any of the photo’s please contact me directly.  I try to give credit where credit is due and or make changes to my website to stay onside with copyrights.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

16 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Hello!

    strangely, I have only just discovered your blog….I have been blogging about our experience of moving to the Azueros region for well over a year now, and I discover today that we will be neighbours!
    We are building a small rancher for retirement and we can see you from our bedroom window! We originally were going to build a different design with several alterations, but the prices rose, our home in Canada received a worse offer than we expected, AND my spouses business almost lost us money – so, we had to dramatically scale back on our expectations and wishes.

    Nevertheless, we hope we will enjoy our little charmer! I will be arriving later in October, to be followed by Chris and two cats before November is out. I see you have pointed out many of the difficulties and red tape…all experienced by us too. Glad you have alerted others to better planning and more realistic expectations! I look forward to meeting you…

    Iris

  2. I love all the tips you give. My husband and I have purchased property near Boquete, and plan to retire there in a couple of years. Your house is exactly the type we’re looking to build. I love the inspiration of the architecture in Merida, Mexico. I was hoping that you could give me some perspective on how long it took to complete your house, and what the cost range was for construction, as we’re trying to get a more accurate picture of these details. Thanks for any assist you can give on this.

    • Thank you so much for your extremely informative reply! Actually, we intend to do the vast majority of the interior work ourselves to save on building costs, as we have a wealth of experience in doing high end finishing in concrete homes. I noticed in your blog that you speak of shipping building materials (fixtures, etc) into Panama to finish your home. I would appreciate any insight you can give with regards to the challenges and costs involved in shipping containers of items into Panama. We are considering potentially shipping in various fixtures, as well as solar panels. We are also wanting to ship in all of our household goods, as we have furnishings we’ve picked up from all over the world.

  3. Really enjoyed reading your entire blog this Sunday morning. We just purchased lot #xx in xxxx xxxx earlier this week and are beginning to contemplate building our retirement home. We walked through Casa De La Torre back in May and took some pictures of your magnificent view. After reading of your trials and tribulations, we are modifying our expectations (to say the least!) We appreciate all your helpful insights and look forward to sharing a bottle of wine when we arrive in 2014. Would you suggest we start yesterday?

    Cheers!
    Ken and Connie (your future neighbors)

    • Hi Ken and Connie,
      Congratulations. I’ve walked the area of your lot many times over the last few years. It’s a great spot.

      I’m glad my experience building a home has or will be of some use to you. I wish I had the same before I jumped in but I know you won’t have anywhere near as much difficulty due to the number of builders that are now available, -you still need to be careful. Finding a good builder who was prepared to venture out into our area was almost impossible a couple of years ago. Of course much of the trouble you can get into depends on how complicated you want your house to be. If you need any help I will be around to assist.

      Thanks again.

  4. Hello,

    I am Erika from TravelerVoice, a new social network for travel bloggers.

    I just found your blog and I really like how you described your travel story in Panama with beautiful pictures and assertive comments! It’s exactly the kind of writing we are looking for our Arts section, please feel free to register :)

    In the meantime I am running a contest to reward the most outstanding travel blogs on the web and I am still looking for new members :) so please check it out at http://www.travelervoice.com/contest.aspx for further details.

    I am looking forward to hearing from you :)

    Cheers,
    Erika.

    • Hi Erika,
      Thanks for your comments. I am definitely not a travel writer. I’m building a Spanish Colonial Revival house that just happens to be 6000 kms away in Panama. I do like your website.

  5. Your comments are very interesting. I would like to let you know that I sell handmade clay tiles in Panama. They are beautiful. Let me know if I can be of help.

      • I am sorry I took so long to answer. It just ocurred to me to come back and check. They are basically what you describe. The standard size is 16 inches long, 7 and 9 wide, and 3/4 thick. The size could vary if desired. I have exported to the US, mostly south and west. I have other clay products. They have to be imported and to tell you the truth I have not advertised them here yet because I am working in other activities. I just happen to see this website and though I should let you know I could sell them to you here. If you need more specifics let me know.

        Do you think there is a market for these tiles? I think that casco viejo would be the place right? Where else are they used, beaches?

  6. Most Panamanian architects and engineers have no clue as to designing and building modern intricate homes. I’ve had the sad experience of building and using “TOP” talent here in Panama. Let it be said that they leave a lot to be desired. So bring your plans and pay the pound of flesh to get them approved here cause you won’t get them done here correctly. Besides the “TOP” talent won’t know what they are looking at anyway.

    Good luck

    • Hi Jim,

      No doubt, you are correct with regards to the quality of professionals available in Panama in general and also in the construction industry. Unfortunately the majority of builders, contractors, engineers and architects don’t build complicated homes so you don’t have a large pool of high-end professionals. There are some that are competent but you need to find them by asking for references and checking on their work.

      With regards to bringing your own plans, you can do this but be aware that you will need to convert those plans to metric and also convert to concrete block and re-enforced beam construction. All construction plans need to be signed off by a Panamanian engineer, so it’s best to bring what you want to see from a design point of view and then have someone engineer it from a structural point of view. It’s very common to have plans that don’t always work. For example, a light switch on the outside of the building to operate a light for an interior room or plumbing that does not work because it was not properly vented. These are the kinds of issues that you won’t catch on any plan no matter how good they are because the problem is with the execution of the plans. So, having a builder that will come back and repair the list of deficiencies will be something you need to really think about. Checking out references on homes that are just as complicated as the one you intend to build. If you skip this step, you will have headaches!

  7. Hi Steve,

    My first thoughts are to say yes. Panama needs experienced builders with design and architectural backgrounds. Having said this there is bureaucracy. You still need a Panamanian engineer to submit working plans to the proper authorities. You can’t bring plans from another country and think you can submit them for approval unless you have a Panamanian engineer sign off on them. If you are planning to come to Panama and offer such services, you will need to spend the time to get to know the system. Panama has restrictions on foreigners opening businesses and there are requirements that limit who you can hire as employess (Panamanians). I would spend the time to fully explore these issues before I spent any time setting up a business in Panama.

  8. I AM CONSIDERING MOVING TO PANAMA AND A FRIEND SUGGESTED THAT THE NEED FOR AN EXPERIENCED BUILDER/ DEVELOPER OF CUSTOM HOMES IS SOMETHING THAT EXPATS WOULD LIKE TO HIRE. MY FRIEND HAS OFFERED TO INTRODUCE ME TO SOME OF THE ARCHITECTS HE HAS WORKED WITH
    DO YOU THINK THERE IS A NEED FOR AN EXPERIENCED BUILDER WITH DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURAL BACKROUND IN PANAMA?

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