It’s time to start planning, strategizing ,designing,shopping,researching,brainstorming, dreaming, and planning some more. Wait a minute….I’ve been here before!! Remember? We did this in our past life in Los Altos! Yes, I remember this stage of the game. We were so excited (just like now!) about all the possibilities and we had such a great time dreaming together about all the things we could do. The only catch was, the only way we could possibly afford to attempt such an endeavor as designing and building our own house was to do it all ourselves. We just didn’t have the budget to hire professionals to design and build a custom home. We could do the building and heck, we ended up really enjoying the designing part of the project as well. We hired an architect to draw all the details and submit it to the city for all the permits but in the end, we both agreed that if we ever did it again we would feel comfortable not spending the money for the architect. “Screeeeech!” That was before we realized that our next house project would be in a different country! Yea, we’re gonna need to utilize an architect. We already hired one and we’re looking forward to working with him.
Here in Panama the architect is the one who deals with all the permits and that’s just not something we want to attempt to deal with here, especially given our very meager grasp on the language. In Los Altos, we would have felt comfortable going to the city, submitting our plans, paying all the fees and dealing with the !@#$. But not so much here…yea, we’re happy to pay a guy to get us through that part of this adventure. And last time we attempted this type of project we didn’t hire a contractor or a plumber or an electrician, nope no contractors ever stepped foot onto our construction site. Well…wait a minute…., I think there may have been a guy who had fabricated some big steel beams for the roof, oh, and we got some help with pouring the concrete for the foundation, but I think that was it. (ya, Brooke, you were there, must not forget to mention you!)
Okay, you’ve heard about our other project in past blog posts and many of you sat in my chair (at the salon) through the years (yes, years!) that it took us to complete it. This house project will be very different (uh huh, we shall see about that!) . We’ll hire a contractor to build the shell of the house and the casita and the workshop. Here in Panama they build houses much differently than they do in the States. Scott has no experience building here nor would he know the first thing about how to access the materials we need. So, he hopes to have the basics done, and then he wants to do all the finish work, tile, cabinetry , blah blah blah. Hey! Stop right there…all you people saying…”ohhh nooo! She’ll never have cabinets!” (go ahead..insert eye roll here!) The big difference this time will be that we have the time (remember? No Jobs!) and have set aside the money to complete it. Last time Scott ended up having to stop working on our house in Los Altos before it was finished, in order to make some $$$ before we could finish. It was painful, but my fingers are crossed that this time will be different. The thing that will not be different is this stage we are in right now. We love to plan and research and especially the designing.
We met a really nice guy, a neighbor actually, who , like Scott, is a “numbers” guy. He was kind enough to offer to go with Scott up to the property to help him get the exact measurement of the lot down. There’s a flat spot at the top of the property that has been excavated for building. In case you don’t know, we live in the mountains so this lot is not flat. The previous owner of the property had started to prep the land for building, so the road is cut in and the building spot is already flattened. But we needed to get the precise measurement in order to design a house. The flat spot is about 10thousand Square feet and we plan to build a house (3000square ft) and a workshop for Scott (2000square feet). So we’ll still have a nice amount of land for landscaping. There’s a great spot down below for the casita. Oh boy, so much to look forward to.