Author Topic: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua  (Read 69928 times)

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Offline alex trent

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Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« on: November 24, 2011, 08:03:35 AM »
Here are a few shots of the main idea. Ground slopes about 3 feet back to front and 1 foot to the left side. Have not decided on roof type yet....one of these.  Will be 22x22 with 8 ' deck.   will post pics of the site soon.  Big room has a murphy bed...the blue rectangle






Offline nathan.principe

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2011, 08:47:44 AM »
I vote for the gable roof!  and if it faces west I would extend the roof line over the deck :)

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2011, 08:55:23 AM »
Looks very interesting.  Will you be using any solar power or no power?
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Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2011, 09:48:48 AM »

I am also coming back around to the gable...jumped to the hip as wanted more clear space overhead inside, but I see I can do rafter ties every other one, so that will be OK for the look. Gable fits the scene better and the 4 foot overhang keeps the rain out of windows a bit. Roof is now out 3 feet over deck...how much more can I do without posts? Faces NW and sun is not a problem.  That is the "view' over a small valley to some farmland on the other side about 4 miles away.

Power...I would hope eventually to do solar. It is cloudy a lot up there. But, while I have not measured it, I think I can get enough for my needs with a reasonable amount of panels...at least in the dry season of seven months. Pretty much just some low wattage lights, a fan and small chest freezer used as a fridge (can manage that to make it very efficient). Back up with a small generator as needed to charge batteries. Right now the way will be to charge the batteries two at a time as I drive my jeep and have them hooked up to the alternator.  This will be a part time place so i drive about an hour a day and in two-three days can recharge batteries nicely. Means a bit of work to lug them about, but it's a free (almost) charge and the system is just about perfect for charge rates and moving the deep cycle batteries about helps maintain battery life...so i am told. I do this now to run power tools up there with a 2000 watt inverter (3500 surge) that powers a 1500 watt circular saw, drill, etc.  When they run out, we quit.


Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2011, 10:54:06 AM »
My Jeep in a new life..was a city jeep two years ago..  my dog...loves it more than me...my neighbor after a day getting his bananas for the week...free. Note the leaf umbrella which works pretty good if the wind is not blowing






Offline duncanshannon

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2011, 04:59:22 AM »
cool!

whats your story in nicaragua all about? 
Home: Minneapolis, MN area.  Land: (no cabin yet) Spooner, WI area.  Plan: 20x34 1 1/2 Story. Experience Level: n00b. 
Build Thread: http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=10784.0

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2011, 06:53:35 AM »
Wow.  that is cool.  Nice jeep.  Thanks for the extra pix of the surroundings.  We always enjoy them.  [cool]

I see you have a good understanding of the solar stuff and how to get a lot out of your batteries and inverter as well as the chest freezer conversion.

I am going to try to remember to check in here every so often and see what you are up to.

With the gable roof you could also have a loft, of course you could do that on the high side of a shed roof too.

You could go farther with the porch if you wanted to put some posts and another set of joists, though I think 3 feet would be OK unsupported except in high wind conditions, you could have problems with it getting blown off.  Just a thought - I'm not an engineer.

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Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2011, 03:29:00 PM »
Nicaragua is just another "frontier" place so to speak.  Poor but not bleak. Governments a bit hinky...but which one is not. I worked in agriculture and traveled there in the 80' and 90's and found an attachment for Latin America.  Lived in NJ for 22 years, but had enough of being too civilized, I guess.   Not a USA escapee...far from it.  Love to go back and do...I am 2 hour fro Miami and the gateway to USA.  Thought I would try it and it works for me.  Redid a house in Granada, colonial "city" 50,000 people and OK...bit still a big town. This is 30 minutes away and a different world and will share living in  both places.

Here are some more pics..I start to build in two weeks..Will put in piers and mid January will do the posts and then deck and off to the races.



This is the water collector I built this late summer. Rain ends in November, so it got to be a rush to get it done.  Don't look too close or you will be forced to critique the construction.  I learned a lot ijn the process. will do me good on my house build. Got 6,000 gallons of pure water now.




Will be the view from the porch...1700 feet up from the valley and the other side is about 4 miles.



Looking at the property location from about a mile away.  Look to the left..just at the intersection of the ridge and the big volcano...it's top is obscured by mist.  That is where I am.



The road into the property...up to here can get a truck in (if you lie a bit to the driver)...from here is just jeep wide, so a lot of humping to get stuff in.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2011, 03:53:38 PM by alextrent »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2011, 05:35:52 PM »
Really nice and volcanic heating nonetheless. 

Nice water collection system.  No complaints from me.   :)

How about people - Good neighbors? 
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2011, 06:20:29 PM »
People are good. Not many close...nearest house is 1/2 mile and next one another 1/2 mile. Most of  the people I see are workers passing by from work up the mountain...coffee, mostly. They live on the bottom and go up and back...2,000 up/down feet and 2 miles each day.  Pass next to or sometimes through the property....I alway greet them and wave, and make sure the dawg behaves. My guys  work 6 AM to noon and then go home for lunch and the day.  All poor, so cannot leave anything loose.  They make 5-8 bucks a day, so a $10 hammer is a lot.  But they will not hold you up...mostly.

I pay the farm manager from the fica next to me $100 a month to just keep his eye on things and get me workers when I need them. He is a local guy and nows the folks, so if he thinks I am Ok, that works wonders.  he does so far.


Frankly, it is hard to know what the hell they think. Gringo comes up in a jeep (while they walk) and builds a house they cannot dream of. Treat them well and get dirty with them is all I can do. While doing this , you have to maintain your sense of humor and sanity...this is the land of NQR (not quite right) and you need to be right on things or they will go awry. Redoing stuff is a standard thing...but sometimes, like with the house, not EZ to fix stuff. For a lot of the stuff I want done, they think I am crazy, so it's OK.

I am proud of he collector.Out of sight on this shot is a first flow diverter that dumps the first 15 gallons of every rainfall, so what is collected is nice and clean. This is in a small clearing, so no monkeys or birds roosting above....but still lots of leafy stuff that blows in.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2011, 07:20:22 PM »
All very interesting.  We traveled quite a few times to a clinic in Mexico so I understand what you are saying about the people. 

Mostly I find that if you respect them, do not look down on them and treat them like other humans rather than lesser beings they will also respect you.  Not that they will bring your hammer back, but they would understand if you took it back the next time you saw it, I think.

I find that most people just want to get along.... 95 to 99% of them  ...and it's only the bad 1% who would kill you as soon as look at you.

More power to you and your project.  :)

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Offline Don_P

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2011, 04:40:24 AM »
Beautiful place!
I'd been slowly sketching. Just more grist for the mill.



Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2011, 06:09:41 AM »
Wow..looks like a great idea...please see my PM on this.

Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2011, 02:42:38 PM »
Not quite yet driving nails and no build photos, but been busy as all get out. Some real accomplishments this week.

1. Found a young man who has some building construction background with wood.  Says architect on his card, but I think not.  But can do plan drawings (I will post some later) and best of all know some crews with experience. For a very small fee, he will make my life much easier. I will still have to directly supervise, but he will run the interference for me. We meet with a potential builder this week. Need to present the right face or the gringo price will come out and I cannot use him. I hate to negotiate. Rather pay a bit more for a good job. My challenge is to be sure he knows that he will not just go and start building and at the end turn it over to me, but have to put up with me on site every day and so things my way a lot of the times.  Their way is not bad, but they lack a certain attention to detail and style. The house will not meet MN code, but will be done right.

2. Brought back some HDG nails and other stuff from the States to get started...like galvanized J bolts of which none are to be found here. I had alternatives, but this is good. Also brought back various connectors that i think may be useful...like corner angle brackets in heavy duty galvanization. Also brought in my BoraCare and Timbor as checked baggage. TSA was nice, I attached a note and an MSDS. Was able to handle a pier post connector so now I have a feel for what it is and works in live action. Sorting out the nail situation and about have that done. Nails here are really bad...China at its worst. Not just no galvanized, let alone spiral, they are soft and thick. Sounds like a simple thing, but it is not.

4. Lumber is to be here tomorrow...will borate treat and then dry it under a shed for 6 weeks and build the post and deck. As soon as I see the current wood, I have the order for the upper frame in hand and will go with that. This will  also air dry for about 6 weeks before nailing. Need to find some plywood. In short supply here and virtually no exterior grade...so i guess the floor gets interior and I will treat with borate.

5. Have people coming down December 27 so I have a window for them to bring things in.  Now is nails and Simpson pier/post connectors and the required bolts (again, no well treated stuff here). This is my last chance before having to make a special trip to MIA, until February when more mules will come. But I want frame pretty much done by then.

6. Bad news is my concrete guys took another job while waiting for me to get started. Means the small block shed they were to build for tools, etc is not done and the piers will also be delayed.

7. But I will start to dig the pier holes Monday...that crew wants xmas money. Laid out the place today...only took an hour to square it up...OK two.  i got a "D" in geometry and while I know the way, the logic does not come easy.  Batter boards tomorrow. BTW..how square is square on 22x22 foot...to 1/2 inch?

8. The piers are to be 12' by 12' and  4 feet deep. At the bottom we will angle out so the bottom 8" is 20"-x20".....rebar columns and concrete in that and 8" above grade and J bolts in that. Later, Simpson ABUs and 6x6 posts.  For those of you who think this is still "not code", this is about all I can do here without being certified as CIA or just crazy.  So bear with me.

« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 05:52:21 AM by alextrent »

Offline Don_P

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2011, 04:38:25 PM »
Adhering to minimum standards here gets one labelled too. Just a note on the interior plywood. The main difference in interior and exterior grade is the adhesive used. Don't let interior ply get wet... so don't borate it.

Offline speedfunk

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2011, 05:51:50 PM »
that is some awesome country side.  Looks like an adventure :) ;D
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Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2011, 06:05:26 AM »
I likely was a bit compulsive about the need for exterior plywood...the subfloor is a full 2 feet off the ground minimum and will just be humid, not wet. Interior makes it a lot easier and the wood on top and below will be treated...but I have a feeling that is not a great help. Maybe I should use 1x10's as subfloor and lay on a diagonel for bracing. Cheaper. I would have some spaces with the shrink but the floor is to be T&G so I will not have see (or crawl) through.

I think most of the adventure is getting things (like this) done with limited resources (people and material) and having to do work arounds. Not the reason I came here, but makes it interesting and learning a lot.  I likely am doing a lot less of the actual building than most on this site. I have new respect for those on here doing this...even in the Sates, 20 miles from HD, it is its own adventure. Neat to see people doing it.

Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2011, 03:02:06 PM »
Good day today.

Met with a guy who is highly recommended as a wood framer. Has done a lot and I will get to look at a few. We had the talk about you make suggestions, but in the end need to follow the way I want it done. This is one thing you learn here..."that's not the way we do it here", or that's the best way for Nicaragua"  is most often not true. Some is they lack the experience or the parts to do it that way. Other times is is just BS.  Need to learn to be nice but firm. And you got to be there and be hyper-vigilant!  He knew what a galvanized nail was, although none in this country and compared the spiral shank to the screws he uses because of green wood. I stared him down on the nails vs. screw issues...a good way to test the way we will work and seems OK.  Asked if I had plans...another good sign. He will cost me a bit more than I had in the budget, but a good craftsman is worth it. Of course, if he gives me a real gringo price, I am back two steps.

I got leads on two places that sell dry lumber for framing. My deck stuff (green)  is already on the way, but may get this for the rest of the house. Need to check out costs. The builder says he would not have any problem with framing after 6 weeks air drying with the "green".

Maze nails responded to my email  and said they would break 50's into 10's for a small charge, so I can get whatever nails I want for not much more. Hardened and HDG only go down to 3"....hardened no HDG have in 2 1/2". I think I opt for a bit bigger nails in some of the uses  and just do all HDG. For the siding I will just use the GripRite siding nails...not so worried about that.

I will finish laying out and double check the pier measurements tomorrow and Monday the young workers start digging the piers. Ground is like rock now with two dry weeks. So 18 12x12  piers four feet deep and wheel-barrowing in 4 yds of gravel, 2 of sand, rebar and cement 300 meters to the site from the off load point will help them earn their xmas money.  My concrete guys are still MIA, but that will get sorted out and not delay this.  Will likely not do that till after the new year. I now plan to start the deck on the 5th of January..or the 9th, as that is the 5th in NICA time.

Offline Alan Gage

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2011, 03:18:39 PM »
Exciting times. Looking forward to the build.

I've dreamt many times of moving to another country like you have. Fun to hear someone who's done it.

Alan

Offline timkel

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2011, 07:25:46 AM »
I don't want to send things off topic, but I have a few questions about your property.
What are land costs like?
Any taxes you have to pay?
How far from a town?
Can you own firearms?

I am looking forward to seeing pics?

Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2011, 12:16:49 PM »
I am about to post some pics...

Just digging holes and starting the little storage shed to keep tools and generator in. Now lugging tools and battery back and forth each day is wearing thin. Last 200 feet is by foot.

At three feet ground turn to gravely sort of mix...hard as a rock...so that is good news as the first three feet is lots of clay. going down four and expanding the base from 12 x 12" to 18 x18" last foot down.  Transport up is tough for the heavy stuff...gravel, sand etc. Big hill...but need small truck as the last 1/4 mile is narrow and do not want to excavate the road. so big truck means wheel it in.  As it is we have to carry 200 feet. The small truck I got to haul crapped out and could not make it up the hill after about 1/2 of the 2 miles...off loaded some stuff and towed it up with my jeep in low range. amazing little beast! So that got done in six trips, vs two with a biggie.

Prices all over the board. Was a boom here 2005-08 and crashed , but lost of the owners did not get the "prices are lower" message yet and are awaiting a come back. Still some good deals.I bought mine from a gringo who gave up on registering the property. took some risk, but got it done. Need patience and got to get the right people involved. So for the risk, I got a deal..$12.5 K for 8 acres up on the mtn.. He paid 48K in 2007...too much even in the boom. You can get land like this for somewhere in between the prices up on this mtn. No tax to speak of...maybe 200 a year. I am 30 minutes from Granada...plenty of town for me....where I live now 45 from the airport. You can own firearms.  Have to be a resident..can get that several ways.  basically need proof of some minimum outside income

Offline timkel

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2011, 01:42:10 PM »
Thanks for the information.

What size / type generator do you plan to use?
Do you plan a garden?
How are the bugs?
Is there a rainy season?
Do you have a fresh water supply? I see the water collection system. Is a well practical?

Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2011, 02:23:21 PM »
Will have 2500 watts...plenty for me. Reefer, few lights, fans  and computer. Just to charge a couple of batteries need to run it little more than hour a day.  Solar panels eventually...maybe.

Garden is tough here. Veggies are  cheap enough and we have banana growing on property and mangos and avacodoes here and there on property we walk on.

Bugs are not all that bad on the mtn...or even in Granada for that matter.  Not the usual picture one paints of the jungle and bug.  But we do have them.

Rains may november than almost totally dry.

No real possibility of a well up on this mtn for a private person. At the base there are wells and not too deep...150 to 400 feet deep from what i can tell..

Offline alex trent

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2011, 05:30:06 PM »
A few pics of the start...well not the very start. That was getting things up the hill and down the narrow road.

We dug most all the holes for piers in 3 days.....4 feet deep and 12 inches square. will widenen to 18x18 at bottom.  Will have rebar and concrete.  Top 3 feet was not great stuff...silt and clay...then we hit a clay/gravel band which makes me feel better about support. 18 columns should be enough in any case, even at the worst bearing capacity.



The truck we can fit into the property is small.....this is a load..150 blocks and 10 piedras.....a cut stone, about half the compression strength of concrete. Used for a lot of misc purposes. More guys than horsepower in the truck...first day the sister to this truck stalled on the hill up and I needed to tow it up and off tot he property with the jeep. No pics as not a lot of time as the road is one wide lane and has some traffic on it.



My guys building the small bodega to store tools and materials and the genset.  will be about 100 feet from house. Genset noise muffled by concrete house and distance.  Very secure build as this will have  two years wages of stuff for a local in it.



Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: Mtn Cabin in Nicaragua
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2011, 05:40:20 PM »
Amazing.  How the heck are you getting internet access?  I'll be watching this one with interest.  Do you mind telling us why you are in Nicaragua?  Retirement?
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