Building a House in Nicaragua - 5
How to Build a House in Nicaragua
This article is designed to give the reader information about how to build a home in Nicaragua. This includes the basics in finding a lot, design considerations, as well as information regarding the hiring of a contractor.
Hire a lawyer to check the title, and have a builder do an assessment of the lot for building ability .
Decide what lifestyle you want in your Nicaraguan home.Many people go to Nicaragua to live a completely different lifestyle (no electricity, no phone, etc.). Some people may pressure you to adopt this type of living, but it's your decision. It will be your home. You need to be comfortable in it. Let the people facilitating your move know what your requirements are. If they can't provide them, find someone who can.
Recognize the state of Nicaragua's home-building industry.The industry is maturing. The number of home-builders is rising, as is the reliability of the contractors. However, the home-building process is not as fast and smooth in Nicaragua as it is in certain other countries. You may need to lower your expectations to some extent. Just know that building standards are gradually improving.
- Currently Nicaragua is using many building standards, none of which would be acceptable in more industrialized countries. Your goal should be to build a home which meets current standards in higher-end Costa Rican homes. Currently there are many differences between Costa Rican homes and Nicaraguan homes, involving design, materials and construction techniques. You want to find a contractor willing to meet the higher standards.
Develop a budget, but be careful not to make it too low.Essentially there is no limit to how cheaply you can build a home in Nicaragua. This is because there is little enforcement of building regulations. A home can be built with no supports, too small a foundation, no hot water, no electrical grounding. It can be built on unstable soil or in a flood plain. This means you should not focus on building as cheaply as possible. Instead, make your home a good investment. Spending an extra ,000 can add twice that much value to your home.
- Labor in Nicaragua is some of the cheapest in the world. This creates an opportunity to build a home you might not be able to afford somewhere else. You might be able to include amazing arched ceilings, arched entry ways, and arched windows, decorative concrete, stamped concrete, stained concrete and rounded corners. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, so take advantage of a great opportunity.
Hire a contractor.There are three categories of contractors in Nicaragua.
- Local companies and builders. While this option can be attractive, keep in mind that construction practices would not meet most western builders' standards.
- A combination of “Construction Management” and construction companies that offer this service because their clients have requested it. This group of contractors can pretty well guarantee that your project will be completed to a high Nicaraguan standard. These companies will offer homes that rise to a so-called Western standard but one that will not meet U.S. or Canadian levels. You will need a bullet-proof contract that covers building permits, hook-ups and construction. You (and your lawyer) will need to be paying very close attention to the project.
- The best option is to hire a truly professional construction company. Some of the best will have subsidiaries in the United States or Canada that can offer a contract that is legally binding in your home country, receive payments and provide contacts, all in the comfort of your home country. These companies hire builders with experience in the U.S. or other industrialized countries. They may also have experience working in hostile areas with varying degrees of difficulty. These companies can build multi-level pools, multi-story structures, decorative concrete finishes, off-grid power sources (see below), etc. These companies will also benefit from extensive local government contacts. They will do the work themselves, rather than subcontracting it to others. They can build durable and attractive homes featuring finishes and other specialties not well known in Nicaragua. Such companies train their employees when necessary and maintain a close eye on their progress.
What kind of equipment will my company need to build houses
Common Problems and Solutions in Nicaraguan New Homes
Insects in the home can be a big problem for those with little tolerance for such pests. These can include spiders and scorpions. In order to eliminate or reduce this problem, a home can be built in a certain way:
- Defensible space: Having a defensible space is critical in lowering the number of insects that live in your home. There should be a 1 meter (3.3 ft) concrete sidewalk completely surrounding your home. This will provide you with an area where crawling insects are visible while approaching your home.
- Airtight: Your home must be airtight in order to stop insects from coming into your home. This means having no holes around tubes and pipes that enter your home, having screens over all ventilated areas, vinyl or aluminum double-paned windows with screens, and weather-stripping around doors.
Small animal problems
Bats and birds sometimes live in the roofs of homes in Nicaragua. In order to eliminate this possibility, screens can be placed in all small openings. Soffits and eaves must be enclosed, with all ventilation properly screened.
- Rolling blackouts and long power outages: In Nicaragua it often happens that power is lost for up to 24 hours at a time. Be prepared to deal with these outages with a backup generator.
- These power outages can lead to the food in your refrigerator and freezer spoiling or your water pump shutting down.
- Momentary power disruptions: These usually last less than one second but happen frequently (at least once a day). These outages can be hard on computers, refrigerators and water pumps, all of which tend to be expensive items to replace.
- Water supplies are not always reliable: Most homes have their own back-up water containers ranging from 200 to 2,000 gallons (757.1 to 7,570.8 L). Many times these tanks are mounted higher than the home's highest water outlet in order for the water to gravity-flow without a water pump when the power goes out. A tall water tank can even eliminate the need for a pump.
- In Nicaragua it is normal to have a watchman who watches your house while you are gone and sometimes while you are there. There is now a company that installs alarm systems that can notify an alarm-response company if there is a break-in, fire or flood.
In-Home Humidity Problems
- The humidity in Nicaragua is always high. The humidity inside a home can be uncomfortable if the home is not built with vinyl double-pane windows and doors are not weather-stripped. Air-conditioning systems not only cool but de-humidify. If all of this cool, dry air leaks rapidly through the cracks in your home, you are left with very high humidity inside.
- Problems caused by high humidity indoors: All interior wood surfaces are subject to mold and dry-rot when the adjacent air is very humid.This can affect closets, cabinets, dressers, and desks.
- Rusting and corrosion of metal: Any metallic item is susceptible to rust in Nicaragua. Having to replace electronic components or metallic appliances can be difficult and expensive. It can be discouraging to lose valuable equipment to rust and corrosion in a matter of a year or less.
- Try these solutions:
- Back-up generator. This is the cheapest and easiest way to supply your home with power during a power outage. There are many options, one being an automatic generator that supplies power to your home instantly when the power goes off. Another option is a hard-wired generator that is manually activated when you need power. Another option is a wired plug that a generator can be plugged into during a power outage.
- Uninterrupted power supplies. These can be costly and complicated to install for an entire house. Instead you can purchase small battery systems designed for sensitive electronics.
- Solar or wind power. Electricity in Nicaragua is very expensive. A ,000 investment in solar or wind power could save you up to 0 per month in electricity bills.
- Vinyl windows: Vinyl or aluminum double-pane windows can help you avoid many of the problems discussed above.
- Keep in mind that building construction in Nicaragua is fraught with difficulties. Workers may not be educated in proper techniques. The laws of the country offer protection for employees but little for employers. This can mean serious problems for someone trying to get a home built. Theft of materials and equipment can occur often. On many projects it is common for entire crews to be fired, including managers. The client then has to start over from scratch with a new crew. It's not uncommon for this to happen three or four times on a single project. Employers must deal with lots of worker-oriented rules, as well as numerous vacations and holidays. Construction is very hard work but tends to pay less and be less enjoyable than many other available jobs. In addition, builders can find materials hard to get and deliveries unreliable.
Video: Building a House in Nicaragua Timelapse
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