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Author: Subject: Construction in San Juanico
BobbyC
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[*] posted on 1-20-2020 at 01:16 PM


Congratulations on your purchase. I can share some advice based on my own experience of building down here many years ago and there are some very valid tips offered by some members here.

I bought my lot here in La Paz shortly before retiring and first attempted to build my home while still living in Long Beach, paying a contractor to follow the provided design plans and my expressed (written) instructions. That didn't go so well as he often either overlooked important details (outlets, toilet/drain locations, window heights) and several times completely veered off from the plans in a completely different direction. By the time they had completed the "obra negra", I had placed my home up north on the market and rented an apartment a few blocks from my home build site.

So I decided to keep working with the original crew but was on site every single day with the builders to be able to oversee build corrections (where possible) and then completed enough for me to move in. I did most of the remaining finish work myself with some help at times from day laborers. That took about another 3 months.

What I learned after the project was done and talking with many other expats down here who went through a similar process is that you basically have 2 choices if you want to get it done right:

1. Be your own job supervisor and closely follow all work progress, or

2. Hire a professional architect or civil engineer to supervise, under contract

Also, take a lot of time to consider the weather, home orientation and your lifestyle into how they will incorporate into your build. Post construction remodels are a lot more difficult and much more expensive down here if you build with block/reinforced concrete.

There is a very good video online of a home build in San Quintin that you can watch. I was especially impressed with how they used the local rock elements and designed their water management system.

https://www.facebook.com/TalkBaja/videos/10157578343487320/
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BajaTed
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[*] posted on 1-20-2020 at 02:15 PM


Design suggestions:
Underground water pilar near the street edge.
Recessed front doors behind iron gates that leads into a courtyard and the house entrance is built in security.
Cinder block is COLD.
The bigger the shower space, the colder it stays in the shower.
Consider hydronic floor heat system for bathroom and kitchen.
(warm tootsies:D)
Fireplace with forced air heat exchanger
Best Fung Shei is a south facing entrance.
Prominent spot for pink flamingo's to signal daily c-cktail time




Es Todo Bueno
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DBaja
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[*] posted on 1-20-2020 at 02:58 PM


So much good information, I’m so thankful. Keep it coming!
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BajaParrothead
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[*] posted on 1-20-2020 at 05:14 PM


Here is a book that was very informative for me and helped me pick the right contractor for ME.
https://www.amazon.com/This-Ol-Casa-Building-Laymans/dp/1440...

For what it's worth, I had none of the aforementioned problems with my build. The contractor sat down with me to get a basic floor plan and layout. He then emailed me a rendition with elevations. After three or four emails back and forth, I approved the final plan and it was sent to engineering.

During the build, I only made one visit to the site and that was at about the 10 week mark. The builder sent weekly photos to keep me updated. There were no deviations from the plan, other than some small changes i requested after the visit.

Good luck!
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DBaja
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[*] posted on 1-20-2020 at 07:11 PM


I love a good success story, thanks for the input. I just bought the book, thanks
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Udo
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[*] posted on 1-21-2020 at 12:16 PM


You are exactly correct about being there every hour of every day. From my past experience, there may be one out of a thousand construction contractors that you can trust and be capable of handling your work. My experience, as well as that of many of my friends, is that you will get screwed by short cuts that the contractor takes (or at least his workers). In my specific instance, it cost me over $60,000 USD to redo what my previously "trusted" contractor did. The problems? Shallow foundations, incorrect plumbing, incorrect wiring, incorrect roofing.
And in my instance, I was on site three days a week on weekends. What the guy did the rest of the days, I did not find out for three years!



rquote=1178011&tid=93903&author=4x4abc]I have built in Baja
I have seen friends built in Baja
I have watched projects built in Baja (I have a construction background)

quality construction work is almost impossible in Baja
including what I have seen from US and other foreign contractors

companies who value time and quality have crews brought in from mainland Mexico (OXXO, Walmart, Home Depot, hotels etc)

I have pictures of the Nopolo project in Loreto. You do not want to see what's under the plaster!

However, i have heard from friends who were very happy with the results of their builders (La Paz area). So, good work seems to be out there. Somewhere.

from my own experience - if you are not on site every day, every hour of the process, you might get something you did not order for more money you wanted to pay.
Remember, there is no recourse in Baja if things go wrong.

I like the Gomez book - reality is much worse.
[/rquote]




Udo

Youth is wasted on the young!

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thebajarunner
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[*] posted on 1-21-2020 at 07:42 PM


"God and Mr. Gomez" was a classic, but that was a very long time ago.

Try "Gringos in Paradise"
The much more modern story about newcomers figuring out the process while building just north of Puerto Vallarta in the surfing community of Sayulita.

Fun read, and very very informative on the process. Stressing all of the important issues from lot location, to design, to searching for a builder and how to live with those decisions.

Plus a fun read to boot....
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DBaja
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[*] posted on 1-21-2020 at 11:24 PM


I have to say, This Ol’ Casa is a wealth of knowledge. Straight to the point Baja build advice. Burned through it in one day. The more adventurous books are next, thanks for the recommendations!
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BajaParrothead
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[*] posted on 1-21-2020 at 11:43 PM


The only other thing that I can add, is check all the references that you can dig up. I stumbled onto my builder through town talk, but then I started digging into his previous builds. Found a 100% total satisfaction! Seemed too good to be true, but it all panned out as hoped.
On the other side of the coin, he wasn't the only one I checked into. The others had much shadier reviews and seemed to be more of a crap shoot.
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DBaja
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[*] posted on 2-10-2020 at 08:03 PM


OK, so my build is inching forward! :bounce:

My engineered plans have been updated, permits have been renewed and I'm deciding between a few different local builders to run the job. I'll be heading down in a few weeks to finalize my choice and talk specifics for the build. As always, with the help of this community I have been steered in the right direction! Thank you!

I read this ol' casa, awesome and very informative book. I will refer back to it often. I also read God and Mr Gomez as recommended, also a very good read! My Baja bug is officially out of control! haha. I also have Gringos in Paradise which will be my next reading endeavor.

On to my next questions!

Like I said, I'll be meeting with my prospective builder in a few weeks to not only finalize my choice of builder/crew, but to also discuss the specifics of my build. In order to do this I would like to be a bit more educated regarding a few things. Please be advised, I have read over what threads I could find on this forum before reaching out. I would really like to further educate myself with everyones newest experiences and opinions.

Side Notes/Reminders: House is in San Juanico and mostly off grid. My home will be an 1800 sq ft, 3bd, 2bath, 2 story vacation home visited seasonally for week long intervals. Eventually it will be lived in for longer durations. Young family of 3, soon to be 4. House has municipal water, no municipal sewage system or power. Septic system is currently a large covered hole in the ground. :!: Not sure if more background is needed, let me know.

Questions

1. I'll start with the septic system. For those of you who are grid what are you running? I don't want to break the bank but I'll definitely be needing a better system soon. Also, I read that septic systems are illegal in baja :?: Im confused

2. Power: Right now the house (first floor) only has junction boxes with the plastic conduit throughout. I plan on going full solar with a backup generator. Recommendations in that dept? A lot to discuss there, I know.

3. Plumbing: I have 3 separate 1,100 L tinacos I can utilize with a very crappy no longer working electric tankless water heater. I would like to do this one right. Tankless or tank? Electric, propane, solar? I saw a sweet 120L rooftop solar water heater that interested me, but I have my doubts. Whats the tried and true trend out there?

4. Off grid appliances: Fridge size/power source (gas/electric). Oven. Microwave (not much to talk about there, other than it being a power hog). Anything else worth mentioning?

5. Heating/cooling: Is a built in heading/cooling system necessary for you guys? If so, what a good route to go? I was thinking about not doing any AC but maybe have a small gas or wood burning stove in the corner of the living room. I plan on having overhead fans in every room. Suggestions?

6. Windows/doors: I keep going back a forth on this one. Import my windows or have them built locally? Dual pane would be nice if I had AC or extreme outside temps. Im pretty sure Milgard has a storefront in Cabo which is a nice option as well. I plan on having my doors build locally. Suggestions?


OOOOOK, just in case your head didn't already explode from questions ill stop now.

Thank again everyone!
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mjs
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 09:56 AM


I'll play.

1. I'm not in your area so I can't help.

2. Talk to the folks at Northern Arizona Wind and Sun www.solar-electric.com.

3. Since you're off grid propane is the only way to go. Tankless can work but really depends on the setup. I have small 6l units for each area. Set temperature such that full hot is just right. On the other hand they can be problematic when used with mixing values trying to set temperature. A tank unit is simple and works especially if it will feed multiple areas. You can use solar in conjunction with a tank unit.

4. All depends upon how big your solar system is. Electric for refrigerator. Propane for cooking.

5. Modern wood or pellet stoves are very efficient but consider your fuel availability. Propane wall heaters are ok but they put a lot of moisture into the air. Forced air requires a lot of electricity for the fan and can be complex to get good zone control. Mini split heat pump can work well if sized right and you have the solar power for it.

BWOE, we have two small mini split in the kitchen / great room and one in the bedroom. None in the guest bedroom since no one visits in the summer. Only need to run one for heat. In the summer we'll run both to keep the house cool then at night we run the bedroom unit on a timer for a few hours to sleep. We're 100% off grid but we've got a 9kW solar system and a 62kWh battery. New lithium batteries could reduce the battery size but they're still a bit pricey.

6. Import quality windows unless you can find someone local who will import what you want for you. In my experience cheap windows only get worse the longer you live with them.
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DBaja
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 11:14 AM


Thanks for the input mjs, great suggestions
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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 11:43 AM


Quote: Originally posted by DBaja  
Thanks for the input mjs, great suggestions



I agree, great suggestions, but what the heck does BWOE mean?




If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space!

"Could do better if he tried!" Report card comments from most of my grade school teachers. Sadly, still true!
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mtgoat666
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 12:36 PM


Quote: Originally posted by AKgringo  
Quote: Originally posted by DBaja  
Thanks for the input mjs, great suggestions



I agree, great suggestions, but what the heck does BWOE mean?


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Woke!

“...ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Prefered gender pronoun: the royal we

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John Harper
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[*] posted on 2-11-2020 at 01:04 PM


BWOE - By Way of Example.

John
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