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Building

Here’s some thoughts on building a house in Honduras.

plumbing – make sure they use adequate sized waste and supply lines, and of the proper thickness i.e. schedule 20 or 40. I’ve often seen very thin wall PVC? used for waste lines, the thought being it’s buried in concrete anyway. Don’t believe it! Use North American standard ABS or PVC piping. And make sure they vent the waste lines properly, and that there are clean-outs if anything gets jammed in there.

electrical – ground the main panel correctly! I’ve heard of many tat were built with no proper ground at all. And make sure there is a safety switch on the main breaker, or outside at the service entrance, so you can shut off all power in from the line; either a fused safety switch or 200 amp main breaker, in a metal box rated for exterior use.

roof – put down a waterproof membrane before placing the final roofing material. The roofing will NOT keep the water out; it’s sole purpose is to protect the waterproof membrane from the elements. No matter what they tell you, the roofing material – whether metal, tile, or other – will not be truly waterproof. You could use styrofoam insulation below the roofing, with a waterproof side that is properly applied i.e. with tape or similar to keep out moisture. At the least, if using metal roof, make sure where the panels are fastened (usually with screws) that they are sealed afterward – there are good asphalt-like products available to do this and in colors to match most roofs

exterior paint – do NOT paint any wood surfaces that will be exposed to the sun e.g. railings, stairs, etc. Best to just stain them. Our railings were painted and started blistering almost immediately in the sun. Use exterior rated paints on other outside surfaces.

generator – consider getting one sized for your essential electrical devices in the house. The power will go off occasionally (although it is better in Trujillo right now – spring 2016). If not a generator, there are battery storage units coming on the market that may work for you.

water – you will probably want to have the water coming into the house, or at the main sink area, filtered with a good multi-stage unit that filters out and/or destroys bacteria. There are systems available for whole house or under sink. We use a 4 stage UV system at the kitchen sink, with a separate line to our fridge for cold water and ice maker.

water pump, pressure tank, cistern – we learned pretty quickly that the water coming to our house from the community supply, did not always have the pressure we wanted for showers, etc. As a result, we invested in an automatic water pump and pressure tank. We ended up using a separate 40 gal pressure tank after finding that the small one attached to the pump wasn’t big enough, causing the pump to cycle on and off too quickly. We also installed a 200 gal. cistern to supply water when the community supply was low. We’re also looking at adding a solar heater to our hot water tank – basically a coiled up block hose exposed to the sun.

insects – watch for termites and spray around the exterior base of the house immediately if you see evidence of them. And if you come across a trail of small black or red fire ants in the yard, find their nest and treat with the correct insecticide. Scorpions might be an issue at first, as you’re in their territory, but after a while we found they went away. Regardless, we are careful about shaking everything down and killing them immediately if we see them. Their stings HURT