any thoughts on Menonite houses and custom built houses?

Anyone have any thoughts on Menonite houses and custom built houses? We don't need a lot of indoor space. Just like to avoid 10 months of construction if possible. Appreciate any feedback.

Hello Al,

A new thread has been created from your post on the Belize forum so that you may get some feedbacks from members.

Hope it helps,

Mennonite houses:  Most are o.k.  I happened to get a group that was not ok, as did my neighbor.
Put everything into writing, consult with an attorney, be sure to include a means to deal with grievances.  Monitor every aspect of the building.  Watch for green lumber being put in the floor joists, the lumber will warp and your floor will buckle.  Be certain that every screw is sealed in the roof, or your roof will leak.  Be sure the piers are set on on a solid base, or your dry wall wil crack and your doors will sag and not open or close.  Be sure there are no open vent holes up at the ridge, or you will be infested with rat bats.  If they say they will not spray the understructure with a good insecticide, have someone come in immediately and apply a good preservative, or an oil/tar base application.  Due diligence is required with the Mennonite construction

Our Mennonite house was just a shell when we bought It, and already on the property.
We finished the walls with drywall and finished the floor. We luckily never had any warping, and never had any termite issues. We also added hurricane clips under the house and roof.
A few years later, the house withstood Hurricane Iris.

My house was constructed 3 years ago.  I was not as fortunate as you.

Very soon I plan on having a Menonite house built. Might I ask what builder you had some problems with?

Wiebe's crew.  As did the house, much larger than mine, down the street and around the corner.  I think he comes out of a place called 'Shipyard.'  I wish you good fortune in your undertaking.  Be certain to get the underside of your house treated immediately as well.  I asked for it, and the reply was "We don't do that," which means the voracious wooding eating insects will attack it immediately.  Refuse green mahogany.  In the US we can use green fir/hemlock and it's ok as if it takes a set, the lumber doesn't tend to warp once nailed into place.  Mahogany, not the case.  It will warp and twist and take a hardwood set.  Also make sure the floor on top of the joists is thoroughly dry, and use a plywood or an OSB (if you can get it) underlayment as the mahogany will shrink if green and you'll end up with large gaps in your floor whereby you will see the ground beneath your house and leave entrance ways for wood borers and other insects.  Hope I've helped.  Wish I had some sort of forewarning!

Thanks for the heads up. I plan on using one from Spanish Lookout. I've only heard good from both of them.
Thanks again for the info.

i am thinking of going a different route as opposed to the Mennonite construction. I have a shipping container ordered and would like to have it shipped to Belize. It will be completely off the grid , solar powered with a compost toilet. Does anyone know of any such structure already functioning in Belize? I would appreciate any feedback.


In Corozal province, none to my knowledge.  Septic systems are not all that complex in Belize, however.  We do have one windmill guy in my neighborhood and one off grid house in Smuggler's Cove, but none that have gone the house to container rout.  I recall some of those going in in Panama.

There is a converted container just east of Unitedville. Looks like they are hooked up to BEL. They may even be on town water. Not sure if container is used for living or storage.

Thanks for the information..ill do some more research. Sounds like  you had a bad experience with the mennonites

I dont know of any container bldgs yet, but im looking.  Please keep me updated on your progress.

There is  container built into a beautiful home on the main road going into Placencia, painted red. My guess was that they placed it for storage since it had no windows on the sides. The doors opened onto the driveway so it appears to be the garage - my guess is for storage during the off-season??? Nevertheless, a very clever idea and adds interest to the home - not an eyesore at all as the paint job is high quality.

A friend in the states builds homes and shops for people out of containers. They are cheap but VERY sturdy. When stacked, they are bolted together, openings and windows cut and then electrical and plumbing added. There are so many, it is usually easy to get one or more. As long as you are there to make sure they are dropped EXACTLY where you want them, (hard to move them later) they are a bargain!

Hi Ed,
I'm in the early stages now of looking at container homes in person , both totally self -sustaining and others with conventional electric , sewage and water. A friend is in the process of having hers assembled now in California. I have worked with cobb and earthbag structures which are very labor and time consuming so I've settled on Containers instead. I am particularly interested in getting to know like-minded expats in Belize   as I've been to Ambergris Caye on several dive trips. I would also invite anyone else to join in the conversation who are interested in affordable and sustainable living spaces, rather than buying into the
realtors' "subdivision" lots. Isn't this one of the reasons for preferring to live outside of the U.S.?

Warm Regards,

They sure can be a bargain as I've been looking at them for awhile , however there is now a company out of California shipping them from Viet Nam. Once they've added on amenities such as hardwood floors, handmade Japanese cabinets etc. a 170sq ft with all bells and whistles including solar panels so it's totally sustainable..well the price jumps up to $35K.. Could you put me in touch with your friend? It's great to know that there are others with this interest. I was going to put on my land directly on the Suwanee River but now I'm going to sell that acreage and hope to be closer to the Caribbean...


There are four, maybe five houses in my community that were built by Mennonites.  All have major problems.  They did not properly cure the wood and as a result we have wood borers in all of our houses.  They used green lumber where they should have used dried lumber and as a result our floors are buckling or have huge gaps between boards.  They did not use underlayment, so you can see right through to the ground.  The construction costs were not cheap either.  Piece by piece I'm getting this repaired, but it will cost me a bundle, and I do not have a bundle to spare.
There was a huge house built in my neighborhood, twice the size as mine, and they are having nightmares dealing with all of the issues.

The shipping container home sounds very cool Marcie..., I'll be interested to see how that works out for you...

I still have not made the trip to Belize, but I still want to..  With the way things are in the states I may leave any day! Lol

Take care,

Hi Jeffery,
So good to hear from you and just so you know I'm back in Austin having my 2nd hip done...I'm on the mend and heading for New Orleans to see  friends then back to Florida. I have been researching natural building techniques for several years now and have worked with some people on earthbag and cobb houses but the containers I've found are much more versitile , durable, less labor intensive and affordable. I will be purchasing one for myself . I hope you are well, stay in touch.


I hope things are going well with your second hip. My second hip replacement has been really good my first one is still giving me trouble..:(
I hope one day we'll be able to meet up in Belize? maybe the next time you drive through Mexico you'll give me a call?
Merry Christmas and a happy New year to you and yours!


Hey Jeff,
Well for me it was just the opposite. My first is great and I was diving up a storm only a few months afterwards..this time I wasn't so lucky and got a staff infection that nearly took me out!! I'm on the mend now and heading back east but it was scary. I too hope to meet you and your wife in Belize and I will keep you posted on my plans there. I'm also now looking in Roatan ( you know I have to have a good dive destination!) Take good care of yourself and we'll share "hip" stories if we ever catch up..

Happy Holidays!

I don't know if you are still considering container living, but if so there is a new place north of town in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye that is called The Truck Stop.  They have imported 6 containers (20ft) and turned them into a couple of restaurants, ice cream shop, and bar.  They might have a website with pictures if you do a google search.
Thanks for all the conversation on Mennonite homes. We had been thinking of having them build a couple of cabanas on our property to rent out....but now I have second thoughts on that.

Hi Linda,
Thanks for letting me know and I'll see if they have a website. Where did you end up building? What is the reason you've decided against the palapas for rentals?

Take care,

Thanks for that info.  We have talked to several builders each of whom will build a small "studio" ti live in while they build the main structure.  The studio would then be a rental or mother in law suite.
Im still researching the containers however.

We didn't build, we bought a home that was already built.  It's a wood structure so we have a lot of problems to deal with.  Maintenance living on the ocean is way more than we had anticipated.  For example, we  just power-washed, sanded, re stained, and sealed out entire veranda only 3 months ago and it looks like it was 3 years ago.
I didn't decide against palapas, just didn't consider it.

We are also looking into building a container home there.  I would love to get the information on any prefab container home company (including the California one shipping out of Vietnam), that will ship to Belize.  Names or websites would be great.  Thanks.

Just saw the post about The Truck Stop, so I'll look into that one also.

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