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Mennonite Built Home versus cement

I would appreciate feedback on the pros and cons of both. thanks in advance for your time. I am talking about beachfront building.

My wife and I have chosen two 20' x 40' completly finished mennonite style homes to be built by Linda Vista. Both will be delivered to Sarteneja around August 2017. We have never read anything bad about this company. We flew there a few weeks back and spent all afternoon talking and placing the order for the homes. Both of these 2 homes will go on our beach front lot. One will be the standard 3 ft height and the other will be 9 feet above the ground.. The 9 ft house will be my 4 car garage. After their installation I plan to brick around the base of both houses. These houses will have their support poles placed on cement pads. One of our thoughts at this time is that in the future if we decide we would like to build a brick house in place of one of the houses we may be able to sell it and have it moved to a new owners location.
Larry

Congratulations lmflaming !


Early this year I bought a Mennonite built home in Placencia Village. The home was built in 2000, and was one of the few survivors in this area of the 2001 hurricane. Everything was in good shape, except the 9ft hardwood support post had cracked and weathered, and the original concrete support pads  had shifted a bit causing level problems in parts of the house. 

The first thing I did was have a crew put temporary supports between the original post so we could put a full concrete foundation, with lots of rebar and 10"x10' concrete rebar reinforced post replacing the original post. Re-leveling the house on the new posts. Work was completed about two weeks before Earl hit.

I would strongly suggest you go with a full concrete base and post avoiding cold joints from the start and avoid in the future needing to do what I had to do.  Get a local contractor to do the concrete work.

A full concrete base under your Mennonite house will also get you cheaper hurricane insurance rates.

What size is your house? May I ask how much was your cost to fix this problem. Have you heard anything negative about Linda Vista?

The House itself is 28 x 20, with a large L shaped, covered deck added on two sides.
My true cost is hard to pin down because of factors unique to this houses now land locked location. Over the last decade new buildings cut off direct road access to the main road used to bring the house in originally. All new materials had to be brought in by wheelbarrow from several hundred feet away. Plus I acted as my own general contractor, using trusted workers recommended by people I know and trust. Most materials and supplies were bought from the largest lumber/concrete supplier in the area.
Effectively my house was built backwards. :)  It was built on wooden post supported by small concrete pads in 2000, served the previous owners well and in 2016  I put the current concrete foundation/posts under it.

I am not familiar with the names any of the Mennonite builders.

how the costs compare if we want to build a normal concrete /cement based homes ?  Good thing about wooden homes are - a) all dimensions, various features and costs of wooden homes are available openly  b) wooden homes are delivered to the site and put up in almost no time  and ready to occupy  c) few different companies are there to do this!! 

Now, if we have to build a regular concrete /cement type home - what will be the cost?  who to approach? how the costs compare?  I want even roof to be concrete slab, to avoid problems with leaks and winds; hurricanes etc.  Anybody has done this already?

Thanks in advance

Not exactly an answer to your question, but my issue with cement houses is how hot they are. They retain heat. The cost to keep it cool is another piece.

I have had 2 houses built  on site  By local Belize builders, both with concrete  bases and ground floors  and wooden upper floors. I have ceiling fans in one house (mine)and regular fans in the other (my sons). During the day it can be noticeable as you walk upstairs from concrete to wood the air gets warmer. But after dark it quickly reverses and you notice the raise in temp as you down to the ground floor. Love my houses but the different materials do have different heat retaining properties.  I do not have AC  I don't really like it, but  I am debating wether to put one of the simple ones in 'My' house for those afternoons in May and June. The concrete warms up slower but the heat  dissipates a lot slower too. My property is in Belmopan and my Builders were both based in the west of the country. I think i got very good prices and have 2 very good strong houses.

Just wondering if the wood upper was well insulated. I have the same setup but haven't been here in the hot months yet. I have heavy insulation and metal roof.

I've been coming to Belize for 20 years, although that doesn't make me any kind of an authority, I have seen rising wood prices bringing the cost of wood almost to the same as concrete. I have also seen plenty of cement roof cracks resulting in leaks that are difficult for most to come up with a permanent fix. Metal hurricane ties on rafters with well secured metal roofing should withstand most breezes.

I've been coming to Belize for 20 years, although that doesn't make me any kind of an authority, I have seen rising wood prices bringing the cost of wood almost to the same as concrete. I have also seen plenty of cement roof cracks resulting in leaks that are difficult for most to come up with a permanent fix. Metal hurricane ties on rafters with well secured metal roofing should withstand most breezes.

My houses withstood Hurricane Earl  which went directly over us, some leakage round windows in simple house but no  actual damage. Also Solar panels on roof came to no harm, and kept us with electricity all night when most of Belize had none. Hurricane ties are a must.

Terrymaya :

Just wondering if the wood upper was well insulated. I have the same setup but haven't been here in the hot months yet. I have heavy insulation and metal roof.

I am the 2nd owner of an old school Mennonite home built in 2000. We are located in Placencia Village, about a minutes walk to the beach. In 2001 it survived a direct hit from Hurricane  Iris with only a small puncture of the metal roof from a wind blown tree branch. Iris had 145 mph winds when it came ashore. The house at the time was on 10 foot tall hardwood posts. In 2016 shortly after i bought it, I replace the 18"x18"x16" concrete supports and hardwood posts with a real concrete foundation and concrete post. I was back in Texas two weeks later when Earl came ashore north of us. Happily again  no damage, although with max winds of 85 mph when it came ashore, Earl was not a real test like Iris was. locals told me and pictures from the internet show Iris left vast destruction all over the village, including destroyed structures a short distance away.

My question is, what type of insulation is in your house, and how do you control insects that love to reside in insulation in wooden homes here in the tropics?

I am asking because I am considering replacing the original mahogany slat windows with modern three panel sliding glass windows and putting A/C in the bedrooms.

I have  a cathederal roof with the beams on display and simple local dry wall between the roof beams and timbers, all are Bullet wood which is impervious to insects(or so I am led to believe) . Never had a single sign of damp on the dry wall despite the amount of rain we have had since building. It is also a really nice look. Used a variety local hard woods that do not succumb to insect damage, throughout the house. In one house(mine) I have the glass windows that is the one I am thinking of putting a single AC unit, the other(my sons) has the slated windows, so no point having AC there.
The wooden walls were lined with tar paper (roofing felt) before the dry wall put in place that is all the insulation I have.

Hi! Back at ya. My Mennonite house is three years old and was built by Johon Webe from Shipyard. He is a good guy but has had a steep learning curve dealing with expats who expect a first world house at third world prices. Ten or more years ago a Belizean house was considered basic shelter that would withstand the elements. period. As unrealistic Expats came in looking for cheep housing naturally they gravitated to the lowly Belize house then started picking them apart and forcing the builders into more expensive buildings demanding that they be sealed tight resulting in the mold problems with sheet rock. They then complained about the rising cost.  I took a different approach. I had them build about a 30" foundation wall with footings and steel reinforced, then filled it with rammed marrow with a slab poured on top. They brought the house in, set it over the slab, jacked it up ten feet, put concrete posts 9' high under the front and built a cement block garage under the back half of the house with 9' high walls then they set the house down on the walls and posts. At this point I had a shell on concrete and I finished it my way. The roof and floor joists are tied down with metal hurricane straps and I have tinted glass louvered windows throughout, not air tight but good enough. I then had the local bug guy coat every piece of hardwood inside with a combination of used motor oil and a pesticide called Seligman. When he was through there were ants, roaches, spiders and Geckos dead and dying on the concrete the next morning. I then put the 2x6 bird blocking between the rafters at the top of the walls, put the special foam strips between the wood and the metal roofing and sealed everything with silicone and expanding foam then used regular fiberglass insulation with sheet rock over it. Use Boric acid pellets at the bottom of the walls before sheet rock to keep the roaches away and I spray that pesticide around the outside of the house twice a year. In the last two years I have seen one Gecko and one big spider and some ants around some food that I carelessly left out, period.

Geckos are your friends they eat huge amounts of insects you really don't want to poison them if you can avoid it. We really do not have huge insect problems, every so often we see a swarm of ants passing by but very few in the houses. Occaisional scorpions on the ground floors but all very small, and no real spiders.  We do have Bats in the trees and they keep the Mossies down to virtually nill. All surprising as my place is literally in the Jungle.

So is mine and I happen to agree with you on all of the above but if you remember I was responding to a person who was wanting to know how I kept the insects out of my insulation. In the past I have had numerous huge black scorpions in the second level of my house and two and a half inch roaches. I don't go out of my way normally to kill any creature but try not to be offended if I prefer not to have them between my sheets. I also have a neighbor with a bad bat infestation in the eves of his house. He now wishes he had sealed his house up as tight as mine. Wait till you have a colony of Cutter ants infest the roots of your favorite tree or bush. You will be able to see the two inch high way leading to the massive underground bunkers and you won't get rid of them before they wipe out whatever they want. In the end you will be happy to go to your local farm supply store and get pink ant powder, dig the bunkers up and give them a generous dose of said powder. They will be gone in hours never to come back, or you can choose to just live with them.

Hey Will, the problem with sliding pane windows is that only about half the window surface can let the breeze through when open and some days there is so little breeze that every little bit helps. That is when you might wish you had your louvers back. They utilize the whole window opening. That being said, I have some year around neighbors that put a window shaker in their bedroom and even with louvers it makes all the difference in the world on a hot, still night. Also you can replace the wood louvers for either clear or tinted glass and let the light in when they are closed. I went with dark tinted glass and when every window is open even a little breeze moves easily through the house. I also faced my house in the direction of the prevailing wind and it enters the front and goes right through the whole house. I know your house is already built but I only mention it for those getting ready to build. My house is not square on my lot but so what?

We had some  Bats in the first house but we got hold of a guy, JAZZ was his name, who removes them without killing them. he then put in all the bat proofing  we had not asked out original builder to put in place. The second house we ensured had full proofing. But we do still have Bats in the surrounding trees but no longer in the house. Do you have problems with Frogs  or toads in your area I don't mind the Frogs except for the noise,  but the toads are a problem with the dogs, and of course the noise as well. At the moment we are free of both but I know they will return, I would appreciate any info on getting rid of the toads.

Terrymaya :

Hey Will, the problem with sliding pane windows is that only about half the window surface can let the breeze through when open and some days there is so little breeze that every little bit helps. That is when you might wish you had your louvers back. They utilize the whole window opening. That being said, I have some year around neighbors that put a window shaker in their bedroom and even with louvers it makes all the difference in the world on a hot, still night. Also you can replace the wood louvers for either clear or tinted glass and let the light in when they are closed. I went with dark tinted glass and when every window is open even a little breeze moves easily through the house. I also faced my house in the direction of the prevailing wind and it enters the front and goes right through the whole house. I know your house is already built but I only mention it for those getting ready to build. My house is not square on my lot but so what?

Yes I am aware of the window opening/airflow sizes, that is why I mentioned three panel windows. All three of the window manufacturers in spanish lookout now make horizontal sliding windows with three panels, that allow a 2/3 opening of the total window area. I plan to use tinted glass in all windows, and safety glass in windows not facing the water or sidewalk. Windows facing the water and sidewalk will have according style storm shutters I can pull closed from inside the house.

LOL,what is a window shaker? Fortunately the original owners had the house face into the prevailing winds when they put the house on the lot back in 2000.  The offset makes it easy to spot on google maps. ;)

Ha! I'm sorry, a window shaker is a window ac unit, cheep and easy to install. For a bedroom they seem to work just fine even with louvers. It sounds like you are pretty savvy on most things so wasn't as worried about you as some of the folks that have been asking for info. I really love Placencia but it just didn't work out for me to be there.

Hi Terrific. I have those kinds of sounds all around me and enjoy their noise but didn't know they were a problem for dogs, ya learn something new every day. I have friends with dogs in the area so it will give me something to ask them about. If I find out anything worth reporting I'll let you know, they are year arounders for many years and are in tune with the jungle.

The frogs we get are the quacking variety, which is how we distinguish them from the toads, when all are  at their peak the noise drowns out all other sounds for miles. It is only really bad  for a few weeks  around June/July and it is livable with. I have plenty of  jungle noises from birds, Possibly a Tapir near the river and  the several troops of howler monkeys surrounding us. Funny when the monkeys are quiet I miss. I love sitting at night on the verandah with the jungle noise and the millions of stars.
The toads are bigger and much uglier than the frogs and if the dogs even lick them they are so toxic it causes vomiting and frothing at the mouth, should an animal eat one it is usually fatal. Had to take one dog to the vet for licking toads but  we thought he had  rabies.  I  so would love to know of something I could do to deter the toads from returning in the dry season.
The frogs usually turn up about late February and the Toads about May, then all usually vanish all at once virtually overnight around November or the end of the year.  They seem to like coming onto the concrete covered  verandah on the ground floor which gives them a good echo chamber.
My son has lived in/on our property for 4 years with only short breaks of a few days to 2 weeks.  I am still having to come and go as My Husband isn't wanting to retire yet. I do get out several times a year at different times I Managed 15 weeks over 7 trips last year, some with husband and  some with other family members and some just me.

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