Casa de Tortugas - Stories

The House Build


Before any building can happen, we needed to get our concept art turned into real drawings that the builder can use to build from. These drawings include the basic drawings and some engineering specifications. The pillars that hold the house up need to be strong enough to hold the weight of the house that will sit on them and be spaced far enough apart to allow us to add a storage room under the house. This storage room is called a bodega and will be where our solar power equipment will be housed along with our cloths washer/dryer and include space for all of our extra storage needs.


We started out with a physical 3D model. Then as we made changes it was clear that doing a virtual model would make a lot more sense. So I used the Blender application to create a model of our home. Actually, several so we could compare. Once the drawings from the architect started coming back some minor tweaks made their way back into our 3D renders. Here are a few of our concept art images that make up our final design...

Official Drawings

To make sure our home is up to code and sound, we are working with a local architect who in turn works with the civil engineer and others to create our house plans. The builder will work off of these plans to do the actual build. Here are some drawings from the architect...

The engineer required seismic beams and more structural support than we expected. Even our builder thinks the foundation is a bit over designed. Perhaps some of this is because we are using 10 foot tall pillars where most others are only 8 feet. At least we will have a foundation that should last for the rest of our life.

Our Plan

In September of 2023 we will be building the foundation portion of the home. This is everything that touches the ground excluding the stairs. We will be on-site to be a part of this build just like we were for the sidewalk and stairs.

In early January of 2024 we will move to Panama and rent in Bocas del Toro while our house is being built. We will need a couple months to get settled and organized before we start the actual build process on the main portion of the house. This is everything that sits on top of the foundation. We will be living in Bocas as the main body of the house is built.

Once we start building and all through the build process, we will update this page. Check back in October and March to see the updates. You can also subscribe to get notifications.

We have decided to go with a PVC roofing material made by Panaroof. It is quieter than metal roof, will help keep the house cooler and will last longer than a metal roof. We have also decided to go with a green roof. Our shed down by the dock has a red roof and red is very common in the area. But we don't want to stick out any more than we have to. And the red they offer in Panaroof isn't quite red anyway. It is between a red and terracotta make it more orange. This image is a preview of what it will look like (a sample image)

We got our permit!

Update: 2023-07-10 The permit was issued in late June but we didn't get our copy until early July. Now that we have the permit in hand, things are really starting to move. We are working with the builder to organize the purchase of materials, the labor force and delivery. The logistics of getting all of this out to the island is quite time consuming.

Because this story has gotten fairly long and the other stages will be even longer, we have broken the build process into multiple stories. Here are the links to each story in sequence as we create them.

The Foundation

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