46. Sizing It All Up

It’s probably very hard to believe, I know it’s hard for me to believe, but things have actually quieted down a lot lately. Most days we don’t leave our secluded little house on the hill. We are finding things to keep ourselves busy, I have a little bit of online work that I am doing (still looking for more though if you know of anyone hiring a remote worker). Ramie is researching things for the house, comparing item costs here versus buying them in the US and shipping them down in a container. We have stopped at the hardware stores, tile stores, and other various places that sell house finishes to look at tile, granite for the counter tops, sinks and bathroom fixtures, and all of those house-y type things that we will have to decide on. We are just patiently (some days I don’t feel quite so patient) waiting for the next steps on the house build. We are constantly in communication with Geiner, probably just about every day, with questions and asking about his opinions about certain options, so much that that he is probably sick of hearing from us. He definitely knows that we are anxious to get this house rolling.

Saturday 10/2- Throughout this whole process of designing the house we have mentioned to Geiner several times that I have a very hard time envisioning things. Like, I can see it all drawn out nicely on the paper, but I have a hard time grasping what that actually means in real life if you don’t show it to me. For example, while Ramie was drawing all of his house plan ideas he would ask me “is a bathroom XX size good, or do we have to go bigger/could we go smaller” and things like that. We would then proceed to grab the tape measure and lay it out on the floor in our house either with tape or some small objects in the corners so I could stand inside the space and feel how big it is. Or, we would compare it to the size of the bathroom or veranda in this house. For me, that's pretty much the only way I will truly be able to determine if something is the right size or if it will feel too cramped. People like Ramie and Geiner have a much easier time with visualizing what is on the paper, but you need to put it into real life for me!

Since Geiner was aware of how difficult it is for me to visualize, he wanted Ramie and I to go out to our lot with him and lay out the house using some stakes and string. This way we could see exactly how the house, the deck, and the pool would lay out on our property and get a much better feel for what we have going on. He is also hoping that he will have a crew of guys that will be able to start excavating the driveway soon, and in order for them to do that, they kind of need to know where the house is going to be. We met up with him right away in the morning to head to the lot and to make this happen, but first he had to stop at another house nearby that he has in-process to grab the stakes and string.

The house that he was building only had the concrete poured, the framing up, and the roof on but you could already tell that this was going to be a big beautiful house. The view from this house and pool was gorgeous as well. I almost feel like Geiner tries to make us jealous when he brings us to his in-process properties. I mean, I know this isn't his intention at all and I'm only kidding, but MAN does he get some big houses with amazing views!! Of course these views also cost money. A LOT of money! He brought us around the construction, showed us how the internals of the house look as they are being built, and gave us an idea of how construction down here differs from what we are used to in MN. This house was 2 stories which made it somewhat different from our 1 story house (the 1st story has to be cement block or poured concrete, in order to support the 2nd story, our house won’t have that, etc). This house was poured concrete, and the floor of the 2nd floor is also concrete. Although the houses differ, the 2nd floor of this house is basically how ours will be built so it gives us an idea. After we got the tour, we left his crew to keep working and the 3 of us headed down to our lot.

In all of our prior posts, I don't believe I’ve actually mentioned just how much land we purchased. We ended up buying two lots, one is 500m2 (the one we will build on) and the other is 660m2 . That's 1160m2 of land. Seems like a lot right? Well in reality it's only .28 acres. But down here it is actually on the large size of a standard lot. Some of the locals build their house on a piece of land around 300m2 or smaller. With that said the 500m2 piece measures roughly 50’ wide by 120’ long. The reason we are not building on the 660m2 lot is because it has a stream along one edge of it and with the setbacks we can't build anything within 45’ of the stream. That's actually makes over half of the land un-buildable. We will use this land as our garden, fruit trees, and leave it natural for monkeys, sloths, toucans, parrots and other wildlife to visit since it's wooded. It also allows us a piece of nature and privacy in this little development we bought in.

The first thing we had to decide is where do we want the house? Well, we want it toward the front of the lot so we can maximize our backyard space (privacy). So, with that in mind, Geiner walked along the edge about to the middle of the property and pounded in a stake, he proceeded to tie a string around it and measure toward the front of the property, and pounded in another stake. Then he looked at us and said that is how long your house will be. From here we decided to move it towards the road to increase the backyard area. Once we were satisfied with where the front of the house would be, we proceeded to measure, pound stakes, and pull string around the footprint of the house. Once all 4 corners were connected with string, I stepped back to where the driveway will eventually be and said the first thing that came to my mind “That looks really small!” Geiner and Ramie started laughing and Geiner said that he wanted that on video. He has told us before, and reminded me again that during the whole building process we will question if we made the right decisions- some stages things will seem too small, some stages things will feel too big, but rest assured that all of the measurements that we decided on make sense and they will build the house to those measurements.

Its hard to see but the strings for the perimeter of our house are staked in.

We continued on with stakes and strings around where the deck would go. We wanted to make the deck fairly large and asked for it to be extended larger than the architect had drawn it on the plan  The reason behind this is because the majority of our time spent awake and at home, we spend outside. So increasing the deck size only made sense. Then we measured where the pool would eventually go, and then I stepped back to the future backyard and looked at it all again… It definitely didn’t feel so small any more now that I can compare it to the rest of our future home and yard. We were shocked, though, by how much of the lot the house, deck, and pool took up! I assured Geiner that it didn’t feel so small any more, and that I will continue to trust the process!

Once we were satisfied with how everything looked laid out, we headed back home. I feel a lot better now that I know how things will be laid out on the property, and have an idea about what our lot will look like when it is finished. It sure is a good thing that we bought 2 lots, otherwise we wouldn’t have very much space for plants, trees, and gardens (and maybe a future chicken coop... this sounds like a good idea but who knows?!). 

Tuesday 10/4- A couple of days later Ramie & I went back out to the lot ourselves with the house plan, a tape measure, and a can of spray paint. To help me visualize just a little bit better (well, to help us both, but me being the un-visual one) how the rooms would be laid out in the house.

It was a rough idea of where each room would be and where the walls would be. This helped me even more in getting comfortable with our layout of the house. After looking at our plan on paper for so long and so many times we both already have the layout of our house memorized. It was kind of cool to be able to “walk through” our house, go through the doors, walk into the kitchen and see where my window would be facing and what my view would look like. It will still be quite a while before all of this is reality, but it is starting to feel a little bit more real. Every step makes it just a little bit more exciting! 

Over the next week or 2 after this we didn’t really have a whole lot going on. Ramie & I both spent a lot of time on the computer, I was doing a few hours of work here and there along with looking for and applying for some other remote work. Ramie spent a lot of time looking for and ordering things for the house that are less expensive or better quality in the US that we will crate up and have sent down here. At this point we’re just in a holding pattern with the house, waiting for Geiner’s crew to finish on the house they are working on now so they can come start on ours.



  1. Howdy folks,
    It looks like you have everything in hand and will shortly have a house going up, if that is not already happening. I'd love to see how that is going to be accomplished and due to your excellent documentation people should be getting a very good idea of what you want and how you are going about getting it. Keep up the good work! Speaking of work, congratulations on your new position Dana, I'm sure expenses will add up and having another source of income will keep you in groceries and good alcohol.
    Gotta go, time to go down and get something good to eat and start the day. Our owner has a showing today and we must keep the condo in good shape for that so a little cleaning is in order also. Have a great day and again, congrats on the new job.

    Ken & Edie


    1. Thanks so much Ken and Edie, I must admit, the time off was nice, but I definitely feel a little bit more purpose now that I will have more work! Also, feeling a little less guilty when we do partake in some of those good beverages :)
      In real time- the house is coming along quite nicely, and I can't wait to share all of the steps involved, the progress, and eventually the final outcome (which, has NOT happened in real time yet).
      Thanks for continuing to read along, I love reading your comments!!


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