Building a house in Nicaragua.....

Im on my way to building a house in San Juan Del Sur.....Ive visited Nica several times on volunteer medical missions but have of course never done business there.....especially not built a house?.....can anyone recommend a goood architect to me or perhaps steer me in the right direction?...thanks for your help!!

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What type of house are you planning on building? I am building in San Juan del Sur and would highly recommend my architect if you are considering modern. She is amazing -- talented, responsible, consciencious, dedicated, and always on tme with everything. She used to work with Architectonica in Miami and has designed all over the world. If modern is your thing, let me know, and i will give you her contact info.


For an exhaustive pictoral history of some pretty interesting tropical/island building - and a nice book list - check out

The construction reports are step-by-step.

I finally located an affordable copy of 'A Pattern Language' just to read, if not to use.

Ah, John...

...gave them to someone you love and admire, I hope. His work is hard to come by these days.

Good Architects !! mentioned death traps...HOORAY FOR YOU JOHN !! Safety before oh of my pet peeves. Don't know if it is the lack of education in some schools or just arrogance of certain graduates (??) but.arguing the point of safety over design got me into some heated arguments with some Frank LLoyd Wrongs. Lack of basic codes can lead to disaster. My expertise is health care...and I speak up when snake oil folks start their pitches (and also two cents regarding building codes and safety much to the ire of egos ). Have taught "safety" , industrial-institutional..disaster training,fire safety etc...and it amazes me when people who should know better just ignore the basics. One of my pet peeves are the fixed iron window grates for "security". My little house on island has one of bedrooms without window exit due to this and I just don't like that. People look at "cost'.. esthetics.."beauty" without realizing the dangers. Safety is not just the big is the hidden things...slip and fall...beautiful tile at the bottom of curving idiot stairs...those stupid little invisible step ups that no one sees and winds up without front teeth... Go John Willow

Shipping Container Architect?


I keep getting a 'page not found' message when I try the NL 3604 node so am including a couple of other shipping container links:


...and a nice look to it too. Use every part of that buffalo!


Not knowing the style of the house you want to build makes it somewhat difficult to suggest an architect. However, I am currently building my own house in SJDS. It is goint to be very modern and airy. I have loved every minute of working with my architect and consider myself extremely lucky to have found/used her. She is brilliant. If you are interested in her name, contact me by sending and email, and I will send you the info.

Hal Sorrenti

I'd recommend

Office in Granada.

I second TWBookeep

The best to go is to go out and look for a house that is already built in SJDS and ask the owner who built it for him and he should be able to recomend you with the different contractors. That is usually the way it works. It is a small town and everyone knows who is good/honest and who is not. If you have specific needs, make sure that you are able to explain clearly what those are so that they are done properly. Make sure that you are always around when important work (electrical work, foundation work, wood work etc.) is been done so that you are able to make changes/ improvements before it is too late.

Un Arquitecto en SJDS

I too have prop. in SJDS and am planning to build there. I fully agree that the most economical way to build is to be ONSITE and work with the local tradesmen and build in a style they're comfortable with. This advice may hold true throughout Nica, or possibly everywhere except SJDS. Local government there may require more. I have what might be called a site with many "DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES" so when last there, I was looking for an architect. Chris, of Pelican Eyes was kind enough to refer me to the architect he has been working with. That architect is: Luis Guzman I have always been impressed with the work they're doing there, and I'm sure Mr.Guzman knows all the workings of the SJDS Construction Permitting Department. I hope this helps you.


If you are going to build anything close to typical for Nicaragua, it is unlikely you need an architect. For my construction work, we (a friend and I) just scribbled the idea (that is, where we wanted walls, how high we wanted the roof peak, ... on a couple of pieces of paper and handed it to a bricklayer. Along the way there were a few mid-course corrections but most had to do with us deciding to change something rather than anything done wrong.

What I found was if you stayed within the worker's comfort zone, they were great. We got involved sometimes just because they didn't have the information. For example, I used Nicalit for the roof. I read the specs to find the minumum pitch and how often it needed to be supported. But, that was it. The highest paid worker got $7/day, the lowest $3/day.

The only work I did myself was the electrical. This had mostly to do with wanting separate circuits for where I would be putting computers and generally more power available than would be normal. It had the added benefit that the other workers saw that 1)I seemed to know what I was doing and 2)I actually would do work.

Bricks hurt

I have done some architecture work in the states i study earthquake resistant designs, this is why i don`t like brick what ever you build your house out of imagine the material coming down on your head during a quack, in fact most people killed in earthquakes are the result of some object hanging over their bed. Most people object to the California stick home but think about it, when cal has a shacker the toll on life is minor, why? flexible housing. ALSO COMPRESSING THE CONCRETE while drying in the green stage increases it load and shock ability, usually 3000- 20,000 psi is added to cables laid in the crete with reed bar makes the slab almost terromoto proof. These are gringo ideas but they work. I am not a licenced architect but what archutects know and understand is of great value. It also looks like i will be building in San Juan myself, i specialize in boats however i have many notches on my belt from homes; two in Malibu. one in del mar, three geodesic domes if you would like to kick around some ideas it might be fun Brian

Building construction

Hi fyl, You sound very logical, which is my approach to things. Your costs for employees represents what I saw when I was there. When I look on the net they talk of land at $25,000 and houses $60,000 and above. This does not work because even I do not want all the rich snobs buying in nicaragua just so they can say they help the poor. Nicaraguens have character and I would not be happy to see it destroyed like in CR. So it sounds like I can pay a crew of 2 about 2,000 per year to take care of any work I will need and they will be very happy. thanks for helping with this information since even here I have to read between the gringo news.

Gringo specials

There are what I would call "gringo specials" here. That is, if you want to spend $60k on a lot, you will find someone to sell you one. Unfortunately, most of that money will likely go to someone who doesn't need it.

In fact, if you know someone who wants a 19 manzana "lot" in Esteli (ok, about 3km from the main drag in town) I will happily sell it to them for $60k--and then donate $10k to a local charity. :-)

I have heard the construction costs (labor) are much higher in SJdS. That is likely a combination of demand and Gringos willing to pay too much. Here I am paying a caretaker (really a guy and his wife) $120/mo to watch the 19 manzanas and "do whatever I ask". For example, he has been at my house all day moving rocks, dirt, ... I think that salary is high but he is very responsible and Ana picked him and his salary.

Rule of thumb

From what I have heard and experienced, the Rule of thumb as far as pay is concerned is 2000 Cordobas a month and you dont pay for meals and such.

Under 2000 and you pay for their meals while working, possibly Transportation expenses to work as well.

so you are basically on the Mark at $120 a month.