Tag Archives: Cabin

Tile Floors are Installed!


Posted by Cassie

We just accomplished a major milestone in building the cabin! We have just finished installing the tile floors! This was quite a process not the least of which was just simply bringing over the supplies. Before they could even start on the tiles they had to bring over almost 30 sheets of plycem (concrete backer board). Each one of them weighed over 130 pounds! Then they had to move over all the boxes of tiles as well!

Britton and Waldemar floors
Installing each of the concrete backer sheets!

Cassie and Waldemar
Preparing the tile with Waldemar starting with the center piece

Tile Line
Beginning the tile from the center out

One special touch we added was a tile mosaic in the center of the room under the large ceiling fan. It complicated things a little but I think it is pretty cool. We bought the last one in the tile store and so we had to cut some parts special for it, but it turned out very nice.

Design
Mosaic design

Lechada Grout
Installing the grout

Floors
Shortly after installation

Doorway
After the first mopping

For a more in-depth how-to on this tile installation you can watch this video; there’s some pretty funny bloopers at the end too:

Once we finished with the tiles we were able to accomplish something else that we are super excited about: bringing over the full-sized fridge and stove! These were very tough to move over because they, like everything in the cabin, had to be brought over by hand. No dolly was used.

Fridge loading
First they loaded it from the shed into the truck and drove it half-way down

Trail
Then they carried it through the jungle

Britton and Waldemar on the bridge with fridge
Across the bridge

Fridge at the house
Up the stairs, and to the house!

And yes, their backs were pretty sore after this! But we are super excited about the floors and what it means. With the floors and the walls basically finished, that means we are nearly ready to move everything else in too! Next up, the toilet and finishing work on the bathroom!

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Construct It: Cabin Floors and Walls


Posted by Britton

I figured it was maybe time to do a little construction update.  One thing nice about doing things at your own pace is that you can take a step back when you start to feel overwhelmed or don’t have an answer to a “how to” and want to take some time to research.  A lot of building this house has required research because I’ve never done it before.  Like what screws to use for drywall and WHY?  What screws to use for cement board and WHY?  How do you construct a shower basin in a wood framed house?

The company that delivered the drywall delivered screws too.  They were black phosphate coated drywall screws BUT they were fine thread.  When I asked about it they claimed of course “It’s fine to use them in wood!” which isn’t really true.  Wood screws use a coarse thread for holding power.  Fine threads are used for metal studs.  Just an example of how a small thing can turn into a small ordeal when you are ready to start a project in the morning.

Using what are considered the “correct” fasteners might not matter to some people, especially if the fasteners are difficult to locate.  I have been called “Mañoso” (picky) a few times which is accurate I guess.

Drywall
Mud, Tape and Ready for Primer/Paint

This past week have been getting the inside ready for paint and flooring.  Since we decided to go with tile, we needed to prep the sub floor.  We got 24 4×8 sheets of 3/4″ thick cement board.  Those weigh 136 pounds each!  It took a whole day just for us to move them over to the house.  It was actually easiest for one person to carry an entire sheet on their back than it was for two people to awkwardly try to move one.  So there was a lot of resting in between trips but we got it done.

While I do a lot of the research myself it is tremendously useful to have Waldemar help with each step. He propels us forward so much more than we can do alone. I really appreciate his help. He brings skills, experience as well as lots of energy and motivation when I just don’t have a whole a lot.

Britton and Waldemar floors
Installing Cement Board

We then cut and installed the cement boards (generically called plycem here).  Those things were ridiculously heavy.  The floors however are SOLID and we shouldn’t have any problems with tiles popping or cracking.  Under the cement boards we used thinset to fill any space between the 3/4″ inch plywood.  There are a few write ups about this online.  The professionals who sold me the cement board told me I didn’t need to use thinset, but again for me it comes down to the “why” and the write ups did a good job of convincing me that it should be done.

Waldemar and Cassie 2
Cassie brings over lunch for us and helps where she can

Our tile is on order and should be here in a week or so.  We wanted to get a natural feel instead of using ceramic printed tiles and went with a red clay tile almost like terracotta.  Again, Mañoso but what can you do?  If you want something, sometimes you have to wait.

Waldermar and Britton
¿Tu quiereme? Waldemar and I work together a lot and have gotten to know each other well, even with the language barrier.

We also used cement board for the shower stall.  Over top of the cement board I used aqua defense, it is a paintable rubber membrane that adheres well to thinset when dry so you can tile over it.  The paintable membrane will keep any moisture from seeping past the grout/tiles and cement board into the wood below.  One thing I have learned is that cement is porous and should be sealed if you want to keep water out.  There is also a 3 piece drain.

Blue bathroom
Green Water-proof Membrane

Soon we should receive some tiles.  Until then we will be painting the walls.
Cassie Painting
Cassie Priming the Drywall for Paint

So as you can see, we haven’t JUST been chinchorreando and having fun…We are making really good progress on the cabin too. Now that we can see the walls and floors taking shape we are super stoked to move in!

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Cabin Update: Electric and Water


Posted by Cassie

Agua y luz. Water and electricity. When you move into a house, this is what makes it a house and not just a shed or storage area. We recently finished up the electricity installation including the fans and it really makes it feel like home when you can just turn on the lights at night, the fans when it gets hot, or turn on a little music.

Fans at the cabin
Outdoor fans for the front deck

Britton also framed in the last bit of the wall and the bathroom loft area. We are in the home stretch!

Wall Ceiling and Fan in Cabin
Bedroom fan and framed wall

LoftRafters above the bathroom and closet 

To install water at the cabin, Britton connected about 300 feet of 1/2 inch tubing, buried about half of it, crossed the property, affixed it beneath the sky bridge and then connected it to the cabin.

Waterline under bridge
Waterline where it travels under the bridge

Waterline to the house
Waterline where it connects from the bridge to the cabin

Next up was internal copper water lines which Britton soldered. Thankfully we have plenty of leftover copper pipes that we reused from the old wooden house and so this was fairly inexpensive. Britton has also worked a little with copper piping before and so this went fast. There was one pipe rupture but Britton fixed it pretty quickly.

Water piping inside
Bathroom plumbing and wiring are ready!

You could call this the house that Britton built. Almost everything he did himself or with one other helper. There has not been a moment when he was not working hands on. An amazing feat. It can take a little longer when it’s just you and you’re learning as you go, but he has been a champ. He’s done a great job!

We are now on to the next phase. The skin. Drywall should arrive this upcoming week and Britton and Waldemar will begin installation. It’s all coming together and really starting to feel like a house. I can’t wait to move in!

Cabin in the woods
Home sweet cabin! 

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Lush Tropical Gardens


Posted by Cassie

One of our favorite parts of this big project we call our property/finca is the tropical gardening. When we first arrived, there was just a huge mess of competing underbrush, weedy trees, thorny bushes and vines that we could hardly walk through. Certainly not what you would probably think of when you imagine tropical gardens.

Path to lower area
After some initial clearing efforts in 2013: Hawk Alley


Making our way through the property when we first bought it in 2011

There was very little in the way of broad leaf classically tropical looking plants. We weren’t even sure that it was possible for us to grow them since Rincón can be quite a bit drier than some other nearby areas like Mayaguez and into the interior mountains. We thought we’d give it a try anyway.

bananas
Growing bananas is one of the most beautiful and fruitful of our tropical gardening

We give a little extra water to the new transplants than they would otherwise receive, but the irrigation is fairly minimal. We are constantly adding new plants and choosing new sites and always looking for new gingers, heliconias, bananas, palms and other tropical ornamentals, edibles and exotic fruit trees.

Flowers from the farmers market
Britton buying some ginger and heliconia starts at the Rincón Farmer’s Market

It’s an art to leave the jungle for the most part in tact while also making trails that are walkable even in the rain and planting new additions that we can tend to. We are getting better at it every day. The most densely planted area we call the Tropical Garden.

Britton umbrella
Britton looking cute with his umbrella in the Tropical Garden

It is down from the turkey coop and immediately west of Hawk Alley: the Roble tunnel of trees that hawks like to cruise through. It is really starting to fill in now and I love that this will be our walk to the cabin when we move there. Eventually we will probably put in concrete steps and other amenities to make the walk a little easier, but even in the rain it is already a nice little stroll through the jungle. Here you can take a virtual walk with us in the rain from the tropical garden to the bridge and cabin.

Tropical gardening is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our time here. We look forward to creating more and more lush tropical areas around the property. As these initial plants grow we will be able to separate their corms and transplant them too. When we need a break from the work of the cabin, this type gardening is a fun and easy reprieve.

Speaking of the cabin…it is almost all fully lit up with electricity woohoo! Next up…water. Then we can water the new tropical gardens over there too!

Cabin in the woods
Cabin lit up at dusk

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