04 February, 2010

So, What's It All Cost?

Thanks are due to Jill, with a British Army training unit in Canada. She wanted to know what our house cost, which prompted me to dig into my MoneyDance (open source financial software) records to see just what we really did pay for some of the stuff we have here.

Keep in mind that not all the costs are recounted here. Things like hiring an electrician for some new wiring, a whole-house surge suppressor. You know, there's a whole laundry-list of stuff that just sort of gets lost in the shuffle. You forgot to categorize some purchase, or maybe forgot to enter this one, etc. So, it's not exact by any standard, but it should give you a fair idea of what we've spent to get Casa Winjama up and functioning. I hope it helps with any decision-making process you're entertaining.
Cash On the Barrel Head
What's it cost to build such a palatial estate in Belize, such as the one we see here?
Casa Winjama
First, we bought the land. That was about $72,000 BZD.

Then, and none from here on is in order of construction or purchase, just the Mennonite house, the upper portion - about $51,500 BZD. This included the concrete columns and beams.

Then we finished the lower portion - that was about $15,000 BZD

And the other structures:

    * The well and well house (includes a trash bin) - $20,000 BZD
    * septic tank and drain field - $6,800 BZD
    * parking palapa - $11,000 BZD
    * swimming pool and deck - $48,000 BZD
    * guest house - $45,000 BZD (estimated, as it's still under construction)
    * bulkhead - $12,000 BZD (still under construction, but paid for)
    * electrical transformer - $11,000 BZD

    * fence, gates, motor, concrete, and ironwork - $75,000 BZD
    * Total: $295,300 BZD or $147,650 USD

This doesn't take into account burglar bars and doors, gravel for the driveway and parking area (currently about $550 BZD for 15 cu. yd.) concrete and rebar for curbings, custom living room sectional, custom kitchen cabinets, custom workbenches, custom wardrobe, custom desk and shelves, etc., etc., etc.

It's probably a good idea to keep in mind that some of these costs are at least two years old. I'm sure prices have gone up since then.
It Takes A Lot Of Shillings!


Anonymous said...

thanks for being so open on this- I'm sure it'll be a help to people considering moving down.

sandy a said...

That is a pretty cool program. Our housee is about 2/3 done (almost), and our builder has been providing very detailed cost reports, but MoneyDance sure would be handy for all the little knock-knacky stuff that will probably add up after the main construction is done!

Dave Rider said...

I added in our fencing costs that I had forgotten.

I shifted to MoneyDance because I got tired of all the ads in Quicken and Money. It seems easier to use and is a lot cheaper.

John said...

Good afternoon Dave, thanks for the monetary information, posted on your blog, which I check almost every day. However; I have another question that begs an answer.

What is the final outside dimensions of the Big House as you call it, which was raised onto concrete piers/piling?

I have called myself researching you archives and have not been able to determine the dimensions of the finished product.

What you have built is very similar to what I have proposed for our lot outside of Copper Bank.

Also, SmartDraw is a useful tool, that is what I have been using, for my design work.

Do you have a contact person or persons you would recommend in Shipyard to give an estimate?

May You Have a Blessed Day,


"Life is not about waiting for the storms to's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Dave Rider said...

Hi John, I'm posting here what I sent you via email...

The dimensions of our Mennonite house is 20' x 42'. This includes a 6' porch at either end.

The guy who built our house is a Mennonite, Franz Weib from Shipyard. He has a construction company, Weib-Camara Construction. He's partnered with a Belizean, Jose Camara. Both are nice guys. I can recommend them wholeheartedly. You can reach Franz at: 501-671-5885, or Jose at: 501-669-5505. Jose is your best bet. He's easier to reach most of the time.

Sorry, I don't have a mailing address for them. If you call them they can give that to you anyway.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.

I love SmartDraw. I use it to do all my plans - even to design a garden hose holder.


Sandy L said...

Hi there - have been following your blog (and reading tons of back posts) as we are moving to Consejo Shores and plan on building in or around Mayan Seaside. Perhaps we'll be neighbors? Not sure exactly where you are located. Open to other recommendations to look at lots next month when we fly from FL. We've looked at some of the Mennonite Builders that have websites but everyone seems to recommend Wiebe over anyone else. I wanted to ask some questions if you don't mind:
1. How long did it take once you put the deposit on the home for it to be constructed and delivered/setup on your property?
2. Did Wiebe poor the concrete posts and beams or did you have to hire someone else?
3. Can you give me a ballpark estimate to for fence installation for a 1/4 acre lot?
4. How much additional did it cost you for kitchen cabinets/counters and did Wiebe build those also?
5. Not including well, cistern, septic - what kind of costs are we looking at once the home is in place to hook up the electrical and water (already on site)? Ballpark would be greatly appreciated.
6. Did Wiebe submit your drawings for a building permit or did you have to use someone else? Recommendations welcome.

We just want to make sure, while coming under the QRP program, that we definitely have enough cash to construct the Mennonite home (same size as yours) and all the related expenses that go with making it completely livable and finalized.

Again, LOVE your blog. A wealth of information!!! Looking forward to perhaps meeting you in person! Thanks so much for your time, Sandy

Dave Rider said...

Hi Sandy,

I thought I'd lost your comment till I realized it was tied to this posting.

Regarding Consejo... Find out about the road to Consejo. There've been rumors of it's going to be 'permanently repaired' since we've lived here. Ha, ha. It's as bad or worse than our road that I've written about - at least that's what I've heard. I very, very seldom drive on it.

Answering your questions in order:

Don't forget, the cost info I have here is in some cases out of date.

Other things seem to be relatively inflation-proof.

1. It would have taken about 3 months from start to delivery, but

Hurricane Dean got in the way and added an additional 4 months as the

road from Shipyard/Guinea Grass to Orange Walk was impassable for

moving a house anyway. It's never a good road to begin with.
2. Yes, Franz's guys did the footings, posts and beams as part of the

original deal - but you have to make sure it's specified otherwise

it's probably wood - not that that's bad either. We just wanted

3. Fence costs are in the posting on costs. I think they're pretty

accurate. Don't forget a gate and a motor for it will cost extra. I

think our motor cost $1200 BZD and the gate was similar. You can

really tart up your gate, some folks do and the cost goes up

4. Kitchen cabinets and counters - we had done separately for around $2,000 BZD. It was a company we found here in Corozal, out of business now. We had them make the cabinets and later, our sectional couch. It's not hard to find cabinet makers in the area. Most are good. Timliness and being able to follow detailed drawings tend to not be their strong suits.

Boy, how things change. I mentioned two pieces of software MoneyDance

and SmartDraw. Both great programs. Dianna took over managing the

finances and she's partial to Quicken, so we went back to that

program, no other reason for that change.

As far as SmartDraw. It just got to be too expensive. I have found an

open source program to take it's place - I think. SweetHome 3D. I'm

playing around with it anyway. I use a lot of open-source software.

5. It's really hard to put a cost on electrical. If you have to run in electrical, BEL (Belize Electricity, Ltd) will charge for poles, wire, transformers, etc., so costs can really mount up. I think the transformer cost us $3000 BZD. In the states, I think that cost is buried somewhere as a rule, not here. The actual hook-up I think is less than $100 BZD. I would guess the same for water. Since we're on a well, there was no connection cost as such.

Building permits, drawings, and approvals for Gringos all have to go through CBA (Central Building Authority). You have to involve engineers, architects, etc. Far different than when we came down here.

I say 'for Gringos' because I've not seen or heard of similar costs for locals. We call it the Gringo Tax.

Your builder may or may not be the one who deals with CBA. I would think it's better to be directly involved in that process - lock-step and arm-in-arm with your contractor.

Again, thanks for a great comment. Hope I've been able to be of some help.