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John Gilbert of PanamaKeys – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Tiled-roof home in Boquete, near Volcan, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingConstruction standards in Volcán are what I’m impressed with. When you buy a home in Volcán that’s 25 - 30 years old these days, you’ll be less impressed with those than the homes that are built today. The reason is that the quality of construction 25-30 years ago has improved drastically here in Volcán.
 
The construction in Volcán has become more Americanized, and the material that they use to construct with here in Volcán are different. In Central Kentucky in the United States, you would see homes built with the traditional stick-frames and a lot of homes that have hardwood or carpeting as finishings. Here in Volcán, on the other hand, you don’t see either of those often
 
Most of the homes here in Volcán are constructed in concrete or steel frame that are then covered in concrete instead of hardwood flooring or carpeting. You’ll most likely find either concrete or tiled floors and very nice floor finishings here in Volcán. You can choose from terracotta, marble, and different assorted styles of tile. There are many different ways to finish your flooring here in Volcán, but they’re completely different than my experience in Central Kentucky.
 
The quality of construction in Volcán is great. While they use materials that you may not have used in your lifetime in the United States or in Europe, the artisans in Volcán are very good in constructing very nice quality homes with roofs that don’t leak, using baker barriers so that you don’t have moisture and mold problems inside your home, and doing some work with tile that you have not seen elsewhere, and I mean that in a good way. The artisans of Volcán do tremendous things with tile. They also make floating staircases made out of steel and concrete that I’ve never seen in the United States. It’s just gorgeous work.
 
(Tiled-roof home in Boquete, near Volcan, Panama,pictured.)
Ron Hunter of Finca Cazador – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Guest house on the  off grid community, Finca Cazador, near Volcan, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI lived in Volcán for four years as I was building my place here. The construction standards in Panama are extremely stringent. Not everybody follows them, so the responsibility lies on the person to work with a good builder. I have built four houses in my life, and on all of them, I oversaw the entire construction process. 
 
In general, Panama has better building techniques than most of the United States. This is because most of what is done in the United States, especially in the Southwest, is what they call stick. This means 2x4 boards with foam and stucco sprayed on from the outside, which are aesthetically pleasing, goes up very quick, and are very well insulated, but not a real formable structure. In some walls that I’ve seen, you can certainly drive your car through them easily, or even punch your hand through some of them, especially if it’s drywall. 
 
Most construction here in Panama is built with a thin wall with a 22-gauge metal. We call it the C-channel which is similar to metal studs but are much thicker than what we use in the States. In the States, we use metal studs, and put on gypsum or drywall.  We had this in the United States in the late 20’s. 
 
It’s dry cement, not stucco, has no lime, and they put it on with a trowel and polish it, usually on top of cinder blocks. They’re what you and I would call regular slump blocks, depending on where you lived in the United States. It’s like a regular slump block, cinder block, etc. 
 
Here in Panama, they use a high-density foam that comes in two, three, and four inches with a metal grate on both sides. They take the cement and then apply it with a trowel or shoot it in under pressure, a process that you and I would call “shotcrete” or gunite. 
 
Not everyone in Panama does this as this is certainly just one of the options available. You can have something built here with steel and cement and find that these are commodities that cost the same everywhere in the world. The price that I would pay for a sack of cement in my little town here in Chiriquí is very similar to what you’ll pay for in Phoenix, Arizona or anywhere else. 
When the Chinese were building the dams on the Yellow River, cement and steel prices were astronomically high because that increased worldwide demand, and now those constructions have stopped.  
 
The variable in the building costs in Panama is the cost of labor. Here in Panama, a person working with cement, electrical, plumbing, or something of that nature, is probably going to charge $25 - $45 per day. In the United States, they would charge that per hour. You’re going to pay the same for your materials but the labor will cost much less in Panama. The quality depends on who you’re working with, how much you know about what you want done, and your contractor. It runs the gamut from “excellent, great value” to “unacceptable.” I’ve seen it on all levels. 
 
The house that I built here in Finca Cazador is made of solid, poured concrete with 18-inch thick walls and has 1-inch rebar welded. I built a bunker because that’s what I wanted but most people wouldn’t do that. Looking back on it, it probably isn’t necessary.  
 
(Guest house on the  off grid community, Finca Cazador, near Volcan, Panama, pictured.)
Tehany De La Guardia of Tehany Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The construction standards in Volcan and Cerro Punta are not very good. There are a lot of builders that they call themselves "builders" but they are not good at all. Just a few I will say are very good. The issue is that they don't care about the details when doing the finish work.
 
The work done by the plumbers and electricians in the area is generally not good, either.  I would recommend just one electrician and one plumber.
 
I would recommend that you hire an architect or an engineer to supervise the construction and be responsible for the entire job.  If you decide to build, this is the best way to "play it safe" and avoid stress.
 
Hope this information is helpful.
 
Regards, 
Tehany

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