Jungle Loft Materials
Rest easy knowing that every aspect of your Jungle Loft has been well thought through and designed with the aim of providing the best building system possible for the island’s environment. Here are a few of the important ones.
We’ve gone as far as possible to design a home that is environmentally friendly, bomb-proof longevity, cost effective….all without sacrificing that tropical modern feel.
Here are the elements that we’ve used to accomplish that.
The Framing Structure
One of the most important decisions that you’ll make when buying a home is the material that you use for it’s structure. You have 3 basic choices here.
Wood – Wood is the lowest cost method, but its very difficult to maintain in the tropics. Termites and mold are a never-ending battle in a wood framed structure in the tropics.
Concrete Block – Block is the still most widely used system in Central America, but that’s changing fast because the cost of block has risen exponentially over the last 15 years.
Though block lasts a very long time, it’s horribly inefficient. Construction times are 300% longer with block under normal circumstances. If you’re barging material and labor out to the island to build with block, those expenses go up considerably.
Steel – This is the obvious choice for the island. We chose galvanized steel because it far exceeded our parameters in several ways.
It’s Environmentally Friendly
We love efficiency. With light steel, all of the materials are laser cut off-site before they are loaded into the container. All of the holes are pre-drilled as the steel runs through the forming machine.
This means that when you get it to the site, it’s ready to be bolted together like lego. Reduced waste and faster construction times are better for the environment.
There is no site waste and it has a high strength to weight ratio. Fewer deliveries mean less emissions.
With steel, there are no trees to cut or large concrete plants to draw from the local rivers.
Low Maintenance & Long Life
The typical maintenance problems with homes in the tropics have to do with bugs, mold, and rust. Bugs don’t eat steel and it doesn’t mold. Because light steel is galvanized, its corrosion factor is greatly reduced.
We have seen homes that were famed in light steel sit unattended in the jungle for decades and still look as good as they day they were built.
It’s the Lowest Risk Way to Build on the Island
When building a home, risk comes because of material cost overruns and construction delays. This is greatly reduced with light steel. We use a computer based program to calculate all of the components needed for the home. So the amount of material needed isn’t something that a builder is guessing at. It’s pre-determined by the architect and precision manufactured at the factory.
Further, because the builder isn’t measuring, cutting, or drilling on site (remember that’s already done at the factory), construction times are less than half of normal building times.
This means less opportunity for unexpected labor overruns. That’s how you lower your construction risk on the island.
It’s Cost Effective
Light steel is more expensive than wood for framing and less expensive than concrete block. However, that’s the end of where wood ends the cost question. Wood building requires skilled carpenters that barely exists in Central America. This results in unexpectedly high construction costs.
Not counting the off-grid system (so that we can compare apples to apples), our 2 bedroom model costs less than $100 per square foot to build.
This is lower than normal construction costs in virtually every part of the US (or Panama for that matter). That’s before we consider the fact that your Jungle Loft home comes loaded with teak floors, a high end kitchen, and….it’s being built on an island.
The Roofing System
The Jungle Loft roofing system is a critical component for several reasons.
It’s the Best Place for Solar Panels
The farther away your solar panels are, the less efficient they become. Cabling to a farther away location also gets expensive. Putting the panels on your roof just makes sense.
The roofing system comes with an 8 inch thick piece of insulation sandwiched in between the panels. This goes a long way for preventing heat being passed inside your house.
Its Angle is the Best Passive Cooling Design
Don’t go to sleep on this one. Otherwise your home is going to be so dang hot at night, you won’t be able to sleep! The shape of the roof is intentionally designed to force the warm air out of the home.
And of course we love the tropical rooflines with teak ceilings underneath!
More on That Passive Cooling Design
Over the years we’ve personally experienced how important this is in the tropics. Off-Grid kilowatts are expensive. And air conditioners are pigs when it comes to electrical consumption. So you want a design that reduces the amount of A/C that you need.
That’s why we hired a passive cooling expert specifically to aid in the design of the Jungle Lofts
It’s roof line and operable upper windows are only a few of the design decisions that were made to keep cool air moving in and hot air moving out of your home.
The Electrical System
For those of us interested in off grid power, we are living in exciting times! We have personally witnessed the cost of solar panels reduced by over 65% even since the first panels were installed on the island.
Now we have multi billion companies like Tesla, Mercedes-Benze, and Nissan, engaging in an arms race to drive down the cost of power storage…aka batteries.
Your Jungle Loft comes with a cutting edge power system.
This includes solar panels, inverter, and battery.
The Paneling System
The Jungle Loft paneling system is half of what gives it such a huge amount of flexibility.
Floor-plan Layout Flexibility
Once you have your primary structure in place (that’s the platform and roof), the paneling system allows you to configure your walls however you want.
They are non-load bearing, and you can put them anywhere. Our pre-priced homes already have floor-plans in place, but if you’re buying a cabana shell, or if you want to make changes later, you’ll have that option available with the paneling system.
Things get even more exciting here. There are no limits to the materials that you can use for your walls with these panels. The panels are designed to fit glass in their center, sheetrock, or even wood. Go cut a tree from your lot and add that to your panels if you like. The possibilities are endless.
The Foundation System
Your type of foundation is a big cost decision. If you have to move a bunch of earth in order to make a perfectly flat space for your home then you’re not only stressing the ecosystem of the island, but you’re spending a lot of extra money.
Jungle Lofts are built on concrete columns. These columns are structurally engineered to more than support the home on top.
This not only allows for efficient construction on the islands challenging topography, but its the most cost effective and environmentally friendly solution for building on the island.
Water Filtration & Rainwater Catch
Your Jungle Loft comes with a state of the art water filtration system. The water on your island home far exceed the purity standards in North America.
Thanks to the shape of the roofline, your home is equipped with a rainwater catch system. This may not be necessary because there are multiple fresh water wells on the island, but why not take advantage of Panama’s 10 feet per year of annual rainfall!