Lot Last Revised: June 1, 2020 This document will contain the basic details you need to start developing your personal homestead lot on Pura Fruta. let's start with a couple basic questions: ➢Am I required to develop my personal homestead lot once it is marked? No, there is no formal requirement in the trustee contract that your lot must be developed. However, developing it does increase the value of your share of the property, because that lot is tied to your share. When you sell your lot, you are selling the piece of land with house and fruit trees as well. ➢Do I have to do it all myself? No. We have a team of skilled workers and contractors, and can easily get any work done that you desire. You don't even have to come here. Read on to get details on how to start the process, what development options are available, and how the projects are managed.
Contents 1.Constructing a Cabin 2.Planting Fruit Trees 3.Management and Accountability
1. Constructing a Cabin A)Doing it Yourself You can come here and do it yourself, or hire a team of workers to help you. You would need a basic command of Spanish. We can help you with materials transport logistics, or finding workers/contractors. B)Hiring a Contractor In some cases you may wish to hire a contractor. The contractor will charge a specific price for all of the work or a specific element of the project. We do know some decent contractors that we can recommend, and they will indeed get the job done. We prefer and recommend to hire contractors for specific items such as doors, windows, electrical, etc, that require more specialty. In terms of using a general contractor for an entire project, our experience has shown: If you are a stickler for exact details and quality, you should consider having a Pura Fruta member or yourself to manage it rather than a contractor. C) Pura Fruta's Managed Construction Pura Fruta staff can take care of plans/blueprints, materials orders, hiring workers, etc, making the task easy for you, especially if you are unable to come down here and oversee the project yourself. We have experience with managing construction projects, having already made numerous structures on the community lands down here. Approximate costs for different types of structures The cheapest utility structure possible could be a four wood posts with a natural leafe roof, approximately 3 x 3 meter footprint, or 5x5 meters including roof leaves. This kind of building is usable as a shed, or to cover a tent site. This could be done for around $600 depending on materials. Moving up, the same could be done with better materials, somewhat larger or with some improvements, for $800-$1200. A similar sized structure with a wood floor raised off the ground, would be around $2000 with a metal frame, depending on materials choices and other factors. Adding four walls, or four half-walls and screening to stop bugs from entering, could be$5500-$6000 for a 3x4 meter cabin, depending on materials choice. A larger wood cabin, say, 1-2 rooms and a porch, could be $7000-$8000+ depending on size and other factors. Bamboo structures of the same sizes would be around the same prices. To give you an exact estimate we'll have to know exactly what you desire in terms of size, walls, building materials, roofing, finish quality, time to completion, etc. For a finished cabin with wood walls, screened windows, locking door, sheet metal roof, quality carpentry and finished wood with no gaps, consider the final cost to be around $250-$500 per square meter depending on finishing options, roofing, amenities, plumbing, electric options, etc.
Materials Choices There are many materials to choose from; we will go over the basics of each. Most commonly, cabins here are built with wood. The most common woods are tropical hardwoods such as Kasha, gabilan, cedro amargo, nispero, pilon, and others. These are very hard woods that will usually resist termites and boring moths. If the roof is kept in good shape and water does not enter, houses with thick beams made of this wood can last well over 200 years. Using thinner beams will result in a shorter lifespan but will cost less. Softer woods can also be used, such as roble savana, jabillo, teka, laurel, and others. These can cost about 20-50% less. We no longer recommend using these woods for house construction because it is very hard to get them to resist boring moths without applying multiple coats of very potent insecticide. They can last a long time (30+years for some varieties) but will need to be treated with a commercial wood treatment product once every 5 years to make them resistant to rot and termites. (or they can be painted.) Bamboo is also an option. It must be treated via bucket diffusion method with a borax solution. It can easily last 30-50 years if the roof is kept up on and is treated every 5-10 years. Bamboo costs about 50% less in materials costs than wood, but costs about the same amount more in labor due to the complexities and idiosyncrasies of working with bamboo. You can expect to spend about the same or a little more on a bamboo house as a wood house. The benefits are that it looks more authentic, and can be more environmentally sustainable. Bamboo cabins need a wider roof than wood cabins to shade the bamboo, and are usually set on cement footings. The building can be entirely bamboo, including floor and walls, or it can be a “hybrid” with a wood floor and most of the rest of the structure being bamboo. We recommend the hybrid construction as it results in a more functional building with fewer/no gaps and lower cost. Another option is rammed earth houses. While we have not yet made any here, this is a very simple building method that could be done easily via simply instructing our workers in the proper method, which we are familiar with. It is high in labor costs ,though. If located near a stream or river for ease of obtaining sand, we estimate that a rammed earth house may cost about twice as much a wood house of the same size. Rammed earth houses in this climate will need to have wide traditional roofs (more on roofs below) and the floors are usually either earthen, or a raised wood sub-floor, though you could also do a cement floor with ceramic tiles. If someone wanted to build a rammed earth house, we could supply a construction cost estimate based on data available on the internet for this kind of construction, and data that we have here regarding costs for various materials. Cement or brick houses are also an option, though somewhat more expensive than wood houses. We do not recommend earthen or ferrocement dome and pyramid roofs. Due to the yearly rainfall profile, the structure would have to be painted with a chemical sealant every year. Also, it would be very difficult to keep the foundation dry. One work-around would be a hybrid building based on this design. For example, a ferrocement pyramid but with an outer layer of clay roof tile or sheet metal roof, and a raised foundation with some gravel and drainage works. The cost would be elevated; perhaps $1000/1400 or more.
Roofing The most common choices of roofing material here are polypropylene sheets. They are made from recycle material, made in Costa Rica. Not only they are quiet when it rains, unlike the zinc galvanized ones, but they also keep the coolness in the shelter, but they are quit expansive, about 3 times the price of the Zinc-galvanized ones. The zinc-galvanized corrugated sheet metal, aluminum-zinc alloy galvanized sheet metal (galvalum), both 0.3mm thick. There are a few other options (such as corrugated fiber-cement panels, and thicker grades of zinc). The zinc will last up to 10 years (or up to 40 if painted, and flipped over once during their lifespan.) They both cost the same in labor. Some people prefer to use the zinc because the zinc is not as toxic as aluminum. The 0.3mm zinc roof sheets are so cheap, it’s not a very high cost to replace every 10 years or paint and flip. Others prefer to use the aluminum-zinc sheets as they last much longer and there is no inconvenience or cost having to replace at a shorter interval. Clay tile roofing costs about twice as much in materials and twice as much in labor. However, they last much longer, often 50 years or more. They are also more natural than the metal, and they absorb and insulate the sound of rain, and heat from the sun, like the polypropylen, better than metal roofing. Note that they are not pure clay; they contain a small amount of fiberglass and portland cement for increased durability. It is sometimes possible to buy the old-style pure clay tiles, used; they cost a bit more. Thatch (leafe) roofing is a possibility as well, but in this climate, it lasts up to 8-10 years maximum depending on the quality of the job and if occasional maintenance is done. The thicker galvalum and zinc corrugated sheet steel roofing is 2mm thick, and can cost $50/square meter. In comparison, the 0.3mm 100% zinc-coated sheets a rearound $13 per sheet. There are also 3mm thick galvanized sheets available, but we don’t have a price on those currently. Note that the 2mm and 3mm panels can be ordered pre-curved to build onset huts and similar style curved roofs.
Bathroom and Plumbing We can do ceramic tiling, pre-fab or custom-fab bathtubs and hot tubs, jacuzzis, stainless steel and porcelain sinks, brick, cement, any kind of masonry, granite counters custom cut, appliances like washing machines and dryers, and more. Hot water is usually provided via a propane on-demand water heater which cost about $750 and provide more than enough consistent heat for hot showers and baths as well as kitchen use. We can also do solar hot water heaters, either pre-fab or the “poor man’s” coiled-tube-on-roof system. We generally avoid PVC for supply line plumbing due to its toxicity. HDPE is common for long runs, and in houses we prefer to use polypropylene, though we can use copper if desired. For water filtration we generally use an in-line self-washable stainless steel 30 micron sediment filter where the water line enters the house. After that we use a somewhat washable/replaceable 10 micron polypropylene filter to keep sediment/scale out of hot water heater, appliances etc, as well as prolonging the life of the drinking water filter. For drinking water we usually recommend a $140 gravity drip unit with a pure clay basin. It is 1 micron absolute and removes parasite cysts. It is 3-stages with ceramic, activated carbon, and colloidal silver. The water tastes clean and pure. Other treatment options are available such as reverse osmosis, ultra violet,and ozone.
Solar Electric The most common off-grid system here seems to be solar panels with a backup generator. A solar system with 300W of panels, 200 ah of batteries, and a 3000W inverter can be around $2k-$3k depending on installation. If possible, it’s best if you bring an inverter and charge controller to Costa Rica when you fly in, because that helps us to avoid the massive import taxes on those two things, and significantly reduce the cost of your solar system. We recommend Yamaha gasoline generators, and those can be converted to run on LPG (propane.)
3. Planting Fruit Trees A) Quick Facts ➢The Pura Fruta Community would be happy to help you manage the planting of your personal homestead lot(s). We can assist with plant selection, permaculture design, instruction/supervision of workers, and even harvest/transport/sale of fruit. ➢Any fruit production that takes place on your personal lot, can be sold by our employees, and the profit goes to you as it is your lot. ➢You can plant as little or as much of the lot as you want. You can also plant some of it now and more later. Let's look at an example. For a 20x30 planted area, It could be anywhere from $500 to$1500 to have it planted up. It will be higher if you are planting expensive grafted trees, or plants that require trellises or posts such as passionfruit, dragonfruit, mysore raspberry, etc. Maintenance costs would average to about $20 every other week, or around $500/year, for a worker to weedwhack, machete, re-plant anything that's died, et cetera. The costs would be higher at first and lower as the plants mature. We’ll usually give an estimate that includes the first 2 years of maintenance. If you want to get started, send us an email and we will ask for your preferences in terms of plant choices. We will plant the fruits that you want, and also fill the space with companion plants and leguminous nitrogen-fixers so you will have a functioning permaculture area. If you plant your 20x30 lot, you will need it maintained by one of our agricultural employees. This will cost up to $20 every 2 weeks, or $500/year. However, once your lot is producing, the fruit can be sold at market, or to other residents of Pura Fruta, and you would receive the revenue, since it is your personal homestead lot. It is possible to break even and even profit. However you must strike a balance depending on your preference. You will have much higher revenue if you plant exotic tropical such as grafted jackfruit, mamey sapote, durian, marang, mangosteen, etc. But, those trees take much longer to start producing fruit, so you are paying yearly maintenance for 5-7 years before reaching peak production. On the other hand, if you plant quick-yielding fruits that are common cash crops in the area, such as papayas and bananas, It will take only about 2 years to see a decent revenue, but it will be lower than the revenue from grafted cultivars of exotic tropicals. If you want to plant special varieties/grafted trees such as Morning Red jackfruit, Pacemamey sapote, Wilson black sapote, etc, the trees will cost more, but the revenue will be even higher because there is no competition for those fruits in this area, and we have access to markets that are very friendly to rare fruits, such as Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Playa Chiquita, all are organic farmers market.
B) Plant choices lant choices have a bearing on cost. Grafted trees (special cultivars) are more expensive than plants grown from seed or cutting/clone (such as papaya and banana.) Vine fruits such as passionfruit, granadilla, badea, and mysore raspberry need a trellis system so are more expensive. A cement post costs about $15-$20. Mysore raspberry requires a post every 8 meters with 2 wires strung between them on a T, and dragon frui trequires one post per plant. Passionfruit, granadilla, etc, can be grown on a natural pergola(posts and sticks.) This is mostly labor cost to build, but doesn’t last as long as a cement/metal pergola, which can cost around $200 per 10 meter section.
C) Costs Agricultural labor Costs about $25/day. The plants vary in cost, see list above. The cheapest fruits to plant are bananas and papayas. Grafted trees (black sapote, mamey sapote, durian, etc) are more expensive. Other costs may be: Transportation of workers/trees/materials, compost/soil amendments, weedwhacker or chainsaw rental, and administrative/supervision tasks.
4. Management and Accountability A)Financial Accounting For selection/marking, construction, planting, and any other personal lot-specific expenditure, a separate account will be kept with all transactions registered. We use the double-entry accounting software GNUCash, (http://www.gnucash.org) which follows GAAP. All worker payment receipts are signed by the workers and a witness, and materials receipts from hardware stores/etc are saved, scanned, and uploaded. We aim for 100% transparency. B)Cash Handling Handling of cash will be done by either a Pura Fruta community member who has been trained in our accountability procedures, or one of our trusted employees. Only a small number of our employees are allowed to hold and spend cash on behalf of projects, and they follow the same standards as us in terms of saving receipts and carefully accounting for all cash received and spent. C)Project Management For both construction and planting projects, a detailed plan is drawn up and provided to the workers. Materials lists are also drawn up and used to place orders. During a project, a Pura Fruta member will check on the worksite once per day at a random time, and take photos which are uploaded to Fruitfiles. The project manager will review the photos every day, and check on the project once per week or more often if necessary depending on the stage of completion. Supervision is important to ensure a quality outcome. Note that photos and videos of projects maybe used for Pura Fruta public relations, including social media posts and informational/promotional videos. However, identifying information will not be included. For additional information, or to get started developing your lot,send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org