Sunday, December 30, 2007

December 30, 2007

This might be the first person to sleep in one of the Villa Espiral bedrooms. He looks pretty comfortable, with his shoes off, relaxing in the shade.

They are now cementing the gap between the beams and the wall. Each bedroom has a nook like this.

The frame for the skylight is in. This will become a cement form, with some dome skylights in it

This is the view looking into the master bedroom from the dining room area.

The curved veranda along the bedrooms is coming along well.

This is area in front of bedroom 3.

And this is the view from the veranda at bedroom 3.

The veranda will continue all the way along the front and will shade part of the swimming pool.

My architect, Pepe Tercero, sent this pic to me with an email explaining that the veranda will not block the view of the horizon from the dining room. Looking up from a delicious turkey, December 27th, 2008, Pepe tells me, this will be our view.

I will be heading down to Nicaragua in early February to select some of the finishing materials like flooring, countertops, etc. Hasta Luego. Aloha, amigos.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Furniture and other questions

There are so many choices to be made. Like what kind of furniture will be best. Here are some pics of Banana Fiber furniture that Pepe suggested.

We really like it. With comfy cushions in an earth tone color pallete, these could work really well under the veranda and in the dining and bedrooms. But we want to feel and sit in them before we decide. And we don't necessarily have to go with all one type of furniture. We'll see how it unfolds.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

First Entry

Hi Folks,

As many of you know, I fell in love with Nicaragua when I first visited it in 2004. It was during my first trip, that Chad Unser of Snider Realty, showed me some lots at Rancho Santana ( .

When Chad showed me lot B7, and I walked up on it and saw the left point, I knew this was a special place. Here is a picture from that first time I stood on the lot and checked the surf.

The picture was taken in February, when there usually isn't much surf, but I later discovered that it is a beautiful, challenging, fast wave with consequences. Many of you already know the name of this wave, but the focus of this blog is on the house, so let's leave the name to be discovered through a little investigation.

The next year, I brought my wife, Angela down. Nicaragua, in her words, "exceded my expectations."

So why is the house named Villa Espiral? Well, when I first talked to my architect, Pepe Tercero, I said that Angela and I liked curves, arches, organic shapes, natural local materials, raw logs, and tile roofs. Using that information, Pepe found inspiration for the house in a snail shell, and its logarithmic spiral shape. Espiral is spanish for spiral. Here are the floor plans and a drawing.

The whole house spirals into the dining area. A curved bar divides the kitchen from the dining area.

There are 3 bedrooms. We are tentatively planning a queen bed in the master bedroom and second bedroom, with two twins in the third bedroom. Each bedroom has its own bathroom. Each bedroom has a different view. Both the master and the second bedroom have at least some ocean view.

The house is designed to take advantage of the prevailing offshore winds to passively cool it. We also will have a rainwater catchment system that will store the runoff in an underground tank for reuse on the landscape.

With the open design, you are always connected with your housemates. If you are in the kitchen, you are still part of the action going in the dining room or the living room.

There are lots of cool places to hang out, like under the veranda at the end of the pool, or on a hammock hanging outside one of the bedrooms.

Part of the pool is shaded and part is in the sun. It's a two level pool with a cascade down to the lower level.

Here is Pepe's concept drawing of the view from the master bedroom. The swimming pool is right out in front of this bedroom.

It's taken longer than we expected to go from conception to construction, and the observation tower had to go to make sure we didn't block our neighbor, Antonio's view, but the rest is pretty much as originally conceived.

We are hoping to have Villa Espiral completed in May and available for rental. We haven't yet set rental rates, but you can check with
to see what is currently available for rental at Rancho Santana and for what prices.

Here some of the recent pictures of the construction progress.

The three windows look out from the kitchen area, but even if it is your turn to cook, you will also have a view of the surf looking from the kitchen toward the living area.

The living, dining and kitchen areas are all integrated for easy interaction among guests. But you can also find private nooks all around.

Here you can see the use of the raw logs for the veranda.

That's bamboo cane being used on the ceiling. Our focus is to use green and local materials to the maximum extent possible.

The house is designed to have a nice open, airy feel. It is also designed to create air flow and move warm air out. Passive air conditioning is the way to in Nicaragua, where you can usually count on some offshore breezes. The verandas will provide enough cover so the house won't get cooked when the sun is low in the sky.

The bedrooms will have air conditioning too, and we will have a battery backup system for those days when the power goes out.

How's that view from the dining area?

We are thrilled to be employing the wonderful people involved in this project. Many thanks to our architect Pepe Tercero, our builders from Granados Construction Company, including Manuel Granados, Hanley Malianos, Gonzalo Martinez, and Miguel Angel Murillo, and to Engineer Luis Manuel Lopez. We also want to express our admiration and gratitude to all the workers on the house who have done a great job so far. We appreciate your craftsmanship and hard work.

Stroll down the driveway, cross the street, and you are on one of the prettiest little beaches in the world.

Stay tuned for more progress reports.