La Puerta Trasera
We call our house La Puerta Trasera, which in Spanish means The Back Door. We named it that because we envisioned it as the means to exit the United States (slip out the back door) if conditions there ever became intolerable.
My wife and I bought the land in 2005. We then used an architectural computer-aided design program to design the house.
Construction started in 2006; it was finished in 2007. We began living here half the year in 2008. The house, plus the 0.58 acres of land that it sits on, cost approximately $170,000 (more precise figure is being computed).
The house is well-built. It survived the 7.3 earthquake with the epicenter 30 miles away virtually free of damage. Frame houses survive earthquakes better than concrete ones because they flex.
The house consists of two separate enclosed living areas separated by an 18 x 20 covered deck. There is an additional 336 square feet of exposed deck for sun worshipers. Each of the enclosed living areas measures 24 x 20, or 480 square feet, for a total of 960 square feet.
Each of the living areas includes a bedroom, full bath, and walk-in closet. The living areas are designated by the names Admiral and Captain (family story).
The combination bedroom and living room in the Admiral section measures 13 x 24 feet. The captain's bedroom, which is air-conditioned by means of an 8,000 BTU through-the-wall window unit, measures 11x12 feet. The Admiral space is not air-
We never considered full-house air-conditioning when we designed the house. Electricity is very expensive here. However, provision for complete air-conditioning in both the Admiral and Captain areas has been provided.
All outside walls are insulated and there is sufficient outside wall space in each to install a high-mounted through-the-wall split system.
We didn't want air-conditioning, but we did want maximum air flow through the house. Consequently, we installed eight Pella casement windows. The windows have been varnished every other year; the opening/closing mechanisms have been oiled every year. We also installed two gable fans in both the Admiral and Captain spaces. These provide a complete change of air every three minutes and are used for rapid cooling in those cases
where the house has been closed in the afternoon when we're out, and heat builds up.
There are seven ceiling fans including two in the covered deck area. The ones in the covered deck area were replaced in 2020.
Our friend and builder Dennis supplies water, for a charge of $40 per month, from a well at the bottom of the hill. Every day water is pumped up the hill to several storage tanks that furnish water to the eleven houses on the hill. We don't rely on electrical power for our water, since it is a gravity
feed system from one of the tanks at the top of the hill. Water pressure is excellent, and so is the quality and taste of the water. However, we do filter the water coming into the house through two filters, one for sediment and one for mineral content. We replace both filters every three months.
Even though it has never happened, we are prepared for a prolonged failure, either of the water pump or electrical service in general. We
installed a reserve water tank at the upper end of our property, for our use only. When switched to reserve, we have a three day supply no matter what the cause of the primary supply interruption.
We installed shutters on the eight Pella casement windows, both for protection should a hurricane strike the island and to deter any who might wish to break into the house while we're gone for an extended time. We close and lock the shutters only when we'll be gone for our six months of the year in the United States. For the two conventional windows (up/down
sliders) facing the road, they're protected by iron bars.
The main gate (entrance to the deck) and the sliding doors that are the entrances to the Admiral and Captain's quarters are also protected by iron bars. We lock all of the ironwork and all of the windows whenever we leave the house.
The surface of the S-shaped concrete stairs leading to the house has been refurbished (March 2020) to its original condition.
There is a combination laundry room / tool room that is accessed from the covered deck. It contains a washer, dryer, and any lawn and gardening tools needed to maintain the grounds. The washer and dryer run perfectly, although both are thirteen years old.
The kitchen has a full array of appliances, the same as any well-equipped kitchen in the United States. This includes; a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher,microwave oven, toaster, coffee maker, blender, and toaster oven. The stove operates on propane, which is quite inexpensive here, unlike electricity. A twenty-five pound cylinder of propane lasts us about three
months. The microwave oven is new, having been replaced in the spring of 2019. The toaster oven is very useful for heating snacks or small amounts of food and not having to use the large oven. The refrigerator sometimes makes strange noises; we believe it will have to be replaced soon.
All kitchen cabinets and vanities are mahogany and were custom-made onsite. Included are two lazy susans. All of the bathroom vanities are also mahogany built onsite.
Hot water for all showers and the bathroom sinks is furnished by a forty gallon electric heater under the house. It, too, is thirteen years old and will likely have to be replaced soon. Hot water for the kitchen sink is furnished by an on-demand heater mounted under the sink that works exceptionally
The shower in the Admiral's quarters is a favorite feature of the house (in my humble opinion). It measures five feet by seven feet, contains two shower heads and a corner bench. I completely replaced all tile, floor and walls, in 2018. I relayed the floor so all water would flow to the center drain
(It seems that Hondurans think water flows uphill - we've seen this multiple times.)
We are in the process of replacing all of the deck boards on the uncovered portion of the deck. (That work has now been completed.) The deck faces west and takes a beating from the afternoon sun.
The outside west-facing walls also take a beating from the sun. Four years ago the wood siding had deteriorated to the point where something had to be done. I shipped down and installed Hardi-panels, which are essentially quarter inch slabs (4 by 8 feet) of concrete and are guaranteed for 50 years.
We have the house inspected and treated when necessary by Truly Nolen.
We've never had termites in the house.
Unlike many properties on the island, we also have no mold or mildew inside the house. Someone suggested that this may be because there are no ceilings to trap moisture. We don't know, but we're certainly not complaining.
The house has plastic gutter. I could get on abut a ten page rant about plastic gutter, but I'll try to be brief. I hate plastic gutter. You put it up and a year later every joint leaks. You can buy the glue, clean all the joints, and
it'll hold for maybe a month. I recommend you take all the gutter down. I've threatened to do this for years and haven't, just due to laziness. If aluminum gutter were available here, it would have been done.
Cable TV is available, and we used it for a few years. The cable is still run to the house, but the service (Max) is not activated at present.
Property tax is just under 7,000 Lempira per year (about $280). We have full insurance from Arlie Thompson Insurance Agency, which includes both fire and - amazingly! - hurricane protection. It costs about 18,000 Lempira ($720) per year.
When we came here, we wanted a house on the beach. We are very glad that didn't happen. We can be on the beach in five minutes, and we avoid all the problems associated with it. That is, we have very few insects (including mosquitoes), no noise, and no crime, all things that are common on the beach. We also have the best view on the island. This is substantiated by the fact that taxis frequently bring visitors up our hill to enjoy the view.
You may park on the road in front of the house. A good emergency brake is recommended. Level parking areas are available a short distance from the house.
Because of all of these things, and that there are two separate private quarters separated by a common deck, we believe that the house would be a very good rental property, ala VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or airbnb.
We are offering the house fully furnished, but will remove small personal items as noted in the following list of exceptions. If there are other items not wanted by the buyer, we will remove and dispose of them or donate them to a needy family. Some items in the exceptions list have been designated
negotiable. If the buyer wants these, we will leave them.