My vision of owning a second home in another foreign country has always been to have a place I can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the US. Ayampe has quickly become my home away from home and where I go to escape reality and unwind. However, the journey of building this “dream home”, although exciting, has not come without some bumps in the road.
I quickly realized that building in another country, a primarily Spanish speaking country at that was not going to be the same as building in the states. Trying to find the most reliable and affordable builder in Ayampe proved to be the first biggest challenge. After making multiple trips to Ecuador and interviewing several local builders, I decided to go with a builder who was able to finish the home within my desired timeframe while at the same time maintaining the quality of work that I required. The building process was overall surprisingly easy with daily status updates and photos from the builder and Skype calls from the architect regarding any building/structural decisions that needed to be made. Living in such a technology driven society made this aspect of building surprisingly easy. One other major perk was that there was no financing required, as there was an agreement with the builder to ‘pay as you go’. I would send money via wire transfer on a monthly basis as construction progressed. Towards the final stages of construction, I made another trip to Ayampe to be sure that everything was coming along according to plan. When I arrived, I was blown away at the progress and by how close the home looked to the original rendering!
Looking back at the beginning of the project, the idea that I had for this home was that it would have a modern, natural feel to it. I wanted block construction but with as much natural wood incorporated as possible. The house sits perched on a hill high above the village of Ayampe and looks down at the iconic rocks offshore in the distance. In keeping with the bylaws of the eco-friendly community La Reserva, we kept most of the lot in its natural state by only clearing15% of the land to build upon. I used local plants and fruit trees throughout the landscaping to aid in keeping the preservation of the environment around us, the very theme seen over and over in La Reserva. The wood that was used throughout the home seen in the wooden doors, door frames, shelving, and ceiling beams are made from locally sourced natural wood. In the US I would not have been able to afford these wood floors in one room of my home, let alone the entire house.
Some of the other features of the house include a lower level wrap-around deck about 500 square meters in size, an area perfect for entertaining guests and watching sunsets; a covered outdoor bar-b-que and kitchen setup, perfect for hosting parties and guests; an outdoor shower constructed of bamboo; stunning views from the 2nd story master and guest room balconies; open floor concept downstairs living area lined with glass sliding doors that open up to the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, an area perfect for relaxing while spotting whales; a spacious kitchen with island space, wooden floating shelves, plenty of counter and cabinet space and an electric range stove top; terraced backyard ideal for gardening. Some of the other technical details comprise his and her sinks in the master bedroom, hot water heater supplying water throughout the entire house, water cistern and pump, septic tank, plenty of extra storage space and a half bath for guests featured on the lower level.
As I write this, the final touches are being applied to this first modern home being built in the La Reserva community. The wood and concrete floors are getting the final sealer application and the last few appliance and shelving fixtures are being installed. Once finished, this home will serve as a model and is a huge milestone for other homes built throughout La Reserva. This finished space gives prospective buyers a good idea of the different local building techniques in and around Ayampe. Some of these techniques/finishes include the use of bamboo, the use of the locally sourced natural Laurel wood, and the use of the “grey water system” which is a practice that uses the water from the drains in your home to water the gardens and plants surrounding the home.
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