Are Bars on Windows a Sign of Safety Issue?

Are Bars on Windows a Sign of Safety Issue?

When most people come to Panama, they’re surprised to see there are metal bars on windows in almost all houses. Coming from North America or Europe, they may feel it is a sign of bad neighborhood or safety issue.

We often have to answer this question: 

Are Bars on Windows a Sign of Safety Issue?

 

Are Bars on Windows a Sign of Safety Issue?

 

 

“No” may be too short for an answer so I’m going to elaborate!

It is true that when you are in Europe or North America, seeing bars on windows is usually a big No for settling in the area. However, in Panama, things are different.

Bars on windows are, for sure, there to reinforce security. You can also see metal doors, broken glass stuck in concrete on the top of walls, and razor wire all around the property. This is dissuasive for thieves as they may find it easier to break into a property with less protection.

People in the US have sometimes/often signs in their yards or stickers on their windows saying that their property is watched by so and so security company… Here, in Panama, most Panamanians cannot afford to have a security company and I must admit that they are not as available than in the US.

Growing up in the Caribbean, I was not surprised at all when we moved in Panama since it was the same in Martinique. That was just part of the set up. If you have windows, you have bars. Period!

Bars from the past!

 

The origins of the bars are way farer in the past though and this is part of the latin culture. In the past, before everyone can have windows, that was just holes in the walls… So bars were a good option to keep belongings safe. After windows became available for every house, bars were so tied to the culture that nobody saw any reason for removing them.

I often read that if there are bars, it means there are thieves but let’s face it. If you live in an area where every house has bars, would you take the chance of not having some on your own house??? You may know better than me but to me, that would be dumb… As usual, this is part of common sense, the same way you close your doors, you have bars on windows. As a bonus, if you’re not a big A/C fan, you can sleep with your windows open at no risk. How cool is that?

 


 

We work a lot on metal and we would be happy to send you a quote for bars that look nice on the top of keeping you safe.

Do not hesitate to fill this form to get in touch!

 

 

Using Metal to build doors and gates

Using Metal to build doors and gates

There is a good thing about buying metal in Panama, it’s very cheap compared to any durable wood. It was the total opposite in France. A very large variety of woods was available for a very affordable cost.

If you are a welder or know one,

Using Metal to build doors and gates is a breeze!

 

Using Metal to build doors and gates

 

Here are a few pictures of our latest realizations:

For this job, we used metal tubes and solid mesh. Lots of welding and painting but results were what we expected. The most difficult part is to have everything aligned so it looks neat and closes well.

The advantage of using metal is that once it is painted, it won’t rust or move as it would do with wood.

The spice drawer was the most difficult to realize but it finally turned well!

 

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Spice Drawer

 


This gate came in replacement of one made from cariolas and mesh. Cariola structures are not solid enough too make such a large gate unless you put a lot of them, increasing weight.

For this one, we used plain metal posts for the main structure and smaller ones for the bars inside. Deep footings for the rail so it won’t move and the gate will always slide well.

Sliding Gate (Can be automated)

 

Do not hesitate to contact us for your construction needs! We also do repairs, maintenance, and improvements. Just give us a call and we’ll talk about your projects.

Benefits of Pre-Purchase Inspection

Benefits of pre-purchase inspection

When moving in a foreign country, we, sometimes, just assume that buying a property is the same than in our country of origin.

Unfortunately, it is not and it happens that things don’t go as smooth as expected especially when there are some defects, whether they’re intentional or not, visible or hidden.

This is why there are a lot of benefits of pre-purchase inspection.

 

Benefits of pre-purchase inspection


Our team of knowledgable workers would come to the property you intend to buy and would check some vital elements that are most of the time unseen. Don’t blame the seller, he/she is usually of good will but materials and buildings don’t age the same way here. Remember our beautiful Panama is a tropical country!

  • Roof

Our team will check the roof to see if it presents any leak or damage that need to be fixed urgently. If the roof is covered with tiles, they will check if they’re still in good shape, not broken, and not porous. In case of metal roof, they will check that there is no invasive rust either on the sheets or on the fixation screws. Most of the time, they will advise you to check regularly on the screws because this is where leaks come from at first. There is supposed to have a silicon joint that has to be replaced and/or checked when maintenance is done.

  • Ceiling

Ceiling inspection is usually another way to check about roof sealing although it is way better not to wait to see humidity stains on the ceilings before scheduling a roof inspection. It happens sometimes that the ceiling has evidences of past leaks, and although it needs a new coat of paint, it is not as serious as it could appear.

If the ceiling is made of drywall and that you can see some cracks, our team would evaluate if this comes from temperature and humidity in the air or if it reveals a more serious defect. Cracks in drywall are sadly very usual here because of the daily variation in temperature and humidity. It is usually not very serious but it is always better to have a professional check.

  • Walls

Once again, it happens frequently that walls show cracks. It can either be in the finish coating before painting, which is not serious, or in the wall itself. If it is in the wall itself, it is usually very important to check if it goes through the wall, what is the length and the width of the crack. This is something we would advise you to fix especially if it goes through the wall. Whereas there a not many earthquakes in our area, it is always safer to make sure not to get over damage if it happens.

  • Electricity and Plumbing

Although there are a lot of hidden parts in electricity and plumbing installations, it is usually good to check the visible installation and connections. If we find some parts that look old or very used, we would definitely advise you to check more in depth to make sure you’re not going to have running water in the walls without notice. For electricity, we usually check the connections to the panel to make sure they’re done safely.

  • Wood

Wood construction is not really popular on the Pacific Coast. The main reason is the cost of treated wood needed for building. Buying this kind of wood is expensive but it keeps termites away from it. If you’re lucky, you can find some tek or nispero, which are resistant to termite attacks. Other than that, you need to have any kind of wood checked to make sure there is no surprise, I mean bad surprise…


Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on this service and remember we’re here to help and advise. The choice stays yours ultimately!

Welcome in your new home sweet home!

 

The Challenge of Building in Panama

The Challenge of Building in Panama

The Challenge of Building in Panama

Welcome in beautiful Panama where you will start your new life! You have found a fantastic land and you’re ready to set a house that will soon be your home. Unfortunately, it does not go as smooth as expecting… Let me tell you about

The Challenge of Building in Panama

When you move in a foreign country, it takes time to adjust and sometimes it is hard to get rid of our beliefs. Building in Panama is no exception to this. We all come with European or North-American standards in our mind and we all soon experience the “cold-shower” syndrome… Nothing here seems to be the same.

When we start building our house in El Espino de San Carlos, we had a very hard time at starting. There is 5 parts in the challenge of building in Panama.

  • Paperwork

Well, coming from Europe, there are some steps to go through when you start a new construction and I always found it kind of a hassle. Well, that was actually a breeze! In Panama, you first need an architect. He may not design your house but for any construction above 50 m2, you need one who will stamp your plans. Then, maybe you will be lucky and find a honest architect, the one that will not cost you both arms and a kidney! Don’t expect to spend less than $5,000 though and that the honest price.

Once you found an architect, you will need other authorizations from public services, such as Bomberos (firemen) for electricity, Salud (health) for sceptic system and plumbing, and at the end, another inspection from a city engineer who eventually will deliver your Permiso de Occupacion (occupancy permit).

You will then have to either go or hire someone to go for doing the registrations in the Registro Publico (public registry) and in the Dirrecion General de Impuestos (tax office). Funny thing is that nothing is connected so you have to do it all to make sure your house is registered so you would not be in trouble with any government office.

  • Weather

Most of us moved in Panama for weather reasons. Who don’t want to live in a tropical country where you have hard sun all year long! 😎

This is fantastic until you decide to build! Then, this is a totally different story. Any move will make you sweat like crazy. It is exhausting for our non-tropical bodies. Once again, there is a need for adjustment. You will work from 6 am to 2 pm at most. Don’t even think about doing more because your body will stop you in no time! Prepare yourself to drink litres of water without a single drop or pee. Don’t believe me? Try for yourself!

When the sun is not killing you, you may enjoy some hard showers during rainy season. In San Carlos and surroundings, our area of operation, there is less rain than on the Caribbean side but still, when it rains, it rains hard. And if you’re not ready to cover your new concrete floor in less than a minute, then you have to be ready to redo it 😤 … And that SUCKS.

  • Labor

Finding good workers in Panama is almost the hardest part. And by “good”, I don’t even mean “skilled”. I only mean workers who will show up for work every day. We have been doing construction for about 2 years and we managed to find some reliable ones but they still need to be supervised. CONSTANTLY.

I see many contractors here who just bring a bunch of guys to a construction site and come to pick them up at the end of the day. And guess what? It takes twice as much time than if the contractor would stay here and manage the team. If they run out of materials, they stop working. If they’re done with doing what they were told to, they stop working. When they don’t know how to do something, they stop working. I can go on and on and on. Examples are endless!

  • Materials

Even if we don’t reinvent the wheel and adjust to Panamanian ways of building, there are still issues. You need to engage in relationships with your material suppliers so they will deliver when they say they will (at least on the day they said they will!). You also need to negotiate the prices and make sure they will maintain them for the duration of the building work or you would be in trouble to respect your offer.

After you find a good supplier and make all arrangements with him, you also have to constantly check the quality of the materials they deliver. It happens sometimes that you have to return some blocks or cariolas that don’t meet the agreed level of quality.

Last but not least, make sure you have more than enough materials delivered because you may enjoy the “we are out” at the time you need the stuff. They even happen sometimes to be out of concrete… WTF? How can a material store be out of concrete??? Who knows! But you’ve been warned!

  • Language Barrier

That the most challenging part when you start doing something abroad. You think they get what you said. But they didn’t. And you end dealing with delays and hassles because you just “assumed” everything was understood.

Or you don’t speak the Panamanian Spanish, which is not the same than Spanish from Spain, Argentina, Colombia, or any other Spanish speaking country in the world!


As last words, I would strongly advise you to make sure the company you’re hiring for your construction or remodelling needs:

  • is registered legally in Panama
  • has a manager who works on the field or at least is present on site
  • has finished already at least one job with a satisfactory outcome for the client.

And this is your lucky day because we have it all! Just contact us and enjoy the ride!

House in El Espino de San Carlos

House in El Espino de San Carlos

Last year, we have built a house in El Espino de San Carlos. We decided with the client not to reinvent the wheel and to build under Panamanian standards.

The house is 50 m2 inside with a 50 m2 covered terrace. There is room for extension if the client likes to build additional bedrooms.

 

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