6 month Conclusions: The Ecuador tiki hut building project

 

OK, so it’s been a bit over 6 months since I finished my Tiki Hut building project on the coast of Ecuador near Montanita.

It’s hard to declare something a success when you finish building it.

You gotta wait and see how it actually rents.  And now, the numbers are in.

3 tiki huts built with oceanviews near Montanita in a little over 6 weeks.  Plus a remodeled ‘budget’ 4 bedroom house with oceanview.

4 VERY different styles.

Well, here are the final conclusions and what I learned renting each and what Id do different next time…

Tiki Hut 1, I bought this All-wooden hut pre-built from a builder I know from the Ecuadorian Amazon, Tena region.  It took 3 days for them to install it on my location elevated a few feet above the ground.  It has a wooden balcony, wooden floor, wooden walls, a “sing”roof, a beautiful oceanview, one bedroom, one bathroom, a sink, kitchenette, mini-refrigerator, WIFI, one queen bed, closet, one full bathroom with a hot electric-powered shower with a tile floor and vinyl-covered walls.

I had to tile the floor myself first laying a small web or rebar, then laying a 5 cm layer of cement, then laying the tile… and then I had to stick vinyl on the bathroom walls with rubber cement as well as install the water and electricity outlets and hook up.   For rent (based on market prices) at $25/ night, $100/week or $250/month, the price is the same for one or two people.

montanita home rentals

wood3

Total build time = 7 days.
Total size = 24 m2 or 258 ft2
Total cost = $3753

Final Conclusions: Should not have included the bathroom within the wooden structure.  Better to build bathroom out back end with cement block and tiling, hut can get very humid and damp after showers.  Size was a bit too small for comfortable living with couples.  At 6m x 4m another meter of width would have helped out a lot.  Would have used different material for roofing cause when it rains it makes a lot of noise and in the sun the metal sing can really heat up.  Amazonian wood holding up good to coastal climate, still cant beat the view from the balcony.  Occupation rate over last 6 months as vacation rental 70%.  A success.

Tiki Hut 2, The budget option with little ocean-view built with a cement floor and cement block with the “Sing” metal sheet roofing so common in this area of Ecuador.  It has WIFI and a mini-stove and bathroom (all in the same room) while the shower is behind a curtain out back.  I hope to rent it to a surfer or backpacker for around $100 a month or $5 a day for shorter time periods.  It’s good enough for me and someone not very picky, I could live there if I needed to live somewhere rent-free.  It is very soviet-esque but comes furnished with bed, table, chair, Wifi internet, electric cooker, sink, and a half bath with the shower around back which does have a curtain.  Currently its listed for rent at $100 a month.


SAMSUNG

Total build time = 6 days. (One Ecuador workweek).
Total size = 16 m2 or 172 ft2
TOTAL COST $892.49

Final conclusions:  This Tiki hut was a bust and by far the hardest to rent.   Occupation rate over last 6 months as vacation rental mainly to younger backpackers, surfers is 12%.  Proves saying if you don’t have the money to do something nice, save your money first.  For most, feels too much like a prision cell with all the cement and lack of windows.  I would not have done this Tiki Hut again if I had a do-over.  At least I have a place I can live rent free if need be.

 

 
Tiki Hut 3, By far the most labor intensive and time consuming, I designed the hut myself based off similar “mixed” models in the area.  Due to inexperience building these types of huts (it was my first time) I made mistakes all along the way that caused me to go about $2k over budget (see the end of this email for details).

By “mixed construction” I mean a building that uses a mix of both eco-materials like bamboo and normal construction materials like cement and brick.  My idea was to build an elevated structure a few feet off the ground with a cement, tiled floor and walls made partially of brick and bamboo.

The roof would have bamboo cross beams and a typical-for-the-area grass roof with a hidden layer of heavy-duty plastic and mosquito netting to keep the bugs out.  The hut would have a balcony, one bedroom, one full bathroom with electric-powered hot shower and a kitchenette area complete with a countertop, sink, mini-refrigerator, one queen bed, closet, WIFI and a dining table for two.  For rent (based on market prices) at $30/ night, $100/week or $250/month, the price is the same for one or two people.


SAMSUNG

brick1

brick2

Total build time = 5 weeks
Total size = 30 m2 or 322 ft2
Total cost = $6557.36
Final conclusions: By far the biggest success of the three.  The size is much more comfortable for a couple as a longer term residence at 6m x 5m, a full meter wider than the wooden bungalow.  Very easy to rent, most folks extend their stay, great for single person longer term or for a couple on a shorter stay.  Average rent 1-2 months as folks explore nearby areas.  Would have built on ground to lower cost of construction by about $1k, would have built balcony larger to convert it almost into a deck for barbecuing, etc.  Occupation rate over last 6 months as vacation rental 84%.

Overall conclusions after renting the huts for 6 months:  If I had to do this project again, I would have built two of the brick/bamboo huts instead of the wooden and cement ones.  I would have hired an architect to manage the building project for me (was very time consuming for me).  And I would have explored 2 bedroom designs cause my far-less-attractive-budget 4-bedroom-oceanview very-Ecuadorian house I found for $15k still rents even better than the huts (at $450-480/mon) because people like the space.

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