July 16-21, 2007 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #145
Contact phone numbers
New York: 315-279-6711
Toronto: 416-907-5758 // 416-461-2203
Land: 506-282-4142 Ext. 101
NOTE: the New York and Toronto numbers are "local calls" for people in the area codes; calls from outside the area code will be billed at the normal rate from the caller's area code to either the "315" or the "416" area code.
NOTE: WHEN I STARTED RESIDENCIAS LOS JARDINES, I STARTED WRITING A WEEKLY NEWS LETTER—DEETERMINED TO TELL ALL THE GOOD, BAD, AND THE UGLY. I KNEW SOME READERS WERE INTERESTED IN THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS. OTHERS WERE INTERESTED IN HAVING INSIGHT TO THE LIFESTYLE OF TWO PEOPLE WHO HAD DECIDED TO LIVE OUTSIDE THE BOX. FOR OTHERS, THE ADVENTURES OF LITA, THE PARROT AND THE CAT TOOK ON AN ENTERTAINMENT SAGA ALL ITS OWN.
RESIDENCIAS LOR JARDINES IS FINISHED. WE PERIODICALLY HAVE RESALES AND RENTAL AVAILABILTY. SOME READERS MAY BE INTERESTED IN THIS INFORMATION.
MORE AND MORE, THE CONTENT WILL BE DOMINATED BY EVENTS OF OUR NEW PROJECT, “EL DORADO” FOR SHORT. WHILE THE FUTURE IS ALWAYS UNCERTAIN, I AGAIN AIM TO TELL IT LIKE IT HAPPENS—THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, AND THAT IS WHAT FOLLOWS:
The STORY: design changes, "setbacks” —resolved; sidestepping a peeling, and much more...
Pictures: if you missed last week’s pictures you may want to look. The mountain views are what will be seen from the houses along the west side —see “Architect” below.
View the pictures here.
Architect: In the process of determining the setbacks for the fence along the west roadway, Paul and I were forced to focus on the west side of the property. We had, until now, dismissed this as “future and what we build will depend on what we sell on the east side. We questioned our assumptions re. the use of the land, tore them apart and started over. On Thursday, working with the architect, we now have the site plan, house and amenities layout we want. As on the east side, we have reduced the number of houses and have increased the amount of green space. It now appears, that the maximum number of houses will be around 70 (this is down from 125) but a number of the 70 houses will be larger. We’ve added back a tennis court and another hoops court. We are using the same house designs created the previous week because they work and they are flexible enough to allow us to offer a variety of floor plans from the same foot print. The end result is a product with which we are happy and which we firmly believe elevated the quality of the development one or two notches higher.
What did we do? we moved the housing to the high side to take advantage of the view and we placed the internal roadway next to the municipal roadway moving the houses further away from it. We eliminated houses and added more social and recreational area in the lower areas along the stream. The back of the houses view the mountains and lead directly to the recreational areas and to the stream without having a roadway bisecting the land.
We are also rethinking the phasing. Paul and the architect make a strong case for beginning on the west side —it has better street appeal, a better roadway leading to it, the site is less complicated, we can feed the construction through the back door, and when the construction is finished, NO construction vehicles need to pass through or near the finished product as we will be focusing then on the east side through the east entrance, and the views of the canyon mountains is magnificent.
Note: The strategic decision making process has taken us longer than expected but I believe the analysis and re-analysis resulted in a better product. We are now turning the architect and engineers loose (with a kick in the behind) to move ahead as quickly as possible to do what is necessary to make application. Most people don’t realize that the decisions made at this phase are the most important ones and can determine the success or failure of a product.
Quebrada: we have decided to proceed to cover the quebrada. We got several quotes with a variance of around $3,000 for cement culvert —plastic was substantially more. While we cannot get definitive engineering date re. the correct size, we are guessing that a 50” diameter is more than sufficient. The 60” diameter is 4 times the price and using a reasonable man rule, just seems to be over kill. We’ve ordered some of the pipe which we will install and see how it performs during September and October, the wettest months.
Setbacks: the meeting with the City clarified the setback requirement of the perimeter fencing from the municipal street and the houses from the fence —7 meters from the center of the roadway and the houses another 2 meters inside the fence. This was a lot better than the 11 meters the inspectors were stating. We also gained an understanding that where space did not permit this setback, that we would be a light weight fence along the road at the existing fence line. We suggested to the city that this might prevent children from falling off the road and over the cliff. It also secures our perimeter and stops garbage from being tossed onto our property.
Water: We have to have water in order to get approval for the project. We have explored bringing it from the bottom roadway but AyA, the state water authority stated they don’t have the pressure to raise it to our height and that they weren’t prepared to put in a pumping station. If we were to buy a lot on the main road, put in a pumping station, run a 4” line for 2.3 kilometers, and then turn over the lot and the pumping station to AyA, they would approve it. They were kind enough to calculate the cost of installing a 4” pipe for that distance —$93,000. For now, we’ll take a pass on that and follow two options: --the well and a spring. On Tuesday we expect to receive a written statement from AyA that they cannot supply water. With that, we will add this to our application for a well. We are told that this will expedite our application and is more likely to insure our ability to use water which we find after drilling the well. We still have the option of offering to share any surplus water from the well with them.
Bob Cat and sidestepping a peeling: We’ve experienced various mechanical problems with the used bobcat we bought. We finally attributed the problem to dirty diesel. Diesel, when not used, turns into a jelly and bacteria grows unless a fuel stabilizer is used. To clean the fuel tank, the motor had to be pulled. While some other work was contemplated while the motor was removed, the proposed work came to $10,000 for a rebuilt engine or $13,000 for a new one. This is a 55 horse, 4 cylinder motor; the whole block is about 2’ long and a foot wide. I had some problems with this and insisted on asking a lot of questions. Bottom line was that the real price should be about $3,500. Whether we had “STUPID” written on our foreheads or not, don’t know, but that company is now history with us.
Web site: we are awaiting two more proposals. We have one from our current designer and maintenance people in Argentina. They have been excellent to date and will be hard for others to knock out. The longer they take to respond, the lower they drop on our list.
Photographs: The Tico Times photographer took some pictures of Los Jardines which we will use in the El Dorado website. We now have them.
Note: with all the construction in the Santa Ana area and the costal areas, the labor supply is getting tight and wages are going up. When doing Los Jardines, if we wanted 20 more people the next day, we could have them. Not so now. We had to increase our wages by 15% this week to be competitive and are still looking for additional people.
RESIDENCIAS LOS JARDINES
Article in Tico Times: perhaps it will appear this week.
We have none until October.
We’ve signed 9 leases in the past 2 months.
We have nothing available and a waiting list for certain units.
Weather: mostly clear mornings with overcast afternoons and a short rain followed by clearing.
Tico Mail system: Litas's “talking watch” which compensates for her eyesight died. I’ve been trying to get it replaced. Several false starts and finally a friend in Canada purchased two for me and mailed them to my Miami based mail forwarding address. That was the plan but it went off the rails when the Canadian postie saw my C/O address in Costa Rica. The package bypassed Miami and ended up being delivered by CR mail —minus the watches. The package had been opened with a razor knife (very clean cut) and the contents, very clearly marked on the outside as per Canadian requirement “watches” had been removed. I’ve heard numerous stories about theft in the CR postal system; I’m now able to confirm first hand, that it happens. Now, I start the process all over.
Unpleasant business and R&R: I’ve spent many hours over the past two weeks and still have many more to go dealing with administrative things which I don’t enjoy and the circumstances of which I’m angry. I’m taking a few days off to the beach to renew my energy, to sharpen my sword, gird my loins, and will return ready to slay dragons if necessary.
Texas Hold-em: continues to the fun and entertainment of a dedicated group.
Brian, Lita, Hairless Hugo, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, and the newbies— Chico and Chica.