June 4-9, 2007 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #139
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: NOW THAT THIS DEVELOPMENT IS ESSENTIALLY FINISHED, THE LOG WILL FOCUS MORE ON THE RIO ORO DEVELOPMENT. IT WILL BE INFORMATIVE TO THOSE PLANNING ON BUILDING, THOSE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO PURCHASE OR TO LEASE, AND FOR THOSE WONDERING WHAT EXPATS DO IN COSTA RICA AND THE LIFESTYLE OF TWO ORDINARY PEOPLE.
The STORY: Guanacaste: A development nightmare; some
Architect: I had a full day working session on
Tuesday and we designed the floor plans for the two
6-plex buildings. There are 5 possible solutions, ie.
different options. The area--without parking-is around
1900 sf. each. This design builds on the original
design for Los Jardines but it the buildings got too
big for the spaces available and too expensive for
what I wanted to build at the time. I loved the floor
plan so have kept it until now when I can apply
experience to make minor modifications. We also
designed the river lot houses-three versions-two
versions as a single family house around 1,600 sf and
one version as a horizontal duplex with a one bedroom
unit downstairs and a two bedroom unit
upstairs.-around 800sf and 1,400sf respectively.
Quebrada: we continue to wait.
Fence Permit: again the application is submitted to
the Municipalidad of Santa Ana
Well Application: We wait.
RESIDENCIAS LOS JARDINES
Sales: Unit 118 -there are issues to sort out but it
looks like it will close. We'll see what develops.
Unit 112: $170,000
Single floor, 1,300 sf, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, new Hofurnishings. The kitchen and both bathrooms have granite counters. The kitchen cabinets are made from natural wood- "cedro" and has a breakfast counter for casual dining. The kitchen features SS appliances-- 6 burner gas stove, and GE "Profile" microwave and exhaust space saver unit and all the small appliances and items needed for cooking and dining. The living room features a floor to ceiling full length book case/ display/entertainment center. Areas for a computer work station and TV are incorporated. The LR features one chair, love seat and a sofa as well as 4 wrought iron / granite topped end/coffee tables. There is a 6 seat glass and wood dining room table as well. On the covered terrace is a 6 seat dining table. The home is equipped with a stacked washer / dryer. It has vaulted ceilings, valance (direct and indirect lighting). It's located at the back of the property, near the large pool; it is part of a 4 unit
Leased for one year effective June 15.
1,725 sf / two story, 2 1/2 bathrooms —master
bath with Jacuzzi, two bedrooms (two matrimonial beds
in ground floor bedroom and king in master bedroom),
large kitchen with granite counters, built in office
furniture with granite desk, 3 terraces, detached.
This is a beautiful unit
with gorgeous views east and west.
- $1,600 mo.
Available May 1
See description above.
- $1,350 mo.
Available July 1
This 2 story, 2, bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom, 1,625 sf
unit is magnificent. Perfectly located on the
property to overlook the small pool and surrounding
garden and from the 2nd. floor terrace you can see the
southern mountain range. The owners furnished this
tastefully and with good quality furniture.
children, no pets, and non-smokers only.
Available May 1
2nd. floor, one bedroom (620 sf), fully furnished with display bookshelf/wall unit, home theater system, 42" Plasma TV, computer desk, large kitchen with natural wood cabinets and granite counters and backsplash including valence lighting, Bedroom has a full size (matrimonial) bed as well as a single bed. There is a matrimonial size pull out sofa in the living room. The living room overlooks the large pool and faces west. The bedroom faces east and has views of the mountains.
- $950 mo.
Residencias Los Jardines is a secure, gated, tranquil community with on-site satellite and / or CableTica TV, high speed internet, VOIP phone capability, 2 swimming pools each with waterfalls, 2-bar-b-qs and social areas, extensive manicured gardens, English / Spanish / German / Dutch / French spoken.
Weather: some overcast / some sun / not a lot of
Hugo: Still waiting to see if the changed diet
results in re-growing his hair-if it does, I might
adopt his new diet!!.
Background: On Friday we made the longest drive north
into Quanacaste with the idea of meandering back
along the beaches and having a shorter drive back to
San Jose on Monday. Our first night was spent at
Playa Hermosa, 2nd. at Playa Grande, and 3rd. at
Samara. This was certainly the best time to see
Guanacaste-it was lush and green. The overcast skies
provide some relief from the sun but it was still 85+
degrees with the same humidity; by November it will be
brown and dry and HOT until May.
Hotel Playa Hermosa (Bosque del Playa): $50.
FANTASTIC! Right on the beach- our room was 30 ft
from the sand. TV, hot water shower, TV/AC/fan,
dresser bureau with mirror, baggage table, two double
beds, The grounds were well maintained, mature
trees, lighted pathways, nice pool in a natural
setting. Chaise lounges and chairs available on the
beach; beach was great for swimming.
Dinner: This was an amazing dinner. Service was
prompt and well timed. Lita has a whole red snapper
fried with French fries and salad-($9). Her pina
colada was the best she had ever had. I was shown
the special of the day-prepared plate which I promptly
ordered-I was told it was "sirloin" be it was actually
two medallions of filet mingion cooked to perfection
served on a bed of fresh asparagus perfectly crunchy
and topped off with a Madeira sauce. The vegetables
was the best assortment I've had and was cooked to
perfection. The potatoes were also delicious —$13—.
Playa Grande: Name?????? $60 We were trying to equal
our precious night —we didn't. We went to several
places at $110-$85 and concluded that either they
weren't worth it. We found a place with an overgrown
garden, no restaurant. TV, hot water,
kitchenette-frig, hot-plate, toaster oven, coffee
maker —terrace with table and chairs, swimming pool.
It was not on the beach. It was no less acceptable
than were the two more expensive units which we passed
Samara: we normally stay at the "Guanamar" —a somewhat
tired place with a gorgeous view. Last year low
season rate was $70 for an ocean view; this year— $100. There was no one there last year when we
stayed; there didn't appear to be any more people
Las Brisas: ($85) right on the beach in Samara:
acceptable but virtually NO LIGHT. Only 1 15w
florscent in the main room and one smaller in the
bathroom. Neither of us could see anything. We
Hotel Belvedere: ($60 with a fantastic breakfast
included). Well lighted, large room, king and single
bed, kitchenette, TV, hot water (shower), small
balcony and table/chairs. This is n ot on the beach
but there is a pool; the garden is a bit overgrown to
my tastes. Clean and well maintained. Breakfast was
on the 2nd. story: fast and consisted of fresh fruit,
coffee, and your choice of several N. Am. and Tico
Note: the government is cutting a major new road
south to ?????from Carrillo. We traveled it for about
15 mi. before it basically became a rut-how much
further and to where it goes, don't know. I do know
from what they have built, that it will be subject to
MAJOR slides as they have made huge cuts in the
mountains and have not sloped nor shorn up those cuts.
Two side stories
Just one of those times: We only know one person who
lives in Granacaste-a large province of CR-he is a
native Tico who built our ranchos at Los Jardines.
We've maintained our friendship with he and his wife.
When passing through Nicoya a nano second's glance by
each of us-me driving, he sitting at a bus stop —he
yelled his recognition— I was already stopping. A
great reunion right there on the street!!
More playmates for Lita: I wanted to buy some
distinctive pottery to finish out bare spaces in our
house. We stopped at one of the many roadside stands
in Quanacaste. In addition to what I was looking
for, the two old women had several small pet parrots... yes, we came home with two more —an unexpected and
unanticipated treat— and that's often times the way
life is here-you never no what's going to happen.
Guanacaste: a development nightmare
Comment: this is not a happy story and there will be
readers who don't want to read this but. While I try
to tell happy stories or see some humor in whatever
event I'm focusing on, I can't in this case. It's
hard to separate the "what I saw" from the
"assessments I was left with" so what fallows is a
mixture of both. (Not all the developments fit the
following but unfortunately many, many do.)
As a Developer: Generally, I am left wanting to
disassociate myself from "developer" and "builder" -
For the most part simply aghast and applaud at what I
saw and I really think CR is screwing itself by not
having (if they do, it isn't evident to me) an overall
master plan which is thought through and followed. It
seems to be a case of each developer doing what he
wants with no, or virtually no, regulatory controls in
place. I find it hard to believe that permits have
been issued on many of the developments I saw. Where
the water and electricity will come from I'm sure
hasn't been addressed. In Tamarindo, one of the
major areas, the nearest gas station is 15 min.
outside of town. There is no evidence of new civic
services or infrastructure in or around any of the
small beach towns...they are still beach towns which
never did have an infrastructure or a civic
administration to speak of. Now they are surrounded
and infiltrated with helter- skelter chaos in and
around them. For the most part, roads are what they
were before construction started-dirt / gravel, pot
holed and rutted beyond belief,--many not wide enough
for the current, let alone future traffic,
Parking????? forget it, it doesn't exist now and
won't exist in the future. I saw some really ugly (my
opinion) units with air conditioner's hanging off them
stuffed in whichever way they can with no harmony, no
commonality nothing to make a "community" or
Some of the developments are quite exclusive and VERY
expensive: large homes perched on hillsides shored up
by 40', 50' + high retaining walls. The houses
themselves are accessed by 30+ degree inclined
roads. Gorgeous views but I have to question the soil
stability and what happens in 20 years when the
galvanized cyclone wire holding the retaining rocks
together rusts and gives way-and this concern doesn't
even include thoughts about the earthquakes which we
have on a regular basis???? How they ever got
approval for this-based on our experience and when
we've been told that the maximum road incline is
15%--one can only speculate.
As a Builder: Playa Potrero: A three story, 6-plex
building with a center common area located on the
beach —about 1,000 sf + outside, uncovered parking for
This is what you got: A "living room" which
was not only very small but the design didn't allow
for the placement of furniture. The kitchen was
disproportionately large for the size of the unit. It
was a long kitchen with sink at one end, frig located
at the opposite end —stove in the middle. Lots of
counter space with an island about 30" wide with
overhanging counter which wouldn't comfortably
accommodate two people. The space for the stove was
one meter wide; the majority of ranges are 30" leaving
9" for ??? garbage. The small set of upper cabinets
were short; no valance lighting. There actually was a
30" wide range hood but the plug in was exposed and
off to the side. Neither corner cabinets had a shelf
nor a lazy susan to make best use of the space. All
of this was lighted by an 18" track light with three
40w incandescent bulbs. The 2nd. bedroom was
adequate size; the only window opened onto the inner
common corridor providing virtually no light nor
ventilation. The closet was small and had no
doors —maybe they just forgot to put them on??? There
was a small en-suite bathroom. The laundry room had a
window from the hallway (what a beautiful thing to
look at). It too was disproportionately large. The
washer / dryer had to be proud (stick out) of the
wall because they had not recessed the water or the
dryer exhaust hose. The master bedroom was adequate
in size with a small walk-through closet to the master
bath. The closet itself had no doors. The master
bedroom looked out onto the uncovered parking lot and
roadway. Lighting!!! throughout the condo/apartment,
there was virtually no lights. Each bathroom had two
or three 40w lamps. The LR and each bedroom had a
ceiling fan with a 30w lamp in it. The unit was air
conditioned. There was no tile design in the floors
in any of the rooms. The doors had no trim-only the
door jamb. The common pool was not more than 5' from
the sliding glass door in the living room and the
private terrace had to be accessed through the common
element area. For $450,000 + appliances-this could be
Tamarindo: 7 storey, 35 unit condo. Nicely done. We
saw several floor plans which I won't fault. They
were tastefully done and generally well thought
through except for the following: Instead of using
recessed halogen light fixtures which give a crisp,
clear light, they used recessed 50w incandescent
lights which just don't cut it. The kitchens were way
shy on upper cupboard cabinets, no valence lighting,
only 10 cm. high granite backsplash with the remaining
painted drywall. No provision for space saver
microwave/ range exhaust units. The granite counters
had no profile on the edges-only 1" rounded corners
and the eating counter was only 12" wide —not wide
enough for a glass and plate and not enough room for
your knees. The bathrooms were ordinary size but
tastefully done —no valance lighting above the vanity /
mirror and no medicine cabinets. In fact, one of the
designs had open spaces for towels and baskets. In
all designs, the Jacuzzi was in the corner of the
master bedroom. Each bedroom had a closet with wooden
sliding doors. The interior partitions were dark
melamine. The room doors and entry door were metal
knockdowns with simulated wood finish-quite tasteful
actually. Two parking spaces —one covered / one
outside. A the back of the covered space, there was
not more than a 3" clearance on either side; there was
not enough space for car doors to open and a person
to exit. The turning radius to access the parking
space was very substandard and when the opposite side
was filled with a car, would be virtually impossible.
Storage lockers —sold separately— (size ?) range from
$5,800 to $13,500. Depending on the design and view,
the price ranged from around $450-$600sf /
I spoke with one RE agent while on my travels. He
felt there was going to be a big day of reckoning in a
couple years and a lot of hurt buyers. Unfortunately,
the country will still be saddled with the mistakes
which were allowed to happen and the nature of the
landscape, loss of community identity and the
socio-economic fabric of the area will be forever
changed. Foolish purchasers will be chastised and
will badmouth CR.
How do I feel about what I saw: "disgusted" comes to
mind along with "depressed" because I'm convinced
there will be a lot of heartaches and disappointments
in the future for a lot of people...
Brian, Lita, Hairless Hugo and irreverent Vicka, the
pigeon toed parrot, and the newbies.