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New Construction

Lease / purchase

Phase 3: The construction of the remaining 11 residences.

Scheduled to begin in November with completion expected
by January 31.

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Progress Report

Apr. 24-30, 2005 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #29

Synopsis:  This week was dominated by bad experiences. Construction was fine-at least as far as we got.

NEW CONSTRUCTION

Permit: We were shut down by the City on Thursday (see "a litany of bad experiences" below). We've been advised by the expeditor that three of the five departments in SENTENA have reviewed it. No problems.  SENTENA has another 2 weeks before they "break the law" by not turning it around in 30 days.

Units 114  / 115 /  116: The subroof is completed and all the grey work (concrete) both interior and exterior is completed. Wiring was started.  Ceiling boarding was started in 116.

We've selected  tiles for about 1,000 sq. meters.  At 2,500 colones a sq. meter.  I think we not only found a good product but negotiated a fantastic price-this took a trip to Cartago to arrange (see "a litany of bad experiences" below). There are lots of beautiful tile here-mostly imports-and sometimes it's hard to choose.  The challenge is to find one which works price wise and color wise and is available for delivery.

Units 117-120: All collar ties-both perimeter and most interior wall are completed.  The structural steel for the roof has started to be installed. Terrace columns are installed.

New Designs

Units 121, 122, and 123: We now have the designs-floor plans, site plan, and rendering (architect's sketch) of what the finished product will look like. They are really, really nice!!!  The architect has built on our 107 and 108 experience and that of our other renovations and has come up with what looks to be three real winners.  This information will be posted on the website along with a number of other updates.  In addition, when I get all this information on my computer, I'll forward it to those people who have expressed previous interest.

RENOVATIONS

Unit 108: Minor deficiency work continued. The coral stone is nearly finished.  It appears we put the wall safe in upside down so the tumblers on the locking mechanisms don't work.  That will be fun ripping it out and redoing it!!!

Unit 107: This unit continues to take shape. All the structural framing is completed. The architect has caught up and has now drawn what we have built. In fact, he's even given us a rendering of it.  It will look great.  At around 1,700 sf it is virtually the same size as 108.

VOIP phone: I'm still being "challenged" on this -I can receive calls and voice messages but I cannot seem to connect to any number in Canada

A litany of bad experiences

Tuesday was a total mess with three major screw-ups and a surprising kafuffle and Wednesday was just as bad.  All in all, it's been a bad, bad, bad week.

Tuesday started in the morning around 9 am. with a mix-up of paperwork  despite careful labeling and three confirming conversations, one of the 106 units was sold twice and the associated paperwork was also all screwed up.

I had no sooner sorted my way through this when I went on my rounds, I saw the contract gardener (not Geraldo -he's not that ambitious) had trimmed the hibiscus hedge around the pool that I had nurtured to proper height and fullness over the last 18 mo. to form a visual barrier back to three feet high!!!!!!  I lost it. 

Epilogue: The contract gardener and the company for which he worked were fired -it's unfortunate but I certainly hadn't been getting what I had contracted for and there were too many previous incidents of smaller but still significant magnitude-management and supervision were not being given; work requested three times over a 2 mo. period had not been done and other work requested twice before and three weeks previously had not been done either.  The company owner speaks English which made dealing w/ him easier and he is a nice guy but....  I'm now looking for a new garden management company.

One of the two sand filters on the main pool had failed.  It couldn't be rehabilitated so it was decided to replace it and to replace the associated plumbing. What I had had installed two years before had been torn out by a person who convinced my property manager that he had a better system.  It wasn't and basic, basic design errors were committed. It was now time to correct this and get back to where I was several years before.  At 4pm. I see the pool repair people draining the dirty pool water full of pool chemicals into the courtyard around 110-113 -when I thought I had corrected that, I saw they were subsequently draining it  on to other plants and into the parking lot instead of into the underground absorption pit we had created for that purpose. 

At the end of the day I looked at Sylias and realized that he had had  a bad day as well -the entire crotch of his pants was ripped apart!  I broke a few blood vessels but he nearly lost his family jewels. I don't know who had the worst day but both were lousy.

However, Wednesday was yet to come: I continued to try and track down a grocery cart for one of our residents.  We had made several attempts to find this and all leads ended up in dead ends. We again made use of our network and after three more places gave up. I later remembered a possible place in San Jose (I had become obsessed with finding this item-I wasn't going to accept defeat). Off I went to SJ. In the process of looking for the place that might have it, I cut a corner too close and dropped the tire into a pit.  I broke the sidewall but good.  Changing a tire on a busy San Jose street is not fun. The dinky spare tire was only partially inflated;  4 blocks and maneuvering over rough surfaces broke the rim seal on the dinky tire;  it had to be removed and re-inflated.   Fortunately, it did re-inflate and I returned to cook for my dinner guest.

Dinner: Our dinner guest was a young girl, the daughter of a guy who bought a building in Toronto from me. We subsequently became friends. His 28 year old daughter is here on  a medial exchange / training program. On the phone I asked if she had any dietary restrictions:  she said she was Jewish and observing Passover -so no bread, pasta, or pork. Not a problem. I pulled a large chunk of mahi mahi from the freezer to thaw. When I opened it to cook, it was tenderloin of pork!!!!  I laughed and recovered with some quickly defrosted fish. I took comfort in a full glass of wine and realized that this minor issue was simply a continuation of the previous two days.

Thursday I went to a ceramic tile factory to check out their product.  While it took an hour to drive there(Cartago), the time there should have taken only 15 min.  Four hours later I was still trying to get the simple information I wanted-how much of X do you have in inventory?  They didn't have much as the day before someone had purchased a large quantity of what I wanted.  On the way out of the site, I spotted some forgotten inventory -I inquired and 30 min. later was advised that they didn't want to sell it.  Upon leaving the plant, we had to return to the gate from which we entered. When backing up to avoid a front end loader, I dumped the wheel over a bridge-of course there was no guard rail or anything indicating were the edge was-this is CR. Opening the door, I gazed down to a 20' drop. The advantage of the 4 wheel drive now came into play-shifting to 4 wheel drive, low gear ratio -I powered out-no damage other than a notch on the bad experience logbook -which by now was getting pretty long.

Returning to the site Thursday afternoon, I discover that the City had shut us down tighter than the Pentagon on 9 / 11. They said the would give us an extension for two weeks -it wasn't clear what would happen after two weeks. We found out!!  A trip to the City offices with documents didn't loosen anything up. Our application is still stuck in SENTENA -we are advised by the expeditor that it has been reviewed by three of the five departments-no problems so far. However, they have technically another two weeks to turn it a round so we wait.  We've also stopped all renovation work on unit 107. I feel we've pushed far enough;  it's now time for patience. 

Whether there is any truth to the following or not, I don't know. We were told that there has been so much corruption in the City that NO discretionary latitude is being given. This is consistent with what I would guess to be the case -it helps explain some things- but that is the ball game we are in, so, we wait.

In the mean time, we've let 40 people go and are keeping around 10. I want to keep the key people so are going to have them work on deferred maintenance, materials organization, clean up, tool repair and maintenance. They will be under utilized but I'm hoping that within two weeks we'll have a clear view of the future.

Marketing: We have a deposit on the third unit in 106 and a verbal commitment on the 4th and last unit in 106. Now we tidy up the paperwork, and start the permit application process.

I'll also use this quieter time to advance some marketing initiatives. 

Some of the previous purchasers living on site, want to advance the closing. We are waiving the self imposed conditions such that that can happen.  The advantage to them is that their monthly rental fee reduces substantially to become a monthly common element fee. If they bought the unit for investment, then they can received the rental income which is a substantially better return than a CD in a bank. We have demonstrated that the project is viable and that it will be completed.  It's just a question now of building it out. We have commitments on 13 units and a probably on another unit. 

Website: I'm taking advantage in the work lull to update some website information. This includes adding the finished pictures and a description of the renovated units or rendering where in the case of 107, it is not yet done. Also added will be the renderings and floor plans of 106, and 121 / 122 / 123. There are a number of other minor changes that will be made as well.

OUR LIVES

I haven't again found the Argentinean  black angus tenderloin -hope it wasn't a one off.

It now appears that we will return to Canada on June 13 for several weeks and return. The construction will not yet be finished.

We had a delightful dinner at a resident's house the other night.  Wonderful curry and fish as well as great company. Other than that, I've spent some time in the hammock just trying to hold on from all the BS.

On Saturday, Lita organized a driver for two others and herself to go the Volcan Poaz, a waterfalls, and other things. The mountain and the volcano were clear of clouds so they had a great view.

Brian, Lita, Hugo and Vicka (the pigeon toed parrot).

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