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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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).