Dec. 6-11, 2004 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #9
Comment: For those not familiar with CR, the norm
here is to hide everything behind a front wall. The front
wall is designed for security and to make a statement. It
seems that each wall is different in design; I doubt that
there are any two alike. There are building standards set
by the Municipalities. For example, if a wall is to be built
on the property line with no set back from the sidewalk, it
must not be a solid wall above a meter. My neighbour to the
west wanted a solid wall; his wall is setback approximately
two meters from the sidewalk. In order for us to make best
use of the space we had, we felt we needed that space so opted
for a design which would allow us to build to the property
line. Here it is the property owner's responsibility to put
in the sidewalk and street curb; most do not. The result is
a rag tag series of non-standard sidewalks and curbs which
are discontinuous and lead nowhere. In order to provide some
consistency with my neighbour, our sidewalks and curbs do
align and even though our wall designs differ, I expect to
use the same color stucco on the columns as he has used on
his solid block wall. This will provide some consistency.
Normally, a development begins with an elaborate front wall
with ornate gate. Sometimes it stops there; sometimes it advances
to conclusion. The front of our property had long been an
area ignored.; I opted to leave this until the last., As such,
the street presentation was pretty lousy. It became even worse
by contrast after we paved the road. Several weeks ago we
turned our attention to this and when we were closed down
on the main construction, I reallocated much of the workforce
to the front. As a result, work has progressed fairly rapidly
on the front wall, sidewalk, curb, and gating but we probably
have at least another week's work to complete the front area
including the garbage and garden waste containment areas.
The wall design consists of a number of poured-in-place reinforced
concrete columns approximately 10 ft apart, connected by a
30" high block wall above which there is a chain link
fence. The columns will have some decorative architectural
features, exterior lighting, and will be covered with stucco.
The chain link fence was recycled from a 2yr old fence we
had put in along the west side of the property; it was now
redundant since our neighbour put in a solid block wall,.
Rapid growing vines will be planted on the back side of the
wall and trained onto the chain link portion of the fence.
This will provide a "living" wall of flowers and
greenery and a visual blockage as well once the vines have
filled in. We have a number of vines to choose from each having
different characteristics and different colored flowers-blue,
pink, red and orange and I'm sure there are more if I keep
looking. The one foot wide green area between the curb and
the sidewalk, will be landscaped with Christmas palms and
perhaps some low growing flowering something. The intended
palm trees grow to about 12' high and generally require little
The west vehicle and pedestrian gates are now installed and
functioning. A couple little problems need to be fixed and
both gates need a final painting. Some gates here are very
ornate and stunningly beautiful. Ours is not in keeping with
my substance vs. sizzle. (An east vehicle gate is under construction
now.) Gate building is a more elaborate process than I had
expected. The complexity really has to do with the controls-key
pads for codes, remote sensors for entering and exiting, for
objects in the way, communications with the houses and gate
control from the houses, pedestrian and vehicular gates all
lead to a lot of wiring and controls. Unfortunately the intercom
system we bought here is not very good. We're still trying
to work with it but as of now it continues to represent a
challenge. (In a country where water proofing is essential,
it is largely lacking here and represents a weak link in many
Power outages and Gates
When done, a final addition to the electrical system for
the gate will be installed-a UPS (uninterruptible power supply).
I brought an inverter and sophisticated battery charger for
it from Canada; I'll buy the deep cycle marine batteries here.
This will allow the gating system to continue to work during
Garbage and Garden Waste
These two items are usually afterthoughts here and are not
handled well. Garbage is usually either bagged and thrown
onto the street on collection day or is placed in an open
but raised steel in open sight of the street for pick up.
In either case, it is unsightly. Some people have enclosed
containers which are emptied by the City collectors. Our neighbour
to the west has built what I expect to be a far to small container
for his development; I fully expect it to overflow on a regular
basis; if my expectations are right, I'll have to talk with
him. Garden refuse, is usually burned on site; we have done
this up to now but have run out of space and do not want to
smoke out anyone. Some garden waste will be shipped off site;
but it needs a holding place until it accumulates. I bought
a portable chipper/hogger in Canada for mulching as much of
the garden waste as we can. This will be composted and recycled
into the garden. It, too, needs a holding place to decompose.
Renovation of 105
This has progressed. The one bedroom + den and covered terrace
is now 920sf. I believe, it will become a very desirable unit.
One person has expressed interest in buying it and another
in leasing it. I'm anxiously awaiting it's completion. The
roof has been restructured and is ready for tile, walls enclosed
inside and out, rough in wiring and plumbing are installed.
Windows are ordered as is the kitchen, closet and vanity.
Drywall boarding is virtually finished and 50% taped; the
rough coat of exterior stucco is largely done. Valence lighting
is yet to be framed. By next week, this unit should be virtually
finished except for the installation of cabinetry. cabinetry
won't arrive until just before Christmas. The cabinetry is
beautiful-the same kitchen and vanity as in the new full featured,
more expensive homes and some equally nice closet arrangements.
Renovation of 103
Work started on this unit Friday. The planned changes will
be less radical and invasive than in 105. This is a more surgical
effort and hopefully we can minimize the collateral damage
to what is essentially a great unit. Unit 103 mainly suffers
from having too small a living/dining room area and a poor
roof structure. In addition, some architectural detailing
needs to be added to make it more consistent and appealing.
We will be adding a 150 sf. living room.
We have continued to rough-in the electrical, plumbing, and
rain water drainage systems and to backfill the footings and
interior substrates. We have another week's work on this and
then we will run out of work until we can advance on the rest.
Re-application for permits
All preliminary documents were submitted Friday to
the engineering and architectural association. They see that
the drawings are complete, that the architect is licensed
and has a contract and has charged the legislated rate (I
don't think anyone really pays it but that is what shows on
the contract) and I don't know what else they do.
The City inspectors have not been back.
Comment: At this time of the year, people seem much
more active; the roads a full of cars; the streets are full
of people, the bars and pool tables are busy... In December,
employees receive a 13th month pay so there is lots of money
floating around and people are happy and the firecrackers
continue to explode.
Hugo: caught a mouse-his first and only one in CR
-it was a whopping 1" long body with a 3" tail-wow!!!!!!!
What a monster. He was proud and now seems to be energized
for more hunting. He was actively playing it in the bedroom
and threw it up onto my neck. I arose fast!!!!!! I later had
visions of having been on my back, mouth open and snoring
-he could well have made a basket.
We think he got another one last night and has lost it in
the house. Time will tell.
The parrot: she's been her normal -squawky, self centered,
mean, and nasty. She bit the phone cable in two. This continues
to think she will fry herself on an extension cord. I can
Instead of eating out this week, we have enjoyed a whole
grilled red snapper and Lita made some wonderful stuffed peppers.
The annual carnival is in town -it's mainly for little kids
but everyone seems to go. They have some good food, music
and everyone seems to have fun.
Friends: one of our marina friends who now lives in
CR, returned from 2weeks in Canada. He brought our mail, return
Lita's still non-operational karaoke machine. We had a nice
visit before he left for his home and family in SW Costa Rica.
We will see him on a continuous basis as he commutes back
and forth to Canada. I tried having the circuit board repaired
but it didn't work. It appears we will have to buy another
machine; this time, one which is more robust.
Friends of friends (who will become our friends) arrived
with their 8yr. Old son to begin a 4 mo. Stay. They are staying
at a place near ours and are beginning to find their way around.
We'll help them beginning with the local farmers market tomorrow
and then a bar-b-q in the afternoon at the pool.
The former owner of the property, Don Paul, returned to Costa
Rica and paid us a visit. He is looking forward to starting
up his life here again -doing what I'm not sure but... Don
always has a happy disposition and it's always a joy to see
Weather: a beautiful 23ºC / 75ºF with partly
cloudy skies and usually gentle wind.
Brian and Lita, with Hugo and Vicka