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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

Dec. 6-11, 2004 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #9

Construction

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 maintenance.

Gates

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 areas.)

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 power outages.

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.

New Construction

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.

Our lives

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 hardly wait!!!!!!!

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 him.

Weather: a beautiful 23ºC / 75ºF with partly cloudy skies and usually gentle wind.

Brian and Lita, with Hugo and Vicka

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