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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

Jan. 10-15, 2005 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #14


Synopsis: Last week I wrote: This was an incredibly hectic, chaotic, frustrating and yet rewarding week. I hope not to go through another one like it but think that is wishful thinking. It WAS wishful thinking and it didn't happen.

Refuse Containment areas

The clay tile (teja) were installed for the roof, flashing installed, the wrought iron was painted and "antiqued" and a few other misc. minor details were finished up. The electrical service is now smack in the middle of the garden refuse area and when when get the slow moving ICE electrical company to change the meter the current meter will be moved. It is now down with the singular exception of painting the interior concrete to seal it such that it can be more easily cleaned.

Front Bodega

The "teja" is installed and the exterior of the building is boarded with Densglass. Next week it will be stuccoed. The rough-in wiring is also installed.

Garden Compost Area

Partitions for three "decomposer" areas were finished along with one f to house the chipper/mulcher. The front gate boards will be retrieved from the wood now required for forms. We will begin to use this and learn our way through it.

New Construction

We have continued to parge the interior and exterior walls. We have quite a ways yet to go before we finish this stage.

Unit 103: Significant changes were made: The exterior was stuccoed and trim painted. The roof tile were installed. The installation of the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry is nearly completed. The finish coat of paint will be applied today (Sunday) and the beginnings of the clean up started. We have to have it finished, cleaned, and furnished ready for occupancy by Tuesday.

This stage always involves lots of last minute decisions, sourcing items which can take for ever to find and get. Lots of running around and coordination of all the trades and the materials they need. It is really no more work and is, in my experience, much easier to built 10 new houses than to do one renovation. In addition to completing the construction, we've also been shopping for the furnishings. While we have a few things, we will have to add many items. This is not an area that I'm particularly good at and have not been pleased with what's been done previously so I'm trying to improve on this. Curtains have been ordered, beds identified for delivery on Tuesday, pictures, etc. Monday and Tuesday will be fill in days and we are still missing many things.

Unit 104: This is our next victim. The roof was ripped off on Monday and by Tuesday the welders had started to rebuild it. Rebuilding involves a new roof line, and extended front porch, a new terrace off the back, and a new second bathroom. The concrete for these are poured, rough-in plumbing done, and the roof is about 75% completed. Drywall boarding has started.

Comment: It appears to me that work on this unit is progressing faster than on the previous two. I think all involved have now learned much from the previous two and it is showing up.

Unit 108: I now have a conceptual diagram of what it will be but I've created a bit of a diplomatic mess for myself by bruising an ego. This is a two storey unit and the solutions we have been applying to the previous three renovations won't work. I had some criteria of what to build and some ideas of the placement of the stairs but couldn't take it much beyond this. The first proposal from the architect wasn't very inspiring and left me in the same place. In a casual conversation with another person (also an architect) he asked to make a proposal. He did and it dealt with the issues I hadn't figured out. I have refined it since to the point now where I think we have a fantastic design. Unfortunately, this has bruised the ego and has damaged the working relationship with the first architect.

Comment: It remains to be seen what the working relationship will be. I'll try to rebuild it but it will require him to look at why it happened-slow turn around, missed commitments, constant calling and nagging, missing information (on a number of things I've been virtually flying by the seat of my pants with only on-site decisions -eg. Only a conceptual floor plan for the front bodega and no cross sections, and some hasty responses to some specific needs. Perhaps he's busy with other clients and there is a new future with them as the creative architectural work decreases on this project. I don't know but so far he's too upset to discuss it. (Note: Tico's don't like confrontation and problem solving -this is a cultural difference between life here and in N. Am.) I'll give credit where credit is due and I have no plans on replacing him as the architect of record on the project and I'll continue to recommend / refer him. But I have my own schedule. I have some fence mending and relationship building to do. It will take two. The future of this outcome is uncertain.


The renovated units seem to be speaking loudly and clearly for themselves. Even though the renovated units are not as full featured nor as large or well built as the new units, they have individuality, private terraces, back yards and are detached. Unit 105 is spoken for as is Unit 104. I've agreed in principle to sell Unit 108 to people who have followed this project from the beginning. They believe they have others who may be interested in Unit 107. We have a current tenant who may be interested in this unit as well. Although it is way too early for me to consider any commitment or accepting any offers, I will commit to a price range and work with the interested parties. I will build and complete first before completing a deal-I don't want to loose money and I don't want a dissatisfied customer. I feel that if I build what he wants and it is consistent with what I feel I can sell, then if he wants it at the price I can build it for, fine; If not I'll have a product available for someone else. In addition, I have people arriving on the property Tuesday who are looking us over (although they are considering a number of options. Another person expects to return with friends in late February/early March; both are looking for a second home; they will be giving us a closer inspection.

Our Lives

The Parrot: she took a chunk out of Lita and a teenage daughter of friends of ours. Who knows why-perhaps she was frightened, perhaps she was jealous-all survived but if it had been me, it's quite possible one of us wouldn't have. Lita says Hugo has now had enough and is now "pissing" under her cage -I don't know if this is true but I think it's great!!!!!!

Lita has been taking some Spanish lessons. She goes on Mondays and Thursdays with Keith and Terry. She enjoys it but don't know how long she will keep at it. It is difficult for her in class; she can't see so feels a bit awkward and she misses things. I believe the teacher has been told that she is blind and both Keith and Terry look out for her.

Last Sunday we were invited to a home located on a mountain overlooking the Central Valley. After an hour's drive with no wrong turns (I was given a wonderful and accurate hand drawn map), and after attaching a respirator to avoid altitude sickness, Keith, Terry Lita and I arrived at an "Alpine" village. Had we not been in the clouds (which I think are there most of the time) and had it been warmer - I actually wondered about snow-we got only a glimpse of the view. After a harrowing drive down the hill at night-Terry-who volunteered to drive and probably the last time I'll enjoy that comfort-and I were ready for a drink

Our Quebec friends returned last Sunday morning and the bed was re -warmed Monday night with another friend returning from Canada. On Tuesday our electrician friend Phil arrived -spent a couple nights with us and then off to the Caribbean side and is expected to return today. He leaves on Tuesday and my sister arrives on Wednesday. On Tuesday friends and friends of theirs arrive for several days -thus the rush to complete 103.

Terry hosted a dinner party for his visiting sister on Tuesday. It was Terry at his usual best. The four of us plus Keith had a rousing evening of pool on Thursday. I was in "stress relief" mode so don't remember much about it other than it was a great time.

I'm in the process of buying a replacement car. My current Hyundai sedan is fine -runs great. I just want an automatic and in addition, I would like a car that I feel a bit safer in given some of the idiot drivers I've seen here. A used Jeep was offered and accepted.

My Canadian electrician will be working with me for the next two days. He returns on Tuesday and four others arrive. My sister arrives on Wednesday. It will be another busy week.

Brian, Lita, Hugo and Vicka.

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