Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2004 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #8
Again there are a few new people who have been added to this
series of progress reports detailing more than most people
ever wanted to know about construction and were smart enough
not to ask. There are probably a few readers who are interested
in construction, who may have a dream about building there
own house here, or are interested in comparing the process
here to what they know elsewhere -and it is for those that
the boring aspects of description and process are included.
To get of the exclusive mailing list, one only needs to say
"no mas, por favor!!!!!!!." And for those who already
know they are not interested in construction, the parrot and
Lita are still center stage under "Our Lives" -
Work continued on forming and pouring the columns and the
collar ties. This includes forming the arches for the windows
and main door. In addition, the foundation walls below grade
were waterproofed and backfilled with compacted "lastre".
Rough-in electrical continued and rough-in plumbing and rain
water distribution were started.
The front gate and wall also proceeded. Both the main car
gate and the person gate were installed and is now fully operational.
Concrete pads were poured on either side of the gate threshold
and an automatic sensor to open the gate was installed on
the inside. The parking area on the inside was formed and
is fully usable. Three more columns were formed and block
between them were added. The chain link fence on the west
side which is now redundant since the neighbor built a block
wall is being recycled to the front wall. It will provide
the security and act as a trellis for vines which will be
Old houses // Renovation
Renovation work proceeded on unit 105. All structural work
is now completed; the roof was redesigned, the terrace incorporated
into the living area, a new area for a living room and covered
terrace at the back was added. New plumbing was roughed-in
and new windows formed. The bathroom and closets were redesigned.
Rough-in electrical, roof insulating and boarding as well
as taping will proceed next week. I expect to be near the
painting stage by the end of next week.
On Thursday we experienced an unexpected and unwelcomed
surprise. The City of Santa Ana advised us that the permitting
we had obtained last November had expired and that we had
to reapply. This was a surprise. We didn't know it was "time
bound". They have ordered that no more block be laid,
concrete poured or steel installed until such time as we have
a new permit. We are now assembling our paper work, drawings,
etc. and trying to get the new rules identified. We have heard
varying lengths of time involved -anywhere from 45 days to
6 months. This is a big "Ouch" but we were not able
to negotiate much leeway and it didn't seem to matter that
we had put in the public road and rainwater culvert at our
own expense, or that some 50 families in the area were going
to go without rice and beans just before Christmas, etc. (see
below on a possible explanation for this attitude on behalf
of the City) At most, we believe we have negotiated the ability
to continue to do work other than block, steel and concrete.
That would include backfilling the footings, drainage, and
rough -in plumbing and electrical. As of now, I plan on continuing
to make the rebar re-enforcing frames used in the collar ties
and to perhaps make up the steel joists which will be used
when we are able to proceed. In light of the City's bombshell,
we reduced the crew to around 25. This was really difficult
and on payday (Friday) really hurt to see men with families
pick up what is likely to be their last pay before Christmas
and perhaps beyond. Men who had worked so hard and had been
so reliable and good natured. Lita gave some of her roasted
peanuts and garlic and made them some ice tea. It still hurt
and hurt a lot.
It also appears that they have lowered the size of the structure
that do not require permits from 70 meters to 40 meters. This
means that the proposed renovations of the older units will
also have to be permitted but we believe this process to be
much less complex than the new construction.
Work on the front wall is unaffected by this as this permit
was obtained in October of this year. We re-deployed some
people to work on this.
In years past, it is unlikely that this would have occurred.
For example, our neighbor has been building for about 18 months
and has now completed 8-3,000 sf houses and two 10 unit apartment
buildings with no permits. I think that what is happening
in the larger scheme of things is that with so many ex-presidents
and political cronies going to jail for graft and corruption,
that this is filtering down and everyone is now really doing
the job they should have been doing all along. We heard that
three people in the City of Cartago -a major city and former
capital of CR- were fired on Thursday or Friday. I am told
by our accountant and translator in this case, that there
were allusions made to this in the conversation with the Chief
Engineer. We'll just have to work our way through it. I don't
know if we are being held to a higher standard because we
are foreigners or not and there is no way of telling. At this
point in time, I'm going to believe they are just doing their
job like they've never done it before but perhaps should have
On Sunday we hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner for residents
and guests. We had 31 people who enjoyed a 19 lb. turkey.
We had more people attend than we expected but it wouldn't
have made any difference re. the size of the turkey I bought
since there was only one. The bar-b-q did a perfect job on
the bird, golden grown, done on time, stuffing and gravy were
fantastic. The side dishes were equally great. N. Am. tradition
was maintained. We had a wonderful day with 28º C / 80º
degree weather, still and partly cloudy.
At the marina this past summer one of our friends purchased
a "fart" machine at a joke store. We had a lot of
fun with it there. Lita thought she would like the same here
for parties-she has a weird sense of humor. We found one and
she used it to embarrass and harass a number of her favorite
targets. She had such great fun but she forgot to eat the
turkey which was all gone by the time she exhausted the battery.
That evening I was able to scrounge enough scrapings off the
carcass for her but that and turkey soup was all we got.
The parrot (?): On Thursday night I noticed that the
refrigerator wasn't working. I was tired and really not in
the mood to deal with this after the City's visit. Friday
morning it had not fixed itself (of course). I investigated
and found that the extension cord had been severed. Lita will
not admit to pulling the refrigerator out (even though I sure
that a forensic investigation wouldn't support that claim)
and now blames the parrot. While I'm not buying this line
at all, it does give me an idea how I can fry the little bugger
(and remain innocent).
I guess the "nip" has gone from the catnip; Hugo
hasn't been stoned this week.
One of the three new malls has just opened and another is
not far from it. The third mall is just getting started. All
work stopped in September on the largest mall in CR just a
kilometer from us -I thought it might be because of the weather
since they were doing civil work during what is normally the
rainiest month of the year... However, work has not restarted.
Perhaps someone thought there might be enough malls here and
they didn't need to build a bigger one (500,000 sf) 3 kilometers
from the MultiPlaza (an existing new and huge mall) and when
four other smaller malls were already underway. Time will
tell. (Or maybe their permitting expired as well.)
The trade winds have started and are in full force -day and
night. The weather has been around 23º C or 76º
F during the day and we have had no rain.
We just signed up a former tenant who needs a place for a
month beginning the 19th. We know them and Lita is friends
with the lady so she's now got another person to play with.
This works for us as we will be renovating that unit.
Brian Timmons, with Lita, Hugo and Vicka...