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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

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" - which follows:

Construction

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 planted.

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.

Unwelcomed surprise

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.

Comment

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 been.

Our lives

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...

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