September 5-10, 2005 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #48
Contact phone numbers
New York 315-279-6711 // Toronto 416-907-5758
Cell 506-305-3965 // Land 506-282-4142 Ext. 101
NOTE: our land line in CR has changed;
we are now integrated into the compound network.
Pictures: (14 pictures in all) 114-116; 106;
117-120, and 121-123.
We were firing on all cylinders this week making
progress on all fronts..
We currently have 62 people on the payroll (about
$4,300 week) and that's where we expect to stay for
the near term.
114, 115, and 116: Windows are installed, walls ready
for painting, cana brava finished on front terraces,
valances finished and ready for painting and clay roof
tile mostly installed.. Unit 114 painting has started
as well as floor tiling. Kitchen cabinets are to be
delivered Monday ready for installation. Exterior
stucco is about half finished, soffit vents installed
and painted. Rainwater gutters are ready for
installation. "Substantially finished" schedule is:
114 is next Saturday and 116 and 115 on each
Unit 106: The collar tie re-bar is in place along
with the forms-ready for concrete. The steel perlins
to support the 2nd. floor are being installed. Rough
in electrical and water are in place and the floor
slab reinforcing mesh ground floor is also in place.
Front stair case has been confirmed that it will work
Units 121, 122, and 123: Footings for Unit 123 have
been poured; block walls have started. The warehouse
which stood in the way of unit 122 has been dismantled
and the contents relocated to dry storage. When
excavating for 122, we found a layer of clay. We had
to remove that and now find we have to backfill the
entire footprint with about 4' of gravel. Unit 121
gives access to the other two units; it will be the
last to be developed.
Units 117-120: The sub-roof is virtually finished on
all four houses. The grey work wall finishing is
continuing. Some of the "miracle finish" product I
wrote about several months ago, is falling off the
wall . . For some reason, it didn't bond
properly-whether we didn't apply it correctly or it is
a faulty / finicky product -I don't know. It has to
be removed and conventional cement and sand is being
applied. I don't think I will use it again.
Units 101 and 102: I have a floor plan I like. Too
much other stuff going on to worry about this right
now. In conversation with Lita the other night, I
remembered one think I had always wanted to build into
a house-a huge tropical fish tank as a wall divider.
I'm going to review the plans to see what I can do
about accommodating that..
Electrical upgrade: A month ago we committed to a
substantial electrical system upgrade which involves
the addition of a 167KVA transformer and new feeds
to each house. This is a $50,000 nut which I really
didn't want to incur but I have been unsuccessful at
getting our purchasers to give up ANY of their energy
guzzling "conveniences". I personally find this
discouraging but I've lost every persuasive
conversation (guess I'm not very persuasive). I
haven't joined their values but I have to build to my
market. This week we dug the trenches necessary to
run underground cable and buried 6" PVC pipe for
Marketing: We've had a number of referrals looking us
over this week gathering information for either
parents / friends or for themselves in the near
future. We had one young German couple lease the
newly complete Unit 107.
Telemarketing campaign: no progress. This continues
to be discouraging.
Caja: (CR state medical insurance). The employer
pays 26% of the legal wage rate for the job. The
employee pays 9% for a total for a total of 35%. I
don't think I would object so much IF the money
actually went for the state medical plan.
Unfortunately, it his been hijacked by the government
for other priorities and the state medical system is
left in shambles.
The employer has to also pay the 13th. Month
("arginaldo") or something like that which might be
considered "vacation pay". This payment is due
employees of 3+ months on a prorated basis based on
working for 12 months. It amounts to one month's
wages payable in December.
Employment Taxes: Total taxes amount to: INS:
4.6% -Caja-26% (+9% employee contribution) and
"arginaldo" 8.3% for a total of: 39% to 48%. If you
add in the mandatory holidays, it goes to something
like 51%. Personally, I have difficulty deducting 9%
from people who work so bloody hard.
I've said it before but I'm going to say it again:
the crew is absolutely fantastic-hard working,
wanting and willing to do good quality workmanship and
not cut corners and to go the "extra distance". E.g.
Our painters had to return to Nicaragua to attend to
their father who had had an accident. They were gone
for a week or so. When they returned, they are
working until 8pm. and the weekend to catch up / keep
up - I didn't ask them to-they asked me if it was all
right. Re. welding and other work, people ask if they
can work Sunday's while the weather is good-fine, no
problems. No one cleans up before 5 min. to quitting
time; no smoke breaks, when the rest period is over,
they all return to work without first going to the
bathroom. They are working late on Saturday and some
will be working tomorrow-they want the money and I
want the progress.
Things learned: the first time around, we did three
things which were not very efficient:
Installation of cana brava on the terraces,
installation of soffit vents, and leveling floors.
We've achieved marked efficiency on all three.
Cana Brava: By having regularly spaced nailers, we've
be able to pre-cut the cana brava; Soffit Vents: by
changing the design, we have significantly improved
the efficiency. (Note: by comparison, the practice
here is to create closed attic spaces thus creating
ovens-in N. Am. attics are insulated and vented.) In
our case, we have vaulted ceilings with cross
ventilation. We do not have an "attic" but we do have
a 4" space which, if sealed, could become "oven like".
To neutralize any transfer of heat in the 4" rafter
space, soffit vents at both ends of the roof are
created to allow air flow via convection currents.
Level floors; we poured smaller areas and got it
right the first time.
Things not yet learned: over the block walls goes a
leveling coat consisting of three applications, each
application serves a different purpose and has a
different consistency. The end result is a relatively
smooth wall ready for the application of a white
finishing compound (similar to drywall compound but
harder) which, when sanded, is then painted. For the
build up coats, we purchased a "miracle product".
Most all of it did not adhere very well and we are now
chipping it off and redoing it. Regardless of the
acrylic bonding agents recommended and used, the
process is still imperfect-at least for us.
Weather We've had little rain and the temperatures
have been great for working.
Strange bedfellows: Last Sunday we had a good tropical
storm-thunder, lightening, hard rain.... I don't know
where I was but Lita home with Vicka on one side of
her and Hugo on the other side. After a few strong
claps of thunder, they were nose to beak!!
Hugo: Under more normal circumstances he can be found
snoozing on either my lap or on my desk or one of any
number of other favorite places. At night, he goes to
the small pool and continues to relax from a stressful
day while I have a rum and cigar. He follows us
around the compound when we go visiting and oftentimes
can be found waiting outside when we leave.
The parrot: Lita and the parrot are now singing duets
and both are competing for the loudest
screeeeeech!!!!!!!!!! So far, it's pretty even. I
don't think the parrot is improving and Lita is
Mosquitoes: Dengue (yellow fever) is an issue in CR
during the rainy season. We spray regularly. The
company we used last year has not done a good job;
we've changed to another company who seems to take
more pride in their work. It's nice to be able to sit
at the pool or in the hammock without being bitten.
Lita was suppose to be getting another parrot but I
haven't heard anything on that recently. I'm not
going to ask for fear of encouragement. She's still
going to the gym most of the time. She lost her stride
(for reasons which men will never understand) bit but
hopefully will return. She had some disappointments
with "unreliable taxi drivers and friends from the guy
who said they would drop by but didn't. She hasn't
learned that Ticos (Costa Rican's) are, for the most
part, unreliable-it's part of their culture. She
takes failure of follow thru, personally. She
continues t loose a bit of weight but it's hard work.
The boat: supposedly it's sold. When I see the money
I'll know for sure. This has been hard on Lita but we
have to move on to our new life and remember the
previous life (after all, I did all the work on the
boat and just ran out of energy and money and desire
Friends: Our friend Steve returned from Canada and he
and his Tica wife spent Friday night with us before
moving on to their home near the Panamanian border
west side. He's been a great help looking after the
sale of the boat. He brought with him 7 recessed
toilet paper holders (not available here) and my
partner will be bringing 9 more. We're still short so
if anyone is coming you know what to bring.
Canuk: his skin is definitely better and Lita is
looking after the tick issue as well as she can. He's
is still old and will have to be retired at some
Brian, Lita, Hugo and irreverent Vicka, the pigeon