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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

September 5-10, 2005 // CONSTRUCTION LOG #48

Contact phone numbers

Internet Phone:
New York 315-279-6711 // Toronto 416-907-5758

Costa Rica:
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.

CONSTRUCTION

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 subsequent Saturday.

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 as designed.

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 conduits.

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.

Employment Taxes

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.

Comment (1)

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.

Comment (2)

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.

OUR LIVES

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 retrogressing....

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 for both).

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 point.

Brian, Lita, Hugo and irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot.

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Units 114-115-116

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Unit 106

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Units 121-122-123

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Units 117-120

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Electrical Upgrade

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