Building Our House – Week 23

Our house is coming along nicely!  Both Eddie and I are very pleased with the progress and the quality of the work.  These past two weeks the guys have been working on leveling the interior floors and the pool deck, sanding the tablilla (wood paneling for the ceiling and under the outer roof), fixing the front entrance, and finishing up the windows and doors.  The electrician’s crew have been doing more electrical work.  The cabinetmaker who is going to make the kitchen cabinets, all the interior doors, front and side doors came by to measure the openings, and the window company stopped by to take their measurements as well.  In addition, we have another cabinetmaker who will make the closet doors, bathroom cabinets, staircase railings and furniture for us.  So, there has been a lot of activity at the house.

The floor in the spare bedroom is being leveled

The floor in the spare bedroom is being leveled

The wood for the ceilings is being sanded.

The wood for the ceilings is being sanded.

We had a portion of this half wall knocked out to improve the front entrance.

We had a portion of this half wall knocked out to improve the front entrance.

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The wall for the kitchen bar counter was built

The wall for the kitchen bar counter was built

The electrician is installing the electrical box for the pendant lights that will hang from the big wooden shelf over the bar.

The electrician is installing the electrical box for the pendant lights that will hang from the big wooden shelf over the bar.

Eddie talking with cabinetmakers Caesar and Don Diego about some projects.

Eddie talking with cabinetmakers Caesar and Don Diego about some projects.

A few weeks ago, our friends Tia and Mary Carmen were visiting and  Tia suggested that we visit Eugenio’s wood workshop in Playa Hermosa, which isn’t far from Jacó.  The drive is about an hour and 15 minutes.  Last year, Tia bought all sorts of gorgeous wood for tables, bases for tables, pieces for the wall and had it shipped to her home in Florida.  She thought we might find a few things at Eugenio’s for our house and she was right!  Tia and Mary Carmen, who is a former interior designer gave us some wonderful ideas.  We had a fun day looking at the wood pieces at Eugenio’s “shop.”

Mary Carmen and Tia looking at some of the wood pieces at Eugenio's Woodworking.

Mary Carmen and Tia looking at some of the wood pieces at Eugenio’s Woodworking.

Ellen spotted a piece of Cristobal for a possible wall decoration.

Ellen spotted a piece of Cristobal for a possible wall decoration.

Last week, Eddie and I returned to Eugenio’s.  His son Andres who speaks English and runs the shop for his father found a nice piece of wood for the shelf needed to hang the pendant lights over the bar in the kitchen.  He also found a slab of wood that will work for one of the bathroom counters (the sink will sit on top of it).  And, we bought the gorgeous piece of wood (cross section of the base of a 500 year old tree) that Tia and Mary Carmen suggested we hang on our big living room wall above the shelf.  It took a few days to sand and varnish the wood, so we had to make another trip to pick it up.

Another section of Eugenio's wood shop.

Another section of Eugenio’s wood shop.

Andres putting the final touches on the bathroom counter top.

Andres putting the final touches on the bathroom counter top.

This slab of Cenizero is ready for the bathroom counter.

This slab of Cenizero is ready for the bathroom counter.

This slab will be the shelf above the kitchen bar (also from the same tree as the bathroom counter top).

This slab will be the shelf above the kitchen bar (also from the same tree as the bathroom counter top).

This is the cross section of the Cristobal tree which weighs about 200 lbs.

This is the cross section of the Cristobal tree which weighs about 200 lbs.

We successfully loaded everything into the truck.

We successfully loaded everything into the truck.

In addition, we have been shopping for tile for all of our bathrooms – for the floors, walls and showers.  We spent hours in a store in Santa Ana (near San Jose) picking everything out.  It wasn’t an easy task to pick out colors and style for everything at once.  We wished that Tia and Mary Carmen could have been with us to help.  The house isn’t ready for the tile just yet, so it will be delivered beginning of December.  It all added up to 4 tons!

Ellen in front of the tile we are using in the master suite bathroom.

Ellen in front of the tile we are using in the master suite bathroom.

The tile showroom in Santa Ana where we found the tile for the bathrooms.

The tile showroom in Santa Ana where we found the tile for the bathrooms.

While in Santa Ana, we stopped at a place called Cerámica Las Palomas that our friend Chris told us about.  We bought a painted sink there for the half bath.  The one on display in the shop was too big, so a smaller one is being custom made for us.  It should be ready in a few weeks.

We liked this sink for the half bath.

We liked this sink for the half bath.

We are standing at the edge of the pool deck thinking about what it will be like when the house is all done.

We are standing at the edge of the pool deck thinking about what it will be like when the house is all done.

Our Container Arrived!

Early last week, we received word that our container was released from Costa Rica Customs and was ready for delivery.  This was very exciting news!  It took just a little over three weeks for us to receive the container.  Since our house isn’t finished yet, we arranged to have our things stored in the bodega (storage area) of a small moving company in San Isidro de General, which is about a 50 minute drive from where we live.  That way, we would have easy access to our things.

On Wednesday morning, we drove to the office of the moving company and as we drove down the street, we could see the semi-truck transporting our container parked on one side of the street.  It looked like it fared the ocean journey well.

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It was pretty amazing to see the truck driver maneuver his big rig into the very small parking area where it needed to be for unloading.  At one point, the cab looked like it was at a right angle, touching the container.  The driver managed to do it on the third try.

The first attempt to make the turn into the facility.

The first attempt to make the turn into the facility.

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The moving facility is much smaller that we anticipated and there is no loading dock.  There are a few small offices, a worker break room and then an open storage area.  The middle of the storage area was designated for our things.  Wooden pallets had been placed on the floor.  Right from the beginning, I knew the area that had been designated for us was going to be too small.  Our 40 foot container was between 75 to 80% full.  Fortunately, we didn’t bring much furniture with us – mostly boxes of household goods, kitchen items, electronics and books, but the appliances took up quite a bit of room.

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The guys had to shuffle some other peoples things around to make room for our stuff…and still there wasn’t enough room.  So, we ended up having to bring some things to our rental house.  We mostly brought items that we’ll need for the house in the next few weeks like the toilets and ceiling fans.  Of course, we had to pay to have those things brought to us as our truck wasn’t big enough.

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This is the stuff that we had delivered to our rental house.

The manager of the moving company and I were in charge of checking off the boxes (all numbered), tools, appliances, furniture, etc… as they were being unloaded from the truck into the bodega.  Eddie helped with placement of our things in the bodega.  The guys unloading the truck didn’t seem very experienced in stacking and needed direction.  They were hard workers, though.

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In situations like this, I become rather bossy.  These guys took it all in stride, perhaps because they didn’t speak much English.  The driver of the truck spoke English very well and I could tell that he was glad that he could just sit and watch!  The manager of the moving company spoke English, too.  He kept reassuring me that my things would be fine in the open storage area.  There are cameras monitoring the area at all times and everything is locked up at night.

Good news!  All of our things arrived, though we did have a few casualties.  The bases of two floor lamps fell out during the trip and a table lost the feet off of its legs.  Eddie can repair everything, so no worries there.  I won’t know about all the glassware and other breakables until we unpack the boxes, which probably won’t be until end of January or early February.  They still have to survive more handling – loading into a smaller truck that can make it up our hill.  Stay tuned!

We stopped for a late lunch at a favorite restaurant on the way back.

We stopped for a late lunch at a favorite restaurant on the way back.

Magnificent view overlooking San Isidro from Ricar2 (Ricar-dos) restaurant.

Magnificent view overlooking San Isidro from Ricar2 (Ricar-dos) restaurant.

Building our House – Week 21

After quite a few weeks of applying repello (concrete) to the walls, they are just about finished now.  The walls have been filled out and made straight and all the door and window openings have been squared up and adjusted to their final sizes.  A thin final finish coat is now being put on to fill in any imperfections and the walls are really looking beautiful.

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Walls and windows in the living area are finished.

Walls and windows in the living area are finished.

This is the kitchen window with the wooden guides still in place.

This is the kitchen window with the wooden guides still in place.

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These walls have been the final finish coating.

This wall section has had the final finish coating applied.

This is the tongue & groove cedro tablilla that will be installed on the ceilings.

This is the tongue & groove cedro tablilla that will be installed on the ceilings.

As with any construction project, we have had to make some adjustments or changes on the fly.  Looking at two dimensional plans or even 3D models on a computer is never as good as seeing the actual bricks and mortar.  So, invariably there are things that you discover during the construction process that either just don’t work or could be improved upon.  For example, in the kitchen, there will be a section of bar-height counter top and the plans call for three pendant lights to be hung over the counter.  However, as things came together, I realized that the ceiling in the kitchen does not extend over the counter.  That means that the pendant lights would have to be hung from the upper ceiling which is over 20 feet high.  This is not what I had visualized and I don’t think small pendant lights hanging from that high would look very good.

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The solution we came up with is to install a large shelf on the wall above the bar counter which will extend out about 16 inches from the wall.  We will then hang the pendant lights from the underside of the shelf and they will be positioned correctly above the counter top.  I have made notations on the photos here to try to explain the situation.

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Also, when Ellen came back from the States and saw the progress on the house after being gone for 2 months, she noticed another situation which we are going to change.  Entry into the front of the house, as drawn on the plans, requires walking through the carport.  While this may be fine for us, it is a little odd for guests coming into the house.  See the photograph below.

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So, in order to create a more inviting entrance to the house, we decided to remove a section of the half wall at the entrance walkway so that there will be a direct path from the driveway to the front door (without having to go through the carport).  This is a definite improvement to the design.

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We never get tired of looking at our view.  Here is the view from the upstairs guest suite.

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