Building our House – Week 11

So, what’s really handy to have in a 2-story house?  Stairs, of course, and now we have them.  Yeah!  Both stairways were completed, as were the stairs into the pool.

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As the guys were working on the steps into the pool, I thought to myself… why not incorporate a bench seat so there’s a nice place to sit in the pool while sipping your favorite libation?  So, after a quick conversation with the mason, a few hand signals and a couple of measurements, the above photo shows what resulted just a short time later.  That is just one small example of the benefit of being there on site – everyday.  It’s the only way to be sure that what gets built is done the way you want it.  Sometimes it may be a detail that’s not on the plans and so needs to be clarified.  Other times, as with the bench in the pool, being there gives you the opportunity to make changes (hopefully small ones) that increase your overall satisfaction and enjoyment of the end product.  Seeing things for real often adds perspective that you just don’t have when looking at a plan on paper.

Work continued on the walls of the second floor…putting in the Panacor panels and cutting in the windows.

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The process of going from a roughed in concrete block wall or Panacor panel to a finished wall surface involves several steps… applying (by spray) and smoothing out several layers of concrete (aka shotcrete or plaster).  On the block walls of the first floor, several of the guys were working to apply finishing guides to the walls.  These guides represent the correct thickness of concrete needed to insure that after the initial layer is applied, the walls are straight and plumb.  First small squares are affixed to multiple points on the wall using a plumb line.  Then these points are connected with a raised line of mortar to form a vertical line.  When the concrete is sprayed on, the guides will make is easy for them to finish the entire wall surface so it is flat and plumb.

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Much time was spent on the framing of the lower roof which covers the front entry, the carport and the terrace by the pool.  After some head scratching and working with the roof plan on the computer to determine some key measurements, the framing was mostly completed and is looking very nice.

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The electricians were on site for most of the week working to complete the network of conduit lines running all around the house.  The photograph below shows the main electrical panel.

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Here you can see the conduit for the electric lines to be located in some of the cabinetry of the kitchen

Here you can see the conduit for the electric lines to be located in some of the cabinetry of the kitchen

Also, the concrete floor of the carport was poured as seen in the overhead shot below.

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Overall view of the house at the end of week 11.

Overall view of the house at the end of week 11.

Building our House – Week 9

Onward and upward…work has started on the structure of the second floor.  Rather than using concrete block as for the first floor, the second floor walls will be constructed using a steel frame and Styrofoam panels, which are subsequently sprayed with a concrete layer.  The final result will look the same as the concrete block, but is quite a bit lighter weight and does provide some insulating qualities.  The photographs below shows the steel framing being erected on the left side of the house.

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Below is a photograph of the Styrofoam panels known as Panacor.  As you can imagine, building with these panels is much quicker than with traditional concrete block.  Installing electrical and plumbing lines inside these walls is simply a matter of cutting a channel in the foam and fishing the conduit or tubing behind the wire mesh before the concrete is sprayed on.

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The pool equipment room walls were built with concrete block and a concrete roof was poured.  I think the pool pump and filter could withstand a nuclear holocaust in there.

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Over on the right side of the house, the crown beam and floor have been formed and is just about ready for concrete.  A ramp was built for the guys to bring concrete up in wheel barrows.

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This is the temporary support framing under the second floor above the kitchen area.

This is the temporary support framing under the second floor above the kitchen area.

This coming week should be interesting as the second floor walls start to take shape with the Panelcor panels being installed.

 

Building our House – Week 6

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Overcast skies were predominant during this week.

There was a little more rain this week, which made the building site a bit muddy, but it didn’t slow down the workers too much.  These photos were taken today (Saturday), so none of the construction crew was there.  They normally work 6am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, and have the weekends to recuperate.

View of Manuel Antonio

View of Manuel Antonio

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Work continued this week on forming the structural columns in the walls.  Re-bar cages which reinforce the crown beams have been placed at the top of the walls.  Next week the forms will be constructed which will shape the crown beams.

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In addition, the swimming pool is taking shape.  The re-bar of the pool floor and walls was bent and put in place.

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This is looking into the entryway of the house from the carport. On the other side of the half wall on the left, we will have a nice landscaped/garden area.

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We found this little guy on one of the railing posts around our pool at our rental house.  It was finally determined that it is a Boa.  He hides underneath a wooden plank on which we put bananas for the birds.  Not sure if he is thinking about his next meal…

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Building our House – Week 5

We are at the end of the fifth week of building and progress continued to be strong.  Most all of the block for the first floor walls has been set.  Some of the plumbing waste lines and electrical boxes have been roughed in.  Forming and pouring of the structural concrete columns within the walls is underway.  The house is really taking shape now and you can see how big the various rooms are, rather than trying to imagine it when looking at the floor plan.  Eddie has been spending time at the property every day keeping an eye on the details and answering any questions that come up.

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Most of the first floor walls are up. A concrete “crown” beam will be formed and poured across the top of the walls.

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Kitchen wall with cut-out for microwave and cabinetry.

Several waste lines are seen in the wall. The one in the center is for the outside kitchen sink.

Several waste lines are seen in the wall. The one in the center is for the outside kitchen sink.

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A stairway will go in between the two walls. The main entrance is on the right.

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This is the kitchen area.

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Another stairway will eventually go up in this area with a half bath under.

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Master BR looking towards the living area.

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Master bedroom and bathroom.

Building our House – Week 3

The construction guys are working hard and fast…making some good progress over the past couple of weeks.  The weather is cooperating nicely, too.  We’ve had mostly sunny days with a few overcast days with a little rain.  Typically, this is the time of year where we have a “mini-summer” without much rain.  Since the last post about the house, work has continued on the footings and foundation walls.  They have started filling in the areas around the foundation with dirt.  Soon, most of the completed work will be underground.  Eddie spent several hours at the building site this morning talking with our builder and the architect who is doing weekly inspections.

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This is the carport area now completely filled in  with dirt with the perimeter foundation walls just protruding out of the soil.

This is the carport area now completely filled in with dirt with the perimeter foundation walls just protruding out of the soil.

This is the laundry room and the bodega behind.

This is the laundry room and the bodega behind.

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These are the foundation walls of the master bath. At this section of the house the foundation is about 1.6 meters deep.

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With Permit in Hand…Building has Commenced!

Finally, we have our long awaited building permit!  Yea!!!  While we were on our anniversary trip in Guatemala (more on the trip later), our permit was approved. Anticipating that this would happen, Eddie arranged for our builder to pay the permit fee for us, so that he could pick up the permit and commence building immediately.  We returned from our trip Tuesday evening, so we had to wait until yesterday to stop by the lot to check out the progress.  The footings are dug and are in the process of being completed with re-bar and concrete.  Here are a few photos:

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This area is the carport. The footings and partial walls around are being completed first so that it can be back-filled thereby creating additional work area and material storage. The lot does not afford much extra space!

This area is the carport. The footings and partial walls around are being completed first so that it can be back-filled thereby creating additional work area and material storage. The lot does not afford much extra space!

Are We Building Yet?

It has been awhile since we have blogged about our house building project, so it’s time to bring you up to speed as to what’s been happening and where we are now.  But to answer the question…No, we’re not building yet.

So far, a pineapple is the only thing to sprout up on our lot

So far, a pineapple is the only thing to sprout up from the ground on our lot

As many of you know, last year we finished working on the design of our house and had our architect complete the construction drawings.  In mid-November, the plans were submitted to the CFIA (College of Engineers & Architects) for review – the first step in obtaining a building permit.  One month later, the CFIA had reviewed and approved the plans and determined the value of the construction (used for determining various permitting fees as well as property taxes).  The next step in the permitting process was for our plans to be reviewed by SETENA (Costa Rica’s environmental agency), since our total area of construction is more than 300 square meters.  However, getting anything done with any sort of governmental body or maybe ANY body for that matter in Costa Rica during the period from a couple of weeks before Christmas until a couple of weeks after New Year’s is pretty much a pipe dream.  Unfortunately, SETENA is notoriously slow and we are still waiting to get through their process.  The final step is then to present our plans and all the paperwork collected along the way to our local municipality for the building permit.

Eddie checking out the lot with Erik and Jane

Eddie checking out the lot with Erik and Jane

In the meantime, we have been doing what we can to get ready for construction to begin.  One of the big things was to get the electric service installed on our property.  This involved constructing a concrete column at the top of our driveway to house the electric meter, running the main electric cables underground from the meter to the building site, and then getting ICE, the power company, to install a transformer and hook up to the meter.

Constructing the electric meter house

Constructing the electric meter house

The hand-dug trench for running the electric service down to the house

The hand-dug trench for running the electric service down to the house

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The yellow line shows where the line was buried

The yellow line shows where the electric line was buried going down along side the driveway

In anticipation of the building permit’s arrival (fingers and toes crossed), our contractor will soon begin doing some preparatory work at the site.

Now, in full disclosure here, I, Eddie, am writing this post.  Ellen, who heretofore has eloquently authored this blog, recently headed back to the States for a visit and courageously left me in charge.  I will do my best to keep it going and I hope to be bringing you regular updates, photos and videos during the process of building our house.

Pura vida!