Building Our House – Week 29

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A lot has happened theses past two weeks!  The roof tile has been installed along with the solar hot water system.  The solar company originally was scheduled to install the system in January, but they had a cancellation and asked if they could do the installation this past Friday.  Fortunately, that part of the roof had already been completed, so it worked out for them to do it.  Interestingly, they came prepared to install the system on a flat roof not a tile one.  Not too many people have flat roofs here, so Eddie was surprised that they weren’t prepared.  Our workers saved the day.  They welded a frame on which the solar panel could rest.  It took quite a while to construct.  As a result, the system installation took longer than they anticipated – an all day affair.  Eddie came up with a good idea to protect the PEX lines from the sun by using air conditioning line insulation.  The next day, he climbed up on the roof and did that work himself.

Installing the solar water heater.

Installing the solar water heater.

All connections are complete.  PEX lines (red & blue) to get covering to protect from UV rays.

All connections are complete. PEX lines (red & blue) to get covering to protect from UV rays.

The pool tile has been installed as well and now the guy is working on grouting it.  It looks awesome!  Our foreman’s young son has been up at the house this past week.  He told me he is excited about swimming in it.  He wanted to know when it would be ready.

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Eddie and Edgardo (our foreman) installed the PEX distribution manifold for the water lines.  Eddie has been teaching him how to work with the PEX system.  Edgardo and his father have expressed an interest in using PEX in some of their other projects.  Eddie told them he would help them with ordering, importing and installing.

PEX distribution manifold for hot and cold water lines.

PEX distribution manifold for hot and cold water lines.

Things are really moving along now with the interior space.  The tile guys finished working on the master suite bathroom and have started working on the guest suite bathroom.  Eddie and I are very pleased with both the tile selection and its installation.  The guys are doing a fantastic job!  The other day they started tiling the main floor both upstairs and downstairs.  It’s looking beautiful!

Master bath tile work underway.

Master bath tile work underway.

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This is the floor tile going on the floors, other than in the bathrooms.

This is the floor tile we are using in most of the house.

The metal worker making our banister for the staircase that leads up to the guest suite came by on Monday with his crew.  It took them all day to weld the wrought iron pieces together, attach it to the stairs and paint it.  It was painted black and then a bronze finish was applied.  It’s absolutely gorgeous…a true piece of art!

Wrought iron stair railing has been installed.  It will have a wood hand rail as well.

Wrought iron stair railing has been installed. It will have a wood hand rail as well.

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The workers continue to put up the wood tablilla on the ceiling.  They are now working on the two story section of the house.  It’s a lot of space to cover.

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Last week, we visited the cabinet maker who is working on our kitchen, both bathroom suite vanities, interior doors, side outer door and the main door.  He and his workers have completed the frame for the kitchen island and both bathroom vanities.  They had some of the doors and drawers finished and were in the process of sanding them.  Everything looked great so far.  Eddie asked them to begin working on the two outer doors next so that they will be ready when the windows and the patio doors arrive and are installed.  That way we can secure the house.

The bathroom vanity frames are in process.

The bathroom vanity frames are in process.

Got drawers?

Got drawers?

Raw lumber (Cedro Amargo) for the doors.

Raw lumber (Cedro Amargo) for the doors.

When Eddie drives up to the lot to check on things, he usually parks his truck a little further up at the entrance of another lot that is right below our friends Toni and Gib’s house.  Gib is quite the comedian and the ultimate joker.  He always has something humorous to add to the conversation and we recently discovered that he likes to pull pranks, too.  Last week when Eddie pulled up, there was a handicapped sign in front of his parking spot!

Eddie's usual parking spot.

Eddie’s usual parking spot.

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Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

Meow-y Christmas!

Meow-y Christmas!

Building Our House – Week 27

These past couple of weeks, the house has kept us quite busy.  We have spent a lot of time choosing just the right color of grout for all the tile work, colors of interior and exterior paint, and looking for bull-nose Coralina for around the pool.  Eddie spends several hours a day at the house supervising and helping out.  The next big project there will be to install the manifold for the PEX water system.

Some paint samples for the exterior.

Some paint samples for the exterior.

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The PEX manifold will go in this cavity and be covered with some wooden doors.

The PEX manifold will go in this cavity and be covered with some wooden doors.

The 4 tons of tile from Santa Ana was delivered, finally!  The tile company doesn’t have their own delivery, so they get bids for you from delivery companies.  The delivery company that was deemed the most reasonable in price ended up being not so reasonable.  They held our tile “hostage” for more money when they realized exactly where we lived.  Then, the driver wouldn’t drive it all the way up the hill.  Eddie thinks he was scared because he is a city boy and not used to driving up steep hills.   The driver stopped 150 yards short of the property.  So, Eddie and a couple of the workers had to off load the tile into smaller trucks and take it the rest of the way.  It took took seven trips!  You can just imagine all the cuss words. Pura Vida.

Porcelain tile "delivery". The driver just wanted to get the tile off his truck and go.

Porcelain tile “delivery”. The driver just wanted to get the tile off his truck and go.

The guys continue to stain the tablilla (wood panels for the ceiling) and have begun installing it.  They installed the sheet rock for the ceilings in the kitchen, master suite, bodega and side entrance.  They have been working on installing the roof tile, installing ceramic wall tile in the master bathroom, prepping the pool and the stairs for the tile work.  There is always a lot going on at once.

Tablilla installed in the guest suit bathroom.

Tablilla installed in the guest suit bathroom.

And here in the entryway

And here in the entryway

Roof tile installation has started.

Roof tile installation has started.

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Yesterday, we received word that our windows and sliding doors are ready for installation.  That will happen the first week in January.  It will take five days to install it all.  The solar hot water system is scheduled for January 11.  We are coming into the home stretch now!

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This small closet will house the water pressure booster pump and the water filtration system.

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A few steps leading to the pool equipment room were built.

Our new kitty Rusty is growing.  He has gained about a pound already.  He has such a cute personality and we’re having a lot of fun playing with him.  Rusty loves to be outside playing with sticks, little bugs and Lopez’s dogs.  He tries to play with Pacho, Lopez’s cat, but Pacho won’t have anything to do with Rusty.  Perhaps that will change when Rusty is a little bigger.

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Building our House – Week 12

This week was an exciting one because it was time to install the PEX plumbing.  What is PEX, you ask.  PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene and is a plastic tubing used predominantly for domestic water supply piping and radiant heating systems in floors.  The traditional piping used for drinking water in Costa Rica is PVC.  The problem with PVC, especially in concrete construction, is that it is prone to leaks since it is brittle and does not withstand movement within the concrete, especially at the fittings (think earthquakes or even settling).  So, I knew from the beginning that I did not want to use PVC in our house.  PEX is the perfect solution since it’s flexible and uses very few fittings.  Each point of use (sink, shower, toilet, etc) is supplied by dedicated lines from a central manifold, so there are no connections or fittings – other than at each end.  PEX has been used for quite a few years in the US, Canada and Europe, but is definitely uncommon in Costa Rica.  I could not find anyone selling it in the country.  I did find a Canadian plumber in our area who offers PEX installations (he imports all of his materials from Canada), but his quote to do our house was outrageous.  So, I realized that if I was going to use PEX, my only alternative was to import it myself, study up on how to work with it and assist my builder with the installation.

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Routing the hot and cold PEX lines to the manifold location.

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This is where the manifold will be mounted. We’ll cover it with a nice wooden enclosure.

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PEX lines for the second floor are routed below and will be covered when the ceiling is installed.

PEX lines for the second floor are routed below and will be covered when the ceiling is installed.

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Everything went very well.  We installed all the PEX lines throughout the house in one day.  The manifold will be installed once the wall it is to be mounted on gets its finish coat of concrete.  Once the PEX lines were run and buried, the concrete for the floors could be poured.  By the end of this week all of the interior floors and part of the outside terrace had been finished.

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The laundry room with newly poured floor.

The laundry room with newly poured floor.

Work continued on framing the roof…finishing up the lower roof and starting on the upper roof.

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Here you can see the framing of the upper roof being started

Here you can see the framing of the upper roof being started. The steel beams laying across the walls above the living area are there temporarily to provide a work area while constructing the upper walls and roof.

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Upstairs guest suite bathroom.

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Here are drain lines for rain water from the roof.

Here are drain lines for rain water from the roof.

On a side note, today we had a crew come to give some of the trees around the building site a haircut.  As you can see from the photograph below, this really made a tremendous difference in the view to the north.

Tree Trim - before & after