Costa Rica Construction

Design a bar and outdoor kitchen for your house in Costa Rica

Bar and outdoor kitchen design for your house in Costa RicaIf you haven’t already bought a house in Costa Rica through a GoDutch Realty agent, I’m sure you will as soon as you learn how to design the coolest bar in the neighborhood.

Now, I’m not trying to turn you into an alcoholic, actually quite the opposite. If you have a cool bar in your backyard, you’ll want to invite some friends to come over once in a while and have a good time together, instead of having to drink on your own all the time or wait for someone to invite you.

Costa Rica is famous for its year round weather conditions, so for sure you will do a lot more outdoor living than you ever did in your life. That’s why you moved to Costa Rica, right? This makes your outdoor space even more important than the indoors.

You already have a pool and an awesome view? There are many ways to do a cool bar even if you have no pool. If you already have a huge covered terrace, you can take advantage of al that space to build a bar, which for easy use should stay as close as you can to the kitchen.

Several reasons to build a house in Costa Rica without construction permits

Several reasons to build a house in Costa Rica without construction permitsIt’s amazing how many people get away with building a house in Costa Rica without getting a construction permit. I’ve been in the Costa Rica real estate business way for over 25 years and I have seen lots of constructions shut down by the local engineering department for lack of a construction permit but many more getting away without it. 

I have done some remodeling myself without even applying for a permit, not because I don’t want to pay for it. The red tape to do a remodel job or the construction of a house in Costa Rica is a burden and a difficult task in most municipalities. The main reason to my opinion that people just don’t want to bother even applying for a construction permit.  

The other reason is that everyone knows that most municipalities have a shortage of manpower and the chance to get caught when you build a house in Costa Rica without a permit is small. 

How to make payments to your Costa Rica home builder or not

How to make payments to your Costa Rica home builder or notMany home lot owners in Costa Rica, once they are ready to start building, do all the wrong things. That is mostly for lack of experience. Most of us only build one house in a life time, or we don’t at all.

I sometimes get messages such as “I'm fairly pleased, the home builder did a good job. The only thing is some smaller items are not finished. My only mistake was not withholding some money until the entire house was finished.

The builder retains one key which is some evidence that he intends to finish. I did have him sign an agreement to build and paid him the entire fee.

Any ideas on getting him to finish would be appreciated but I'm not holding my breath.

Are Costa Rica homes able to withstand an earthquake or not

Are Costa Rica homes able to withstand an earthquake or notIt was September 5th, 2012 and a 7.6 on Richter hit us. That earthquake was now almost 3 years ago and has been on the news worldwide. A 7.6 on Richter doesn’t happen very often. This was the 2nd strongest earthquake in Costarica’s history after  the 1991 earthquake in Limon.

This time, two people are known to have died, one from a heart attack and another, a construction worker, crushed by a collapsing wall. The 7.8 earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 Nepal killed more than 9,000 people and injured more than 23,000.

If you are afraid for earthquakes or if you have any doubt if Costa Rica homes can withstand heavy earthquakes, you need to read this blog and you’ll see that Costa Rica homes are very safe to live in. In the 35 years I have lived in Costa Rica this was the first one that was a bit scary and the fourth worth talking about. Earthquake in Spanish is “terremoto” although the locals usually talk about a temblor,which is much less strong than an earthquake.

Costa Rican Construction Standards

Installation of plumbing tubes so shower sprays are above your headMany expats who are considering buying a house in Costa Rica ask "What are the Local Construction Standards?" Are the standard building materials and installation methods that the majority of the people who grew up in Costa Rica are accustomed to the same as yours? 

If you have not spent much time in Costa Rica, you may not initially notice the lack of amenities that you have taken for granted your whole life. Many times it isn't until after a foreigner has purchased a house here, and has lived in it for a while, that they realize how different the local construction standards are.

Local contractors in Costa Rica, pay much less attention to details and the average Costa Rican feels that many of the amenities that foreigners take for granted are extravagant and unnecessary, such as:

4 Top Design Elements of Portable Buildings


The increasing demand for secure and, budget-friendly housing units has led many people turn towards modular buildings. It is totally a new concept in the construction industry. These structures are manufactured in a closed unit and delivered to customers in the form of a modular building. The best part of these buildings is that they can be carried from one to place another place easily and are especially beneficial for the storage needs. They are available for both commercial and domestic applications. 

These buildings are environment-friendly and do not pose any negative impact on the location. The only thing you require is enough space at the destination and these buildings provide several benefits to people who want shelter on immediate basis. The amenities required for these structures come pre-assembled so there is no need for digging or excavation work. These portable buildings are relocated with the use of a forklift jack and a pallet. They prove cost-effective and offer significant advantages, when compared to traditional construction practices. 

Flush the paper down the toilet in Costa Rica

Flush the paper down the toilet in Costa RicaOnce in a while, people who visit me in my office, ask if they can use the restroom. Some, who have been staying in an older hotel or Bed & Breakfast or live in a rural location, open the door of my restroom, peek in and ask “can I flush the paper”?

For an outsider, that is a very weird question. For an old Costa Rica hand like me, it’s one of those things that gives me a chance to show off that my bathroom is built to the latest standards of decency. If you read on, you will understand why this weird or even shocking question is being asked after a peek into the bathroom.

When I moved to Costa Rica, quite a while ago, I wondered why everyone had paper basket next to the toilet. At the time, pedal flip waste baskets didn’t exist, so everyone had a regular open waste paper basket in the bathroom with a plastic supermarket shopping bag in it.

 It takes a while to get used to this tradition and for sure you learn how to empty the basket a couple of times a day.  To understand the need for the waste paper basket you need to learn a bit about the sewage system in Costa Rica.

Before condominiums existed in Costa Rica, where they install a wastewater treatment plant, every home had its own septic tank in the yard.

The Costa Rica Asada Saga


Water certification needed for building permitsMy wife, Katya, and I speak some Spanish (though probably not enough).

Still, we thought we knew the word “asada.”  It meant “roasted” and frequently modified “carne” or, in a masculine form, “pollo.”  Who knew that “asada” also means “local water administration?”  Well, now we do, and therein hangs a tale. Here it is (though I offer a strong caution that we aren’t sure we understand it completely, so ask Ivo or a lawyer!):

The area where we bought land, Hacienda Atenas, supplies water from a joint local well.  We pay a monthly fee to the water association for the water we get.  Their association, known as an “ASADA,” is currently informal in nature.  It has not officially registered with the Costa Rican government.

Apparently, it’s been like that for years.  And, apparently, for years that’s been OK.  But it seems that there was a law passed (who knew) many years ago requiring all “informal” Asadas to register with the government and become formalized.  And, lo and behold, the deadline for that registration was September 1st, 2014.

Why is MacGyvering a must in Costa Rica?

Why is McGyvering a must in Costa Rica?In this blog, I’d like to recount an experience I had recently that is indicative of the way you’ll find product availability in this country. My story is about buying lumber. It is not particularly important taken at its face, but it exemplifies why “MacGyvering” is so prevalent, even a way of life here, why you may sometimes wonder why Ticos are resigned to settling for the second-best solution and, perhaps, why Costa Ricans can be counted among the world’s most patient people.

If you were to buy wood for a project in North America, you’d most likely head to the lumberyard or big box building materials store. There you would find a wide selection of all kinds, sizes and lengths of lumber. Except for EPA, there aren’t many big box stores in Costa Rica and the local ferreterias will typically have even fewer choices, some carry no lumber at all.

Our completed home improvement project finished the Tico way

                                                                                                                 by guest blogger TicoNuevo

Our completed home improvement project finished the Tico way So, we’ve completed 98% of our improvement projects on our house and finished the business with my contractor and amigo, but this is where both amazement and disappointment raise their ugly heads. Up to this point, the contractor and Ticonuevo are treating each other like brothers. “You are the best client I’ve worked with in ten years,” he says. “I depend on referrals,” he says. “You can count on mine,” I said completely satisfied—hugs all around. He finishes, packs up his equipment and leaves with his crew and a pocket full of “final payment” (less $400 for a small portion of a project yet to be completed that we withheld). Well two months later, that small portion of a project is still incomplete as are a small, but aggravating list of items that we later discovered never worked, have recently failed, don’t function properly or are, otherwise, in need of completion, replacement or repair.

To be honest, only a few of our complaints stem from oversight or shoddy workmanship performed by our contractor and his crew. Most of our complaints are about work done by his subcontractors.