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The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home

I’m sure you now want to learn more about the remodeled result of our home.  We went through a long and detailed process, but we’re all happy with the remodeled result.

We bought our new property in Costa Rica at a price that allowed us to afford all of the things we wanted. To get to that result, we had to change, add, delete, or improve.  And we’re incredibly happy.

In retrospect, we spent about 75% more than the purchase price we originally planned. Plus a lot more. This 75% figure is about $25,000 over what we budgeted for the “construction phase.”

However, we added no small number of projects and improvements along the way. The remodeled result turned out incredible and a surprise to everyone.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home


We got verbal, and, sometimes written quotes for every additional construction project that we added along the way. In addition, there were many, including

  • Walkways,
  • Retaining walls,
  • Gates,
  • Fences,
  • Drainage systems,
  • Venting improvements,
  • Landscaping.

To get to an extremely nice remodeled result, landscaping was eminent. Our landscaping included eliminating our small coffee plantation. We also added palms and plants along our 350-foot driveway. Most added projects were done by our contractor.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home


We handled payment for these add-on tasks in the same manner that we did the contracted projects.

  • First, the contractor received a 40% upfront;
  • Followed by 40% more when the project was 40% finished
  • The final 20% payment when we believed that the project was completed to our satisfaction.

I made payments to our contractor by checks drawn on our Costa Rican dollar bank account. Not many banks here offer multiple accounts in both colones and dollars. You may not be able to handle the payment in dollars on your projects.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home

The Process

As far as it went, I was satisfied with the process. The process included the check itself along with a payment receipt. The receipt carried a description of what was being paid. For example, including:

  • Project name,
  • Description,
  • Date,
  • Total contract project amount,
  • Amount of this payment,
  • Paid phase percentage
  • and the actual percentage of that payment.

This was done, in both English and Spanish, thanks to my online friend, Spanishdict. There was a line at the bottom of each receipt for our signatures.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home

We made each payment in triplicate; one for the contractor, one for us, and one for our lawyer’s file. I wouldn’t recommend changing this system. It worked amazingly well for us.

We never had a disagreement about the percentage of the project that was completed. For this facet of our relationship between builder and contractor, it was smooth and satisfying. But again I cannot guarantee that your relationship with your contractor will be a smooth as ours.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home

Extended Family

A very strong bond developed between all of us. I mean, all of those that spent so much of our days working and living under the same roof: the contractor, his crew, my wife, and I. We became what I would have to describe as a type of extended family.

Cookies were baked and distributed, gifts were exchanged, tools shared, gratis tasks were performed on both sides. Also, errands were run and mutually complementary statements were shared between us and with others.

Toward the end of the grand project, we threw an American-style BBQ for everyone. This included some of the subcontractors included. Here, more gifts were exchanged. TicoNuevo got just a bit emotional during a toast of thanks and goodwill.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home


Since construction began six months ago, the sum of projects done by our contractor included:

  1. Removing about 65% of the “repello” (plaster) from our walls inside and out;
  2. Repainting of most of the inside of the house and all of the outside;
  3. Extension of the roof outside of our master suite;
  4. Walling in the large window between our kitchen and dining area;
  5. Replacement of a new rain gutter drainage system
  6. Major repairs or replacement of much of our mission-tile roof;
  7. Gutting and replacement of our kitchen – island, floor tile, granite countertops, and new fixtures;
  8. Removal and replacement of our master bath cabinets, sinks, and fixtures
  9. Addition of a glass shower door;
  10. Replacing the wood baseboard in the entire house with tile;
  11. Adding custom ornamental security gates, a retaining wall, and a security fence;
  12. Addition of a large covered terrace off of our great room, dining room, and guest bedroom;
  13. Adding a new gutter drainage system at our entry and along some of the backyard walls;
  14. Removal of our automatic garage door and replacing it with a new wall with two windows;
  15. New wood double doors to the terrace and out the back of the master suite;
  16. Three pairs of custom exterior metal screen doors;
  17. Addition of a covered carport and walkway;
  18. Removal of a badly deteriorated asphalt front entry driveway and replacing it with concrete paver driveway;
  19. Building a new fully self-contained casita – guest house – with a front terrace and its own septic system;
  20. Constructing a concrete and slate walk between the master suite and the terrace;
  21. Adding another walk from the new paver driveway to the casita.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home


In addition to our contractor’s projects, we worked in parallel to:

  1. Adding custom cabinets and built-ins in the master bath, master closet, kitchen, office, and guest bedroom;
  2. Design and construction of a new master bedroom suite;
  3. Removal of a concrete and chain-link dog run;
  4. Patch and repaint the master bath and closet;
  5. Rebuild the water delivery system;
  6. Reconstruction of the development’s automatic security gate entry and electrical system;
  7. Pull out about 400 coffee plants and begin to re-landscape where the coffee had been;
  8. Add palms and plants to 350 feet of entry driveway;
  9. Adding a walk along a small year-round stream and beginning to construct a wooden bridge over it;
  10. Create and landscape three front driveway islands at our front entrance;
  11. Add drip irrigation systems;
  12. Start a concrete and slate walk to the stream and bridge.

The remodeled result of our Costa Rica home


It was six months and a heck of a lot of work and stress. But I had fun and wound up in my best shape in fifty years. And, both my wife and I were extremely happy with the remodeled result. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But I’m figuring I’ll never again have the need to leave our new dream home in Costa Rica.

However, all did not come up roses. Stay tuned, as next week’s blog reveals the Costa Rican building trade’s dirty little secret.

The Author

The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica. He and his wife used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.

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