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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.

Needless to say, in good Costa Rican fashion, everyone (including Hacienda Atenas) waited until the last minute.  We are told that our subdivision has filed the paperwork and is awaiting a formal inspection before it is formally certified.  And, since the whole country waited until the deadline, it seems that we won’t be formally certified until sometime in early 2015 (we’ve been told January or February).


No more construction permits without a water certification

No more construction permits without a water certification


None of this would matter of course, except for the fact that the Colegio of architects who must approve all building plans, has now announced that they will not approve plans (and therefore the local municipality won’t issue permits) in the absence of a formal Asada certification.  No certification of water availability, no approved plans.  No plans, no permits.  So much for our expectation of breaking ground in November.

It’s just a glitch of course.  Everyone seems confident that …. Eventually … Hacienda Atenas will get its formal Asada and we will get our permits.  But it does reinforce two things that anyone thinking about moving to Costa Rica should remember:  

1) The rules and laws are sometimes a bit arbitrary, capricious and obscure; and

2) If you have a type A personality and can’t stand delay or uncertainty, don’t come here!


We already have water but no water certification


Meanwhile Katya and I are doing everything else we can to get ready to build so that the day after the Asada comes through we can break ground.  At least that’s our hope.

In my next installment:  the saga of the road to nowhere.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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