Beach Culture in Costa Rica
How can this affect building a home?
95% of all people who contact us about building a home in Costa Rica are either looking at rural or beach property or already own such and are now just looking seriously at their building options. Hence this following message is highly relevant to almost all of our readers.
While out on one of my rescue mission wrap ups this week of Nov. 10th I had an irritating and frustrating occurrence that brought to mind the importance of people understanding the culture and environment they shall be operating in when they go to build hence a timely piece of advice. Also most of our readers come from large cities hence they are little prepared for this dose of reality.
First the experience then the lesson. I was in Huacas near Tamarindo in the Guanacaste trying to fix a massive leak in a client’s pool. We hammered out the concrete terrace and dug out the tube runs en route to the pool to find the guilty offender. Once established I had a long discussion with client to give them their options with the solution to eliminate this ticking time bomb being to put in a PEX system to feed the pool jets so to do that I needed new jets as well as the base for the jet to adapt down to ½” PEX. I went to the pool supply business in Huacas to ask for these however they only had 3 in stock and I needed 4 to complete the job. The employee told me that the truck would not come in until the next week however I informed her I had a 6 man crew who were not going to go fishing for four days at the client’s expense over one small $5 piece that was about to hold up the entire job. She reiterated that there was nothing she could do but wait. No attempt of any kind was made to alleviate the situation or offer even a more expensive solution. So I said, “see that phone on your desk call the supplier and have it put on the bus for delivery tomorrow.“ She refused to do anything or get off her ass to speed up the process of getting this critical part. I am not a patient person and 13 years later I have not and will not run on tomorrow time let alone next week time. Nor do I waste time being Latino polite when someone is being totally useless. I informed her she was being an incompetent idiot after she failed to make the least attempt to meet a client’s need. The end result was… one phone call back to the city, or shall I say the real world, and all the required parts were on the bus that day and in my hand the next morning for a whopping cost of $5.60 freight. Gee what is better six employees twiddling their thumbs or one phone call and very few bucks to solve a problem too stupid to even discuss.
Here is the lesson and the point, this person that has no doubt lived in this beach culture her entire life had no concept at all with regards to the significance of time and getting a job completed in a reasonable amount of time, even when clearly explained to her. There is a heck of a lot of parts that go into a home and surprises like this one will come up on a frequent basis hence I as a builder have to deal with such problems quickly to ensure that A) employees can complete their work and B) the client gets a timely delivery of their home at a contracted price. This whole mentality permeates beach/rural culture hence expect it to happen hence have a plan B to remove anyone from the loop that is in conflict with your objectives or shall I say a healthy sense of sanity.
This factor alone can drastically add to the length of the construction cycle hence really drive up your cost therefore as a proficient builder we have to know how to deal with this and head such behavior off at the pass before it bites us in the ass. Eg. One client that brought another rescue mission to me this week from Puerto Viejo in Limon has been under construction for 17 months and far from done! INCREDIBLE! This is in a large part driven by both attitude and the utter incompetence of the professionals that are not “in charge” of any project. The latest screw up reported for this job was the really bad decision to use cheap gypsum board rather than the at least somewhat more resistant green board then they left it in the raw without paint. End result was a massive and most predictable mold bloom that they are now trying to figure out how to address.
In general the process can go on and on and on. On top of that often the lowest quality of workmanship is typically experienced out at the beach and in rural areas where workers really have never had any training and what little they have received was from others with little more training. The final results of the blind leading the blind are rather predictable. This is but one small example yet a common thread that I have seen play out over and over again.
Most large homes that are built at the beach are done so by contractors from the Central Valley who normally bring all of their best employees with them and house them typically on site to build a home. Two simple reasons, the workers from the Valley tend to be far more competent and better trained and have a greater understanding of what time means in costs and efficiency. Yes the locals at the beach are typically cheaper per hour but you tend to get what you are paying for or not get what you aren’t paying for. This is also a great factor in our decision to build homes anywhere in the country that a desirable client chooses to build in. The end result is we offer far superior construction, faster and cheaper than all of our competition can begin to dream of that continue to operate in the delusional world that this pool employee lives in.