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IMG_2113

 

Team

 View over excavation

IMG_2119

:-)Bamboo ridge
IMG_2136
Pulling tarp up
 
 
 
 
 
 
IMG_2135
   
IMG_2153
IMG_2164
IMG_2165
 
IMG_2166
      
      
   
IMG_2169
IMG_2171
     
   
  
IMG_2173
 

Pool wall start

Pool stairs & bench

 

Pool - beams and posts

Pool jet plumbing

 

Penetron for pool cement products

 

 

 

Vibrating pool benches & block fill

 

 

Pouring stairs down to pool

Vibrating stairs

 

Molijone Stone forpool deck

 

 

Sewer main feed line

Sewer Branch lines

Crapper in MgO

 

 

Larry & Cindy

 

 

 

Melina glu-lam joists

 

Melina glu-lam Header

 

 

 

First floor frame of glu-lams

 

First floor section up

 

Laminating support beams

Air nailing sub-floor

 

Varnish & Xilotox

Nailing of sub-floor

 

First row of sub-floor done

 

track glue down

 

Manis Bond applied to track

Manis Bond spread out on track

First wall panel goes up

 

Laundry room walls

 

End wall of home up

 

View from front of house

 

Steel added to inferior system

 

Laminated cedro door

Pouring rain & tent

 

 

Last floor section

Kitchen & living room wall

BAth & guest room walls

Master bedroom view

 

Terrace view

 

Back view

front entry corner

 

Front view left

Double top plate installed 

Cutting double top plate laps

Patio door track

  

Pine window bucks install

 

 

Pine treatment penetration

GE elec panel

 

 

 

MgO into fire

   

 

Burnt Mgo1

Burnt MgO2

Guanacaste slab

  

cut Slate

Verigated Mollijon cut

 

Stucco mesh

   

Base coat stucco

window corners stucco

 

front wall stucco 2 coats

step corner lock

 

 3rd tier started

 

 

Pinning 3rd tier

 

 

Concrete 2nd tier

Finish of 3red tier

Concrete of landing

 completed step structure

  Pool tile wall

Pool Floor

 

Window mouldings

first section of skirting

 

skirting sections

 

 

window mouldings

pool nosing

front step 2 done

 

 edging and bullnosing of steps

bullnose edge of mollijon

 

Pool completed

 

 

interesting ocean view

San Juan Dios valley

 

ants arrived

pool finish

Aqua Mix

molijone finished

 

 

steps off deck

larry inspecting new walk

 

base for skirting

skirting comp

bandsawmill

 

unloading kiln

10 ton press

 

drum sandingtablia

 

sunset at Cacao

 

rafter arrival filling

xiloborapp

 

 

xilobor

 

applying oil

 

 

sanding sealer

sanding finish

finished rafters

morning view

Tablia finished

 

First Sanding rafters

6 x 6 posts

Patio door structure

 

Beam supports

 

Building the lintel

Panelizing lintel

 

Header completed

Gable over patio door

Gable complete

Joining large beam

Large beam over patio door

First two rafters in place

Beam extension

First common rafters

Installing dutch gable rafters

Installing dutch gable raftersDutch gable rafters

 

 

 

 

View from pool

 

 

King posts

 

Ridge beam

tablia - ridge

Tablia start

Front view of rafters

Great room near complete

 

Terrace posts 

 

Carport posts

Carport beam connection

Dutch Gable up

First Hip rafterHere is the first hip installed over the laundry room as it joins in with the beam where the Dutch Gable starts.  The upper area of these walls are the same wood beams that are inside our panels except here to help with the heat in the typical laundry room this will all be screened in to keep good air flow without good bug flow now seeing how much warmer it is on the leeward side of the house this was indeed a good design idea.Terrace postsCarport hipCarport raftersCarport tabliaTerrace Hip

Drywall top high wall

Drywall top coatPaint kitchenPaint high wallHip joineryTerrace jack rafters startterrace from back viewtablia going up and dutch gableeave over dutch gablestructure of eave over dutch gable

terrace view from belowNew friendPEX water network connectedrescue from certain deathCarport tablia completeDutch gable from back viewDutch gable looking outDutch gable front closeFront terrace completeFront viewview into dutch gableREflect foil
Pressure tank for pinefoil from abovelaundry room completeLaundry doorFinishing stucco on front gableBAck wall stuccoTerrace close upLast stucco on carportWhite stucco going on trimKitchen window finishedBAthroom wall tile startedBAthroom wall

Floor elastic coatrolling out floor meshmesh with second elastic coatkitchen security barsroof sheeting  

guest bath tile and floor prepmaster bath tiledKitchen cabinets assemblycabinet frame panelsDoor rail ready for assemblyPatio from insidePatio door outsidePatio exterior2Track light patioScrew paintPaint gutter bracketsRoofing east sideGreat room tileTile start in masterPressure tank for pineKitchen assemblyFinger jointerHorizontal pressPress outfeedFinger jointed pieces ready8 ton pressKiln  

 

San JuanDios valleyRoofing east sideView of roof from roadtoilet paper

 toilet paper sign  

 

Tray dividersDrawer casesInterior doorslocking pins

Garbage pileSecond coat of elasticFloor mesh on patioWrapping mesh over stepFront roof completeBack roof complete Facia completePatio tileTile step dropTile baseboard

Drip line under roofingCarport gutters

Roof with hip capsTile line wallTile linePatio door tilingDutch gable security bars Vanitieskitchen cabinetsdrawers full extBench pocketsBasebaord 45 degBathroom complete with groutTransition tile to stoneRoof ventsTarp starts decent  

Front tarp comingView from above First front view BAck view tarp down First front view downRidge pole supportCenter poles are looongCorner post pulled Carport pole coming Back poles now Last ridge pole down

Last corner post  Last pole leaving the site Front view in open Back view open Street view open View from above street View of open roof coming down street 

kitchen cabinetsPine deck underwayFront door asembledFront door in prep

Front door hingingFront door hung

Bathroom vanity masterMaster bath completeFirst interior door

Kitchen 1Kitchen2Kitchen4Terrace benchPorcelain counter complete

 

 Non grout joint

Pantry :-)Deck supportDeck completedDeck clipsDeck benchFront door insideFront door exterior  

 Sunset over San Juan DiosKitchenkitchen complete 2kitchen complete 3Pool fillingsunset view over deckEvening view of poolDeck completedeck & pooldesk in rawDesk sawmillSanding deskdesk mountsdesk completeDesk final viewLighting completeShade sale instShade sale up1Sahde sale upCristobal deskCristobal desk 2Cristobal desk 3Cristobal desk 4Gutter drain pipelandscape dirtdirt for landscapinglast dirt movementBobcat at workSide view after landpool view after landback view after landview to ocean backside yardcloset assemblybench completedKitchen at workDesk at workviewing videoLarry concertfront street viewcarportLaundry workshopWrok bench shelvingcloset 3cleaning pool :-)  


Comments

Home Diary – Platanillo — 21 Comments

  1. Why did the owners choose to build the home with pier and beam rather than concrete slab? That will be a choice I will need to make for my SIP home…

    • Basically this was entirely our lead. With all clients we bring to their attention methods that are often not normal here but none the less have good reasons.
      Fundamentally what spurred this on is this fact, 90%+ of our clients are baby boomers hence they are looking at what old age will bring them. A simple fact is concrete floors are in no way friendly to the human body and that only gets further exasperated when one is a senior. Bad backs and knees do and will take a beating from walking on concrete. You consciously will most likely not feel the give in a wood floor structure but your skeletal system most certainly does. Those of us who have lived in wood homes then gone to work in offices with concrete floors certainly can tell the difference at the end of a day.

      Other issues regarding concrete floors is they are notoriously damp here due to both the climate and bad building practices that seldom take into account this constant effect of what is called wicking. This is where a concrete body behaves just like the wick in a coal oil lamp and sucks the moisture out of the ground and air bringing it to the surface. Also many have been fed royal BS by those that suggest a concrete floor is much cheaper which it is not. Then if you have to elevate it more than a few inches as we would have had to do in this case where it was 24″ then it becomes way more expensive to build than the wood. Then one has to ask yourself do you want a floor weighting tons when the ground is a dancing??? Plus if you put fill in to bring up a lot as Larry would have can you stop it from cracking? Actually the answer is no you can’t unless you build a fully structural floor using tons of steel and pilings or footing going down into virgin soil. In this case the floor cost would have at least doubled to avoid those problems.

      Big Lesson and take away here for those of you who already have a lot that you want to build on or even more important when looking at lots to know what you are getting into while you are still in the negotiation phase. Shoot elevations to be certain how flat it really is and if it is out of whack and it is going to cost to fix then so should go the price. You can literally spend $10,000 in the wink of an eye to fix foundation/ elevation problems. I once had an idiot architect design a client a huge hacienda on top of the mountain at Tarcoles with a 500 m2 or 5,500 ft2 footprint. I told him it was going to cost him at least $250,000 for the foundation or more with no guarantee that it might be even more to pull such an insane stunt off. He did not like the answer as is normal when we respond to really stupid ideas. But back to the lesson, When you look out on a lot on a mountainside all is relative in that your eyes will tell you the lot is flat but is it really??? Larry’s lot looked flat to the naked eye until I got out the laser and we discovered it actually had a two foot slope on the building site. The fault of this actually goes back to the developer and equipment operators when the lot was excavated which should be done with a laser/ transit hence cut the lot to the level line or at least be +/- 6 inches. When we come along years later where they over excavated it is not just a simple matter of putting the dirt back where it should have been all along as now you have fill that you cannot just plop tons of weight down on without causing grave consequences.

      In reality our method saved the clients’ asses here since simple pilings for a light home can choose to ignore such elevation problems as is typical and in this case lowering the back of the lot at least a foot and a half would have really screwed up the driveway entrance. Most fortunate the main goal was to eliminate concrete so this just worked out as a pleasant blessing in disguise.

      Trevor

  2. I really look forward to all your diary and photo updates. Your process is so precise and well organized. Love the meticulous care taken to choose quality yet economical materials that are appropriate for the job. Hopefully after a few more projects you can consider our 2-story in we discussed a couple of months ago.

    • Good to hear from you Jackie and to know you are in the wings watching the goings on as our site and the diaries develop to show people just like you what goes into producing a top quality tropical home.

      Trevor

  3. In Canada, the workers are specialized. (cement work, electrician, Brick layer, etc.)
    What specialized workers do you use?

    I was glad that we met. Let’s exchange ideas about “tiny houses”.

    • Here workers are far more versatile especially since unionization does not exist in the construction industry.
      All of our guys are multi-talented but our one electrician does other work when there is not electrical to keep him busy.
      Oh another big thing is none of them bitch when they are expected to do other things. Actually it makes life way more interesting.
      Even our new guy who is my spare driver of our van when I cannot do so had his first experience with driving our post hole auger as
      his workmates joked with him that he did not have a license for that thing. He of course had never seen one in his life so he wanted to learn
      how to use it. Also our new workers find out they kind of enter a twi-light zone on our projects as they encounter many weird tools.
      They are also expected to learn the right tools for the job in order to speed things up as well as do a better job thereof.
      I also take note that they are eager to learn better and faster ways the only ones who are not are typically the bosses and professionals.

      As an example I recently had to return a cordless Milwaukee Multi-Use Oscillating tool for repair and found that the repair
      depot in San Jose had never ever seen one and of course had no parts hence all had to be ordered in from USA in order to fix it.
      Kind of an interesting testament as to how weird some of our tools are. This particular one is used pretty much every day without fail
      and often for hours per day. This is probably one of the three best/ most useful tools invented in the past 30 years.
      In fact the joints you see on the blog of the hips meeting the corners post would take hours the old way versus less than 5 minutes with
      this boy wonder of tools.

      TRevor

  4. Hi Trevor:
    We are watching the finishing stages of home diary #2 with great interest – we purchased lot #2 (from which a few of the above pictures were taken) in Cacao Ridge last year. The diary is an outstanding story line of the hows and whys and help inform the general reader about building in what is for most a foreign land.
    We would like to someday build a 2 story 4 bedroom structure on the larger building site on lot #2. Knowing that the Cacao Ridge site has wonderful air flow, it is still possible to use the dutch gable on a two story home? Seeing the Smith’s home nearing completion, the outside is very much in line with the style/design that we’d like to incorporate. We are excited to see the interior as it is completed as well. Your goals of going local and green but well built dovetail with our thoughts as well.
    We are planning on taking two weeks next summer to visit the lot and would love to meet anyone we can associated with your company. Maybe even kick around some design plans. Thank you very much for your time and we are excited to see future projects and ideas on this extremely informative website.

    • Darren,
      Thank you for the note and kind comments not to mention it was most interesting to read your opinion with regards to the home diaries. Your input is most appreciates as you are the first to write about how you are really getting my whole intent behind these diaries. To say the least they are no small time commitment now with this one as an example of over 12,000 words and over 100 photos and videos to make up the whole story behind the birth of one of our homes. I am curious how you found the diary in the first place as I understand it you do not actually know the Smith’s? Owning a neighboring lot in a new project would not necessarily lead you into finding it.

      Certainly you can put a dutch gable on a two story but with your location and extra height the wind grabbing capabilities will be even better. However one thing you should consider is this will only affect the top story to as significant of a degree. Hence you may well want to take a serious consideration as to if you really need/want two story as that does create a challenge in cooling of the first story in a tropical climate.

      I will be back here in the zone in July/Aug so keep me informed of your exact schedule. Next we are about to move up north to Playa Grande in Guanacaste as we open up that part of the country to our version of the “best” homes in Costa Rica. We then come back to start what will be a most impressive showcase of our homes in Escaleras. This is south of Dominical about half way to Uvita as you might know from when you were hunting for your piece of paradise. By the time you are ready to build I am more than a bit certain we will throw you a few more curve balls and ideas as to what you want in the home when you are ready. Just be aware you need to be committed to get on our build list for often a year in advance of your ideal start date. This is not exactly the McDonald’s drive through as I trust you can appreciate.

      Thanks again.
      Trevor

      • I also do not know the Smiths either, but we stopped by the house when the builders were there this past March. We are neighbors also who own along the property line of Cacao Ocean View Estates. So just by using Google you can find anything. Hopefully when we come back in December we can meet the Smiths. Thanks for posting this blog, so much information here. The house looks fantastic!!!

  5. Trevor this is like reading an adventure novel of short stories where you can’t put down the book. Your clients decision to put their new house experience on video will be priceless to them. Thank you very much for sharing and doing such a good job of educating us on the building process with the SIP/PEX System. When we arrive in Miramar in late August you will probably be in Escaleras but perhaps we can still be in touch. We were very happy with what you proposed for us per our last conversation. Taking the plunge to build in another country takes a lot of courage & trust, especially when you don’t live there. But your diaries, photos and videos are helping us to gain that trust in your system. The photos, time and effort to keep us updated and informed speak volumes to the confidence you have in your product and workmanship. Much appreciated!

    Many thanks Trevor for your tireless efforts to provide another choice and build a better house.

    • Yes Jackie you have hit the nail on the head the video and blog of the home being built is the digital inspector that any protective buyer can view years down the road to help them decide what home to buy is critical. Fact is the Costarican real estate market is no wheres near as liquid as where all the readers here come from hence it is critical to make your home stand out of the crowd when it comes time to sell it. This is further accelerated by the fact that ex-pats have much less likelihood of turning their property over to their family once they no longer want or need it as compared to if it was back home hence the likelihood of them needing to see their dream home in Ticoland is considerably higher. With the deplorable standards of most homes built here to say the least one of our homes stands out like a soar thumb. This fact affected some of Larry and Cindy’s decisions when they went of in debating putting additional dressings on the home they personally did not care about only for the sake of resale purposes. To this idea I simply said folks don’t piss away money trying to make someone else happy as your home is sooooo far above the normal that the right clients will see that immediately and buy based on that especially with the back up documentation that shows the complete birth of the home. Talk about a mountain of evidence that will make any buyer’s decision an easy one. Then after they buy they can add what ever trinkets to the home they team necessary and let the user pay for them.

      At any rate thank you so much for your comments and you are most welcome for the education. Sadly many think that sharing info. like this will eliminate their jobs however my attitude is
      that most people want to know what is going on and appreciate transparency but do not usually want to actually get in the trenches and compete with me. I realize there is many that will learn from my site and then go do their own thing but they NEVER were real prospects in the first place. At any rate I can live with that just fine especially due to the mountain of business I have ahead of me at any rate.

      The whole idea behind my book and now what is really a university course on tropical home building is to help others ensure that they do not fall into the black hole of Costa Rica construction nightmares. I wish that on no one, friend or foe.

      Thanks for the note always appreciated as well as the interesting comments.

      Trevor

  6. Hi Trevor – just wanted your opinion on the cost effectiveness & use of solar panels in home construction in CR. I understand it’s expensive there.

    • As I am aware these products actually have very little taxes added into their costs so no I do not think they are more expensive than in most other places. However some differences are that Costa Rica in general does not do hand outs and BS subsidies etc. Hence the government, as it should not, is not going to pay you to use solar. The other greater issue is that our electric rates from our grid are extremely high often double of what many pay in North America. This is both good and bad in that it is not fun to pay the power bills however any PV system will pay for itself much faster when the grid costs are higher. MOst systems will pay for themselves in 6 – 7 years which makes them a dam good investment if you can get your investment back in that period of time and have many years of free electricity in essence going forward.

      I have researched this to a fare degree but have not as yet had an owner that was sufficiently interested to move forward. However these are not difficult add ons to an existing home. BUT, oh the famous but, what we do is encourage owners to get the energy pigs out of their homes. WE instal gas networks to get the heavy consumers like stoves and clothes dryers off of electric in the first place. WE only use LED lights in everything we build. First and foremost deal with your consumption then tackle how you are going to feed the home as a secondary issue.

      Also very critical is in the area of Air Conditioning at the beach locations. The high demand of A/C makes it very hard to go net zero (you connect to the grid and put in during peak solar hours then take back at night with the idea of reducing your bill to be insignificant at month end.) With our green homes of course where the owner feels they have to cool off mechanically we drastically reduce consumption by insulating the home in the first place. This is massively important as those who have a pizza oven concrete home with power bills higher than mortgage payments can well attest to how critical home material selection and design can play such a big role in the end results. If you just can’t get by in your location without A/C we can at least cut what would have otherwise been the bills down to 10 – 20% of one of the typical energy pigs we see here. With that said I consider central air to be a totally insane idea versus employing ventilation, tropical designs and materials that reduce any heat build up in the home. At very least reduce A/C space down to a minimum like selected bedrooms to help those sl. Site specifics can drastically vary what can be done here. The home we just finished was located up in the mountains (335 mtrs or 1,000 ft) with great ventilation environment so that was easy to accomplish however someone who elects to live at the beach level or in the plains of Costa Rica or buried in jungle then those natural cooling ocean breezes from a mountain location just are not going to happen so many may find the only solution is to lower temperatures in a mechanical fashion. It will mean you never get to net zero but at very least you CAN diminish power bills and your contribution to grid lock up.

      Trevor

  7. Hello Trevor and Michael,
    The more I see, the more impressed I am with your workmanship. My partner Rene and I are looking forward to the day you start construction of our small home near Parrita. If you can update us on when you might start construction we’d really appreciate it.
    Keep up the great work, and all the best to you guys. May 3rd, 2015.

  8. im building in guantecast now…you are the best in in all of Costa Rica…..im from usa,hey Im shipping some pex and other matrials,bicycles too (from long beach) company says just write a packing list and don’t worry about import tax,or customs we deliver to your site anywhere in CR…they are called Barquero….im thinking of shipping nice vinyl framed windows and pex plumbing system is that smart or would it be better to ship machinery? Bobby, again you are THE Best

    • Bobby thanks for the post and positive comments.
      I am in favor of importing when there is a clear benefit but where there isn’t then it is basically nonsense just a hassle with no payoff.
      Hence I would not import what you are suggesting. Windows are definitely off that import list! First off there is great PVC windows made right here, no need to pay freight, taxes and have warranty problems or breakage in freight that comes with something imported. Also the actually criteria for a window designed for cold weather is NOT THE SAME as for tropical weather. For example in cold you need a minimum of dual pain windows versus in our temperature change that 40% up charge on the glass is tickets to a free show with our very low inside/outside temperature difference. The only benefit is noise reduction which has merit in the middle of busy San Jose however that hardly describes the needs of Guanacaste or any beach rural area. Like do you want to block out the noise from those pesky birds in the morning?

      As far as PEX is concerned I have used it exclusively for the past 3 years yet have not imported a thing. Again the product is already here in a product line that I believe to be better than anything I found in Canada and USA with the big advantage I don’t need to import it or over stock or worse yet run out in the middle of a project. This is a Chinese product which at times can be a problem but as I said 3 years with no problems using brass fittings and stainless steel manifolds has proven this system is incredibly tough and reliable. Not a single leak to plague us in three years. You can see this product in use at our Playa Grande site.

      Hence having been down that road I pick my battles very carefully and only import what is exceptional and/or simply not available here. Just this past week I did a newsletter covering two new roofing options one available here and the other not but both have features and costs unique enough to warrant the effort to acquire in the easiest fashion possible. Yes there is many import options and more showing up all the time who bring containers on a regular basis and I have used such for things like electrical wire and boxes and especially tools of which all brand name tools are a ridiculous price here for no apparent reason. Eg. I bought in a special Bosch saw and paid $750 for it yet at the local ferreteria who amazingly even had it wanted 920,000 col or $1,752. No matter how bad your shipper is or paying the full bore of taxes it just cannot more than double. Bloody impossible so someone in the supply chain is milking Jose latino consumer because they appear to get away with it. Plus I have of course often bought tools you could not find here if your life depended on it.

      Hope that helps prior to digging yourself into a hole.

      Trevor

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