Building our Home

After touring around Costa Rica during several trips, we decided that our favorite region was Guanacaste and the town of Flamingo in the Pacific Northwest.  We picked this area primarily for the weather, proximity to beautiful and uncrowded beaches and also for the great fishing.

One afternoon we visited the Mar Vista development and fell in love with the community and the people that represented it.  The Mar Vista builder is from the United States and builds with quality materials and construction methods.  We visited several homes, both completed and in various stages of construction.  We were impressed with the workmanship and process.

Blocks, cement and rebar are used for the foundation.  The structure consists of aluminum for the frame and coated steel for the roof and main support beams.  The roofing is corrugated aluminum with tile or slate shingle on top.  Wood is not used anywhere except for internal trim (doors and cabinets).  The roof eves are sealed and there is not a traditional attic.  This method reduces the amount of moisture that a house can retain and guards against mold, termites and earthquakes.  The plumbing is run around the perimeter of the house and enters through the foundation at the appropriate spots.  No plumbing is run through or across the foundation.  This makes maintenance easy if there should be any issues.

Given all of the above, I don't think we could have done much better and we proceeded with the land purchase in early 2018.

We waited until the end of the green (rainy) season, and also closer to our move date of April 2019, to kick off the build, and so that we would be nearby during the final phases of the project. 

Construction started off in November of 2018 and completed in the first week of October 2019, about 1 month later than expected. 

The Mar Vista Community

Shown below is the Dos Rios Development positioned between the Miramar and La Jolla.

We purchased a double lot, about 1/4 acre in size.  View below is looking towards the east with our lot to the right of the arrow.

View of where our lot is locatedOur Lot

View from our lot looking west.  In Costa Rica, the emphasis of the house is the backyard.  Therefore we positioned our patio deck, pool area and view from the backyard toward the ocean.

View from out lot looking westWest View of Ocean

In March of 2018, I traveled from San Diego for a 3 day weekend and spent a full day working with the builder and architect to design our 1750 sq ft home, single story, 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath with salt water pool  We started with an existing plan and made some major changes.  The stock plan was about the right size but all three bedrooms were on one side, in a row.  We created an extra wing and moved the two bedrooms to the other side changing the house from a "L" shape to a "U".  We then expanded the kitchen and added an island.  I needed some type of small garage, not necessarily for a car but for a fishing kayak on a small jet ski trailer, so we added this.  The kayak room will also double as the location for the pool equipment and will have an extra tall ceiling for storage.

In one day, I had a full design, fixed price quote and build duration.  Included in the price are all finishes, cabinets, built in appliances, ceiling fans, flooring, counter tops, landscaping, patio deck/cover, salt water pool including pump and filtration system.

Floor plan of our homeOur Floor Plan

In August 2018, Mary and I made a quick trip from San Diego to San Jose Costa Rica to pick out our finishes with the builder.  We took a midnight red-eye from Tijuana via Mexico City and landed Friday morning around 11am.  We were picked up at the airport by the builder and visited several of the his suppliers to select flooring, counter tops, shower tile, fixtures, toilets, sinks and appliances.  Got it all done in a really fun, but long, day.  Didn't get back to the hotel until about 10:30 pm.  Then we left San Jose late Saturday evening on our way to Lake Chapala, south of Guadalajara Mexico, to visit friends who also left San Diego and are building their retirement home.

Construction kicked off on our 1750 square foot, one story house, as planned in early November.  Foundation footings and rebar are shown in progress.  View is looking down from the hill above and to the west.  After grading, block, rebar and cement are used to level out the foundation

House footings in progressFootings Nearly Complete

Our foundation was completed in January.  Great progress considering the amount of footing preparation ,electrical and plumbing conduit and grading that was required and that there was also some time off for Christmas.

The builder ensured that the foundation was kept wet all the time so that is would cure correctly, especially since it was the middle of dry season.  View is from the north looking south.

Foundation is now completeConcrete Foundation

We just returned from Costa Rica in February 2019 and took the following photos.  The steel and aluminum structure has been started.  Other than doors, cabinets and some trim, the builder does not use any wood in the structure including the roof.  This makes for a more structurally sound and termite proof home, one of the main reasons we went with Mar Vista.  View below is looking to the west.

The first phase of the framing processStart of Framing

View below of master bedroom looking south.

The first phase of the framing process is just about wrapped upInitial Framing Phase Nearly Complete

View below of living area and pool.  The house is U shaped with a 12x25 foot saltwater pool in the middle.  Master bedroom will be on the left and the two guest rooms on the right.  All bedrooms will have sliders that open up to the pool area.

Rough opening for pool is completeStart of Pool

Early April.  View looking north.  With the exception of the kayak room in the foreground, the framing is complete.  We are very impressed with the structural integrity of the build.

Main house framing is completeFraming of Main House is Complete

Late April.  Pool will have a deck that is only 10" deep so that we can place chairs on it.  Builder suggested that we leave a swim channel and not take the deck all the way across.  This was a great idea.  Steel roof structure has now been started.  Steel is welded and then painted for protection against moisture and rust.

Rebar for the pool is nearly completePool and Deck Area

Early May.  View is towards the front of the house looking west.  With the exception of the eve edges, the roof structure is complete.

The steel structure for the roof has been completedMain roof structure is complete

All of the roof structure is welded and coated to protect against moisture.  The eves are over-sized due to the large amount of rainfall that occurs during green season.

Roof eves are ready to be installedWork on the roof eves is about to begin

Early June.  DensGlass outer wrap and corrugated aluminum roof underlay is nearly complete and just in time for green season and the heavy rains.  Now, work on the inside can proceed without the weather impacting the schedule.

Exterior walls and roof are now completeRoof and exterior walls are nearly complete

Mid June - Lots on interior work going on, electrical, plumbing and pool/patio.  Below is the prep for the base concrete around the pool.  One thing that really impresses me about this builder is that all of the over-sized rain gutters are directed to large underground PVC pipes that routes all of the water away from the structure and to the drainage system for the neighborhood.

Between the two white PVC drain pipes is an under-concrete drainage trough.  Once the final patio coral stone finish is completed, small slits will be made just above the trough to drain any water away from the patio.  These are little things that most builders, even in the US, do not install, but make a big difference in the final quality of the product.

Rebar for the patio is not installedStructure for the patio is ready for cement

One day later, the patio and pool cement is poured and the finish work on the pool begins.

Backyard cement is now in placePool and patio concrete base are complete

Early September.  Pool gets steps, seating area and table.

Stairs, baja shelf and table are near completionPool is nearly ready for final finish coat

Base stucco coat is complete.

The stucco base coat is nearly doneStucco base coat

Mid-September.  Windows are now installed along with roof and final stucco color coat

Working finish up the roof stucco colorRoof and Stucco Color gets installed

We decided to install a beautiful paver driveway in the front of the house.

Paver driveway nears completionPaver Driveway

Entryway and front door are just about done.

Entryway with beautiful natural wood doorEntryway

Kitchen cabinets are now installed and work beings on the appliances.

Cabinets and appliances are now installedKitchen

We designed our house to be open concept with kitchen, dining and living room all combined as one room.

View of the great roomA portion of the great room

The pool and patio are complete.

One of the big highlights of our great room and back yard is the 24 foot slider that completely opens to the patio and pool area.

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