Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Outside Improvements.

A long time since I posted on this blog, so time for a quick photo update I guess.

Firstly, the small garden has been tidied up. It has been leveled and divided into two elevations: the top has been shingled and a tiled footpath has been laid, whereas the lower level will be all tiles.

Snow white shingle and stepping stones laid.

The lower level still needs finishing off!

The building has had a fresh coat of paint and is now a crisp white with a pink border. It took the painter quite a few attempts of 'cutting-in' to meet DH's exacting standards; not sure if he will ever want to decorate for another European again!

The entrance is clean and fresh (and almost finished).
Clean and bright compared to the gloomy yellow and grey that it was before.

DH, like most men, wanted a larger garden shed to store his tools and other stuff. Here in Costa Rica, sheds/storerooms are called bodega's. Our bodega is built into the wall underneath the casita's terrace, so it made sense to extend it. As a result, the terrace grew too!

Rubble everywhere

The bodega being made larger.

Neat and tidy - well it has only just been built!
New metal steps up to the terrace.

A bigger terrace for relaxing (and a peep of the bodega below!).

All of the metal that surrounds the terrace and entrance has been recycled from other areas in our plot - much of it was decorative and served no purpose whatsoever, so we just moved it to where it was actually needed. The steps up to the terrace have been welded specially though; unlike the UK, the welder spent most of the time with his welding mask perched atop his head and just used his sunglasses as safety goggles!

Of course lots of boring stuff has been going on too, like electrics and wiring (I don't think photos make that task any less dull so I won't bore you with them!!). We have also had to tile the roof as it was just metal - we may have to wait a few months to see if it is water-tight though!

New tiled roof. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Back End!

Shrubs cut back ready for painting the exterior.

Full Steam Ahead.

Jose and his team are making great progress. 

The bathroom is starting to take shape with a sink unit and shower walls being built. We also block an oddly positioned corridor, adjacent to the bathroom, in order to make a space for the hot water tank; it also presents a void in which to house a built-in wardrobe for the 2nd bedroom.

Shower walls and sink unit built.

Bricking up an oddly placed corridor.

The doors and windows don't take long to arrive either, making the property water tight and hopefully free from certain creatures!

Making La Casita water tight. 
From the inside 

The new glass front door, allowing as much light as possible
into the house.

They even make a start on laying the ceramic floor tiles both inside and on the terrace and entrance path.

Floor tiles


Sunday, 17 November 2013

The First Week.

Having been open to the elements since it's construction in 2007, La Casita is looking a little worse for wear. Wasps nests are sprouting from the voids where the windows should be: paw-prints, possibly from wild cats,  act as graffiti on the walls: dead bugs litter the floor. There is no visible evidence of a water supply and the electrics, although there are an infinite amount of light switches and sockets indented in the walls, do not work. 

We hire some builders, who promise great things and quickly too (here we go again). Jose is the guy in charge; a short, stocky man in his early fifties with remarkably dark hair and a few fingertips missing. His right hand man is Luis, probably early thirties, looks just like a local builder from Farnham - right from the way he dresses to the way he wears his sunglasses on the back of his head; the silver capped teeth add to his overall semblance.  Neither speak English, which I think could be fun in the future!

The Lone Demolisher

So to kick off, we get demolish the stone steps leading to the terrace and move the wrought iron banisters to the other steps that lead to the small garden area. This takes ONE man a whole day: no pneumatic drill to make the job easier, just a pick axe and hard work! Amazing! 

The small garden.
We level the small garden as much as it can be, and start to make a path along the retaining wall so that we can make a new front door: how a residence can be built with only 1 door, we are not quite sure, but then this is Costa Rica. We lose a few shrubs along the wall, but the tall cacti are planted elsewhere. A hole is cut in the exterior wall and we have a new orifice ready for a front door, with two new steps leading to the pathway. 

The new pathway to the front door

The new front entrance, overlooking a coconut tree.

The next task is to make the terrace and path to the front door safe; it's about a four foot drop down to our garden below. The previous owner installed wrought iron fencing around the entire property, so the same is needed at La Casita. Quite a lot is going to be needed, plus a gate to allow some privacy between the two properties. We realise that this will require a huge chunk of our budget, as wrought iron is not cheap anywhere in the world. But ever the resourceful, lining about 10 metres of the perimeter, we have some fencing that is not really necessary. So we recycle and re-use and hey presto, it looks pretty good. Luis cuts and welds the decorative arrows and they look like they were there all along. He even spray paints them for us, free of charge! 

The repositioned steps and railings

Railings by the front door

Making the Terrace safe

Jose, Luis and team are surely not from Costa Rica as they are flying through their work AND in a clean, tidy and professional manner! We must be in a parallel universe. As quick as they are working, DH and I are being sent here, there and everywhere to get supplies: not very environmentally friendly the amount of cement that is being made! But cement is the material of choice and necessity here as CR follows the Los Angeles code of building regulations in that everything had to be earthquake proof. 

What adds to the amount of cement needed is that the entire floor needs to be relaid; having been left untreated for so long, it has cracked and lost all elasticity (if that is the right word?). This wasn't in the budget, but it is the only set back so far. 

Not bad progress in a week. Dare I say it, Jose and his team are faster than the builders back home. Certainly they have moved faster that any other professional persons that we have encountered so far! Early days, but really quite pleased with them.