Building our Ocean View dream home in Costa Rica Part I by Becky Clower
It has been my dream since the day I moved to Costa Rica to own an ocean view home. Fast forward five years and my dream has finally become a reality. Two weeks ago we broke ground on our home on an ocean view lot in a small development near Bahia de los Piratas (Pirate’s Bay) located just south of Playa Conchal in northwest Guanacaste.
What took my husband and I the longest was the part of actually visualizing what our perfect home was. For me, it wasn’t about having the biggest house out there (just more to clean!). It was about having a great layout and good use of space. Other important factors included making the home energy efficient and taking advantage of the elevation and ocean breezes. Of course, the views are beautiful, and the positioning of the home on the lot (which is sloped) was also of high importance to get the maximum views.
I would say that the architectural plans took about 4 months in total. Even to this day we are still changing little things here and there. I think we are 99% there. The most difficult thing was choosing a builder. At first, I made the (almost) mistake of having a family member build my home. This is a cousin that I respect and has a lot of building experience. However, he was based in San Jose and had too many things going on to help us in the end. I believe things happen for a reason. Although I was initially annoyed by the delay this caused, in the end, I am really happy with the builder we chose. They are a local builder who has done many area projects and has a good reputation for getting the job done right and on time. We opted for steel frame construction method as opposed to the typical concrete block you see in most of Costa Rican homes. Steel frame is a rather new concept for residential homes in Costa Rica. Advantages including quicker build time, lighter construction weight (less slab work), and energy efficiency (doesn’t radiate heat like concrete block), were taken into consideration. The company building our home is Frame Projects based in the Playa Potrero area: http://www.frame.cr/
The steel structure is imported from Canada and is a quality building material that resists corrosion (coated in pure zinc). Other energy saving and/or eco-friendly features of the home: Self-contained waste water treatment system by Eloy that will also provide irrigation using grey water, solar technology for the pool pump, double insulated windows, and volume ceilings.
One negative about building our house: Our lot has a slope, and because of that, we had to put in two very large retention walls. Between the two retention walls, we had to spend about $26,000 for the materials, labor and site work. I didn’t think we would have to spend that much, but at least we know that our house isn’t going downhill! Retention wall work is something that you need to keep in mind when building on the side of a mountain when you don’t have a level building pad, which is rather common with ocean view homes. The retention walls were built using the Keystone block system, which provides a greater strength and virtually no use of poured concrete.
This is part one of our story and we’ll continue to keep you posted. Ground breaking was January 17, 2012, top of the dry season in Guanacaste. We hope to spend next Christmas in our new home.