Articles About Designing

Logical Square Corners - Pool Construction

Pool Design and Construction

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL with the sole objective to deliver custom Pool Designs and Construction. Those are professionally engineered.

Custom Home Designing Service

Home Designing Service Details

This article will discuss what is included in your Custom Home Designing Service.  With Finish Touch Enterprises SRL

Home Designing ServiceI’ve written a series of articles that will answer a lot of people’s questions.  In the past 12 years of Designing and Building Homes in Costa Rica.  I have had my share of questions.  Many regarding the Home Designing Service.  So, therefore, I will attempt to make clear what is involved and what you will require.

I have structured the business model of Finish Touch Enterprises to be an ‘all in’ and ‘all inclusive’ company.  Meaning, there are no unforeseen surprises.  Our rates and services include all costs, including permit fees and mandatory insurance.



How Finish Touch Enterprises SRL Improves Your Experience

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a full-service Architectural Firm and a General Contractor in Costa Rica.  We are a company with continual growth by helping families and investors transition to Costa Rica living.  Specifically, our objective is to offer the best solutions with superior results.  Including offering the lowest prices with our Building Services and Home Designing Services.  This was accomplished by firstly, eliminating the middle man.  Secondly, less outsourcing of professional services.   Thirdly, equip the company with the necessary tools and equipment.

In most cases, a corporation’s business model consists of board members.  Each of them is a professional in their own area of studies.  Finish Touch Enterprises SRL adheres to the same format.  With a professional designing team, with each of them contributing specifics to their own area of studies.  Results with a complete and superior design.  Professionals that consist of architects, electrical engineers, structural engineers, interior designers, and more

The following list of Home Designing Service

  • An architect: for designs, drawings, elevations
  • The structural engineer: for footings, columns, roof design, red steel designs, connects, etc
  • Electrical engineer: receptacle and switch locations, load calculations, lumens calculations, service entry design
  • Interior decorator: designs for colors, textures, materials, niches, lighting, plumbing, and electrical fixtures
  • Permanently employed construction crews: Training men for specific skills
  • Heavy equipment for lot preparation, pool excavation, lot access, road building
  • Delivery trucks. No waiting, no extra delivery fees
  • Full-service woodshop creates custom kitchen cabinets, custom interior doors, custom entranceway doors
  • Stone profiling and polishing for granite countertops, stone sculpting and polishing for granite sinks, stair treads, window sills, etc
  • Window distribution license direct from the manufacturer, no middle man.  Warehouse prices directly to you
  • Pool equipment distributor direct from Pentair manufacture, no middle man.  Warehouse prices directly to you
  • Pebble pool finishes and glass bead aggregates
  • Fully insured company
  • Lísense with the Colegio Federado De Arquitectos Y Ingenieros De Costa Rica CFIA

Hire an architecture firm for home designing service

Designing a house in Costa RicaTo begin, when you are hiring an architect or architecture firm for your home designing service.  There will be many decisions to be made.  To begin, once your floor plan has been established and elevations.  You’ll begin to decide on finishing materials that cohere to the home aesthetics.  I call this the lipstick and mascara part.  Because it’s about colors, textures, material choices.  This can be overwhelming which is why our staff is here to take the difficult decisions.

When entering into a Home Design Service Agreement you will ask what is included and you will ask about costs.

  • Which materials and quality of materials will be used?
  • Details of the wall material
  • What will the roof consist of?
  • Flooring material and budget
  • Details of the type of windows that are going to be installed
  • Plumbing and lighting fixtures and budgets
  • Who will be reviewing the project and inspections
  • Cost for a complete design and permitting process

Engineered Systems for your Custom Design Service

Important to realize is there are many engineered systems, which are fabricated offsite transported to your property, and installed.  Many of these systems claim to save you time and money.  But most come with the sacrifice of quality.

If your designer is recommending an engineered system.  It may be necessary to do some research as to how you will benefit.  It is common for commissions to be paid for referrals.  Therefore you will want to validate that the recommendation is towards your benefit.  Not for the financial benefit of the one making the recommendation.

The thing that is important for your home design service is quality and function.  With being budget conscientious as well. In reality, you are going to enjoy this house for many years.  Therefore, it is more than an investment.  It is your home where memories will be made and cherished for a lifetime.  So incorporating the right systems is paramount.

What is included in your Homes Designing Service:

Costa Rica Architect FirmTo begin with the details of those questions.  Which is included in the Home Design Service Agreement with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL.

To begin the home designing service process you and I will begin to have a dialogue.  Perhaps by phone or through emails regarding your project.  We’ll be discussing the use of the home, whether it is a vacation home, retirement, permanent residence, or a rental income.  There are many variables all of which will influence design attributes and elements.

Further information as to your incision of home style.  Your likes and dislikes.  Must-haves, and necessities.  Your lifestyle particularly has a great influence.  Do you like to entertain groups of people or do you prefer a quiet lifestyle?  Do you spend a lot of time cooking or you don’t cook at all.  Again, there are many variables to influence your design.

In addition to a basic conversation for clarity and intention, we will discuss property budgets and all relevant articles.

Btw, budgets are always kept confidential.  Which are not shared with the staff.  It is best to have them focused on designing without restriction.  We will balance the design and budget

As a rule, I will visit the property to perform a pre-evaluation.  From there I would be checking for lot access and the ease of delivery vehicles have access.  I also look for lot servicing.  Neighbors and privacy issues.  Lot topography, tree evaluations.  I check for sun travel for morning and afternoon shade.  Focal points if any, and of course lot access for parking and turning around.

The home designing service agreement schedule includes:

    1. Preliminary studies of property
    2. Anti-project of property
    3. Geotechnical exploration and analysis
    4. Register Anti-Project to receive IVI reduction to 4%
    5. Conceptual design of floor plan and elevations
    6. Design finishes of exterior and interior materials/textures/colors
    7. Pool design and hydraulic engineered
    8. Detailed construction budget and schedule
    9. Detailed construction drawings
    10. Electric and mechanical design by certified engineers with CFIA
    11. Approval proceedings before the Costa Rican Engineers and Architects Bar
    12. Registration of professionals licensed with the CFIA for inspections
    13. Municipal approval process
    14. INS insurance (mandatory)
    15. Permits in hand

Home Designing Service Agreement Details

Project Stages: 

  1. Preliminary Studies of Property:

    1. Firstly, to begin with, a visit to the property.  This will actually be done periodically through the design process to verify elements.  The beginning visits are to determine the location of the house and outbuildings.  Lot access, parking, and turnaround.  This contributes to curb appeal.  Focal points exist or we need to create.  Neighbor location and privacy concerns.  Sun travel is also considered.  The natural lot topography and existing trees.  Lot servicing and any other attributes that will influence the design.
    2. Secondly, is the property amenities.  How near is the store, bank, clinic, restaurants, etc?  Some of these may have a factor on the design for storage or extra room, etc.
    3. Thirdly, is an interview with you to discuss the ‘must-haves.  What you are envisioning.  Your lifestyle and things you enjoy doing.  Are you entertainers or prefer a more relaxed quiet lifestyle?  A sports enthusiast, hobbies, activities, etc.  These attributes will influence living spaces, pool design, bedrooms, etc.
    4. Subsequently, the results from the above will initiate floor plan production.  As well as elevation plans of the house.  Including basic furniture layout and home attributes.  Which will encumber all attributes from the property inspection.  
  2. Anti-Project Of The Property:

    1. Creating an Ani-Project is basically a layout of your property.  We will show lot access and turn around.  House location, pool location, and gardens.  Basically, you will see social areas and the use of the land.  The ani-project will show all construction areas, fences if any, sidewalks, decking, etc.  From the approved anti-project, these attributes will be included in the construction drawings unless otherwise stated.
    2. We have a great deal of information on the Anti-Project.  You will find a North pointer in order to determine direction.  We include elevations of the building so it indicates the heights of the buildings.  The floor plan of the house is detailed so you can see the cohesion of indoor living with the outdoor living areas.  Often, we include tables of areas.  This gives a better understanding of proportion.  Air-conditioned areas to terraces, pool areas to decking, gardens or green areas, etc.
    3. The Anti-Project is also used for HOA approvals if relevant.  Often Asadas request an anti-project prior to approving a water availability letter.    
  3. Geotechnical exploration and analysis:

    1. Geotechnical Studies are not mandatory in Costa Rica and I’m not sure why, because they are extremely important.  These are soil studies on the property for density and perforation.  Importantly we want to know what lays beneath the home.  Often vegetative soil is about 12” on the surface of the property.  Which should be scalped off where construction will take place.  Then we need to know the density of the stabilized soil.  In order to calculate footing size.  Which is calculated by the weight of the house distribution over the soil density.  Also, we want to check soil up to 5 meters deep or to bedrock.  
    2. Perforation test tells us how quickly soil will absorb and drain water. We will design your stormwater management based on these studies.  As well as septic leach beds if applicable.
    3. Because these studies are not mandatory, many people believe they are not necessary.  For this reason, Finish Touch Enterprises has made Geotechnical studies a part of the design process and is included in the design fees.  They are important, and therefore, are included in your design file.
  4. Register Anti-Project to receive IVI reduction to 4%:

    1. This is fairly new to the Costa Rica permit process.  Costa Rica has initiated a goods and service tax of 13%.  Before, it was only a sales tax of 13%, but now it applies to all services in Costa Rica.  Of course, this was met with resistance from us architects and builders and for that reason, Congress temporarily suspended this tax for Architects, Engineers, and construction services.  In order to receive an exemption, a project needed to be registered with CFIA to receive an exempt number from Hacienda.
    2. September 1, 2021, this exemption was revoked and now a 4% service tax IVI will apply to construction services including designing.  However, you still must register the anti-project to receive the 4% reduction.  We include this process and registration fees as a part of our Custom Design Agreement
    3. It is also worth noting here that as of September 1, 2022, the 4% will increase to 8%
  5. Conceptual Design of Floor Plan and Elevation:

    1. Conceptual meaning starting point.  From all the data collected from the site visit, interview, and studies.  We will then begin with a preliminary design.  This design will be more detailed towards function, aesthetics, and budget conscience.  Much of this was completed for the anti-project.  But now we get into the details.
    2. Following the floor plan, we then design elevations.  This includes wall heights, ceiling heights, architectural ceiling designs if applicable, roof design, window, and door placement, sizes, and designs.
  6. Design Finishes of Exterior and Interior Materials/Textures/Colors:

    1. Our designers will then add some color, texture, and materials to the design. This is a part when things start to get exciting.  I call this part the ‘lipstick and mascara’ part.  As now house develops a personality reflecting its owner’s visions.  There is a cohesion of ceiling designs, floor tiles, feature walls, cabinets.  All of which set the mood.  From rustic to elegance.
    2. For visual reference, we create 3D renders to best communicate with you the aesthetics.  With this technology, it is as close to reality as we can get.  Of course in real life, there will be deference to a degree.  But it best depicts the end goal with reasonable accuracy.
    3. With the conceptual drawing and renders, we can more accurately calculate costs.  As we now have a drawing for material take-offs for exact measures of flooring, cabinets, block, concrete, etc.  As well as, renders for material choices, placements, and measures.
  7. Pool Design and Hydraulic Engineering:

    1. Pool designs and engineering are critical components of a home design.  This is a whole field of its own and requires much care and consideration.  The pool area will most likely be the area most used in a home design.  You will spend more time here than anywhere else in the home.  Not just for usage, but for visual serenity.  Often the pool area is seen upon entering the home for the ‘wow’ effect.  Knowing this, we at Finish Touch Enterprises, take much care and professional adherence and dedication to your pool design.
    2. To begin, the pool design should be a part of the house, not an add-on.  So we try to incorporate some home attributes and elements into the pool.  To give an adhesion between the two.  Also, size in proportion to the house and number of occupants.  All pools are custom designed and not pulled out of a book.  So we can include many features and conveniences to suit the families’ preferences.  Example; beach entry without steps, water cascades, infinity edge, bubblers, seating areas, light show, firewater, swim-up bar to an outdoor kitchen. etc.
    3. For more detailed information regarding the pool design.  We recommend reading this article Pool Design and Construction
  8. Detailed Construction Budget and Schedule:

    1. Collectively, this is a document that jointly goes with your construction drawings.  The construction drawings give you details of measurements.  Locations of attributes, and construction details of material quality.  The Detailed Construction Budget and Schedule are more inclusive of what you will receive.  Budgets on flooring, granites, taps, plumbing fixtures, lights, fans.  Most often builders don’t demonstrate what quality they use on these elements.  But we give you a 15-page document of all material breakdown quantities and cost
    2. The budget begins with relevant data.  Between the property and Finish Touch Enterprises.  This data is regarding Finish Touch Enterprises address, contact info, and General Contractor license info.
    3. The summary page of areas and costs of areas per meter squared.  What is included in the proforma and what is not included?
    4. Individual material quantities and costs.  This area is generic so when you read a ‘0’ in a quantity column, you know your house does not have this item.  However, if you choose to want this item, you will know what the cost is upfront.  Example.  If you did not want a hot water tank and preferred hot water on demand, your proforma will show the cost upfront.  We provide no surprises and total transparency.
    5. In addition, the proforma has labor costs to build this home which includes government responsibilities.  There is summary pages where you can view all cost collectively.
    6. The final pages show a schedule for the installation of the materials with a flow chart.  Followed by a monthly/weekly chart of costs during the progression of the construction.
  9. Detailed Construction Drawings:

    1. You will receive a complete set of construction drawings physically and digitally.  These drawings usually consist of 20 to 25 pages.  Each page will have the approval seal of CFIA.  Meaning they are certified and approved before the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica Bar (Federal Building Department).
    2. The drawings will include all relevant laminas to construct this home.  Sections on architectonics, elevations, cut sections, structural sections, electrical sections, mechanical sections, window/door schedules, areas, etc.
    3. Note: In addition, for your information purposes, with the construction drawings you can solicit builders for pricing or price comparisons.  We recommend you keep the proforma private for your personal comparisons.  With these two documents, you are best equipped for asking the correct questions.  Of course, we hope you continue with Finish Touch Enterprises as your builder.
  10. Electric and mechanical design and blueprints:

    1. After the approval of the conceptual drawing, we then get the engineers involved to make the design work.  Mandatory Electrical engineer and Mechanical engineer will be for every project.  There may be additional engineers required depending on specifics.
    2. The Electrical and mechanical engineers will firstly design to code and function.  Logically, this means we can see in the dark and water runs downhill.  Secondly, we continue these designs for function.  This includes 3-way switches at strategic points.  Location and heights of tv receptacles.  The convenient location of shower taps to showerheads.  And many other functions and features.  Thirdly, is aesthetics, our designers and engineers work together to finalize this stage.  This includes ambient lighting, wall washing lighting, task lighting.  Perhaps the vessel sinks with cascade taps.  Bathroom shower features.  Kitchen island features, and more.
    3. There are also careful considerations for HVAC designs.  Placements of ducting and returns for constant climate control.  Engineering for passive cooling is involved in this stage as well.  Telecommunications designs and any security considerations are done at this part.
  11. Approval Proceedings before the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica:

    1. At the beginning of the project in step 1 above, we mention the collection of permit documents.  By the time we completed all the steps including the detailed construction drawings, we should have collected all required documentation for permitting.  We then submit the package to CFIA
    2. The package is examined and notification is sent that it is complete.  Should they require further documentation they will request it at this time.  Once the package is determined complete, it is assigned a reviewer
    3. The reviewer analyzed the drawings to confirm they comply with all Costa Rica Federal Building codes.  Which include seismic stability, structural safety factors, wall systems, and other systems that are Costa Rica certified.
    4. Within the CFIA are also additional departments that will review the plans.  This includes the Ministry of health for any black water designs, the Fire Department for egress designs, the Ministry of environment for environmental concerns, and so forth.
    5. Once all departments have approved the designs, we are sent an invoice for permit payment which is paid by Finish Touch Enterprises.  All fees are included in the Architect Agreement between Finish Touch Enterprises and the Client.
  12. Registration of professionals licensed with the CFIA for inspections:

    1. On all laminates of the Construction Drawings, there is a section on the right side that we call the Canteen.  This area is where the CFIA will stamp a seal of approval.  This area also shows the page number, which section it belongs to, property owner name, project name.  Most importantly, it shows the names and license numbers of the designers, engineers, architects, and builders.  These license numbers are verified by CFIA for validity as only licensed professionals can apply for permits.  These are the professionals responsible for the construction accuracy and perform inspections weekly.
    2. Should the client hire another builder to construct the home, these registered responsible would resign and the new builder would register his professionals if he has any.  Otherwise, the Client would need to sub-contract new professionals to be responsible for the build.  This is a bit of a hassle but is not uncommon.
  13.  Municipal approval process:

    1. Upon receiving the CFIA approval, the plans may then proceed to the Municipality.  The Municipality has a couple of obligatory reviews for the plans.
    2. Firstly, they will review the anti-project for building setbacks and lot coverage.  The federal building code has federal bi-laws.  the Municipality has additional bi-laws.  These are usually presented to us when we receive the ‘Uso Suelo’ (Use of Land) document.  It usually stated, how high a structure can be for that zone.  Property setbacks.  Amount or percentage of lot coverage.  The municipality does not check for structural compliance.
    3. Secondly, the approval stamp from CFIA will have a value of construction.  The Municipality considers this value as an improvement to the property.  They then include this value in the property value to calculate your new annual property tax amount.
    4. Thirdly, the Municipality will confirm there is construction insurance valid.
    5. Once all the above is valid and verified, we are sent an invoice for permit payment which is paid by Finish Touch Enterprises.  All fees are included in the Architect Agreement between Finish Touch Enterprises and the Client.
  14. INS insurance (mandatory):

    1. INS is an acronym for Instituto Nacional de Seguros.  Costa Rica has government insurance for homes, vehicles, and life.  There are no in-country insurance companies.  Any insurance plans you may consider from any company outside of INS, then you are purchasing insurance from an American Company or some other country abroad.  
    2. Nonetheless, INS is a mandatory insurance requirement for construction.  The amount of insurance to pay for your project is calculated from the value stamp of CFIA.  INS claims that 35% of that value is labor costs.  INS is 3.6% of labor costs.  Therefore, proof of this payment must be declared to the Municipality before they issue a permit. All fees are included in the Architect Agreement between Finish Touch Enterprises and the Client.
    3. NOTE: Should the Client employ other contractors, then the contractor must provide his own INS for his employees
  15. Permits in Hand:

    1. This is the end of the pre-construction stage.  We now have all permits to proceed with construction.  You have certified approved construction drawings, you have a 15 page detailed proforma of all materials, and budgets for finishes, as well as a timeline for construction.  You have federal and municipal permits and construction insurance.  Ready to begin construction.  The Architect Agreement is complete and ready for a Construction Building Agreement.  Hopefully with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL.

Federal Building Permit and Rates

Costa Rica Designing Services AgreementYou will see a copy of a physical federal building permit.  In the yellow highlight, area are two boxes above one another.  The upper box list architects’ duties before construction.  The architect checks the box for which he is responsible.  The box below is the architect’s duties during construction.  Again, he’ll check the boxes which are relevant.

Besides the duty description is a % of the fee for which an architect will charge.  Some of these are mandatory to be checked while others are suggestive.  Depending on the firm you are dealing with, the architect rates can vary from 8% to 13% of the project value.  Once the CFIA stamp with a value is received, then, these %’s are calculated to actual fee values and are sent to Hacienda.

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a General Contractor in Costa Rica.  Our objective is to get you to the building stage as soon as possible.  For this reason, our rates are less than the minimum rate.  Our rates begin at $25,000 and increase by 8% after a budget of $300,000. All-inclusive: fees for federal, municipal, and INS fees.  We also include the cost for soil studies.  We include all costs for electrical and mechanical engineering.  As well as additional staff for Interior Design/decorating.

This is what separates us from all other architect firms and general contractors.  We have a very simple all-inclusive, no surprises business model.



Designing a House In Costa Rica

Designing a House In Costa Rica

So here you are, Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica! Terrific! I look forward to having you as a new neighbor in Costa Rica’s Pura Vida!

Pura Vida translates into “the pure life” or “the simple life.” It is a commonly used phrase to say hello, good-bye, everything is great, and everything is cool! Pura Vida is not just an idiom in Costa Rica; It is a way of life in Costa Rica.

To enjoy the full benefits of Pura Vida, you must take that first step: designing a House in Costa Rica.

Design a home in Costa RicaWhether you are still in the process of dreaming about Building a House in Costa Rica.  Or you have taken the plunge into Pura Vida and are currently active in designing or building in Costa Rica.  I want to share some trade secrets to save you time and money.

As the founder and CEO of Finish Touch Enterprises SRL. I would also want to help you in laying out and designing your dream home. Your house’s design is crucial. Because the more organized, structured, and knowledgeable you are about designing and building in Costa Rica, the easier the start-to-finish transitions will be.

This article is specifically written as a starting point to create the demeanor to approach Designing a House in Costa Rica

Let us take a moment to digress…please read my articles about the designing processes, the steps involved to progress your custom home design.  Articles of your involvement and what you should communicate and methods of communicating with your architect or designer.  I have also written articles explaining professional involvements to complete a design and permits and what costs to expect.  We at Finish Touch Enterprises feel the best approach to relieving anxiety and skepticism is to educate people to understand the mechanics of Designing and Building a house in Costa Rica.

Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica on Paper

Any design model needs to be built on paper before it can be transformed into a tangible construction.  You should be working closely with your architect and builder to develop details.  That will include concise measures, materials, and delivery schedules.

Realistically, you should allow approximately 4 to 8 months for designing and permitting completion.  As well as attaining the required permits before construction can begin.  Do not rush your design process! This is a common error I see too often.  People want to start building today.  Without a good design and concise details, your project could soon turn into a disaster.  Try not to under-evaluate the importance of a complete and concise design.

Of course, even people who live in Pura Vida in Costa Rica, experience anxiety during this phase. That’s why I wrote this and other articles: to help you design your dream home effectively, efficiently, and with the least amount of anxiety.  This is and should be a pleasurable experience that you want to be proud of, for years to come.

Our Ideology of House Design

Our ideology at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is to work closely and personally with every client and reduce any stress. One way to allay anxiety and stress is to have accurate, organized, and detailed-design plans, and permits.  Having a staff taking care of all the details big and small.  Sourcing specifics and unique elements, preparing imports if necessary.  Having a team on your side positively certainly reduces concerns, doubts, and fortifies confidence.

Even if you don’t choose to hire Finish Touch, (my personal recommendation), the success of your project directly results from competent, experienced professionals.  I make myself available for any who may have questions on concerns.  You don’t have to be a client to make contact with me in this regard.  With my Canadian background, I am always pleased to help.

Rule #1: You are The Boss when designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the people you hire may know all the terms, codes, and methods you don’t, but they still work for you. You have the right to be as involved as much as you want in the design process. Asking questions and holding professionals accountable are “not bothering them;”.  Asking questions and holding professionals accountable is good customer service.  In my past experience, I have had clients who were involved with every nail, screw, rebar, light bulb.  While other clients were, “don’t call me until your done”.  Either way is right.  This is your investment, this is your home, this is your project.  Your architect and builder are obligated to deliver to you results.  Including answering all questions of concerns, doubts, or uncertainty.

You are the boss.

Typical Beginning to Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica

The first professional with whom you’ll speak is a Licensed Architect.Designing a house in Costa Rica

It is the architect’s responsibility to draw the picture of your dream home.  Most architects do not have engineer training; therefore, the primary focus is on aesthetic and cosmetic attributes. The architect will take your ideas and visualizations and create a drawing on paper.

A good architect will work with you through multiple drafts until the visual on the paper matches the visual in your mind.  He will sketch a design with function, spirit, and artistic taste.

Produce a result

For your design to function well after you are satisfied with the general layout.  It may be necessary to involve other professional services.

An Electrical Engineer is mandatory on all Costa Rican house designs.  Also, it’s important if you are able, to participate in the electrical design.  Electrical codes are very much out of date in accordance with our electrical demands.  We have many more kitchen appliances, entertainment center appliances, bedroom gadgets, and we demand more convenient receptacles for charging units.  In addition, there is ambient lighting, task lighting, wall washing lighting, landscape lighting.  As you can see, many elements that you can participate in for the electrical design.

Depending on the size of the home, you may not be required to employ a Structural Engineer.  But having a Structural Engineer on-hand to review your preliminary plans before the detailed drawings are prepared benefits you.  This would include, a comprehension of the soil studies for footing size.  Lintel calculations, rebar sizes, frequency of rebar, structural roof design. etc.

Your Architect will generalize your structural footings, columns, and tie beams. In other words, that glass wall you envision may need some structural reinforcement.  Even the Architect’s final drawing is ill-defined without the engineering reviews.

House Designing prerequisites:

Because soil tests are not mandatory, people often overlook soil tests.  However, do yourself a favor and get soil studies on your lot. You, your engineer, and your builder need to know the structural characteristics of the ground, water dynamics, and filtration.

Also, you could even go a step further and ask a Structural Engineer to review the soil-studies results before designing a house. I personally have more than 40 experience in construction.  Have I got stories for you, from those who chose to skip certain engineering steps.  We at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL include soil studies in our Architect Agreement.  It is a part of your package and we also send the results to CFIA when submitting for a permit.

Note References for Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.

Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica or any place is a complex process, which should not be executed by one person or a single architect. Pura Vida really does take a village.  Hiring the right team to make your dream house in Costa Rica a reality will make the entire journey easier and more cost-effective. Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica is your first step toward the Pura Vida.

There is no sure way for putting together your team of designers.  Every case and situation is a bit different.  You don’t want to hire someone overqualified as it is an unnecessary expense.  But on the contrary, you don’t want to hire someone underqualified.  As your end result could cost you much more than money.  Finding that sweet spot is knowing how to choose the team in the first place.  Not just the yellow pages, (that don’t exist in Costa Rica either).

There are articles on this website that if you take the time to read will give you the tools for choosing your team.  Take notes to what is relevant to your situation, know the right questions to ask, and know what answers should come back.  This can be fun and exciting as you will begin a whole new friendship.  Make sure to include Finish Touch Enterprises on your list for interviews.

Attributes of Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica

If you’re reading this article, you are probably considering designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.  Or at least, dreaming about designing a house in Costa Rica.

Lot Attributes;

Let’s talk aboutCosta Rica Architect Firm some essential design and property attributes.  This is the first step of putting together a vision.  That is the attributes of your lot.  To name a few would be; the lots focal points, topography, trees age and species, neighbors, sun travel, mechanical noises, or possible nature noises, rivers, any existing attribute that may influence the design elements.  More details here

Personal Attributes;

Having your personal attributes on hand makes the process of designing and Building a House in Costa Rica enjoyable and less stressful.  We recommend preparing by creating a “Designing a House in Costa Rica” Binder with Photos and Notes.  Not every attribute I discuss will be relevant to you.  So in keeping with the Pura Vida, jot down only those notes that are relevant to you.

Taking notes and creating a binder will not only help you stay organized but also help you see your dream become tangible. You can designate specific sections, such as designs, permits, soil studies, photos, expenses, electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and schedules.  Also, you can even incorporate my articles in your binder for easy reference.

Have fun with your Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica Binder! Decorate or stylize your binder to reflect your aspirations and ideas. If you have not already done so, please, read the article: Costa Rica Architect Firm, which will explain what Finish Touch incorporates into every one of our designs.  Including your home and budget.

In your quest for the Pura Vida home, Two Attribute Categories deserve consideration: Property Attributes and House Attributes.

Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica: Property Attributes

1) Existing Topography in Costa Rica

When designing a home in Costa Rica, Property Attributes come first. What are Property Attributes? Primarily, existing topography (i.e., slopes, hills, terrain, and angles).designing a house in costa rica Americans often refer to the Western United States as God’s Country.  Costa Rica is also God’s Country.

Industries and prefabricated housing do not dominate the landscape. Nature created the land in Costa Rica, and Nature does not make mistakes.

Therefore, to fully enjoy all the beauty that Costa Rica has to offer, you probably want to keep the main features of your property as they are.

Topography analysis provides engineers with the necessary information they need.  For creating property access, including a place to park and maneuver vehicles.

Your actual home design may naturally conform to the side of a mountain or hill.  Understanding the basic topography and property elevations contributes to the home-design layout.

Which may include two stories, a basement walk-out, a raised or non-raised bungalow.  Or split-levels. Knowing the topographical benefits and limitations ultimately dictates how the house, perimeters, walls, and stories will be laid out.

Why do you have to know all this stuff? Knowledge is power and power is confidence. From a design point of view, you want to minimize the cost of your house’s foundation.  Or having to use budget funds for retaining walls.

2) Your Design’s Focal Point

Hire a builder costa ricaThat underlying beauty and variety of landscapes in Costa Rica create natural-design focal points. Which vista do you want to keep with your morning cup of coffee? Would you prefer a canopy or an oceanic view?  In the evening when you are sipping an adult beverage on the pool terrace?  If such a view does not exist on your property, then we will design and make one.  With tropical lush flora.

Do you even want a veranda? Knowing the focal point of your house design allows you to plan for particular house attributes. This is your dream—and Costa Rica is the most spectacular place to live out your dream.  So take advantage of every property and house attribute you can when designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.

3) Sun Travel On Your Property

There is an abundant amount of sun in Costa Rica.  Which is probably one of the main reasons you want to escape North America.  We have approx 8 hours of full sun rays per day compared to approx 3 hours of full sun in Canada and the northern states.  I shouldn’t have to explain the health benefits of the sun.  We’ve all learned a lot about the natural vitamin D and benefits of vitamin D against the covid calamity.

In addition, this amount of sun allows us to harvest its rays to produce electricity.  With an average of 8 hours of direct sun rays, the payback time for alternative energy of Photovoltaic is less than 5 years.  Wow, just imagine, free electricity for life.

The path the sun travels across your property can help you optimize your living space.  From a design point of view, sun travel considerations for windows locations, window sizes, location of bedrooms.  Sunsets, sunrises, sunny areas, and shaded areas.  Most people take this for granted.  Nonetheless, we use it to your advantage.

4) Privacy Considerations

Even in Costa Rica’s Pura Vida, you may want more privacy. When you’re having fun by the pool, or entertaining people for a bbq.  Perhaps a romantic moment with that special one.  In any situation, you want to feel secure, safe, and with complete privacy.  The list could be endless for reasons wanting your own personal privacy.  Therefore, your designer needs to analyze the best way to achieve this.  From house layout, house positioning, live fence, elevations, windows, or if necessary a wall.

If there is an adjoining lot with no structure, then your designer would have to make an educated assumption as to where a structure would be constructed.  There is also noise pollution that may be a part of this equation.  Not often, but sometimes we need to pay attention to outside noises.  If this is so, then we would consider a water feature to drown out sounds, or plant trees that attract certain birds.

This is an attribute that can be easily overlooked.  It is a simple issue and can save a lot of future frustration if taken care of early.

In Summary

Property studies are essential in designing.  Eliminating some house attributes to accommodate existing property attributes will save you a ton of money.  If necessary get several observations from various professionals.  Or consider an Architectural Firm like Finish Touch Enterprises that has a full complement of professional designers and engineers.

So, before you embark on designing and Building a House in Costa Rica, understand your property advantages and disadvantages beginning with the conceptual design.

House Attributes

1) Purpose of Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica

When designing and Building a House in Costa Rica, you will want to consider your house’s purpose. Is your home: an investment you’ll be renting for extra income. Or is it a part of a retirement plan.

Let’s not forget the ideal purpose of aDesign a house in Costa Rica permanent residence. Would be to accommodate a work schedule and retirement plan.  But still have the relaxing and welcoming humbleness.  I place to feel accomplished, and create new lifelong memories.

Or perhaps a vacation get-a-way for the family.  A vacation home can generate income if you choose, or be reserved specifically for your family and friends.  When escaping the cold climates, or big-city hustle and bustle rat race.  Where better to hang your hat than in a tropical, serene setting in Costa Rica, where it is summer every day of the year.  Coupled with a refreshment.

Each of these purposes contributes to design attributes.  An example would be that vacation homes would want to focus more on social areas and outdoor living.  Smaller closets and storage, outdoor kitchen, and so forth.  We may also recommend for a vacation home is to have two master bedrooms and two guestrooms are beneficial.  Because two families often travel together.

Or perhaps you are planning on a house exclusively for retirement and family visiting.  Then, you may want to incorporate more luxurious elements like a serenity pool, an impeccable garden landscape, and outdoor lighting.  Budgets would be higher on finish elements and decorative elements.  Like, architectural decorative ceilings, gourmet kitchen, smart home technology, etc.

This truly can be your dream home, do not limit your imagination or life. Pura Vida!

2) Lifestyle-Activity and Impact Ratio

Once you communicate the purpose of your house.  Especially if the home is for your personal use.  Then you’re going to find it easier for choosing your home’s attributes and elements.  Beginning with, assessing your Lifestyle-Activity Impact Ratio. Meaning, are you very active, sports-oriented, competitive.  Or more sedative, relaxed, laid back, more visual for gardens, water features, birdhouses.

Designing A House In Costa RicaMany elements are reflected in the pool design.  A pool can be a play pool with lots of splash and spa exercise.  Or a pool can have cascades, infinity, fire, and water features.

The surrounding area of the pool can be active with an outdoor kitchen, casita, studio, area for horseshoe competitions, or other lawn games.  Or the pool can have interesting terrace level characteristics, serene lighting, bar, chalupa, hammock, or other relaxing themes.

Besides lifestyle characteristics, there is age can be included.  Are there children or grandchildren that should be considered in the design attributes?  This can be especially important for vacation rental purposes.

In that binder, you are going to have fun making.  You may wish to designate a section for Lifestyle-Activity, Impact Ratio, so your architects, engineers, and builders can adequately accommodate your needs. Communication among you and those professionals working for you is crucial. Remember what I said earlier: You are The Boss! Ultimately, your home should be designed to your standards of comfort and reflect your traditions.

3) Spirit of the Home

A house, no matter how innovatively or luxuriously designed.  It is still just a house until it is lived in and the inhabitants give their home a Spirit.  You want your house to have a personality, which reflects you.

Designing A House In Costa RicaWhat curb appeal do you want your home to have?  A Mexican-Spanish façade with a modern interior, Columbian or Mediterranean architecture with a more traditional interior.  Or simply a modern beach house.

Do you want stone-work featured walls, more natural-rough woodwork, or a low-maintenance stucco finish?  Don’t forget Costa Rica’s mountains lend themselves to Mountain architecture or even vertical-building designs.

When your home has its own spirit or character, this will dictate how you feel when you’re in the home.

This is why you want to communicate clearly to your designers, engineers, and builders what kind of home and specific features you want. Even if you end up with an over-stuffed binder with many ideas.  Including notes, photos of houses and environments (especially helpful to designers), drawings, and scribbles, I would much rather sift through many ideas with you.  Discovering what you like.  Rather than your asking me or whomever you hire to make those decisions for you.

What spirit do you want your home to have and what kind of spirit do you want to live in?

We, at Finish Touch Enterprises and all other quality architects and Costa Rica home builders, follow systems for designing and building houses.  Only you can make a house a home filled with joy, sharing, and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Let us help you build you a “home” beyond just a constructed house.

4) Budget

The final house-design attribute is budget. The budget may be the most critical aspect of designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.  Because you can get so much more for your money in Costa Rica than in North America.

With that said, I understand that nobody wants to “break the bank” in building their dream home. The lower cost of a higher standard of living is probably one of the reasons you are designing a house in Costa Rica.

Conveniently, we utilize “Thumb Calculations” of what things generally cost per square foot or square meter as a starting point. A detailed list of costs is outlined in these two articles: Home Designing Service and Customizing a home in Costa Rica.

“Thumb Calculations” help us determine the size of your home, pool, Casita, garage, outdoor kitchen. Once we have established a preliminary design, we can calculate material quantities, such as linear feet of cabinetry, porcelain tiles, number of showers, ceiling fans, and other plumbing and light fixtures.

With this information, we can accurately calculate how much building your dream home in Costa Rica will cost. From the preliminary drawings, we can make adjustments until the design and the budget balance.

Again, whether you hire us or not, please contact me at Finish Touch Enterprises. I will be glad to answer any questions and help you find a place to start if that’s what you need. My only regret about moving to Costa Rica is that I did not move here 10 years earlier. I want you to experience the incomparable Pura Vida in Costa Rica.

Conclusion on Building a House in Costa Rica

With information from the 4-property attributes and the 4-house attributes, you can compose an anti-project design, which enables us to propose preliminary designs andhow to hire a builder budgets.  This proposal, which can be adjusted to balance the design and budget, is for your review.

  • Anti-Project of the project overview
  • Lot-access and parking
  • House position and foot-print layout
  • Pool position and foot-print layout
  • Outbuilding position and foot-print layout (i.e. garage, casita, pool, outdoor kitchen, etc)
  • Landscape-preliminary design
  • Floor plan including kitchen, closets, bathrooms, and furniture layouts
  • House elevations and 2D exterior views of the front, rear, right side, left side with proposed finishes
  • Preliminary budget with finishing and overall building details.  We offer our clients style, unique design, custom finishes, over 20 years of experience, free consultation, and a full staff of professionals.

Follow our series of building articles to empower you toward the success of your project’s completion:

  1. How to Hire a Builder
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm 
  3. Designing And Building a House In Costa Rica Attributes (this article)
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders
  6. Methods Of Building In Costa Rica
  7. Costa Rica Custom Home
  8. Costa Rica General Contractor
  9. Interior Design In Costa Rica
  10. Finish Touch Furniture SRL