Building A Costa Rica Custom Home
This article will discuss what is included in your Costa Rica Custom Home with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL. As well as what is included in the cost of Building a Custom Home in Costa Rica with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL. In short we are presenting our price, and including the quality standards in our builds.
I have read articles and post where people have continued to ask: What is the cost to build a house in Costa Rica. There is no direct general answer to this question. The price will change from builder to builder. Equally the quality will change from builder to bulder. Therefore, I present to you the details of Finish Touch Enterprises SRL. I am sure you will agree that we are leaders in the industry and set a president for others to follow.
Firstly, the following a list of the services that Finish Touch Enterprises SRL offers exclusively to our clients.
- Architect available for designs, revisions, and site visits
- Engineer for footings, walls, roof, and pool engineering
- Employed Interior decorator, graduated from University of New York
- Permanent construction crews
- Own heavy equipment for lot preparation, grading, pool excavation, lot access, road improvements
- Own delivery trucks. Regular trips to San Jose and areas for best quality and price
- Beautiful Spanish style home designs with North American engineering and structure
- Beautiful beach style glass home designs with unique design concepts to keep the house cool
- Full service wood shop creating custom kitchen cabinets, custom interior doors, custom entrance way doors, custom home furniture, unique teak patio and pool furniture.
- Full stone profiling and polishing of granites, sculpting stone sinks
- Window distribution license direct from manufacture, no middle man
- Pool equipment distributor direct from Pentair manufacture, no middle man
- Only contractor in Costa Rica to have a glass bead pool plaster finish.
- Fully insured company
- Licensed with the Colegio Federado De Arquitectos Y Ingenieros De Costa Rica CC-08073
- Service the complete west coast of Costa Rica
This article will go into detail of Finish Touch Enterprises standards. Which is what is included on our building quotations. When we give a sq ft price it will include the following standards. Conversely we will not lower our standards to match a lower budget. If this is necessary, we can then recommend to you other architecture firms that do have lower standards. However, our prices are usually lower then theirs.
Our standards exceed building codes. Notably that building codes are minimum standards. Therfore, builders that build to code are builders that build to minimum standards. Finish Touch Enterprises SRL prides itself on quality and delivering satisfaction. The home owner will recieve a quality built Costa Rica custom home. Which will exceed your expectations.
The following is our material standards;
- Our structural quality is double of the Costa Rica safety factor. Seismic protection.
- An R-rating suficient to keep the house climate controlled comfortably with little aid from air conditioners.
- Our keeping a house cool engineering to reduce electric bills.
- Our standards include inhibitors for mold and insects from inhabiting in the house structure.
- Exterior wall material for acoustic noise reduction for more restful sleeps.
- High performance windows with tinted glass and low E2 glaze
- Seer 16 medium efficient air conditioners (not economy).
- Our standards include maintenance free exterior finishes that resist mold and withstand UV from bleaching color.
- Granite and marble counter tops.
- High performance porcelain tiles.
- Generous allowances for plumbing/electrical fixtures.
- Electrical designs and installations well exceeding electrical code.
- North American standards for mechanical and plumbing designs.
- Team of professional supervision of house construction
- Our standard objective is house construction prices lower than typical builders.
Take some notes as you read this article.
This will help you create questions you will want to ask your architect and builder.
This article will be detailed.
This article explains the materials, and methods that are standard in our designs and Costa Rica custom home builds. I am going to explain the quality beneath the paint job.
I don’t subscribe to engineered wall systems, as, I have yet to see a system more superior than what we are using in our designs. Our methods have been taught for generations. From fathers to their sons and to their sons. These methods are common practices throughout Europe and Central America and South America. Which are still being practiced to date. Furthermore, we are combining proven old building technologies. Together with new building technologies bringing you the best of both worlds.
Lets begin by explaining the challenges of delivering a North American style construction standard. Firstly Costa Rica is a small developing third world country. Many material and fastener products that we take for granted in North America are not available here. Therefore, it may need to be imported. Otherwise, we will improvise and manufacture our own. Even concrete trucks are scarce and usually we need to mix the concrete by buckets. There are no modifiers or fortifiers for building material products. Such as water reducing agents, fly ash, accelerants, or retarders. Most products are raw materials.
Very rarely will you see laser levels or laser technology that almost every tradesman uses in North America. Including equipment for precision that is almost non-existent. Which construction methods here remind me when I was a boy. Following my father to a job site (he was a concrete contractor) and witnessing that trades man were actually crafts man. They did things by hand. Carpenters would create carving tools from broken saw blades. As well as plasters would hammer their tack lathing to plaster crown moldings. Furthermore decorative ceilings were done by hand with a sponge. Now, all these jobs have been replaced by engineered systems and machines. Crafts man have been replaced by technicians.
No modern tools or equipment:
Without giving away my age. I have been old schooled for house designs and building quality. Through the years I have adapted to new and modern technologies. In addition I have been certified in 18 decorative concrete applications. Consequently I have been credited with projects in Disney World, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios. Namely many resorts and residences throughout Florida USA. You can read a bit of my qualifications at: About Us
Now I am bringing to you in Costa Rica the same old school construction technologies. Which include the advanced modern technologies that will benefit your home longevity and provide you with comfort. I enjoy very much talking about old tales. Please feel free to contact me any time for a chat about your goals and plans for Costa Rica living.
The following paragraphs are going to be boring. If you intent is to invest or retire in Costa Rica. Then it is to your best interest to read this article carefully. It is written for you. Read it twice. Then contact me for more answers. Knowledge is understanding. Equally understanding is confidence. When you ask architects and builders questions it is a good idea to know the answers first.
Finish Touch Enterprises SRL building fees for a Costa Rica Custom Home: $115/sq. ft.
Footing dimensions will be calculated by the structural engineer. Mainly from the results of the soil studies and the weight of the house. Costa Rica has a building code safety factor of three, Finish Touch Enterprises SRl engineering uses a safety code factor of six. Meaning, our constructions are double the Costa Rica federal building code. Let's keep in mind that a building code is not about quality. A building code is setting minimum standards. Meaning you cannot go below this. Therefore, it is advantageous for you, your family, your investment to exceed these codes.
Homes built from solid concrete and steel contribute much weight. Which the weight of the bearing will need to be supported by reinforced concrete footings. Bearing rebar is place ¼ depth from the bottom of footing. Costa Rica seismic conditions also contribute uplift situations. So to protect the home from structure damage we also place reinforcing in the footing ¼ depth from the top of footing. As a result, the footing is reinforced top and bottom with continuous bars. The amount and size of bars is variable and will be calculated by the structural engineer. These continuous bars are supported by stirrups that will be placed approx. every 12”. Which directly strengthen the tensile verticle motion.
Dowels and columns and tie beam:
Now that we have supported the house with both bearing and uplift. Which is both vertical forces, now we need protections for horizontal. Therefore, we begin designing concrete columns. Which will tie to the footing and to the tie beam (tie beam is same as footing but at the top of walls). These columns are strategically placed in all corners of the house. Also on each side of an opening (windows and doors). If a wall does not have corners or openings. Then a column will repeat no less than 3 meters apart. The number of continuous rods and stirrups will be designed by structural engineer.
Also, tying into the footing are rebar dowels with a dog leg. These dowels will be tied to the footing every 2 ft. Which will enter the center of a block cell that will be filled with concrete. These dowels will continue to the tie beam.
I explained this part of the build because this is the ‘bones’ of the house. Which is your structural strength that will protect you and your family for many years. The footings, columns, tie beam. After this, we only need to place patrician walls. In addition to the heavely structural 'bones' that I mentioned. Moreover we at Finish Touch Enterprises continue to keep your family safe by using 8 in block on the exterior walls. Also install horizontal rebar on every second course of block. We avoid designing long straight walls. Not only for better attractive aesthetics. But for reasons walls with frequent corners contribute to additional strengthen for horizontal forces. This was the description of our structural system.
Walls and roof:
There are many wall systems, with each having their own advantage. Varying in price and quality. The west coast of Costa Rica has high heat and high humidity, rainy seasons, together with seismic activity. Therefore, we need to choose a wall system for these conditions.
We at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL use 8 in block on exterior walls, and 6 in block on interior walls. Our closets will be steel studs and dry wall.
The advantages of block walls are;
- R-factor for keeping the house cool. Firstly block has a higher heat resistance (R) than other building materials. Secondly our 8" block together with the finishing materials. Results with finished wall thickness of 10 inches.
- Acoustic value for blocking exterior noise (excuse the pun). This may include traffic noises. As well as nocturnal animal noises. There are seasons when frogs croak very loudly. A well as seasons when bugs like crickets are noisy and disruptive. Therefore, by using acoustic benefit materials, you can sleep more sound with less interruption. 😊
- Structural strength for earth quake for both vertical and horizontal.
- Security, much more difficult making a hole in reinforced concrete than clad wall systems.
- Natural vapor barrier that allows the house to breath. Very important factor for controlling humidity. (control humidity=control mold)
We begin a block stem wall from the footing to finish floor height. This height will be set by architect and engineer to ensure positive flow of storm water management. We then backfill the inside and outside of the home. Followed by the crew will then begin installing all underground services and service entries for electrical, plumbing, low voltage, potable water. Inspectors will pressure test pipe fittings and check for leaks before the crew prepares the concrete floor.
The concrete floor is slab on grade. Which is reinforced with mesh and a vapor barrier. The base is compacted to no less than 88%. We also make the terrazzo (back porch, lenia, veranda, (whatever were calling it these days)) at the same level as the house floor. When we open the bi-fold patio doors that are in a recessed track. Which makes your interior livingroom a part of your exterior living space all at the same level. This has a striking effect when the same tile is transitioned through. Which increases your space of outdoor living and indoor living.
Now that the floor is poured. The walls continue to tie beam height. All receptacles, switches, plumbing, low voltage, venting rough-ins are installed. During the construction of the walls. At the same time the horizontal block rebar is protruding in the column cages. Followed by forming the columns to tie beam height and pour the concrete. Continuing with forming the tie beam (viga corona in Spanish). This would include reinforced concrete lentils will be poured over every opening whether it's arched, elliptical or square.
The reinforcing continues up to the tie beam. Incuding in the internal walls that will be of 6-inch block with a tie beam that will connect to the external tie beam. Closets will be of light structural steel and drywall. Or will be made from wood from our manufacturing shop.
There is no romax wire here in Costa Rica, which is used in North America. Similarly install conduit and later we pull each color wire individually. I have seen many electrical installations with TSJ wire which is like extension cord wire. This wire has a very high voltage drop, and a much higher heat rating. It is not recommended using this wire other than connecting a series of lights like pot lights. Which should never be used as feed wire or for receptacles. Make sure to include this in your notes. I’ve seen many contractors use this a principle wire.
It is very important that we take consideration of the electrical layout on the blue print. As recepticals and switches are cemented into the walls and they cannot be changed later. Nor adding new ones. I will speak more of the electrical systems later in this article.
All the cement walls and concrete beams are trued by installing a scratch coat on both sides of the wall. This is called repello greso. Which will make the walls perfectly level and the corners at a perfect 90 degree. The interior wall will receive an additional coat called repello fino. This repello prepares the wall for a smooth plaster. Which will prepare the wall to receive paint. Your finished wall dimension will be 10 inches thick. With tons of protection from elements. I don’t know of any engineered wall system equivalent that will return you the same results.
The home begins to recieve a white clean color:
At this point both interior and exterior wall will receive a sealer which is a pasty substrate. The sealer is high in calcium and as we know calcium is a purifier and will prevent unwanted mold. Also, many insects and frogs do not like the calcium as it burns their feet. Thus, protecting your home further from those unwanted critters from coming in or nesting. Houses can be unoccupied for several months at a time with no fear of mold generating. Make a note of this as most builders do not use these types of products.
The roof will be constructed manually by welding girders and perling's. Which will be engineered to support clay tiles if necessary. The iron will be red steel or galvanized depending on the location of your property. If you are close to the ocean we recommend galvanized. Which is corrosion resistant but light in structure. Accordingly needing additional perlings as galvanized has less structural strength. Therefore, the red steel as it is much stronger and not requiring as many supports. Consequently being a little less cost effective. We also, coat red steel with primer and corrosion resistant paint. (red steel in Costa Rica is called black steel).
Roofing dry in finishes:
On top of these trusses we will put a layer of reflective insulation. The reflective installation is 97% effective and prevent heat from transferring into the home. The reflective layer is on one side of the insulation. Therefore, it also allows heat to escape from the attic. Which is exactly what we want. On top of the insulation we dry-in with a metal laminate. You can read more of our engineering to keep you house cool here: Designing your cool house (coming soon). This will save on your electric bill. I won’t go into detail about roofing material, our standard is decorative metal laminate. There are recommended material upgrades depending on budget.
Should your home have clay tiles (optional upgrade) we will install on top of the metal laminate. For a flexible nailer for the tile. Then we apply the clay tiles. This allows as a buffer shock absorbing for when we have minor quakes. A solid nailer would cause these tiles to break.
Beginning of the Finishes:
We are now getting into the easy and fun part. Because we are leaving the structural part of construction. Thereupon we are entering into the finishing part of construction.
We build a house from the footings to the roof. Once we have the roof on. We then begin the finishes from the roof to the floor. The finishes will be the major part of the budget. Beginning with the ceilings, whether flat, sloped, cathedral, or architectural. We install furring strips and drywall backers. Before dry wall is installed the electrical connections will be completed. Duct work installed. Air handler installed. We also weld ceiling fan supports to the rafters. Once all electrical/mechanicals are completed, wires are pulled. We will close with drywall ceilings.
Walls are plastered smooth and walls and ceilings are painted with a primer. We will paint the interior walls for the first time of 3. The receptacles and switches will be installed (not cover plates). Panel box breakers installed. Floor tiles installed, base board installed (using floor tiles). Cabinets are installed. Granites are installed. Second coat of paint installed. Light fixtures and ceiling fans installed. Plumbing fixtures installed.
Air conditioners installed, and all touch ups and cleaning are completed. Finally the last coat of paint as we back out the door. The exterior will be completed concurrently with the interior. Stucco finishes, and stone veneer (if any) will be installed. Maintenance free PVC tablia will be installed for eaves. Decorative angled facia or facia and eaves troph will be installed. Either feature will be reviewed for each design individually.
Notes on electrical
Electrical codes have not changed for the past few decades. However, our electrical conveniences have overwhelming increased. When we do our electrical layout. There are considerations where the entertainment center will be located. Knowingly we're going to require a few extra receptacles for TV, surround sound, modem, router, PlayStation Etc. In addition we will include enough outlets in the kitchen as we have many kitchen appliances. Furthermore we will include a few extra outlets in the bedrooms and on the back Terrazas. Also we will put an external panel box at the pool equipment house. This panel box may serve for landscape lighting, Rancho outlets, or any other exterior electrical requirement that you may wish to add on later.
Electrical switches; we generally plan three-way switches as we come in the front door and get into bed without being in the dark. Meaning you come in the front door, turn one light on at the end of the room you turn it off, and turn the next light on at the end of the passage to turn it off turn and so forth. Our bedrooms have 3-way switches that once you're in bed you can shut the light off.
Important factor to study:
The reason I feel it is necessary to write a few paragraphs on electrical layout is because most architects out source to a electrical engineer. This engineer will layout your electrical design to code. He won’t include any convenience switches or outlets. Often you will never meet the electrical engineer to discuss your electric requirements. The result could leave you very dissatisfied. Our electrical demands have increased exponentially over the years. Receptacles with usb for chargers, motion switches, dimmer switches, rope lighting, accent lighting, ambient light colors. LED’s, incandescent, halogen, sodium, florescent.
The electrical layout and engineering is a key component to your homes design. Equally for function and aesthetics. Therefore, a contributor to your Costa Rica custom home design. Here is an article you may find of interest. Understanding lighting colour (coming soon).
Quality Summary: Finish Touch Enterprises SRL $115/sq. ft.
- Seismic engineered foundation installation:
- Uplift, bearing, and horizontal reinforcements.
- Wall system
- Acoustic, R-factor rating, security, mold and insect inhibitor.
- Generous allowances
- Flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures,
- Medium efficiency air conditioners.
- High efficiency tinted windows: Akaria and Europa with Plex bi-fold doors.
- High R-value rated reflective insulation.
- Solid wood cabinets made from:
- Cedro, Guanacaste, Teak (all the same price).
- Solid wood doors.
- Top quality material and installations at low cost.
The purpose of this article is to equip you with the tools to make your search for a builder more understandable and to help you prepare your interview questions to control your Costa Rica custom home.
We encourage you to read the series of articles in a chronological order:
- Hire a buider
- Costa Rica Architect Firm
- Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes
- Home Designing Service Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Home Builders
- Methods Of Building
- Building Services Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Custom Home (this article)
- Costa Rica General Contractor
- Interior Designing A Home In Costa Rica
Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a Costa Rica Home Designer and a Costa Rica Home Builder and we would appreciate to be apart of your Costa Rica home ownership dream. We welcome you to include us in your designer and builder search and we hope to hear from you soon with your details. In addition you may wish to view our furniture packages.