Designing a House in Costa Rica
Have you finally done it? Are you finally designing and building your dream house in Costa Rica? Terrific! I look forward to a new neighbor in Costa Rica’s Pura Vida! Pura Vida translates into “the pure life” or “the simple life.” Pura Vida 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; Pura Vida 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.
Whether you are still in the process of dreaming about designing a house in Costa Rica. Or you have taken the plunge into Pura Vida and are currently, planning, designing, or building a house 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 a house in Costa Rica, the easier the start-to-finish transitions are.
I will take a moment to digress…if you have not already, please read my first article in this series “How to Hire a Builder in Costa Rica.”
Designing a House in Costa Rica on Paper
Any house 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 detailed drawings. Which include concise work, material, and delivery schedules. (Recommended articles: Methods Of Building and Costa Rica General Contractor.)
Realistically, you should allow approximately 4 to 8 months for design completion. As well as attaining the required permits before construction can begin. Do not rush your design process! This house is your personal masterpiece in which you are going to live the Pura Vida. Of course, people, even people who live 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.
Our Philosophy of House Design
Our philosophy 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. Even if you don’t choose to hire Finish Touch, (my personal recommendation), the success of your project directly correlates to all-inclusive designs and plans. Remember, you don’t have to hire me to consult with me. I am happy to answer any questions (yes, for free!) you may have about designing a home in Costa Rica.
Rule #1: You are The Boss when designing 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.
Typical Beginning to Designing A House In Costa Rica
The first professional with whom you’ll speak is a Licensed Architect (Note: a licensed architect is crucial; would you hire an unlicensed electrician? If your answer is “Yes!” then my advice is No!”). It is the architect’s responsibility to draw the picture of your dream home. Most architects do not have engineer training; therefore, they are limited to 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 head.
An Electrical Engineer is mandatory on all Costa Rican house designs. Also, it’s important that you participate in this part of the design process. 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.
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 only a generic design without any soil studies or engineering reviews.
House Designing prerequisites:
Because soil tests are not mandatory, people often overlook soil tests. However, do yourself a favor and get a soil studies from your lot. You, your engineer, and builders 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 soil-sample results before designing a house in Costa Rica. Trust me and my over 40 years’ experience when I tell you. That I would not want to live anywhere else but Costa Rica. However, if your planned backyard becomes boggy during the rainy season, you, your engineer, and builders will want to know that fact.
Note References for Designing a House in Costa Rica.
General Contractors is an article that lists professionals who truly delivery custom, quality, beautiful house designs in Costa Rica. I encourage you to read this article and call me if you have any questions. Designing 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 a house in Costa Rica is your first step toward the Pura Vida. Following the series of articles listed at the end of this article can make your life so much simpler. Understanding is knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is confidence. Contact me at Finish Touch anytime for a consult. Again, talking to me about designing a house in Costa Rica and living Pura Vida is free.
Attributes of Designing a House in Costa Rica
If you’re reading this article, you are probably considering designing a house in Costa Rica. Or at least, dreaming about designing a house in Costa Rica. I want to talk with you about some essential design and property attributes. Which includes your special requests, necessary functions, desired budget, and end-of-the-day results.
Go ahead and get a pen and some paper now, so you can take some notes.
Having these attributes on hand makes the process of designing a house in Costa Rica enjoyable and less stressful.
Create a “Designing a House in Costa Rica” Binder with Photos and Notes
Now, it’s time to put your pen and paper to use. 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 a House in Costa Rica Binder! Decorate or stylize your binder to reflect your dreams 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 Pura Vida home, Two Attribute Categories deserve consideration: Property Attributes and House 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). 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 dictate 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.
2) Your Design’s Focal Point
That intrinsic beauty and variety of landscapes in Costa Rica create natural-design focal points. What vista do you want to keep with your morning cup of coffee? Would you prefer a canopy or oceanic view. In the evening when you are sipping an adult beverage on the veranda? 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 a house in Costa Rica.
3) Sun Travel On Your Property
There is abundant amount of sun in Costa Rica. Which is probably one of the main reasons you want to escape North America. The path the sun travels across your property can help you optimize your living space. So you can fully enjoy the rising and setting sun in your eastward master bedroom. Instead of the setting sun blinding you through the living room skylight. These factors contribute to how your house will be situated. Part of designing a house in Costa Rica is where you want your sunny and shady areas.
4) Privacy Considerations
Even in Costa Rica’s Pura Vida, you may want more privacy. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk outside in your boxers in the morning and nobody is around to watch you? You need to consider neighbors’ property elevation and your neighbors’ chosen focal points in designing a house in Costa Rica. Design attributes are not all cosmetic; you can also situate your home on your property to deter trespassing and allow for practical outbuildings.
Property attribute studies illuminate design factors that just won’t function; these same studies illuminate functioning-design factors that you may not have even thought possible. So, before you embark on designing a house in Costa Rica, understand your property advantages and disadvantages beginning with the conceptual design.
1) Purpose of Your House
When designing 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. Lets not forget the ideal purpose of a permanent residence to accommodate a work schedule and retirement plan. Or perhaps a vacation get-a-way for the family. Perhaps a combination of all the above?
Each of these purposes contributes to design features. Which are included in the home design. If you are planning to rent the house. Then, having 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 visiting family. Then, you may want to incorporate more luxurious elements like a serenity pool, an impeccable garden landscape, and specific outdoor lighting.
This truly can be your dream home, do not limit your imagination or life. Pura Vida!
2) Lifestyle-Activity and Impact Ratio
After determining the purpose of your house. You will find it easier to assess your Lifestyle-Activity, Impact Ratio. In other words, your planned activities may dictate certain design attributes. Will you spend your time lounging in the sun (highly recommended). Or listening to exotic birds, enjoying quiet time after raising your family. Perhaps swimming and relaxing in a pool with evening lighting and water cascades? Alternatively, will you spend your time playing in the pool with the kids and grandkids, utilizing a private tennis court. Or playing volleyball with friends, hosting get-togethers, and cooking in a fully-stocked, outdoor kitchen? The former suggests less activity and the latter suggests more activity—both Pura Vida. Whether you want a pool house, rec room, play area, or a dance floor will depend on with whom you will visit: adults, toddlers, school-age grandkids, elderly family and friends?
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 personality, which reflects you.
What 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.
How you feel about living in your home creates your home’s spirit. Yes, this binder about which I have spoken is a lot of work. But 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 spirit do you want to live in?
We, at Finish Touch Enterprises and all other quality architects and builders follow systems for designing and building houses. Only you can make a house a home filled with love, sharing, and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Let us help you build you a “home” beyond just a constructed house.
The final house-design attribute is budget. Budget may be the most critical aspect of designing 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 Building A House 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.
(Finish Touch Enterprises SRL does offer some in house financing).
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 and budgets. This proposal, which can be adjusted to balance the design and budget, is for your review.
- Anti-Project of project over view
- 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:
- How to Hire a Builder
- Costa Rica Architect Firm
- Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes (this article)
- Home Designing Service Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Home Builders
- Methods Of Building In Costa Rica
- Costa Rica Custom Home
- Costa Rica General Contractor
- Interior Design In Costa Rica
- Finish Touch Furniture SRL