15 November 2011

126: La Casa, La Bodega, Paperwork & Red Tape

What a week! The construction crew finished a nice little bodega for us last week that will give us a place to store tools and materials during the construction of the casa.

They even installed an outdoor sink we can use in the future for cleaning garden tools. It's just a basic area for general outdoor clean-up.
A couple of weeks ago, we started the process of gathering all the documents required to get our building permit. It appears this is going to be a never ending list of documents and red tape.

Yesterday we picked up the final set of plans for the house from our civil engineer along with a list of the materials we will need to get started.
Just to give you an idea of how complicated it is to get a building permit from the city, here is a list of everything we have to get and the complex process of pulling it all together.
  1. Plano Catastro (Cadastral Plan): This is a comprehensive survey of the metes-and-bounds of the real property, certified by the National Registry. It requires a trip lasting several hours to obtain the document from the National Registry office for our Province.
  2. Visado por la Municipalidad of Atenas (Visa from the Municipality): This is an official authorization to apply for a building permit and it requires all of the following documents:
    1. Certification Registral de la Propiedad (Certified Registration of the Property): This document shows who owns the property and it is also issued by the National Registry. Fortunately, it can be combined with the same trip to get the Plano Catastro.
    2. Personeria Juridica (Legal Entity Status): This document defines who has the rights to act as legal representative for the Sociedad Anonima. In our case, our property is owned by our S.A., and in actuality this is the same as a corporation in the States. (We did this for liability reasons and to make future inheritance easier.) Fortunately, getting this document can also be combined with the trip to get the Plano Catastro.
      1. Since we used a Personeria Juridica, we will also need copies of our passports to show the same identification as listed on the Personeria Juridica document.
      2. In addition to the original Personeria Juridica, we will also need a photocopy for their files
  3. Sellado por la Oficina de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA) (Office of Water and Sewer): Official seal on the Plano Catastro indicating water can be made available to the property. Oh and, of course an extra photocopy of this document with the Office of Water and Sewer's seal.
  4. Certification de la Contaduria Municipal (Certification from the Municipal Accountant's Office): This document certifies all of our property taxes are paid up to date.
  5. Constancia de Póliza de Riesgos del Trabajo (Proof of Labor Risk Insurance): This is an insurance policy issued by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros similar to workman's comp.
  6. Constancia de la Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (Certification from the CR Social Security Office): This document certifies we are up to date on all social security obligations.
  7. Planos de Construcción (Construction Plans): The plans must be presented with the signature of the professional responsible for the work and it must have the approval from the Federal Chamber of Engineers and Architects of Costa Rica.
  8. Contrato de Servicios Professionales (Professional Services Contract): A copy of this document must be signed by the owner and labor professional.
  9. Visado por el Ministerio de Salud (Visa from the Ministry of Health): This is an official approval of the construction plans by the Ministry of Health.
As you can imagine, the process is very complicated, requiring multiple visit to all of the entities mentioned above. It took us more than 5 days just to get the water company to come out to our place and verify water could be provided to a piece of property that has had a water meter installed now for several years. Go figure.

Naturally each one of these entities requires multiple photocopies of various document, and no, they can't use their photocopier to make the copies. You have to go to a little gift store that makes their living charging to make photocopies for you so you can take them to all the entities around town.

Today, we submitted the documents to the city for their Visado (number 2 above) and they told us it would take about 10 days. Once we have this, we can submit the rest of the documents and wait several more days for the actual Building Permit.

We met with our builder this afternoon and gave him his set of plans and the initial list of building material. Tomorrow morning we meet with both the builder and our civil engineer to go review the plans, timeline and expectations. It is very important to make sure we are all on the same page.

The dry season is just about to start and we can expect almost no rain for the next 6 months. With a little luck, our building contractor expects the casa can be finished in 4, or 5, months time. Then we can move all the furniture and boxes we brought from the State into the new house and finally unpack, once and for all.

All I can say is you must keep your sense of humor through all of this. The red tape is so complicated it’s funny. So far, we've managed to be patient and keep everything in perspective. I know there is light at the end of this tunnel, just so long as it isn't the headlamp of the train.

¡Pura Vida!

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