20 April 2012

Casa Update, Shopping Sprees & Electricity

We are both so ready to move out of our 300 square foot casita. We’ve been in cramped quarters for more than 9 months and the new Casa is really starting to look like a home. All of our tile floors are in, with the exception of 8 trim pieces that are still back ordered from Columbia. We picked up all that was available back in February and were told rest of our order would be filled within 30 days. Still waiting, but the vendor “promises” they will be here by the 2nd week of May. I’m not holding my breath on this one and if we have to move in without the tile trim, so be it.

The glass bricks have been installed in both showers and they look beautiful. Mario, our tile expert, is working in the master bath and it should be finished in the next couple of days.

We overestimated the amount of tile we needed for the house and wound up purchasing too much. Rather than return it for a credit, Mario went ahead and laid tile on the floor of John’s Mirador (observatory deck) and inside the storage room under the Mirador stairs.

Mario’s brother, Enrique, had been busy painting the interior. It’s amazing to see this “construction project” actually turn into a “home” as each room gets a coat of paint. Enrique will start painting the Casa’s exterior next week.

We went on another shopping spree this week to select lighting for the house. We were able to find most of what we needed to keep the electricians busy installing light fixtures and fans all over the place. Cali, our head electrician, attached all the wires to the main breaker box, and the rest of his crew installed all the switch plates and electrical outlets. I estimate they are now about half way through with all the electrical work. They still have 4 more lights to install inside and none of the outside lighting has been started.

Yesterday, we went into the big city of San Jose (the capital of Costa Rica) to meet William, our cabinet maker, to pick out cabinet hardware and accessories. I was astounded at all the choice there are for interior cabinet organization. I saw some nice stuff when we remodeled our Houston kitchen back in 2008, but I never saw some of the choices that are available here. Most of this stuff is imported from Europe and Australia. We picked out a 2-tiered, stainless steel, lazy-susan, stainless steel racks for the pots and pans drawers, stainless steel pull outs for spices, and this amazing stainless steel pull out for a corner cabinet that actually lets you use that corner dead space for storage. I’ll have to post a picture of it when it’s installed.

After we finished shopping with William, we went looking for more lighting fixtures. We found most of what we needed. We still have to find 2 pendant lights for the master bath and 3 outside pendants for the front and back porches.

Ronald, our window guy, came back today to install the last two windows and then he installed all the window screens and weather stripping. The windows look great and as soon as we get the doors installed we will be able to secure the Casa and start moving stuff in. Before that can happen, we’ll have to make another shopping trip to buy door hinges and locks.

We are finally down to a short list of things that have to be done before we can move in:
• Pick out the counter tops for the kitchen and bathroom.
• Install toilets, sinks and plumbing fixtures
• Install mini-split A/C in master bedroom (already purchased)
• Install on-demand gas water heater (already purchased)
• Install brick pavers in carport, terraza and walkways
• Install wrought iron gate (scheduled for Tuesday)
• Install wrought iron window trim
• Install electrical meter and hook up electric grid

We have had sort of a waiting game going on between us and I.C.E. (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (the national power company)) to see who would give in first. Our property line parallels a “servidumbre,” or “right of way,” that gives access to several properties below us. On the other side of the “servidumbre” is a sports plaza owned by the city. The power company will only install electric meters on public streets, not “servidumbres.” Guess what, our new Casa is almost 100 meters from the public street. That’s a lot of high voltage wire we would have to buy just to tap into the power company’s meter. Lucky for us, Minor, our Civil Engineer/Architect, heard a rumor from a reliable source, that our “servidumbre” is about to be declared a public street. So we’ve been in a holding pattern to see what I.C.E. is planning to do and we haven’t solicited electrical service yet. Two months ago, I.C.E. showed up with a big truck and dropped two concrete power poles along side of the sports plaza. The poles have just been lying on the ground all this time. Today a small truck from I.C.E. pulled up right in front of our new Casa and 3 guys got out, started measuring and setting some ground stakes. I asked one of them if they were there to bring in electricity and he said yes, the poles will be set tomorrow. Yea, we win! We will not have to pay for 100 meters of cable!! Now, I do realize that setting poles doesn’t mean that power cables will also be strung, but it’s a start. Monday morning I plan to go to I.C.E. office in town and officially request electrical service for the Casa. If they start in again with that tale about “servidumbres” and how power meters can only be installed on public streets, I’ll show them photos of THEIR newly installed power poles.

We’ll folks, that’s all the news for now.

1 comment:

  1. We feel for you guys. This is the tough part: so close, but yet so far from moving in. And all the running around and decision making can be stressful too.
    Hope your ICE contest turns out your way. We found out that once the poles are set, electricity isn't far behind. But our service was done by a developer and then GIVEN to ICE.
    Hang in there.