Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Putting it all together

So we have been in touch with Sheila who offers a turnkey solution to outfitting your house once construction is finished.

She and her associate will organize appliances, furniture, art, towels, plates, cutlery, etc, etc, etc.  She has questionnaires and full home contents checklists.  I guess there is more to it than arriving with some clothes and moving in!

She has done this for a number of houses with rave reviews.

She noted recently that most of her clients she has never met until all was complete - I find that scary - it was bad enough designing the house based on a questionnaire, but my picking my sofa or art - not sure I am ready to trust that to a stranger no matter how good her taste.

Think we will try to connect face-to-face on the next trip.  This will need some thought - a great service - better than trying to schlep stuff around the country yourself - it's not like you go to Sleep Country and a bed arrives that afternoon!  But giving up all that control makes me nervous.  Well there is time to ponder this one.

News + Kitchen and Floors

The news - blueprints arrived in Ojochal Tuesday morning

2 months for permits, but will start site work in advance of that.

Looks like a trip will happen last week of April - first week of May to see the site and confirm the house location etc.

In the meantime, we have been working on some of the details

Kitchen - need to specify cabinet size and compostion

Floor Tiles - need to specify any special pattern of tile placement - two options for the main floor entryway and stair, and one for the second floor landing.  We are thinking all the same tile - just the change in pattern.   May do some sort of contrasting board on the patio - haven't turned our full thoughts to that yet

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blueprints Revisited

A tale of passion, relationships and men - ok, it's not Victorian England!

Anyhow - they are ready for shipping - here's the full package.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blueprints - Check!

Monday March 8

A deceptively thin tube of paper arrived at my office via courier.  Excitedly I opened the package and unrolled the 17 pages.

The first page said it all.  A relatively small drawing of the house and pool situated on the lot - WOW!
That was followed by floor plans, detailed dimensions, elevations, cross-sections, stair details, foundation plans, column plans, IKEA-like instructions on house assembly, beam plans, plumbing and electrical.  Quite the package - Quite the task.

When I got home, Lisle rolled them out on his desk and said "what's all this, I thought we had to look at lights and switches - are there instructions?"

Of course there are no instructions and lots to think about.  Time for some wine.

Tuesday we copied them - does anyone know how expensive a 24 x 36 copy is - oh my god!

Wednesday and Thursday we contemplated them - flipping through some pages, not really knowing where to start.

Friday - beer with friends - drawings can wait!

Bright and early Saturday morning I dug in.  Clear the dining room table.  Relocate my laptop.  Pens.  Markers.  Coffee.  Sleeping cat off the drawings.

Well let's start from the very beginning - a very good place to start - when you read you begin with ABC with blueprints you begin with Acabados Generales (I did mention everything is in Spanish!).  It is sort of a legend - symbols used on the drawings that actually mean something - - LISLE!! -- can you go to GOOGLE and translate this!

Starting at the beginning and working through page by page - overall great but
- why is the roof overhanging the pool?
- why is the spiral stair off centre in the tower?
- where did the giant bi-fold doors in the bedroom come from?
- rearrange the bathrooms - what were we thinking!!
- where did that window go?
- all these doors open backwards!

With everything but electrical reviewed, and sticky notes all over, Claudio - our architectural superhero - arrived at 4 to help us through.

Red pen in hand Claudio went page by page asking us about the notes and making corrections or notations on the drawings (even though we made several copies, we were too afraid to actually write on these without permission of someone who knew what they were doing).  2 hours later - all done.  Claudio can go, and I am confident enough to take on the electrical myself (or at least with the help of my son who actually knows how to read electrical plans and circuit diagrams).

The red marking continued into Saturday night and resumed on Sunday. There, all done.  Now to actually document this in some way that makes sure we and they understand all the scribbles.  Sunday evening - the summary table complete!

Monday - a second look - OH - What about ... The list is outstanding things appears.
Tuesday - the list of outstanding things is done - documented, discarded, or put on the list of things to deal with later

So, today - Wednesday March 17 (Happy St. Patrick's Day) copy the revised drawings, final check, bundle up and ready for shipping back to Ojochal.

Monday, March 8, 2010

They're here!

The email came Wednesday afternoon!  The blueprints are ready.

I know we expected them at the end of February, so actually they are 3 days late, but I was still startled by the news.  Each step makes this more real.

Send them to Dan's office was the reply.

And of course in good Toronto fashion we anticipate overnight delivery - ya right!

Friday's message - how long for delivery?   probably 5 days - just wait - they'll arrive!

And so they did today.  What seemed like a little roll of paper.

The first thing was a drawing of the lot with the house positioned on it - the first time we have ever seen that - exactly how it fits, the drive, the house, the pool - very neat!

Page after page, floor plans, foundation drawings, plumbing, electrical, roof plans - we are supposed to sign off on all this technical stuff - oh my god!  and even better - - it's all in Spanish!!

Brought it home.  Lisle excitedly took it downstairs and unrolled it.  I went down 20 minutes later and said - so what do you think?   It's too much to take in - was the reply.

Guess we will start into the review tomorrow!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Design Thoughts

So since we got home from the last trip and signed off on the plans, we have been sorting our thoughts on all the other design matters ahead.

What should the doors look like?

What material for the counters?

What colour for the walls

A dark stain or light for all the wood?

So, we have been compiling a selection of photos, scans from magazines and moving those we think are right into a separate folder.

Our current thinking ...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Welcome to the Neighbourhood

Having rented homes twice in the past 6 months, and attended the inaugural meeting of the condominium corporation (the municipality can't afford to maintain the roads and infrastructure in the expanding areas, so handed the responsibility back to the owners - a very nice housewarming gift!) we have had the good fortune to get to meet the neighbours.

Sonya and Jan are from Toronto - 40'ish - have been there full time for about 18 months.  They work for Ventana but also have a business managing properties for those of us who have built but aren't able to live there full time - their dog - Coffee - is a delight, as are they.

Keith and Karen are also from Toronto - in fact they lived about 2 blocks from us before moving to Ojochal full time in June 2009.  In their 50's, Keith keeps busy as the local 'pool boy' and Karen is on the Board of the Condo Corp.  They are right next door to Sonya and Jan with the most spectacular view of the ocean and sunset.  We rented their home in January.

Carol is from Calgary - something to do with real estate I think - 50'ish - was quiet in the group setting but we understand she can be the life of the party.

Bruce and Barbara are in their early 60's I would guess.  They are from north of Toronto and have been in Ojochal for a couple of years.  Besides waving as we drive past - as their house in on the only road in and out - we first encountered Bruce at the Ventana office.  He arrived on his newly acquired Quad (a 4 wheeled all terrain vehicle - like a motorcycle but with 4 wheels).  There were comments about the size of it (large) and the winch on the front - to which he responded - It's so I can hoist Barbara up the hill!  We encountered Barbara later that day in her blue flowered sun dress standing on the side of the road toasting the sunset with a glass of white wine.  They really love their life!

Casa Faust is owned by Dean - a physician in the U.S.  We rented this home last July, and except for the terrifying drive it is a wonderful place.  He unfortunately doesn't get there much.

The Taj Mahal is a grand home at the highest point in the development and includes a separate 2 car garage and a large guest house - no one ever mentioned the owners by name - it's just the Taj Mahal.

There are 3 houses nearing completion, and another 3 underway.  We hope to add to that activity in the coming weeks!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

All Done - Now to Start!

January and time to escape the Toronto winter.  Yes a vacation, but more importantly time to sit with Robert and get the design done.

2 weeks renting another house in the area.  A great chance to live with what works and what doesn't.  It is also really interesting to see how each house fits its particular environment - almost sculpted into the landscape - maximizing light, air, view.

So we met with Robert on Monday and again, sitting with Christianne we talked about the need for storage and alternatives, location of the garage, the placement of electrical panels, the size and location of the pool.  This shifted, that shifted - still some work to do to be certain.  We left very pleased. 

With what was almost final plans, Robert arranged to have the land cut (the six foot razor grass makes it hard to move about on the lot) and the perimeter of the house and car port staked and for us to meet at the lot on the following Tuesday.

Another beautiful Costa Rican morning - 9 am and already over 28C - found us standing on the lot.  There it was - our house set out on the lot.  We talked about what would be levelled and how much space there would be behind, where the pool would go - you know what - we are too close to the neighbouring lot - let's shift the whole plan over 3m and back from the road 2m.  PERFECT!

Back to the office to look at the final plans - - YES YES YES all as we had discussed.  A handshake and smiles all around - draw up the contract.

2 days later, on January 28, 2010, we put pen to paper and the contract was done - blueprints will start and likely be April 1, 2010 they will start site work - 10 months to completion - - OH MY GOD - this is real!

And, so here we are planning done - waiting for blueprints and planning for all the decisions yet to come - what colour stain, what is the real layout of the kitchen, what tile, what bath fixture, where do you want the light switch ...   All that and more to come.

So here is what we are building.