Saturday, February 26, 2011

Skype It In

Design by telephone - computer - skype - email - is exhausting.

Yet another conversation about colour and texture - this time around patio tile - while we have pdf's and jpg's, the same colour looks fine in one image and an icky green in the other - - What to do - what to do!?

Suggested Robert look at the real sample on site - he has a good eye - maybe Sheila also if she is back from shopping!

Then there is the plan - we got the perspectives from Christian for the pool patio - not that they are bad or wrong - just not what we expected - too many walls - more like little rooms rather than open spaces.

Claudio has helped with some sketching - another conversation with Christian this week to finalize.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Isn't it stunning!

Stairway to ...

There is so much that has gone into the stair.  It is central to the house in so many ways - location - design - presence - function.  That's why when it started to become an issue back in October we spent dozens of hours sorting the best solution.  Needless to say the recent photos of bolts in the floor in the main hallway were startling as the stair was supposed to end within the footprint of the tower and not extend into the hall.

So, we do know that the most important issue is that the landing at the top of the stair needed to be widen so that it extended beyond the bedroom door (yes, the door opening was 6" beyond the edge of the floor - quite the first step!).  That condition is corrected.

That leaves the main hallway to ensure that there are enough steps to get from the top to the bottom - needed 13" into the hallway -  the photos show it should be just fine.

Water Works

The water management is a big deal, and so we get photos of all the elements so we can see it is all great - Lots of interesting things

The water gets captured in concrete gutters (canetta - shown in later photos)  or using a french chanel (below) - a trench with a perforated pipe that is then covered with stones
These help direct the water to catchbasins (these act a gathering points and slow the flow - large concrete box that the water falls into before it can flow out again) - sometimes through underground pipes.
All to get the water away from the house or the road and to where it is supposed to be - the river in the ravine behind the house.

Terra Firma

Christian sent these photos - water management seems to be well in hand and coming to completion - as much of it is underground, it is hard to assess (guess we just keep our fingers crossed!).  All the grading makes it easier to visualize the final product.

From the road (that's the neighbour's - Charlie - in the background)
Front of the house - there will be a walkway to the start of the yellow cloth, and stepping stones beyond
Back of the house slopes into the jungle - there will be steps down where the board is

Side of the house - there will be a patio here and palm trees

By the pool - a fire pit 

Curved steps down to the outdoor shower

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bumps In The Road

At the risk of mixing metaphors - it was mostly smooth sailing, but now for the bumps in the road!

Stairs - these were a bump earlier, but it seems that even with the agreed upon solution the bottom stair will protude into the main hallway - it provides better space at the top of the stair, and hopefully won't cramp the hallway too much.

Also on the stair - seems that the fabrication has hit a snag - something about the correct angle not being available in Costa Rica!?  A house with no stair when we arrive in April will be challenging!

Robert is going to provide more detail on both of these, so we may be saved from catastrophe yet!

The landscaping has been slowed to address water management issues - seems it wasn't right and needed to be redone - you don't want to get this part of it wrong!

And lastly lounge chairs at the pool - great chairs sourced, but seems they are on a boat - not here til June - guess April will be lying by the pool on towels!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Such an interesting word.  A sense of comfort.  Substance.  Things occupying space.

The list which arrived yesterday was headed CONTENT - and was very much about the later!

How to fill a house - appliances, electronics, tables, chairs, sofas, beds.  Then there are the plates and glasses, cutlery, pots and pans, the window blinds and the windex.  All itemized.  All described.  Can you really just write it all down in an Excel spreadsheet!?

This was the follow up to our conversation with Sheila on Wednesday.  90  minutes via Skype (til it failed due to the rain and we had to switch to land/cell lines).  Sheila had spent the day at the house.  She was measuring, positioning, looking for issues and creating solutions. And there was much to discuss.

Issues - king size bed won't fit in the Guest Room and allow the Armoire to open (guess a queen will have to do) - dining table for 8 won't fit comfortably on the patio and allow for the day bed and movement (table for 6 will do) - blinds in the bedroom will be a problem as the windows to right in the corner (some engineering solution will do, but some light might get in - we'll live) - a sigh of relief if that is all that is really problematic!

- dining table - do we like this as an idea

And for the lounge chairs on the upper terrace?

And for living room tables - the drum tables are a problem - what about something like this?
EEEEWWWW!  All I could think of was the Tiki Bar at a tacky airport hotel - Let's try something square - more in the style of the dining table.

In addition to that - white dinnerware, big red wine glasses ...

Well, off to check the content of the contents - hopefully it will leave me content!

Making the Grade

So, after 8 1/2 months, the workers are gone.

They lived here, building away, and now it has been dismantled so the finishing guys and landscaping can take over.
So now Christian is grading the site to deal with water management and erosion prevention - French channels, gutters, catch basins, retaining walls and geocloth are new things to understand - who knew water was such a tricky thing to deal with!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Winter Storm

So, Wednesday brought a winter storm to Toronto - THE STORM OF THE CENTURY - as the media called it - it dropped over a foot of snow across the US midwest, and managed to fizzle before it really hit here.

I spent the full day in a management planning session - it was cold and blustery outside - grey and still snowing on and off.  They had cancelled school in the city (no one seems to understand that decision), and the roads were quiet.

As I sat in the hotel boardroom, my Blackberry buzzed - I know I shouldn't look but - surprise !! pictures of the house. 

What an amazing break is the cold day - everyone want to see!  I think the next retreat with be in Costa Rica!!


Saturday and Sunday were spent preparing a response to Sheila's list of appliances and electronics.

Somethings - washer, dryer, microwave, were simple - but the Fridge, Stove and BBQ were less so.

Of course, the model numbers associated with US and Latin America don't simply line up - and of course Lisle is particular about these things as he loves to spend time in the kitchen and cooking.

So, options review and alternatives discussed, notes etc. back to Sheila - today, more options for consideration - - tonight I think final direction for her on the appliances - everything we need, although not everything Lisle would like for his dream ($3,000 for a BBQ - NOT!!!)

It seems the electronics are still under consideration - some additional options!!