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  1. He's still building and I was going to have him build something for us. The guy was totally non-communicative and hard to deal with.I certainly cannot recommend him.
  2. Sounds like a good plan. Try to prevent it from jarring around too much as well, perhaps something cushiony on the bottom. Protecting the screen from puncture or scratches is one of the big things as I'm sure you know. Maybe a blanket against the screen, then the cardboard...
  3. I only know that the people I know who live in nice new homes, in sight from a public road are the ones who've been hit the most and hardest, of all the people I know in Costa Rica, which is quite a few. Again, I think that being off the main road, not visible from the main road, is more of an asset than a liability. I think that if one has to carry stuff over a fence, down a long driveway, and under threat of security cameras and a gun and/or a dog, there is less chance of being robbed. Time and circumstance will of course tell the tale. I also wanted to point out to marzrox above, that setting up a security camera on an old cheap laptop is not too expensive. A security firm that does it, yes: expensive. But you could set up your own with a couple hidden small web cams for probably $200-400 (just guessing) and record from those 2 cameras 24 hours a day for no monthly cost. Whether having the faces, voices etc of the robbers would mean anything to the cops in terms of catching them and punishing them, well, that's another issue. I do agree that cops in Costa Rica tend not to take robbery of gringos very seriously. Not sure if they take it seriously against Ticos. So security measures in place are indeed the best defense. IMHO.
  4. Marsrox, you aren't that far off from me re the security you are putting in place. It's just that you make it sound a lot more dangerous to live in Costa Rica than I think it really is, based on visiting there and having friends there for 25 years - Ticos and Gringos alike. You wrote: "Am I being unduly paranoid or hysterical?" and so I gave you my answer that I think you're a bit overstating the danger which I would call "a little paranoid". A "Club" type device on your steering wheel is well known to be a waste of time to any thief worth his salt. There is a very simple cheap and easy way to defeat those - showed on some "60 MInutes" type show years ago on U.S. tv - in about 15 seconds. I do disagree with you that having someone - a teenager or anyone - watch your home while you're gone is better than having it empty. I do believe that MANY - though not all - robbers will be deterred by that. As you said, anyone who is INTENT on robbing you can back up a truck and break the bars, or arrive with guns, and take whatever they want. BUT I will point out that most robberies are by people who don't want to do major damage or threaten or hurt anyone, they just want the "stuff" you have. I think that you may be over-stating the danger to one's person, the danger is much higher for your "stuff" being robbed without anyone being hurt, which is more what I will defend against. You stated somewhere in your tome that armed robberies are very common. I think statistics will show that they are actually very uncommon in Costa Rica as compared to most other countries, even the USofA. All in all though I appreciate your comments and agree with you that your steps toward security are not unfounded, especially depending on where one lives. I do think that communities of gringos are much more likely to be targeted than integrated communities, and especially communities where a bunch of big fancy new homes can be seen from the public road, and some obviously uninhabited (never a car there) are likely to be targeted. (I know a situation exactly like this where the homes are targeted repeatedly. And yes, they have upped their security measures now.)
  5. Good points. Thanks. I still think that a home not visible from the main road and down a "lane" and over a fence is less susceptible to being broken into than one right off the main road that is visible. But time will tell who is right on this, or maybe just random chance is a main factor...
  6. Wow. That's a lot of words to say that you sound very scared to live in Costa Rica. May I ask what area you live in? Is it San Jose'? is it a bad neighborhood of San Jose'? I ask because it does sound like either you're kind of paranoid or else you have had some very bad experiences in Costa Rica with robbers etc. Honestly, I thought my security ideas were pretty extreme but yours make mine sound like nothing. If I had to live in fear like it seems like you do, I'd definitely move somewhere where I felt safer. Just sayin'. That said I really don't think MOST areas in Costa Rica warrant the kind of security you're talking about having!
  7. It's interesting how many people have varying ideas on how to be secure from robbery in Costa Rica. I thought I had a pretty good plan but I see now that - even if I do go with my original plan? - I have some other ideas to consider. As with most things there is kind of 2 extremes of thought in this thread .... and the best way may well lie somewhere in the middle. Since I cannot own a gun for about 3 years or 4 years (after becoming a permanent resident) I will give up on that aspect of my security plan. I will stick with the "hidden closet" reinforced with rebar or other steel and two super heavy duty locks, where I will put the laptops, tablets, hard drives etc when we go out. I will have lights that come on when people approach the house, security cams, and signs that say "if you rob us you will be videotaped" and "we shoot robbers" even if I don't really have a gun. I can still play the SOUND of a gun at full volume on my speakers from time to time or get some m80 firecrackers or ? that sound like a gun. I will be an upstanding member of the community, with Tico friends, contribute to local causes, and hope that buys me some goodwill that MAY help. If not, I still want to do it because that's "how I roll". Our property location is a big plus because the house is not visible from the street at all and one would have to climb a fence and walk a ways carrying the stuff they stole, while in fear that I'm on my way back home with my (imaginary) shotgun in hand...
  8. You make some very good points. I think my stragegy of having a hidden reinforced closet for my laptop etc is still not a bad idea. No one except a few will know it's there and if they try to get into it they will likely get caught spending so much time on it... not to mention getting videotaped by the camera I'll have pointed at it... ;-D Maybe the threatening signs are overkill. I would only do that I guess AFTER being robbed. I am guessing you've never been robbed, Eleanor? It makes a difference. I know people who've been robbed twice and it changes their whole approach and attitude. They're good people, always good to Ticos, not rich... but robbed twice... I do agree with you that being "don Oso" is good. One doesn't have to negate the other. Nothing wrong with having a secure safe, and hey if they do break into it and steal a mediocre laptop, some cd's, a couple mp3 players, a couple medicore tablets, then so be it. Hopefully we'll have the $ to replace them...
  9. I was being somewhat fecetious re the arrow. But, someone running off with your stuff gets an non-lethal arrow in the back and you go to jail?
  10. Your point of view is something to think about. We actually won't have much but what we do have we don't want stolen. I know sometimes people break in just to steel sheets, towels, silverware, etc. We'd just rather not have anyone break in at all. The sign I would put would be near the door which in order to see, they'd have to already be planning to steal from us. I'm hoping it might make them change their mind. They'd have to drive down a private driveway, climb over a fence, walk 50 yards to just see my sign. Then they see the cameras, the lights coming on if at night, and realize they have to walk 50 yards back, climb over the fence with the stuff or hand it over, then drive out the private drive... knowing I may come after them with a shotgun... It just *might* deter them. To answer costaricafinca, no I did not know they'd changed the law to prevent owning a gun but they would not know that I did not have one; I just couldn't take target practice etc or otherwise prove I had one. However a bow and arrow might also be a good deterrent and an arrow into the back can be pretty serious as well. Honestly I would not want to kill nor permanently hurt anyone. I would just like them to THINK so. If I could have a gun I would get a shotgun and load it with buckshot, not to kill but to hurt and cause marks for identifcation of the robber.
  11. Wishing I were lying in a hammock on my porch in Costa Rica drinking a coffee and watching the clouds over the Gulf...

  12. Good info. We will not put security bars up over our regular windows unless or until (!) we do get broken into. I hate the idea of being behind security bars. I will put them up over the top jalousies but not over the picture windows. Our home will be un-seen from the road, several hundred feet in behind a locked gate... and we'll have security lights and cameras and alarms and a dog and a sign that says "WILL SHOOT ROBBERS!" in Spanish, and yes, guns. So, hopefully we will not be broken into!
  13. These jalousies are what I have seen being installed above picture windows and what we want - at least on a couple walls that face our view - are picture windows with the jalousies above them and along the entire width of the picture windows. This design allows you to keep the jalousies open virtually all the time to create ventilation as the overhang of the roof will keep rain from coming in, and the angle of the jalousies themselves also help this. Since they're high up and not tall no one could get in through them so you can leave them open all night as well. Are these jalousies - ones that are only about 8-12" in height - expensive or hard to find, or are they found all over the place and reasonably priced? (Actually I would choose the ones that open vertically not horizontally like these, but you got the idea.) I didn't show the whole picture window, just the top. Another option are these which are not jalousies but could be used instead. They are small enough that not even a child could get through them and you could always put a couple bars in front of them as well - since they would not block the view in any case, at the top (They crank open from the bottom towards the top.) :
  14. I looked at Concrepal and may use them. I looked at a couple houses built by them and they seemed okay to me. I mean, you get what you pay for but for a low budget home, they're not bad, especially if you are on a limited budget. It's cheap and quick and my friends who used them were happy with them. A lot of people say concrete is bad because it creates a home like a pizza oven. What I have learned is that by putting insulationi above the ceiling (foam, I think it is), you can keep the heat down, and then by having good cross-ventilation instead of NO Windows as the Ticos tend to do, and with some ceiling fans, you should be okay, especially if you live at a higher elevation that gets some breeze. I'm not a builder so I'm just saying what I've seen and learned in my recent research which includes visiting some homes built with concrete. I am interested in the prefab Maderas Kodiak homes which are made with EPA approved compressed wood imported from the USA and made to USA standards. This is another type of prefab home but with compressed wood that is guaranteed not to be eaten by termites etc.. The person running Maderas Kodiak is "Web Seed". Does anyone here know Web Seed's reputation, or know anyone who has built using his MaderasKodiak prefab kits? Normal concrete block homes seem to be quite a bit more costly these days than the pre-fab stuff which is why we're looking at pre-fab. I agree with the person posting above who said that the electrical outlets and other such details are things you want to ask about with pre-fab. What I have noticed is that the prefab plans being offered do not usually have big enough bedrooms nor enough windows. I am guessing they don't have enough electrical outlets and closet space either, so these are things you'd have to adjust/add on which is going to raise the price. Remember that Ticos mostly use these pre-fab homes (it seems to me) and so the plans may not be what you would expect for an American style home. I know Ticos hate when you say that but hey, I have observed for myself that Tico homes tend to have much smaller rooms and less windows. and the electrical isn't always up to what Americans expect (i.e. less outlets, no ceiling lights etc) Plumbing too... Just saying what I have observed with my own eyes. Another tip: elecricity is expensive in Costa Rica, so install LED lighting, it's cheaper in the long run. And while it may be expensive to do complete solar power, you can add SOME solar power to run, say, one circuit... Can anyone tell me why it is Ticos tend to not use many windows and almost never use screens in windows? I am guessing it's simply a matter of not wanting to spend more $. But imho, one MUST have windows with screens to increase ventilation/air flow/coolness. I like the style I have seen where there are big picture windows but above them are little windows of maybe 8-12" high that crank out and in, so you can have air flow at all times, rain won't blow in because they are placed high up on the wall towards the over-hang of the roof, and it is hard for anyone to break in through them because they're too small. Be careful which builder you use especially if you use SIP panels because there are some very unprofessional (flakey, lying, unreliable) builders out there using SIP panels. Do your homework, look for info on the builder on the web and ask around, no matter who you use.
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