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RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPER AND BUILDER IN COSTA RICA


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RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPERS AND BUILDERS IN COSTA RICA

 

Written by, Tom Rosenberger, Costa Rica Construction Consultant

 

On Wednesday, October, 24, 2007, I inspected the condominium project Campo Real in San Rafael, Alajuela that has been developed by Promotora Concasa S.A. over the last three years. The general manager of the development company invited me to inspect and assess the current condition of the condos they have been building and marketing internationally for the past two years.

 

I had never been to this project, just west of the road from Santa Ana to Belen and as the manager was driving me out to the site, I noticed there was plenty of traffic going to and from the area, so clearly this location is growing rapidly. I was told by one of the projects engineers who lives in Belen, that his morning drive to work takes about 30 minutes, but in off peak hours it's just 15 minutes to the site.

 

Upon entering the site, I discovered 11 attractive buildings sprouting from a huge and well landscaped location with excellent views of the surrounding mountains. This being my first visit, I was surprised by this modern development project because the name Campo Real implies "authentic countryside" and this project is anything but country style. With natural brick and deep green stucco accents, the buildings, with their curved balconies overlooking the picturesque mountains were impressive.

 

Upon entering one of the new buildings we took the elevator up to their model apartment on the sixth floor. This unit was beautifully decorated and as I walked through ample living and dining rooms out to the inviting balcony, I was able to see the large swimming pool and recreational areas below. From the balcony I walked through an attractive study down a hall past a full bathroom back into 2 bedrooms with closets, furnished with double beds and nightstands, one of which had its own private bath. The modern kitchen and dinette had luxurious looking, modern cabinets and countertops. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the condo I toured and the buildings like new condition as well as the lushly landscaped surroundings.

 

My impression of the new condos currently for sale, is that they are an good value for the dollar, since they are only $50 to $65K depending on their location and the current monthly maintenance fees are only $60.

 

During this visit I was also asked to inspect the exterior construction of an existing group of eight buildings containing 190 individual condos that had been sold over the last several years. This project was approved by the College of Engineers & Architects on March 17, 2004 and built by Empresa Constructora Concasa CRV S.A.

Apparently the asphalt roofs on some of the buildings deteriorated and no maintenance was completed to prevent rain from entering the cracks in the roofing products surface which allowed water infiltration into the building. Additionally, some of the exterior walls concrete coating had cracked as well as window sills with no fall to the outside retained water which allowed water to enter the wall cavity, causing moisture problems in the interior of some condos. Also some of the exterior brick facing which was installed on top of the exterior wall sheathing formed a flat ledge where water could enter behind the brick facing and into the wall cavity.

 

The developer, Promotora Concasa S.A., dispatched their engineers to provide the Condominio Campo Alto Condo Association with the equipment, materials and tradesmen to repair these problems. I inspected the current repairs being completed on the exterior walls and was impressed with the on-site engineer's understanding of the building products and installation methods being utilized to make the repairs to the buildings. The tradesmen for the developer had extensive scaffolding assembled on the entire sides of several of the buildings in order to access the window sills and brick facing that required modifications and application of new sealant to prevent water penetration. Cracks that had occurred on the exterior walls had been filled with a new concrete coating that the engineer demonstrated had been mixed with Polymer based additives in order for the coating to retain elasticity, which is important with the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun here in Costa Rica. Many property owners don't understand the maintenance responsibilities we have here, living less than 10 degrees from the equator. Building products that have been designed and manufactured to have a life of many years, do not perform as well with the intense rays of the sun here in Costa Rica. The engineer for the developer was very concerned about the work he was supervising and welcomed my opinions and advice.

When new residents purchase housing here in Costa Rica they need to be advised of the on-going maintenance required to keep the exterior surfaces of their dwellings stable and waterproofed. The extent and nature of maintenance will depend on the size and exposure of the individual structure. As a guide, the following basic maintenance tasks should include but not be limited to:

1. Washing down exterior surfaces every 6-12 months.

2. Re-applying of exterior protective finishes when necessary.

3. Maintaining the exterior envelope and connections including joints, penetrations, flashings and sealants that may provide a means of moisture entry beyond the exterior cladding.

4. Clean out gutters, blocked pipes and overflows as required.

5. Prune back vegetation that is close to or touching the building.

6. The clearance between the bottom edge of exterior sheathing and the finished ground cover must always be maintained.

Additionally, purchasers of condominiums need to understand that their buildings will require maintenance as above. The condominium association that governs the by-laws created by the developer's legal representatives needs to be reviewed by the purchaser's lawyer prior to purchasing. Contained in these by-laws are all the regulations that determine what responsibilities the condo association board members must govern and administrate as the owners representatives. It is important that the monthly maintenance fee's contain a sufficient percentage of the total fee's to pay for on-going maintenance as well as an additional amount set aside in reserve in case of unforeseen problems that can arise when weather or natural disaster causes damage to the condominium buildings.

 

In the case of the developer Concasa, once they became aware of the problems, they began the needed repairs, at their own expense. These problems resulted from several years of deterioration of the exterior of the buildings and should have been part of an on going maintenance program initiated by the Condominium Management Company that the Condominium Owners Association contracted with to provide maintenance and collect the monthly maintenance fees from the individual owners. Based on the pro-active actions of Promotora Concasa S.A, who at this point has no obligation to maintain these buildings which it no longer owns, I would consider them one of the Most Responsible Developers in Costa Rica.

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RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPERS AND BUILDERS IN COSTA RICA

 

Written by, Tom Rosenberger, Costa Rica Construction Consultant

 

On Wednesday, October, 24, 2007, I inspected the condominium project Campo Real in San Rafael, Alajuela that has been developed by Promotora Concasa S.A. over the last three years. The general manager of the development company invited me to inspect and assess the current condition of the condos they have been building and marketing internationally for the past two years.

 

I had never been to this project, just west of the road from Santa Ana to Belen and as the manager was driving me out to the site, I noticed there was plenty of traffic going to and from the area, so clearly this location is growing rapidly. I was told by one of the projects engineers who lives in Belen, that his morning drive to work takes about 30 minutes, but in off peak hours it's just 15 minutes to the site.

 

Upon entering the site, I discovered 11 attractive buildings sprouting from a huge and well landscaped location with excellent views of the surrounding mountains. This being my first visit, I was surprised by this modern development project because the name Campo Real implies "authentic countryside" and this project is anything but country style. With natural brick and deep green stucco accents, the buildings, with their curved balconies overlooking the picturesque mountains were impressive.

 

Upon entering one of the new buildings we took the elevator up to their model apartment on the sixth floor. This unit was beautifully decorated and as I walked through ample living and dining rooms out to the inviting balcony, I was able to see the large swimming pool and recreational areas below. From the balcony I walked through an attractive study down a hall past a full bathroom back into 2 bedrooms with closets, furnished with double beds and nightstands, one of which had its own private bath. The modern kitchen and dinette had luxurious looking, modern cabinets and countertops. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the condo I toured and the buildings like new condition as well as the lushly landscaped surroundings.

 

My impression of the new condos currently for sale, is that they are an good value for the dollar, since they are only $50 to $65K depending on their location and the current monthly maintenance fees are only $60.

 

During this visit I was also asked to inspect the exterior construction of an existing group of eight buildings containing 190 individual condos that had been sold over the last several years. This project was approved by the College of Engineers & Architects on March 17, 2004 and built by Empresa Constructora Concasa CRV S.A.

Apparently the asphalt roofs on some of the buildings deteriorated and no maintenance was completed to prevent rain from entering the cracks in the roofing products surface which allowed water infiltration into the building. Additionally, some of the exterior walls concrete coating had cracked as well as window sills with no fall to the outside retained water which allowed water to enter the wall cavity, causing moisture problems in the interior of some condos. Also some of the exterior brick facing which was installed on top of the exterior wall sheathing formed a flat ledge where water could enter behind the brick facing and into the wall cavity.

 

The developer, Promotora Concasa S.A., dispatched their engineers to provide the Condominio Campo Alto Condo Association with the equipment, materials and tradesmen to repair these problems. I inspected the current repairs being completed on the exterior walls and was impressed with the on-site engineer's understanding of the building products and installation methods being utilized to make the repairs to the buildings. The tradesmen for the developer had extensive scaffolding assembled on the entire sides of several of the buildings in order to access the window sills and brick facing that required modifications and application of new sealant to prevent water penetration. Cracks that had occurred on the exterior walls had been filled with a new concrete coating that the engineer demonstrated had been mixed with Polymer based additives in order for the coating to retain elasticity, which is important with the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun here in Costa Rica. Many property owners don't understand the maintenance responsibilities we have here, living less than 10 degrees from the equator. Building products that have been designed and manufactured to have a life of many years, do not perform as well with the intense rays of the sun here in Costa Rica. The engineer for the developer was very concerned about the work he was supervising and welcomed my opinions and advice.

When new residents purchase housing here in Costa Rica they need to be advised of the on-going maintenance required to keep the exterior surfaces of their dwellings stable and waterproofed. The extent and nature of maintenance will depend on the size and exposure of the individual structure. As a guide, the following basic maintenance tasks should include but not be limited to:

1. Washing down exterior surfaces every 6-12 months.

2. Re-applying of exterior protective finishes when necessary.

3. Maintaining the exterior envelope and connections including joints, penetrations, flashings and sealants that may provide a means of moisture entry beyond the exterior cladding.

4. Clean out gutters, blocked pipes and overflows as required.

5. Prune back vegetation that is close to or touching the building.

6. The clearance between the bottom edge of exterior sheathing and the finished ground cover must always be maintained.

Additionally, purchasers of condominiums need to understand that their buildings will require maintenance as above. The condominium association that governs the by-laws created by the developer's legal representatives needs to be reviewed by the purchaser's lawyer prior to purchasing. Contained in these by-laws are all the regulations that determine what responsibilities the condo association board members must govern and administrate as the owners representatives. It is important that the monthly maintenance fee's contain a sufficient percentage of the total fee's to pay for on-going maintenance as well as an additional amount set aside in reserve in case of unforeseen problems that can arise when weather or natural disaster causes damage to the condominium buildings.

 

In the case of the developer Concasa, once they became aware of the problems, they began the needed repairs, at their own expense. These problems resulted from several years of deterioration of the exterior of the buildings and should have been part of an on going maintenance program initiated by the Condominium Management Company that the Condominium Owners Association contracted with to provide maintenance and collect the monthly maintenance fees from the individual owners. Based on the pro-active actions of Promotora Concasa S.A, who at this point has no obligation to maintain these buildings which it no longer owns, I would consider them one of the Most Responsible Developers in Costa Rica.

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