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Pre-fab or simple cabin builders?

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When we built, the corners ended up with holes in the blocks more or less lined up and rebar and concrete were put in these holes. The holes in the blocks were alternating for each course - one from this wall, the next from that wall. Sometimes it was half a block; sometimes a whole block. Then the rebar is inserted and it is filled with concrete. Perhaps I am not explaining this very well but maybe you get it.

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Hi Everyone,

Was curious whether there are any CR services/builders that can install and obtain necessary permits for very simple, small log cabins or even pre-fab type eco-cottages. I'm talking bare-bones off-the-grid type homes, either with no electricity or solar-powered only. Thanks for reading!




Hi Sal, Costa Rica is in a design area 5 for earthquakes, The old houses fall down the new ones designed to the current standards, may get a crack. The new building code being adopted also requires an electrical permit( finally). You can build your OWN house, the intent of the law is not to build for resale and profit as soon as you are done. It is wise to hire a local construction guy to help you through the foundations, masoanry/steel construction, labor for the back breaking stuff and then just have fun finishing it yourself

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Ellen - the building process you describe (men mixing cement or concrete by hand and then jabbing it into the hole of concrete blocks with rebar, etc) is typical of many Costa Rican builders. And there's nothing wrong with it. I think we all have to distinguish between what is "wrong" and what is "different." When I was doing some building, I thought it was "wrong" when the laborers didn't fill any remaining gaps between the concrete blocks. However, they did other things that weren't wrong, just different and new to me.


We live in a different country where traditions are different, available supplies are different and many times, something is done a certain way for a reason.


If a house has cracks in it after an earthquake, it is common. There are products available to put in the cracks that will not only fill the crack but prevent further cracking. I used some of this when I found a long crack in my floor after an earthquake. Not only did it blend in and wasn't very noticeable, but the crack never widened. Many people find that if they put ceramic tile over their concrete floors, they don't have much of a problem with cracks. Sometimes cracks will appear if the house is in a rainy area and the ground gets totally soaked and softened under the house. Of course, you can use wood for a floor and that would alleviate the earthquake/crack problem but now you have the wood/termite thing going.


Of course, as you say, everyone has to make their own decisions. But a high-tech building is going to carry a high-tech cost.


Will a non-experted eye still see the filler in such cracks?

Just wondering in case of buying a ready house how well it survived the quakes.

Many realtors offer house technical inspection. Is it worth the expense, do they use infra-red cameras maybe?

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Igor - what I put in the crack in my floor was some kind of high-tech crack filler - I forget the name now ... polymer whats-its - that helps keep the crack from widening. It wasn't really intended as a cosmetic fix but ended up that way. It was white, but with time and traffic tended to blend into the floor (just cement, no tile).


As far as seeing the cracks, I think you can if you look closely everywhere - walls included. Of course, this does not mean that the house is sub-standard - this is a country of earthquakes after all and cracks are not unusual even in well-built houses.


Your best bet for quake "survival" of a house is just to look closely everywhere. You might go so far as to buy and bring a level to check the walls and floor. If the floor is seriously out of level, that might say a lot about the house and I would probably avoid it.


I have no idea what "house technical inspection" is so can't comment on that.


I would say that if you are interested in building or buying in a certain area, take a look at a house under construction and see how the builder is doing. Then, if you like it and think he is doing a good job, ask what other houses he has built. If any of them are for sale, you can take a look at the "finished product" and see if there is any earthquake damage. If a good, solid house has some earthquake damage, it is not the builder's fault. I know that there are several procedures in building that will help make the house more sturdy - some as simple as keeping the cement damp until it dries/cures in some amount of days. But I don't think even a well-built house is immune to cracks.

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