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  3. My understanding is that the Collegio of Architects sets the rates (expressed in percentages) for the various services an architect can offer. That is, s/he can charge a specified percent for initial rough plans, a specified percent for finished blueprints, a specified percent for getting permits, a specified percent for recruiting a builder and soliciting bids, a specified percent for . . . <all the other steps in the process through to completion>. With that, the client can choose just which services s/he wants from the architect and can know what those services will cost. The Collegio of Architects uses a "reference cost" per square meter of the building project to compute the architect's fee(s) for each service to be provided. That reference cost has no basis in fact; it's just a number they dream up and it's much less than the actual cost of building. Its only relevance is for computing the architect's fee(s). For example . . . Let's say you're building a 100 square meter house (that's about 1,077 square feet). And let's say that the Collegio's reference cost is $500 per square meter. To the Collegio, the project should cost $50,000 (again, only a reference cost for the purpose of computing the architect's fees).The Collegio might specify one percent for initial rough plans - $500. Finished blueprints - 2% or $1,000. Getting permits - 0.5% or $250. Soliciting bids and selecting a builder - 1% or $500. Supervision of the actual construction with weekly inspection visits - 4% or $2,000. (Understand, please, that the numbers in this paragraph are strictly for illustration and are not meant to be actual, real world figures.) You could ask your architect what the basis is for the services s/he's proposing to provide and how those costs are computed. Perhaps s/he can give you a contact at the Collegio of Architects who could verify these costs.
  4. Erin, Sounds to me like your architect is playing the old 'bait & switch' game with you. Do you have a signed contract with him which specifies the work he was to do and for how much? ¡Puena Suerte! Paul M. ==
  5. Hello! Our architect has flaked out. We’re 2 months into a 5 month building project in Tamarindo. He suddenly wants an exorbitant amount of money to do very little. I’m not against paying, but would like to find someone else to step in. Does anyone know of a good construction project manager in Guanacaste?
  6. If you are still looking for a house in San Ramon. we have one for sale...3 bed 3 bath plus office. Secure garage. 1 1/2 acres. Totally private and secure. Has solar heated pool with solar powered pump. Also has solar hot water in the house. Totally modern kitchen, all appliances stainless steel. Fully furnished. A truck is available for purchase as well. House is about 5km from central San Ramon with an all weather road which will be finished paving to the gate over the next few weeks. If interested in more information, private message me.
  7. Hmmm... I think I'd rather stand in line than have blood drawn! But then again, they took out all the chairs at our branch, so I may reconsider! Well, they still have chairs if you're waiting for the platforma. We don't usually have urgent business to conduct, so if there's a long line, in most cases we can return another day. The same goes for the post office. Some days there's nobody in line, and other days, I turn around and leave. One place I never mind waiting is the bakery!!
  8. You're absolutely right, seaturtlewoman, about the accessibility of local bank branches, but there is another way to look at the matter. For example, Banco Nacional in Grecia is renowned for its long lines and thus long waits at both the teller windows and at the service desks. Their branch in Sarchi, about ten minutes or so away, is almost never busy. And and the Sarchi branch has a parking lot which the Grecia branch does not. So the question may really boil down to where one prefers to spend one's time. Standing in line in the nearest branch may have it's allure, but for us, we'd prefer to get our business done and move on to more enjoyable pastimes. Given the choice, I'd rather go have blood drawn than stand in line at the bank.
  9. Think about where you are going to live and what banks are in that area. To reference David Murray's statement about Banco Davivienda, if they have no branches near you, it would make no sense (in my humble opinion) to open an account with them. Our former neighbor didn't like the long lines at our local bank, so he joined another bank 45 minutes away. I am not willing to drive that far to conduct business with a bank unless I absolutely have to.
  10. Kim, in order to open a bank account, regardless of your tourist or residency status, you will have to document your identity either with your passport or your cedula (if you're a resident) and you will have to document the source of your income. The bank might accept your Social Security letter, but we have always provided them two years of our U.S. federal income tax returns. They'll also want to know your residence address here in Costa Rica, your local phone number (your cell number will suffice) and your email address. Banks may differ in terms of their policies for deposits both initially and after your account has been open for a while. If that's an issue for you, you might want to shop around. We have found Banco Davivienda the easiest to work with and their policies and practices have been the easiest to comply with. Your mileage may vary.
  11. Yes, the first account we opened we were restricted to $1000/month. The second account, $1500. But before our residency applications were approved (and I'm talking 1 1/2 years), we were allowed to up the ante to $5000/month. So we didn't have our cedulas yet.
  12. Once you have managed to open an account while a tourist, know that a maximum amount per month, approx $1000, without a DIMEX card (cedula) will be permitted to be transferred electronically into the account.
  13. Hi Kim, I chose to maintain a checking account in the US (where my SSA pension was deposited) when I went to CR. I eventually opened an account at Banco Nacional (BN) and after six months I was allowed to deposit personal checks from my US bank (credit union, actually) in my BN account. In the beginning there was a 3-week float before the funds were released to me so I just deposited it far enough ahead of time that the money would become availabe to me at the time I needed to use it. After about three months I went in to the Plataforma in BN and spoke to a customer service person at that desk about shortening the float time. He went into the back and after about 20 minutes came back out and told me that my checks would now clear in ten days. After that my checks were clearing in 5 to 7 days. I was told that I could deposit up to US $900 per month via my personal check with no charges or fees assessed. Over that cumulative $900 amount per month there would have been a deposit fee of around US$40. I never deposited more than US$700 per month and could retrieve my monies using my International BN Servibanca Debitcard which BN issued to me per my request at the time I set up my account. (BTW - You will absolutely wantto specify that you want an International, not Domestic Servibank Debitcard if you decide to go the BN/personal check route. That's because the domestic card can only be used for things purchased inside Costa Rica.) As far as needing an apostilled SSA statement of earnings, you can get one in spanish by making an appointment (by email) with the US Embassy in Pavas. The SS Desk will issue you a letter on official SS letterhead, in spanish. That will be suitable for La Migra, especially if you were to go to the primary office in La Uruca. I pointed out (very nicely of course) to La Migra that the letter was issued by the US Govt on the official US letterhead which made it as official as humanly possible so that it did not need to be apostilled and they finally accepted the letter as true and official without me having to arrange for an apostille. BTW, you can have the SS letter apostilled at the Embassy but they charge US$50 to do that. OK – HTH Paul M. ==
  14. Kim, we got all our documents apostilled in the States before we left. I don't know if you can even do it here. The Embassy might be able to do that, but I don't know. You'd have to call them. Also, we got our wire transfers set up before we left, too. We had to do that in the States with our bank. They sent us PIN numbers in the mail. My best advice to you is to consult with ARCR as far as residency. We used ARCR to get our residency, and I used them to help me get my CR driver's license. In my opinion, it was money well spent. I would call your U.S. bank to see if you can set up wire transfers from here, but I am thinking you probably will have to return to the States to do that.
  15. In my experience there is no such thing here as automatic bank transfers between a US bank and a Costa RIcan one. You have to do that via wire transfer and there is a rather significant charge each time. Check with your US bank so see what their procedure is.
  16. I'm in the middle of trying to get my residency. I've been fingerprinted by immigation. All they need is my s.s. letter which I brought in they won't except it because its not apostle. I don't know how to get that done.. Also, I would like to open a bank account not sure how to get that accomplished. I wanted to get a bank in San Isidro Perez Zeldon will they transfer money from the states automatically from an American bank or do I need to something else. I appreciate anyones input. Kim
  17. Looking for a reputable attorney near Playa Hermosa...also would like to know what escrow company you would recommend.  We have heard Chicago Title is best?

    Floyd & Kathleen.

  18. If you don't install whatever solar equipment you plan on for later, at least put in the "infrastructure" as you're building. Running the plumbing for solar water heating or the electric cabling for photovoltaic is much easier and cheaper as the house is being built or remodeled. BTW, I'm a big fan of building from scratch rather than trying to accommodate others' ideas and mistakes. I can wax on and on about that, if you wish.
  19. That is the way I am leaning, but since I don't have a house yet and haven't even sold my US home, I can't really budget for the solar until I have all the figures to do so. But even if solar is an add-on down the road it is pretty definite that I will do that.
  20. sweikert925, I'm with you on the issue of the environment, but I can also tell you from a number of years of actual experience that both solar water heating and photovoltaic electricity generation come with very high initial investment costs and very long payback times. And they do require some maintenance. When we built our house, which you have visited, we installed two solar water heating panels and an 80-gallon storage tank with electrical coils for backup when there isn't enough solar exposure. That cost was about $2,300 in 2006. Ten or eleven years later, the whole shootin' match had to be replaced. Then, about eight years or so ago, we installed six and then six more photovoltaic panels in a "grid-tied", "net metering" system. When we make more power than we're using, our meter runs backward and, in effect, we get a credit. When we use more electricity than we're making, the meter runs forward and we create a bill. To be sure, our electricity bills are less than they would be without either of these two systems, but they're still hardly zero. (Our home is all-electric -- range, dryer, backup water heating, etc, and we're not bashful about using them all.) To plan to heat anything larger than a small hot tub by direct solar water heating or photovoltaic electricity generation would require a breathtaking initial investment. (As an aside, George Lundquist, who runs the tours and is a retired engineer, has calculated that it would be less expensive to install all photovoltaic panels and heat water with electric on-demand water heaters. That would be a simpler build-out, too. Wish we'da thought of that . . .)
  21. I understand having the independence of your own solar installation. But in Costa Rica, that has little to do with "ecology and sustainability" since electricity is generated by "renewables." Depending on the area where you live, a solar installation may not be that effective. I used to live in a rainforest area where a solar installation would not be the thing. I now live in Guanacaste where using solar is more realistic. I'd get your property first and then figure out what would be the best way to generate your own electricity. Who knows, it might be wind or hydro or a combination of all three! Location would also be important in deciding whether you need a pool heater or not. And.... of course..... just how warm you want that water to be! Probably cheaper than a pool heater would be a cover that you could put on at night in order to retain some of the day's heat overnight.
  22. It is my intention to make use of solar power either for heating water alone or potentially the whole house. Yes, I know it is less of a matter of economics to do so since the break even would be quite a long time. But ecology and sustainability are things I have strong opinions about. I've already gotten an estimate from one of the solar installation contractors here and will eventually get others.
  23. . . . but pools can have heaters. Both the foregoing quotes are totally accurate, but neither addresses the matter of operating costs. Pool heaters may be powered by either bottled gas or electricity and a filtration system and vacuum would be powered electrically. Regardless which you choose, the operating costs will be very high. Water absorbs a great deal of heat energy and, unless the sides and bottom of the pool are well insulated (not very likely, actually) and unless the surface is covered by an insulated cover, much of that heat will be lost and will have to be replenished. That much heat energy garnered from either electricity or gas will be very expensive. In areas where ICE provides electricity, the first 200kwh per month are fairly cheap, but beyond that, the price approximately doubles. And 200kwh won't heat the water in much of a pool. Gas is cheaper but hardly cheap in the quantities which would be needed, and the cost is based on the world market which can vary.
  24. And pools can also be enclosed, of course, and a filter and vacuum should be standard equipment.
  25. Noted, and thanks for your thoughts. Can't do much about noisy monkeys I suppose, but pools can have heaters.
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