55. PROGRESS Thus Far & Differences in Construction Between CR vs. MN

(Guest post by Ramie) 

Alright, hopefully this post answers a lot of questions about how houses are built here and the questions everyone was wondering about. 


While we were back in MN for the past 3 weeks there was a lot of progress done on the house, which I would have never ever guessed could happen as quickly as it did. When we flew to MN on 11/10 and we left the crew working on the house they had the footings poured, some of the main corner posts set, and a little of the pool started.

Setting the main corner posts of the rooms
Rebar for the pool is all set
More of the main corner posts of the rooms

11/13- 3 working days later. The crew was starting to frame the roof structure, tie the posts together, and build walls for our pool. 

Building the pool walls

Tying the support posts together with the room beams

11/18- 4 working days later. They had the pool built and outside terrazzo (deck) concrete poured. The roof structure and all critical support posts were also welded into place.

Our deck and pool are taking shape.

Roof beams almost complete

A view from the road looking at the front of our house.

11/24- 5 working days later. The pool is now skim coated. The roof is insulated, (here they use 2” thick styrofoam as roof insulation) and we have metal sheeting on the roof. Yes we actually have a roof on our house! The electrical and plumbing are being laid in the floor.

Pool walls are skim coated and awaiting tile

Electrical and plumbing are being installed in the floor prior to the slab being poured

The roof is on and the guys have shade from the sun

11/30- 5 working days later. The interior slab is poured, the crew has installed the plyrock sheeting on the outside of the house and has begun framing all of the walls, doors, and windows. It's really starting to look like a house! They have also started the structure of our pool pump bodega (shed).

Steel studs and framing are being installed and the exterior sheeting is going up.

The house is starting to have some character.

You might be thinking "Wow, this is going really fast!" (we thought that too) "How many guys were building this house?!"  We aren't 100% sure, but we think our crew was about 10-12 guys through most of the build, although this changes depending on what they are working on and if some of the crew have specialties or if they are working on general construction.

12/2- We are back in Costa Rica now. It's been 30 days since Geiner dug the first hole on our property to start our build. As Dana mentioned in the prior post, we were needed out at our property to go over a whole lot of questions. This is the first time we’ve seen our HOUSE and we were blown away by the progress. We had so much to look at, our builder had a lot of questions and details for us and we had a lot of questions for them.

So what are the differences in construction? Here in Costa Rica there are 5 main build types, poured concrete (very expensive), cement block, lightweight material (this is made out of cement board/plyrock and uses actual cement instead of sheetrock mud; this turns out to be similar to a cross between sheetrock and stucco), prefab, and container houses. Our house is built using the lightweight material. We chose this method because its cost is in about the middle of the range and the build goes fairly quickly. What about wood (stick built) like in the US? Well that isn't so much of a thing here. We live in the tropics, heat, humidity, bugs & termites. Wood would just be a very bad choice. Construction also has to be built for seismic activity. Yep, they get a lot of earthquakes here! We don’t feel most of them, but as mentioned in an earlier post they do get some good shakers.

As you can see, our house is built using steel posts, beams, and studs. Steel studs are a typical construction method in the US for commercial use, but used widely here in most construction. The sheeting for the walls is Durarock/Plyrock or also called cement board. It's mostly used in US homes in the bathroom. Again, it’s because of humidity. It won't absorb the moisture like sheetrock does. We choose to go with PVC on the ceiling. No pics of that yet, but it's basically a plastic sheet that interlocks similar to Pergo flooring, but hollow like corrugated cardboard. We choose this because of cost and you can get it in a variety of colors & styles. The wood we will use in our house for doors, cabinets, shelving, etc. will be made from local tropical woods such as teak, cedar, and others that resist warping, humidity and bugs. It is very beautiful wood and you can be sure I will include pics of it in later posts. The electrical system here is 120V 60hz. Just like in the US, but their power system is still nothing like the US. There are frequent outages and surge protection is highly recommend. We will have a whole home surge protection device installed inside our breaker panel, along with individual ones for our electronics. We opted to go with a solar water heater, instead of an on demand one. On demand is widely used here, but the fact that the sun is so intense we might as well try to save some money (electricity is VERY expensive) and install solar, its basically a large solar panel and a holding tank.  If we need hot water and the sun hasn't been out for a couple of days, the tank has an electric heating element that you can turn on, however I doubt we will ever use that function.. 

 Of course if there is anything else you may want to know just leave a comment. 



  1. Fascinating to see just how quickly they have come along with the build. Looks simple, durable and easy to maintain. This should be a structure you can live in for many, many years to come and add onto as the years go by. Thank you for the photos, they are great and keep up with the good work, you are doing super.
    Ken and Edie

    1. We were in awe while back in MN packing and seeing these pictures weekly. Spoiler alert though, the progress was not as noticable after all the walls where up. The finer details of finishing and all that, although we could see it, didnt really show well in pictures. So we wont have a lot of pics such as this post with progress pictures in future blogs.


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