56. Shopping for the Details


Thursday 12/9- By now you’ve read about our monthly trips to San Isidro for our big grocery runs and the farmers market. We are definitely due for one of those trips, but this time in addition to all of that regular shopping we have to do some serious shopping for the house too! Geiner told us that we have gotten to the point where we need to make sure we have the rest of the tile picked out (he has the tile for inside) and ensure there is enough in stock so he can get it ordered and delivered for when they are ready to start installing it, as well as pick out things like sinks and toilets. These (along with our groceries) are our priority for today!

We spent all day shopping at the same stores that we have been to several times already, but this time we came home having made decisions on all of the things that we needed to make decisions on. We had pictures of the pool tile, the shower tile, the sinks and the toilets that we wanted Geiner to order, now it would be up to him to get it ordered and delivered to the house. We felt accomplished having made this next set of big decisions, and we were excited because each one of these decisions we made brought us closer and closer to the house being finished! By the way, we are so sick of looking at tile!

Friday 12/10-
Once again it had been a few days since we saw the progress at the house so of course we had to stop by to see what had happened since the last time we were there. Jorge also asked us if we could bring him to town to pick up his weed whackers that he had to bring to the shop for repairs. Of course we would help him out! And since we’d be bringing him into town we asked him if he would like to see our new construction, and he said that he would really like to go check it out! 

When we got down there, as has been the case nearly every time so far, we noticed that things were moving along quite well! Most of the inside walls were up and had been mudded/skim coated. Instead of sheetrock and sheetrock mud like we are used to in MN, here the walls are made of plyrock, which looks a lot like sheetrock but is made of concrete, and they use a product a lot like thinned down cement mix for mudding the walls. This holds up much better in the heat and humidity than sheetrock would, but when everything is finished, looks very similar to sheetrock walls. They installed the rain gutters around the roof, and we noticed that the pool is pretty much ready to have the tile installed! They still have to run the electric in the ceiling so they aren’t quite ready for that next step yet. The progress is definitely coming along and we are having so much fun watching it all come together!

Sunday 12/12- As I mentioned previously, we really like to go down to the house on Sundays when no one else is working. This gives us a chance to look around without getting in anyone’s way, plus it’s quiet and we can talk about things and point out things that need to be fixed or changed without hurting anyone’s feelings. Plus, it is so much easier to take pictures when I don’t have to feel weird about getting the workers in them. So- today being Sunday, we went down to the house to do all of these things. 

A view from the deck into the kitchen and living room area

Looking towards the back of the house, kitchen to the left and outside to the pool

From the pool into our bedroom on the far left and living room kitchen area.

Our future bedroom from the deck

Front of the house

In the pictures above you may see wood trim around the windows and doors. This wood trim is just used as a guide as they are working on the walls and the finished cement will be flush to the boards. Its about a 1/4" of cement they will install to smooth the walls and hide all the seams of the plyrock.  

We know that Geiner is expecting to get the house finished before the original estimated completion date, but we are really beginning to realize just how quickly things are moving along. While we have been focusing on making choices about tile and sinks, it dawned on us that we should probably be thinking about appliances soon too! We took some measurements in the laundry room where the washer/dryer would go, and then in the kitchen to try to estimate where the cabinets would be and how we would lay out our appliances. We spent a while writing down what we think the maximum sizes of our appliances could be, and then headed to one of the 2 appliance stores in Uvita. We were actually surprised that one was open on Sunday, the other was closed so we’d have to go check that one out another day.

Monge (I think it’s pronounced “monay” but most gringos that I’ve ever heard talk about it, call it mongo) is a chain store throughout Costa Rica that sells things like appliances, TVs, cell phones, small electronics, some basic furniture, even small motorcycles. We had been in the store a few times in the past when we were looking for availability of various things so we knew that we might be able to get a good idea of the available appliances here too. We spent about an hour looking at stoves, fridges, washers, dryers, and air conditioners. We got some ideas, found some things we liked, learned about some things we didn’t like, and got an idea of pricing. We also found out that this time of year, shortly before Christmas, many places have sales on the high ticket items like this. Here in Costa Rica, all businesses are required to pay their employees a “Christmas Bonus” that is equal to 1 month’s pay, so this time of year people might be more apt to buy a new item. The deals that the stores have on these big items helps get those sales going even more.

When we were done looking at what they have in stock, we headed home to do some more online research for what else might be available that they just didn’t have in store. The decisions and the research just never end!

Monday 12/13- As we have mentioned in the past, pretty much everything about building our house has been custom. We drew up the plans ourselves, we chose the building material/construction type, we decided where all of the lights and switches and things like that will go, we more or less got free reign to design things the way we wanted them. Today we get to design the next part of the house- the cabinets. Jose, one of the local carpenters that Geiner works with, met us at our house to start sketching out a plan for kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, doors, and some of the other wooden furniture that we would be needing. We more or less knew what we were thinking as far as a layout was concerned, but we were also hoping that he would have some professional opinions, ideas, and thoughts about changes we should make since we were just making this all up as we went. We started with the kitchen since this would be the most complicated thing we would need. Our kitchen is pretty compact. We knew we needed an island in the middle with the sink in it, and cabinets/countertops along at least 2 sides. We needed room to walk and wide enough to not feel cramped, and big enough to open the refrigerator and oven doors. We knew we wanted the stove/oven centered on the window, but other than that we were open to ideas on the rest of the design. In order to visualize, we started sketching out lines on the floors and walls to see where the main cabinets would go along the walls. Based on the width of the countertops plus the width of the walkways we were able to get an idea of the size our island could be. We shifted and moved where we thought the refrigerator would be best and finally came up with a general concept that looked like it would work. Ok, now that we know what we’re working with, what are these spaces going to look like? Do we want a lazy susan in the corner? A special spice rack? Drawers or cabinets? What do we want for upper cabinets? Do they need to go above all of the lower cabinets or do we only want a few? Do we want a wine rack? Wait, this is us... of COURSE we need a wine rack!


After Jose had a general idea of what we had in mind, we moved on to the vanities in the bathroom and the doors for the house. Fortunately these were much easier to design than the kitchen was! Once all of the necessities were covered, we also talked to Jose about building things like our bed frames, closets, night stands, dining table, some pool lounger chairs and some patio furniture. He said that these are all things that he has done before and has no problem building. He would like us to send him some pictures of examples that we like so he can put together a general design for us to approve. Since there are so many different styles out there, he wants to be sure his vision is the same as ours! After several hours of working with Jose, we were satisfied with everything that we had discussed, agreed to send him some ideas and pictures, and he would start working on a quote for us. Of course, if we choose to go with him, this is just the beginning- there would be a lot of collaboration left when it came to more specific details, but we got the general idea down and we were happy with that!

Our next order of business for the day would be to stop at the other store in town that sells appliances. Since we looked at Monge yesterday, today we will check out Gollo. So, Gollo and Monge are very similar stores and direct competitors on most things. As I mentioned previously about Monge, they sell things like large and small appliances, electronics, a little bit of furniture, and sometimes we see them selling random things like weed whackers, bikes, and even small motorcycles. I would compare it to something you might be familiar with in the US, but I honestly can’t think of anything. Maybe a VERY small version of Best Buy, minus all of the CDs and DVDs, and also with a much smaller selection of choices, then plus those other random things that they sell.

Today’s stop at Gollo went very much like yesterday’s stop at Monge. We looked at all of the items they had in stock and learned that there are other items available that they might not have here but they can order from other stores or from the warehouse. We once again got ideas of items that we liked, things that we didn’t like, and today discovered that although the 2 stores (Monge & Gollo) sold many of the same categories of things, particular models of things were only available at one or the other. So, if we found a stove we liked at one and a fridge at the other, we would have to buy the items at the 2 separate stores. One couldn’t even order in the items that the other had (or so it seemed). This could make things a little bit trickier for logistics, plus we were hoping that if we bought everything at 1 store they would give us a “quantity discount” and we could get a good deal on it.

Of course, we weren’t going to make any decisions on these things today. We didn’t need the items quite yet and we needed to do some more research before we made any actual decisions, so we went home. Guess what happened next- Ramie got on the computer and he started researching, just like he often does in situations like this! He spent the next few hours going through the online stores for both Monge and Gollo, reading specs and reviews for the different appliances available, looking at sizes and prices of each item. The only thing he couldn’t tell from looking on these websites was availability. If we found something that we really wanted to see, would we be able to find it anywhere? Well, here in CR you just never know!

Pura Vida!


  1. Everything is progressing faster than I would have thought possible. When comparing construction to Mexico, those people in CR seem to work a lot different and a lot faster. We have been watching condo's goin up across the street for three years and finishing work is just getting started. Perhaps this would be due to Covid, perhaps not but for you it's really nice to see things happen quickly and you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Yes, it is definitely progressing faster than we would have imagined too! There are some construction projects down here that are similar to the ones you describe, that take much longer than you would expect, however we have a fantastic builder and a motivated crew. We got fortunate with the recommendation we received and found a great contractor who has also turned into a great friend.


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