As an architect in Costa Rica but also as a home owner, I’ve experienced a few minor issues with some houses that could have easily been avoided with some guidance at the building phase.
In this brief article I’d like to share some tips on how to have a more enjoyable, easy maintenance house located on the mountains or beach.
Locations for homes are mainly chosen upon views, access to amenities or settings that provide natural living styles that will improve the quality of life. But there are also many things to take into consideration when choosing to live in a tropical country like Costa Rica.
Ten Simple But Often Overlooked Architect Tips WhenBuilding Your Own Home in Costa Rica
- Paint: My recommendation is to choose satin paint over matte paint. Matte paint has a big disadvantage: dust easily sticks over it and it’s not easy to clean. This is even more important if the house has several windows that will allow the dust to come inside.
- Closets: A quick and easy tip is to, and whenever possible, locate closets phasing south west. In Costa Rica, the south west orientation will typically provide more sun exposure, that will help keep clothes moisture free, at the very least during the dry season. Cross ventilation in the room is always a must, so that during rainy seasons, air can circulate to avoid mold build up.
- Choose your plants for your gardens wisely. When doing landscape design, take into consideration that summers can be very hot, and many native plants will help you with your water bill. Not to mention, this is a great way to have a sustainable garden.
- Incorporate a mud room in your house. This area can be located easily at the entrance/back of the house and can include a surf shower, a place where to bathe your dog, put dirty shoes, umbrellas.
- Outdoor living spaces. Not only is worldwide trend to bring the indoors out, (or the outdoors in), but this specially beneficial in the tropics, as it is more comfortable and enjoyable to be outdoors enjoying nature.
Many newly built homes or remodels incorporate and outdoor dining room and kitchen, designed in a way so that they can be kept closed when not using them or when not at home, for security reasons.
- Dry your clothes like the Ticos. If you want to save money on your electricity bill, dry your clothes outdoors during dry season. There some design ideas for laundry quarters where you can hang clothes and be able to hide them from inside the house.
- Use high ceilings designs. Costa Ricans have commonly used high ceilings designs when building their homes: this provides ventilated space areas in between the roof and ceiling, and also 3 meter or 10 ft distances between floor and ceiling.
More natural air and light comes in with the more windows and vents that can be designed within. Taller people will feel more confortable too.
- Use built in furniture. If furniture is conceptualized initially as part of the architectural project in concrete or metal, you will have low maintenance and very durable furniture that does not need to be replaced in time.
- Use more glass! Costa Rica is such a beautiful country it deserves to always be showcased! If you have great shadow control and proper orientation of the whole architectural project, you will be able to have glass walls. And more windows. Using vinegar is one of the most simple and easiest ways to clean regular windows, and saving money on hiring a professional glass cleaner company.
- Do minimal earth movement. You will not only be saving money but you will be minimizing your carbon footprint. This needs clever architectural design since the beginning, so you avoid those monolithic retaining walls that have a huge impact on the environment.
If you are looking for an architect in Costa Rica to help you with your building your home please contact me! I have more ideas to share!
Written by Costa Rica Architect Gloriana Mejia of DottArchitecture who focuses tropical modern architecture and believes in following very basic principles: simplicity as a guide for good design, compact areas as a solution for space, passive solutions for sustainable architecture and context as a main character of the frozen music that architecture is….
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