For those of you hoping to build a home in Costa Rica, I will publish details about building this modern, tropical style home in a simple, fast and environmentally friendly way.

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Follow our progress and see if we’re wrong if we spend more than 4 months building a compact but comfortable home with 126 squared meter space (1,355 square feet) of living space in the Heredia mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica.




My client, the contractor and I have started to build a compact 2 story single family home with a steel structure and drywall system. The overall cost of construction should be approximately $700M2 (which is US$65.03 per square foot – see * note below) for a simple, compact home but please remember that this cost does not include architect fees, permits and the design phase.







When you visit Concepcion de San Isidro de Heredia, you will find breathtaking views to the south towards San Jose and all the Central Valley. You can actually see Irazu Volcano from here, backed by the Braulio Carrillo National Park transition area.




From here, a natural little town that appears to have taken another way rather than globalization. In the same day, you can enjoy a sunny, warm morning and a fresh rainy afternoon.




You can also buy local organic vegetables and fruits directly from the farmers. I do that generally after my inspections! Nothing like eating something you know has no chemicals and it’s good for your body!




As an official beginning of the construction, we started to draw general measures of the house on the ground and three days ago, our men began working on the site.







They built a storage area and the back hoe cleaned up the ground. Now, with the help of nylon lines and wood posts our work is to locate all the axis of the house within the correct distances from the property lines.




It is a delicate job drawing this all up. All lines must be measured correctly as indicated in the plans. In this case we don’t have one single squared angle to which we can reference one line. We took the neighbor’s wall as a reference and we started from there.




We also made sure we were at the appropriate distance from the property line, what we call retiro following what the plan says. This will be something the Municipality will check in their further visit.




When your lines are ready, and you have double checked that all measurements are exactly according to plan says, then you are ready to break ground. We wanted to see what the soil looked like, so we excavated a small area as a sample. The lines are not supposed to be moved. They will be are only reference for future revisions.







Now men are prepared to continue digging some holes. Next time I will double check what the soil is like in other locations of the house, and inform my structural engineer just to make sure that what we designed is perfectly suitable for what we now see.




Previous test soils are the best way to design an accurate foundation. But you also have to make sure these soil tests are representative of all the locations, not only a sample.



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In Costa Rica you can encounter many surprises in terms on soil conditions: you can find unexpected rocks, or changes of color that indicates different compositions of the soil, water, that will make your foundations go deeper or more superficial than what you had originally planned for in your design.







This is something we will take a look at next week when we will also define the lower level of the house. Weather conditions have been great despite the scattered rains we have had.




I hope you will enjoy watching and learning from this simple construction project. We want a clean, hassle free process and that’s why we are working with a responsible and experienced contractor who has previously guided us on budget, construction details and simplifying the building.




The house is small, but deserves attention to details. Not because they are complicated, but for what these details are going to contribute in architectural and constructive quality. This is both the contractor’s and my objective: 100% client satisfaction with high quality construction.




Until next time and hope you want me to keep you posted about this construction process.







* To get the price per square foot, divide the price per square meter by 10.764 so $700/10.764=US$65.03 per square foot.

Questions About Building Your Own Home?
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Written by Costa Rica Architect Gloriana Mejia 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….




For more information, please email Gloriana Mejia using the simple form below:







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There is one comment:

  • Terri at 5:33 am

    Ms Gloriana, I have a few questions, we are looking at purchasing in late 2018 or early 2019.

    1. Is the price of the lot included in the quoted amount?

    2. Is this a shipping container base? (We are hoping it is)

    3. Have you completed the build and will you share photos on the final results?

    4. Will the buyer be able to request upgrades ie: light fixtures, flooring, bathroom fixtures etc..

    5. Our hope is to pay cash, but if we are short within $20K are there finance options?

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