Many times when families decide to buy a house they investigate if the price is adequate, if it’s located in a safe neighborhood or even if it has a nice view.

However, only a few take the time to examine whether or not the ground they’re about to acquire is in ‘good shape’ or not.

Letting that slide, so to speak, could lead you into buying property that’s built on top of a defective terrain, where there might be the possibility of a land slide that could put your family and home in danger.

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A situation much like that one happened last year in the condominium Nathalia, in La Trinidad de Moravia, where part of a property collapsed due to the ground’s bad condition.

Specialists from the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) and from the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos (CFIA, or School of Associated Engineers and Architects) agreed that this kind of situation would be avoidable if people would just investigate the condition of the ground under the property they plan to invest in.

Doing this will allow future buyers to make sure that the lot is in perfect conditions, and so avoid damage to their property caused by slidings, structure collapse or ground deformation, amongst other risks.

Also, if the evaluation proves that the ground is in good conditions, people will have a greater certainty that if a catastrophe were to occur all material damage would definitely be covered by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (insurance).

Be careful. Eduardo Castro, chief of Direction of Insurance at INS, indicated that if someone’s buying a new property, the first and foremost recommendation is to ask the developer for a copy of the ground studies and tests that were done to the terrain.

This document will tell you if the terrain has any deformation or swelling, and will also determine if the lot is near a slope or a river that could possibly cause an earth sliding.

Also, it is advised to find out if the developing company that’s behind the project has all permits and required legal conditions to develop the project.

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Engineer Juan Carlos Arroyo, Chief of Operations in the municipality of Curridabat, recommended future buyers to go to the local municipal authority that the property’s in, so that they can tell you about the the use of the property’s ground. The document will show you what kind of structures can be built in that lot and the restrictions that are implied.

Also, he advised people not to buy any sort of property or lot that’s within those areas that the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) has labeled as zones in danger of land slides.

If you choose to build your own house, the most important recommendation is to utilize the services of a professional or a company that will accompany you throughout the whole process of the construction.

Vargas alerted people to hire only engineers or architects that have an academic preparation and professional experience that is adequate for the job they are to take care of.

Also, it is recommended to employ specialists that are duly recognized by the CFIA. You can visit the CFIA website where you will find a list of all collegiate professionals, as well as the names of some of the companies that are affiliated to this institution.

He explained that the consultancy that’s to be hired should realize a serious study of the ground that will enable you to determine if there are any of the exclusions that are defined by the INS in the terrain.

This advice is very important considering that 25% of the properties that are built in this country have not had the supervision of any specialist in that particular subject. “These cases have a high risk that in case that a sliding occurs, the INS insurance might not cover them”, indicated Vargas.

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Our thanks to Ginnette Monge C. and our friends at La Nación – Costa Rica’s largest Spanish circulation newspaper for their permission use this article.

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