You know of our intent to build a vibrant community at Altos de Antigua. In order to help future owners have the best possible experience when they join the community we are interviewing existing owners to learn from what they went through.

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I’ll be bringing you their unvarnished insights over the next few weeks. No matter where in Costa Rica you choose to build you’ll learn valuable lessons that will save you time, aggravation and money.

There is an article search engine on here. and if you type “Altos de Antigua” in the space to the right of the Search For: button and then click on Begin Search, you will find all our articles. Or, you can see the section devoted to Altos de Antigua here.

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I promise to get back to you and answer them as best as I can…

The questions I ask during each interview are:

  1. What were you looking for when considering Costa Rica?
  2. How did you find out about Altos de Antigua?
  3. What prompted you to buy a lot here?
  4. Why did you select this particular lot?
  5. How did the lot purchase process go for you?
  6. What do you wish you knew beforehand about buying and owning a lot?
  7. When did you start the house building process?
  8. What did you like about the house building and move in process?
  9. What would you change?
  10. What do you wish you knew beforehand about building your home?
  11. How long have you lived here?
  12. What prior expectations have been met?
  13. What expectations have not been met?
  14. Now that you have built a home and had some experience living here what would you tell others who are contemplating doing the same thing?
  15. What else would you like to add?
  16. Are there other questions I should have asked you?

I spoke with Roger and Sandy Baines in February of this year. Roger’s brother, Jack and his wife, Mary joined them for the interview. Jack and Mary also own a lot in Altos de Antigua, but have not yet built their home.

There is no building commitment on any of these lots, so a person does not need to build their home within a set period. They can use the land as an investment if they so choose.

These four wonderful people provided so much great information that I need to present it in two parts, the first this week and the second part next week.

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The two couples are from Canada and said that primarily they wanted to get away from the cold. They chose Costa Rica because of its reputation as the Switzerland of Central America. Also, they had read about how nice the people in Costa Rica are.

This sentiment echoes what Rheal and Norma Cinq-Mars, also owners in Altos de Antigua, said to me a couple of years ago; they visited several countries in Central America when looking at where to build, and chose Costa Rica because its people are the friendliest.

Roger found out about Altos de Antigua from his neighbour in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Jack found out from Roger. The two brothers came to Costa Rica for a week to check out Altos de Antigua.

They also drove to many other places in Costa Rica; Atenas, Tamarindo, San Limon, Puntarenas, Arenal, San Isidro de General, etc.

When they got back to Altos de Antigua they realized this was the best place for them. It was cool and fresh, and as good a place as you could find in Costa Rica.

Other people have also discovered that they cannot stand the heat and humidity at the beach and eventually relocate to the mountains. They said to me, “The beaches are nice to visit, but it’s better to live in the mountains”.

Being Canadian the two couples also liked that this development is driven by Canadians. They trusted Brian McLane, the developer, immediately when they met him and could see his vision of what Altos de Antigua would become.

They liked the attitude of giving back to the local community — that’s one reason Sandy teaches English to local kids and studies Spanish herself. As an aside; it’s great to see her young students enjoying the pool after their weekly classes.

Another reason they liked this location is that the roads within the development are paved as is Highway 239 all the way from the development to San Jose.

Roger is a geologist and was concerned about landslides so he chose the flattest lot in the development. His lot still has a very nice view. As an added bonus they lucked into continuous breezes.

This keeps their home nice and cool. Jack had the same concern as Roger and also chose a flat lot. Jack also likes being right off the paved road in the development rather than having a long gravel driveway.

The process to acquire their lots was very easy as Brian McLane handheld them the whole way “just like a concierge”. He even held a neighbouring lot, just below Roger and Sandy’s, for several months for Denise and Dean, their daughter and her husband to look at. You’ll read about Denise and Dean’s experiences in a future article.

Jack wished he had known more about maintenance costs. His advice is to ensure you fully understand all ongoing costs that need to be covered so that your expectations and budget are properly set.

Altos de Antigua is organized much like a condominium in that community maintenance costs are borne by the owners.

Your Ongoing Monthly Maintenance Costs Will Be For:

  • a. Your own land and house,
  • b. Common areas: roads, drainage ditches, gate, pond & gazebo, and…
  • c. The swimming pool area (if you own a pool share).

Their common feeling was that if you have a house here that is not occupied full time you need someone on-site to look after it. This maintenance is absolutely necessary and gives you a real sense of security.

There is a Community Association which is currently drafting its Bylaws. These Bylaws need a good structure and need to be transparent. One of the things the members have to work through is that the Bylaws need to be governed by Costa Rican law, not Canadian or American law.

In Costa Rica you cannot make someone do anything on their own land. The Bylaws cannot overrule Costa Rican land ownership laws.

Roger and Sandy decided to build in May 2007. They wanted to get going right away and not waste any time. The house was ready to move into in August 2008, even though the granite countertops still had to be delivered and installed. You’ll read more about this next in the next article.

Roger found a house design he liked on the internet. Two bedroom areas are separated by the central living area giving lots of privacy to the owners and their guests. He tweaked the design a bit and gave it to the architect, Carlos, to work with. At that time Carlos was the architect and Gustavo was his assistant.

Now Gustavo is the primary go-to architect for all Altos de Antigua homes. Carlos modified the design further by turning one bedroom wing at 45 degrees and adding a couple of stairs. This emphasized demarcation works very well and Roger really likes it.

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Roger and Sandy have had their house since August 2008. They do not live in it full time but spend more and more time here each year during the Canadian winter. This year they spent 2½ months, which they find to be too short. Jack and Mary spend a month here, renting another home.

The construction process did have one serious hiccup. Brian had hired a contractor to build the house. The contractor was paid an advance to start the building. When the contractor came back for a second advance with nothing done, nor any materials bought, he was fired.

Brian undertook building the house on a cost plus basis. From that point on things went well. Roger said he could not complain about anything. The house itself has held up beautifully.

I’ll conclude this article at this point. Next week you will read much more about the house building process, as well as their met and unmet expectations of living in Costa Rica.

For More Information About Living In Puriscal.

VIP Member John Orian, P. Eng.

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Written by John Orian, P. Eng. “If you want something done give it to John!” Having earned this reputation with a billion dollar company and a major Canadian city, John now offers training and coaching in Project Management.

John’s main focus in Costa Rica is helping to create a vibrant international community at Altos de Antigua where he is an owner and investor.

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