Architectural & Mechanical Recommendations for Your Home in Costa Rica

home in costa rica

While we may not boast titles as architects or engineers, our two decades of experience and wealth of accumulated knowledge regarding Guanacaste properties compel us to share fundamental advice with you today about your future home in Costa Rica.

Roofing –

The weather in Costa Rica is extreme, going from high UV sun exposure to pooring rain in the rainy season. Despite its aesthetic qualities, we highly recommend avoiding flat roofs and low-pitched roofs which tend to create issues and high maintenance costs over the years. Please also consider using proper roof insulation to help keep your home cool, be more sustainable, and lower your energy bill.

Gutters – 

As mentioned previously, our area is subject to down-poor rains, the quality, type, and size of gutters matter the amount of drains should be adequate to receive the water collected by a certain area of roofing. Oversized gutters and extra large additional drainage points come in handy along with proper leveling of said gutter to avoid water accumulation in them. Additionally, internal gutters despite giving the house a sleek look tend to create issues further down the line. If these internal gutters ever get clogged up and because the gutters are located within the walls of the homes the next place for the water to go to will be your indoor ceilings. Try to avoid them especially when the home is surrounded by trees, unless they were carefully designed. Pro trip, buy your home ( especially brand new ) in the rainy season to check for potential leaks and water damage.

Sun Exposure – 

Having a view of the sunset is great, but it comes with some cons. South, South West, and West Facing homes are exposed to lots of sun exposure in the afternoon most of the year. Pros are that you’ll get plenty of natural light, and cons are that it can turn your house into an oven. To avoid your home heating up consider building deeper overhangs on your home which will protect your windows from direct sunlight and give you less exposure to heat. Some other solutions such as outdoor shades, indoor shades and UV protective films for windows also help. These tips will help you keep your home cool and lower your AC bill while designing a more sustainable home with lower energy needs.

Water Filtration – 

Our water is really hard, meaning there is a lot of mineral deposit in it. It is potable and can be drunk with no issues but for your health in the long term, it is recommended to filter the water. Additionally, it will help protect and add some life expectancy to your appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines plus all out your bathrooms will benefit from less calcium accumulations on shower heads, faucets etc.. Pro tip of the day, use muriatic acid or vinegar to clean the calcium deposits from all of your bathrooms and kitchen faucets.

Water Drainage – 

With heavy rainfalls during the rainy season and depending on your roofing and the location and topography of your property, additional water drainage around your property might be required to avoid water accumulation and erosion on your property. Engineers can help determine what is needed even in the dry season. If you want to be extra safe, purchase your land in September or October and you will know everything there is to know about water flow behavior on and around your property.

Wind Exposure – 

From April to March and especially in January, and February, our area is exposed to extremely strong winds called the “papagayos” those winds come from the North East and East and head towards the west. These winds are way more than a breeze and need to be taken into consideration when designing or buying a home in Costa Rica as they will impact our outdoor spaces a good part of the year. For example, if you are up on the hill, it could be impossible to set a table on an eastern-facing terrace or balcony during the months of January and February. Another element to consider while designing/buying your dream home in Costa Rica.

Water Storage – 

Our area water resources often become scarce during the months of April, May, and June, additionally, sometimes, the water company might be doing maintenance on the system and your home could hypothetically not receive water for up to 1.5 days. For this reason, most homes have a water storage tank, this allows for the home to continue to have water while the water company repairs whatever issue appears. Over-engineering is the way to go when it comes to water storage to avoid running out. A 5000L water tank should be considered the minimum for a 3-bedroom home with a pool and irrigation system. If the home you fell in love with does not have it, don’t panic, just consider adding this expense to your budget when purchasing. You’ll thank us later.

Air Conditioning –  

We recommend to use mini mini-split ACs or considering converting your old central air system to mini-split AC’s. Mini-splits have a separate unit in each room, they are more energy efficient ( better for the environment ), better for your electric bill, and also offer you more flexibility to keep cool only the parts of the home being in use. Pro trip, Inverter ACs which are more expensive than standard mini split ACs tend to be a good investment over the long term as they are more energy efficient and will save you money on your electric bill down the line.

Outdoor Areas & Decks – 

Teak wood is commonly used for outdoor decks and is a great option when shaded from sunlight, wooden decks exposed to direct sunlight will deteriorate within 4-6 months and require maintenance whether other materials such as stones, PVC, or concrete fiber might be a better option requiring less maintenance. Direct sunlight exposure is also to be considered when picking outdoor furniture.

Lastly, before designing one of your Guanacaste properties, you should experience all seasons in the area and ensure your architect knows the local weather well.

If you have any questions and would like us to share our experience with you, please feel free to reach out to us!

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