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Tico construction is very different from US built homes

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Tico construction is very different from US built homesDid you know that Tico construction is very different from US-built homes? I’ve seen opinions from expats who think they know, but they don’t.

We DO have construction codes here in Costa Rica, BUT they’re only a bit different. If you don’t believe that, check out the INVU construction regulations.

And, Ticos have a different mindset, which is what this article mostly explains.

Costa Rica Home Inspector Tom Rosenberger (RIP) loved to joke about how Costa Ricans build their homes. In Tico construction, builders sometimes forget about logic. Or at least what is logical to us foreigners.

A few years ago, Tom gave us some insight into this different mindset by sharing 16 sarcastic cost-cutting secrets for building in Costa Rica. I’ve updated this article in honor of Tom’s expertise, and we really miss him as a person and professional.

Once in a while, we try to publish something that will help to understand that Tico construction is done on a different code than you are used to, just like you will find other building codes in California, New York, or Florida.

They all depend on the different geological, geographical, and weather situations in each location. In Costa Rica, we also have to manage the cultural differences on top of that. If you didn’t know, we live in a tropical climate and have earthquakes here.

Here are some very logical and funny solutions to some very typical Tico construction problems.

Tico construction is very different from US built homes

I don’t need it

Below are a few amenities that our clients used to have in the real world. But Ticos don’t think they are necessary in Tico construction. So here are a few Tico construction cost-cutting secrets.

16 Construction details that you don’t need, so why should you pay for them:

1. Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping on doors & windows is unnecessary; the weather’s usually lovely anyway.

2. Higher ceilings

Extra rows of blocks to make ceilings higher than 6 feet. Most of my family, friends, and neighbors are short.

3. Cabinetry

Why finish the inside of cabinets? We hardly ever see inside.

4. Closets

We don’t need large closets for flip-flops, t-shirts, and shorts.

5. Countertops

Why have a large countertop! I only have a few appliances.

6. Roofing

There is no need for contiguous roofing, fascias & soffit materials to keep moisture out. Cheaper products with grooves and cracks allow the wind inside to dry everything.

Tico construction is very different from US built homes

7. Gutters

Big gutters and downspouts are not necessary. Rainwater is suitable for the plants growing under the eaves of my house.

8. Insulation

We don’t need to use insulation in walls, ceilings, and attic. We live less than 10 degrees from the equator, so it’s never cold.

9. Drains

Why do we need drains with U traps and vent pipes for my toilet when my windows are usually open, allowing the black water gasses to escape?

10. Electrical outlets

We don’t need so many electrical outlets; I’ll use extension cords to connect my appliances.

11. Ground wires

A third electric wire to all outlets is totally unnecessary. I think they call it a grounding wire? My electronics are old and worthless anyway.

12. Screens

I don’t need screens on my windows; mosquitoes only bite at dusk and dawn. They may be notorious and also dangerous, but I have thick skin.

13. Showerheads

Why do some people have long plumbing pipes when adjusting the showerhead to spray up is easier.

14. Hote Water

We don’t need hot water; a cold shower gets me just as clean. It’s better for your blood circulation!

15. Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal doesn’t make any sense to me. The waste flows straight into my septic tank.

16. Toilet Paper

I don’t want to install wider toilet drains that slope down when I can put toilet paper in a wastebasket.

Tico construction is very different from US built homes

Tico Construction

When you buy Costa Rica real estate, you should hire a home inspector who understands Tico and Gringo construction. So what’s the difference between a Tico home and a Gringo home?

That depends on the price tag of the home you are buying; you will indeed find quite a few of these issues on your home inspection report.

Suprised photo created by master1305 –

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Ivo Henfling

Your West-side of San Jose real estate agent, covering Escazu and Santa Ana, Rohrmoser and Ciudad Colon. If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the Central Valley or looking for any property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, you need to contact Costa Rica real estate agent Ivo Henfling. Ivo has been selling Costa Rica real estate on the westside of San Jose, in the locations of Rohrmoser, Sabana, Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and those other areas. For Ivo, a deal is not a good one unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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2 thoughts on “Tico construction is very different from US built homes”

  • Victoria J

    6 April, 2022 at 7:21 pm

    We have found a way to retrofit drains with an “air admittance valve” (order on Amazon) behind a U trap to sort of replicate vents. It helps quite a bit

    • Ivo Henfling

      7 April, 2022 at 6:59 am

      Thanks Victoria, for your tip


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