Home Construction & Maintenance

L@@K for our 'Recommendation from Readers' Checkmark ✔✔✔

Backhoe/tractor Services   ✔✔✔

I have the perfect little backhoe for small or large jobs. Need to get in to places where a full-size backhoe won't fit?? Or an area where you want minimal disturbance to the grass or landscaping?? Ditches, septic drain fields, water lines, clean up or maintain roads on your coffee farm or finca from landslides or washouts, landscaping chores, moving dirt or gravel, driveway repair, or what-have-you... I can do it. I've been sitting on this same machine for 24 years, know how to use it, and will save you money over full-size machines! I'll work anywhere in the Central Valley from San Jose west to San Ramon and outlying communities. 

Give me a call if you'd like to talk about your project at 2454-3643 or 8916-6193. Fluent English and Spanish spoken. Ask for Scott.

Carlos Castillo   ✔✔✔

by Walt Clayton
This is to recommend Carlos Castillo for virtually any type of construction design and work. When I needed a workshop and storage area for my new house outside of Grecia, I was referred to Carlos. I was immediately impressed by his grasp of construction concepts, materials and work techniques. He wrote up a detailed building plan, contributed several great ideas to improve the look and security of my shop, and assembled a detailed list of materials. He was on-budget and on-time throughout the entire project and managed his small work crew efficiently. There were no unpleasant surprises -- Carlos is a man of his word and of high integrity. As an extra bonus he speaks good English, having lived and worked in the United States.
Aside from my new shop, I soon found out that he actually built the house that I had bought! Carlos knows every phase of construction, including but not limited to electrical, plumbing, framing and cement work.
Another project where Carlos did an incredible job was the demolition of a dilapidated wood cabin in exchange for the structure's materials. Single-handedly, he disassembled the entire building, including a concrete structure, with just simple tools and a sledgehammer. He worked through rain and darkness, never stopping until the job was done. Carlos has amazing strength and persistence to get the job done right, plus he's a very personable and likable guy.
I highly recommend Carlos for any construction project you have planned or are thinking about. He can be reached at 8737-2267, in English.
General Contractor - Home Improvements

Juan Carlos Rodriguez   ✔✔✔

By Chris and Carol Phillips
We would like to introduce Juan Carlos Rodriquez to the expat community in the Grecia area. 
Juan Carlos is a general contractor that can do everything from building houses to building concrete and metal fences to constructing concrete walls. He has been in business for several years in the Grecia area and speaks some English but prefers to communicate in Spanish.
Our experience with Juan Carlos and his crew was a pleasant and enjoyable one. Juan Carlos was on time for his appointment with us to assess our job and submit his detailed cost estimate. Juan Carlos and his crew built us a concrete and metal fence in front of our house and built us concrete walls on each side of our house. We found a photo of the fence we wanted built on the Internet. We printed it and gave it to Juan Carlos. He and his crew built an exact copy of our photo and did it in 6 days.
Juan Carlos and his crew are very hard workers and promptly arrived at 6 AM each morning to begin work. They worked all day and only stopped if prohibited by rain. One day they worked in the rain to finish the job.
Juan Carlos is attentive to details and does beautiful work. He takes the time to do the job correctly. For example, he worked on our fence gate until he was assured that it opened and closed correctly. My wife and I highly recommend Juan Carlos for your home improvements.
His contact information is: Juan Carlos Rodriquez 8325-7462 (Cell) 

Bernie Gonzales - Sarchi   ✔✔✔

by Don Davis
I'd like to strongly recommend Bernie Gonzales, a master of many disciplines. 

I've had Bernie at my casa many times for electrical additions and repairs, whether it's a 110V or 220V job, if you want your electrical work done right, with quality and to North American standards, then Bernie is your guy. He's quite fair and reasonable, honest, fluent in English. Over the many years that I have used Bernie, he has morphed into what I would classify as a general contractor.   

He has built a bodega for me and I just finished using Bernie to find what I thought was a roof leak. Bernie discovered that I didn’t have a roof leak, but infestations of varmints and flying termites. He attacked the termites, blocked out the varmint access, painted and replaced galvanized sheeting, made additional repairs, found replacement tiles and reroofed two sections of my tile roof.    

Bernie can be reached at 8820-1106.     

posted 2/3/2023

Juan Arias   ✔✔✔

By Walt Clayton
Thanks to the rave review by Jan DeCook*, I hired Juan Arias to do a major project for me: a new driveway. It was an excellent decision.
Juan turned out to be a homeowner's dream builder. With decades of construction experience under his workbelt, Juan can tackle anything from a kitchen remodel to a guest cottage to an entire house. All I needed was a driveway, but it had to be solidly build and aesthetically pleasing in a natural, semi-jungle environment.
Together, Juan and I kicked around several options: tinted concrete slabs, zacate block with holes for grass, and slate. Slate was the most expensive, but I figure I have to look at the driveway every day, plus it enhances the value of the house. So slate it was.
In the two weeks it took to lay down the stone, I learned a lot about Juan. First and foremost, he really knows construction and materials, and a stint in the USA working on mansions hones his skills and can-do attitude. Plus he picked up English and a love of oldies-but-goodies on the radio.
Juan is energetic and resourceful, and can find a solution for any building glitch or homeowners' need. Add creativity to that and his range of skills expands exponentially - he's full of bright ideas and economic alternatives. He helped me keep costs down by personally negotiating with different materials supplies, providing written estimates, and securing cash discounts - he knows everyone. His flat-rate labor fee was extremely reasonable, and included a big cement mixer, compactor, concrete breaker, and other power tools.
Being a fastidious nitpicker myself, I appreciated Juan's attention to detail and meticulous control over the quality of his crew's work When something wasn't to his demanding satisfaction, it got redone. His crew respects him, and they all work in cheerful, industrial-strength harmony.
When things get crazy, Juan is the calm in the eye of the storm who keeps his head on and juggles plans B and C to get the job done. His integrity is beyond question, and he' a great guy to boot - we've become good friends in the course of this project. Juan is my go-to guy for all future projects, and can be reached at 8391-0055.

Juan Arias - Another Recommendation   ✔✔✔
By Susan Adams
I want to also recommend Juan for the great work he and his crew do! He is doing a complete remodel for me, carpenter work, plumbing, electrical, welding, roof, tiling, painting, concrete work...he does it all. His phone number is 8391 0055. They are always on time and show up as promised! Eager to please, they are ready to do the quality job you are hoping for. English speaking and with experience in U.S. construction, Juan is able to understand and perform the work you want. This crew is so much fun to work with that I can't wait for my next project! Thanks guys!

*removed 10/13/2019

William Rodriguez   ✔✔✔

by Irina Just

I am writing to highly recommend the outstanding craftsmanship of cabinet maker William Rodríguez and his son Willy Jr.
William came recommended to us and we couldn't have been happier with the quality of work his taller did for us. Although William does any kind of cabinetry and furniture, we only needed two custom-built bathroom cabinets, one with above-the-sink medicine cabinet with mirror; a long work bench with above-head cabinets for my husband's work shop, which had to be fitted within strange dimensions and odd angles; and a bar for our kitchen.
We realized the accuracy and quality of William's work immediately, but were completely "sold" when, at a time when William was sadly unavailable, we had another person build a wooden structure, which had to be re-done 3 times and still doesn't fit right or match properly.
William is not the cheapest, but his work is definitely worth the fewer headaches and re-dos and additional cost for mistakes. His custom orders fit, match and are exactly as envisioned. A bonus is, both William and his son Willy Jr. speak perfect English.
Muebles WR  is located "down the driveway, past the house next to EBAIS Sarchi Sur". 
Tel: 2454-2348      Cel: 8820-6566       e-mail: muebleswr@gmail.com 
Carpentry and Cabinetmaker

Ronald Rodriguez   ✔✔✔

By Walt Clayton
The longer I live here, the more I get to know locals who do great work in many areas.
The latest is carpentry, because of my need for kitchen cabinet doors to match my new home’s existing hardwood drawers and shelves. There was no dishwasher or trash compactor when I bought the house, so those spaces had unsightly open spaces, and there were others that exposed a trash bin, cleansers, cookware, and so forth. I knew the instant I saw the kitchen that custom doors would be a top priority.

Luckily for me, less than a kilometer outside San Isidro I stumbled across the workshop of Ronald Rodriguez, appropriately situated on Calle Rodriguez. Ronald’s a Tico, but he lived in New Jersey for 10 years, speaks good English and understands Americans.

He came and took measurements, and I loaned him a drawer so he could match wood and stain. A few weeks later my new doors were installed and they match everything perfectly – Ronald did a great job at a very reasonable price.

Visiting his shop you will see a lot of sawdust, but also the various stages of projects in the works. He does upscale cabinetry and virtually anything you could need made out of fine woods – bed frames, chairs, bar stools, bunks, desks, doors with or without stained glass, you name it. The craftsmanship is superb.

Ronald can be reached at 8530-9639.
Give him a call now for that project you’ve been putting off too long!
Drafting and design

Drafting and Design Planning Service

If you are planning to build onto your house or build a separate building such as a garage or gazebo, I can draw the plans for it. I have a degree in design technology.
Using the latest 2D and 3D modeling software I can draw anything from detailed framework to lifelike 3D renderings. Just give me an idea of what you want and I will draw it.
Contact info: Email: mingram201@hotmail.com
Phone # (506) 8570-6801
Location: San Isidro de Grecia  

Bernie Gonzales   ✔✔✔

by Donald Davis
I'd like to strongly recommend electrician, Bernie Gonzales. I've had Bernie at my casa many times for electrical additions and repairs from adding new circuits, water pump installation, porton motor replacement, whole-house lightning proofing to tapping into existing electrical lines and running extensions, to re-wiring as part of a bathroom remodel. Whether it's 110V or 220V, if you want your electrical work done right, with quality and to North American standards, then Bernie is your guy. He's not the cheapest, but quite fair and reasonable, honest, fluent in English and is handy with similar, but non-electrical repairs and installations such as instant-fired propane water heaters.

Update: Bernie has greatly expanded his services to include just about anything you would need from a contractor regarding home construction, renovation and repairs. See our other listing for him here.  2/3/2023

Bernie can be reached at 8820-1106.

Landscape and Interior Design

Catalina Salas

Catalina Salas designs gardens. She is also an interior decorator. ENGLISH SPOKEN 
Phone : 88169009 e-mail: decoespacios@outlook.com

Roof Repair & Maintenance   ✔✔✔

With sadness we report that the author of this piece, Tom Rosenberger, passed away in June 2020. 
His information remains valuable and so we will keep it here.
In Costa Rica, once the rainy season begins, many folks realize that their leaky roofs and flashing installations need repairs. There are several methods to troubleshoot and solve roofing problems. Following 20 years of inspecting construction here, I’ve witnessed mostly quick fixes that temporarily solve leaky roofs. Quick fix repair methods with tubes of silicone to fill gaps are nothing more than band-aids on open wounds and the homeowners are seldom satisfied, and rightfully so, blame the contractor when the leaks continue.

I’ve found that it’s not prudent to participate in projects unless quality building materials and proven installation methods can be utilized to completely solve the client’s problems. That way, the clients are not inconvenienced by the contractor needing to return several times to complete the repairs to the client’s satisfaction.

You can read my 10-page article here - the following photos and descriptions are of the most frequent construction defects I’ve discovered during my 22 years of construction inspections in Costa Rica and I’m detailing the most suitable methods to solve the problems 100%. If you’ve purchased a home that has roof, flashing or gutter problems, you will need annual revisions and re-installation of exterior sealants and materials that deteriorate from the intense ultraviolet radiation in Costa Rica. If the exterior surfaces are allowed to deteriorate for an extended period of time, you will encounter damage to interior building components.
In conclusion, it’s wise to appropriate as much money as necessary to receive the best roof available for your dwelling. Keep in mind that the roof of your dwelling is one of the most important components to protect your investment, personal possessions and peace of mind.
Security Systems

Alarmas Herrera   ✔✔✔

by Don Davis
There comes a time when many of us finally decide that a security system for our property is required. If that is where you are, I can't recommend Victor Herrera highly enough. Very knowledgeable, very professional and very honest. Victor speaks English and possesses a very dry sense of humor. He's got state of the art security products and can customize your security system to your needs. His office is in Alajuela, but he'll come to you, make recommendations and give you a quote before he starts the work. He's been to our home to fix the shoddy job done by another party and then again to make upgrades to our system several times as required. He's not speedy, but he's careful and he does it right. Try his cellphone first, add him to WhatsApp and tell him Davis in Sarchi sent you.
updated 10/25/2021
Solar and LED Lighting Solutions

Solaris - Renewable Energy in Grecia  ✔✔✔

by Walt Clayton
Here’s a bright idea.   
Next time an aguacero of biblical proportions thunders upon you, download the latest Solaris 2021 catalog and get wowed by its cost-saving innovations in three categories: solar-generated electricity, healthful e-bikes, and LED illumination for home or workspace. It will leave you planning your next energy-saving moves.  
  Solaris and its bilingual team are committed to providing reliable you-can-count-on-us customized service from well-stocked inventories to provide timely installations. There’s a display at the Cámara, and the new catalog provides a comprehensive listing, with photos and specs, of every product. Glen will personally conduct a complimentary on-site home or business “audit” to help determine your precise needs, accommodate personal tastes, design a plan with the appropriate products, and oversee installation.   Of particular interest to homeowners, aside from capturing solar energy, is the crime-deterrent value of instant, wide-coverage lighting. Sensor-activated floodlights, or timer-controlled interior lights, put would-be thieves or home invaders on notice that they have been discovered and are being watched. A strong complement to any lighting scheme would be a video-linked surveillance system and highly visible signage. Smart criminals, if there are any, will wisely move on to a less-protected home.    
  To peruse the catalog click here – it covers virtually everything. And to recap the advantages of Solaris it’s easy to buy locally, to consult directly with Glen, or to have his savvy techie, “Jimmy” Barrantes, demonstrate products. To request an audit Glen’s personable bilingual assistant, Ms. Yamile Salum, can schedule one. The Solaris goal is 100% satisfaction and high quality at a fair price.
OK… time to energize a plan for better illumination, security, and long-term savings.  
posted 10/30/2021  

Solar driven

  Solaris is a local Tico enterprise based at the thriving construction materials headquarters of the Cámara de Productores de Caña just outside of Grecia. Glen Nickerson is the driving force behind the company’s constant quest for the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing energy-saving products incorporating all the latest technology. Lighting is his passion. He lives and breathes LEDs.  

Super energy savings

  In researching this piece, Glen generously took time to enlighten me on the long lifetime value of solar and LED technology. Did you know that LED lights can save up to 85% of the energy cost of an old incandescent bulb? I saw the light, and am now a convert. Some of these bulbs will outlive me!  

Contact info

   Solaris office: 2444-0929             
 Glen mobile: (506) 8701-2271  
Tree Felling/Tree Trimming

Carlos Castillo - Treecutter   ✔✔✔

By Walt Clayton 
Costa Rica everything grows, and fast. Before you know it, that stately oak that was the perfect arboreal touch has grown into a massive threat to your house. The stuff of a Stephen King novel! Enter arborist extraordinaire Carlos Castillo, sans cape but with decades of experience climbing to great heights to trim or fell this country's trees. 
When I told him he must be part monkey, he said to ask Darwin. Carlos is a friendly bundle of sinews of incredible strength, agility, and stamina. He designs custom-made devices and makes his own harnesses and scaffolds for conquering any tree. 
Large branches that threaten to cave in a roof, flatten a car, or just kill someone can be trimmed without a permit by MINAE, the government environmental agency that controls and authorizes such actions. Certain native trees cannot be felled under almost any circumstances, but ordinary, non-indigenous trees like pine and cypress usually can be -- it all depends on the particular case. Carlos knows them all, and has contacts within MINAE to consult with before starting any job. This saves the homeowner from serious bureaucratic nightmares and onerous fines. 
Carlos also knows how best to satisfy MINAE should an inspector unexpectedly show up on-site to see what's being cut. This is unlikely, but it's best to be prepared. For example, the cuttings are carefully set aside as proof that the wood is not being used for lumber or firewood. And a special paste is applied to where limbs have been cut, to prevent a fungus infection. Little details, but important. Trimming and felling requires elaborate preparation before the first cut is made. Scaffolds and different saws are used for different angles. Heavy ropes, winches and pulley systems assure that branches fall where you want them to. There is a strong element of risk involved, which for big jobs requires an experienced assistant. Every job has its own special requirements. 
And speaking of risk, an insurance policy is mandatory for anything beyond trimming a few branches. The Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) can issue one on-the-spot with just some basic info on who's doing the job, what it involves, duration of project, and the name of the proprietor contracting the job. Very simple, fast, and surprisingly cheap. 
An added bonus of working with Carlos is that, aside from being personable, trustworthy and sharp, he speaks good English. He's never been to the States, but was determined to learn on his own, which pays off for everyone. His labor and equipment rental rates are extremely fair for the effort and risk involved, and he is not a gringo-gouger. 
 As for a recommendation from a recent big job, Glen Nickerson of San Isidro de Grecia has graciously volunteered to be a reference. He can be reached at 8701-2271 WhatsApp. Timberrrr!

updated 16/1/2024
Safety is #1
Custom scaffolding
The right tools for the job
Knows what he's doing!

Rock Walls/Rain Drains    ✔✔✔

By Steve Macik
Jose lives on the East side of Grecia and is available some days through this dry season for affordable contract work. 'Muros de piedra' are his forte and favorite work. He is powerful, works quickly and spreads sunshine with his smile. Jose worked with us for 4 years, mostly full-time. 
You can see his work at La Isla Vet Clinic (formerly Steve's home).
For more info contact StevenMacik@gmail.com   
Water leak detection and repair

Joe Goodnough   ✔✔✔

by Dave Murray
Finding and repairing a leak in a water supply line, whether in a home, office or store, can be a daunting task. Here in Costa Rica, many defective pipes are buried in concrete floors or underground where they are very difficult to locate. A serious leak can result in both an expensive monthly bill and also deterioration of support for a building due to erosion. Luckily for us, there’s a new source of expert repair.
Joseph Goodenough is an expert in locating and repairing water leaks. He has the high-tech listening device necessary to pinpoint a leak and the tools and experience to repair it. Recently, he located a leak in our guest house’s plumbing that had gone unnoticed for some months. The only clue was in our monthly water bills which were four or five times what they should have been. Joe dug right in. He traced the incoming water line from the meter to the guest house and then, after a bit of excavation, found and repaired the leak behind the toilet. It wasn’t quick, but the work was thorough and professional.
So if you’re faced with a leak or an unusually high water bill, Joe’s your guy. 
You can contact him at jgood2no@gmail.com
in English at 8422-5572, or in Spanish at 7054-4041.
posted 3/8/2020
Welding Services

Welding Services... and MORE!

Braulio Oviedo - Multi-Talented Guy   ✔✔✔
By Walt Clayton
Need a welder who can put up an entire structure? An electrician to rewire the whole house?
A certified car mechanic?

All these talents packed into one competent Tico? Paging Braulio Oviedo!
Braulio is the brother-in-law of Flor Villarevia, whom many know from the beautiful tote bags she produces. When the roof of Flor's parents' home was recently replaced, Braulio single-handedly designed and built a brand-new, super-strong metal roof to replace termite-infested wooden beams and rusted sheeting.

Presently, he is finishing up rewiring the house with new cable, connection boxes, switches, and energy-efficient LED lights donated by Glen Nickerson.

I use Braulio for all my light car repairs -- brakes, bushings, electrical, lights, etc. He is a certified mechanic at extremely reasonable rates, but he works out of his home without a proper, well-equipped shop. Still, for certain minor repairs he's perfect, and this includes light body work, patching, sanding, priming and painting.
Spanish is Braulio's only language, spoken at machine-gun speed. However, I'm happy to assist in translating and introducing him if you have a project that requires his skills. He lives outside San Isidro de Grecia, up near the San Francisco school and Ser la Luz yoga studio.

If you're considering a project but are unsure of Braulio's skills, just tell me and I'll find out!

Braulio 6251-9710 WhatsApp Spanish
Updated 16/1/2024
Ornamental Welding - Barrio Latino, Grecia

Forjados Del Acero

by Lou and Dawna Winegrad

There are many welders in Grecia, however there are only two iron artists that can make any gate, entryway or window protection into a unique art piece. They are twin brothers Juan & Jose Castro, located in Barrio Latino, and their work is not limited to large scale projects.

Using a combination of hand forging & welding, they’ve created furniture, bathroom fixtures, & decorative accessories. They are honest, dependable, & reasonably priced. And they are a delight to work with.

So if you are contemplating a project in the Grecia-Atenas area, check out their Facebook page (Spanish with lots of photos) and call Juan, who speaks English, or call us for more information.

Facebook: Forjados Del Acero CYS
Juan Castro: 8689 6107
Dawna & Lou Winegrad: 8483 9045

More Happy Customers
by Kim and Roy Scruggs
We recently used the welding services of Forjados Del Acero, whom we found here on Que Pasa. They are twin brothers, Juan and Jose Castro. The quality of their work totally deserves a shout out! They were efficient, very personable and dependable. It was a pleasure doing business with them. We highly recommend them for any welding project.
And Another!
By Susan Adams
I would like to recommend these Craftsmen!
If you need any iron work or blacksmithing I cannot say enough great things about the Castro Brothers at Forjados del Acero located in Barrio Latino, Grecia. They made a pot rack I designed and are truly artists! Check out their FB page. They are honest, fair, dependable, talented and speak English!
Their phone number is 8689 6107.

updated 10/25/2021
Fine Craftsmanship
Your design or theirs
Beautiful & Functional

Artistic style

Window and Screen Repair - Roy Vidrios   ✔✔✔

by Don and Debra Rogan, Carbonal
Our wonderful landlords sent a great window man to our lovely Casa to make some needed repairs. In addition to keeping busy with private homes, Roy Vasquez, owner and operator of  Roy Vidrios does work for properties handled by Chris Schoo/Grecia Real Estate, and Rosvil Mercados in Grecia.

Roy and his helper worked tirelessly replacing a window frame, many screens, replacing window panes, and repairs on our sliding door. Everything was done with care and is now pristine and in fine working order.
When you need any window or glass door work done we highly recommend Roy Vidrios. You can contact Roy, who speaks some English, at r.vasquez05@hotmail.com or phone him at 8857-7413.
updated 16/1/2024