By Ivo Henfling, your Escazu real estate specialist
When you plan to buy property in Costa Rica, make sure you look at your surroundings. This morning I had a listing appointment in San Antonio de Escazu and saw the perfect example of what I wrote about in a recent article in our AE newsletter.
This home in the pictures below, was built maybe 3 years ago and they built it on what we call "gaviones", which are large cages of chickenwire filled with rocks, so they could get the beautiful views of the Central Valley.
This home was built at least 10 meters (30 feet) away from the river, as that is what the zoning indicates. In just a few years, the rain has washed away those 30 feet and the river is undermining the "gaviones" already.
So who is responsible for this you might ask? The city? It probably should be the city, but they won't take any responsability. Just like no one takes responsability for the potholes in the road. The rivers belong to the city but only the CNE has any say about building retainer walls in the rivers. So if you are the owner of this home, you have to figure out what to do.
As you can see in the pictures, they have been working on it and there is even a permit stuck to the "gavion", that allows them to do the job.
Some years ago, I sold a house in Barrio Maynard in San Rafael de Escazu, which is on this same river, but further down the valley. At the time, we didn't have half as much rainfall as we have now in the rainy season.
My client called me during the rainy season to tell me that the river took a chunk of his garden and what should he do. Together, we went to the engineering department of the municipality of Escazu and asked them what we should do. The head engineer sent us to the National Emergency Committee (CNE) where they gave us a long list of things we would to bring them, like a certification of the property, a survey (original), a report from an independent engineer and they would look at it. The time frame from them to approve any work to be done was 60 days. By then, of course, most of the garden would have washed away.
So we just ordered a the rocks and we had it done during the weekend, without asking for any permits. It was of course the incorrect way to do it, but until today, no governmental institution has found out about it and the garden (and eventually the house) was saved.
The owners of the property you can see the pictures of, probably went through the same burocracy, because they are in plain sight from the public road, but for sure almost lost their home because of it.
I am sure there are more properties like this in Costa Rica and I felt I needed to warn you all to make sure that if you purchase a property or maybe already have one with the river close to you, make sure you do the right thing.
By Costa Rica realtor Ivo Henfling