The biggest question I’m getting about building our bed and breakfast in Costa Rica concerns earthquakes.
“Are there codes you’re following?” they ask. I don’t blame people for inquiring. If you had the unfortunate experience of being caught in one, it’s something you’ll never forget.
We had a whopper of an earthquake a few years back. A 7.6 blast that was so strong, it felt like a bomb had exploded underneath us: a bomb that lasted close to sixty seconds. I was sure we were going to die while Rob was convinced we would live. What could have destroyed most of Guanacaste did not do as much damage as one might have predicted, and that is due to the strict earthquake engineering codes in Costa Rica.
When I asked my engineer, Alberto Solano, about my concerns over building a tremor-safe house, he reassured me. “Costa Rica safety codes are strict, and they are based on international ones that are also used in California. As you can see, we had a big earthquake and there was minimal damage.”
When we were digging out trenches for our foundation, Alberto walked me through the process. “There are a lot of calculations when building a house. What is the weight? How does it impact the soil below? It’s important you dig down to the hardest part of the soil. We want a strong foundation to avoid settling.”
In Costa Rica there is something called Tico Time: a more laid back way of living. “Manana,” is something you hear often when trying to get anything done. However, Alberto is not on Tico Time, and he makes sure that the plans for our house are safe and in accordance with strict engineering codes. I feel good that he is part of this process. Engineers are interesting people so I asked him why he chose this profession. I’m happy to learn he comes from a long line of Costa Rican engineers. Continue reading “Engineering, Building Codes, and Earthquakes in Costa Rica” »