Master builders Ovidio and Rolando Perez Gonzalez share their love of construction successfully building custom luxury homes in Atenas, Costa Rica.
More than just another construction company, the story of the family construction business in Atenas, Costa Rica of Rolando Perez Gonzalez and Ovidio Perez Gonzalez is a legacy of simple beginnings, hard work, family values, and commitment to excellence spanning more than 40 years.
Separately in their careers, and together for the past seven years, the two Costa Rican brothers are maestros de obras (master builders) who have achieved great success and impressive accomplishments.
Unlike many maestros de obras in Costa Rica, who simply direct their crews but don’t do the hard work, Rolando, 49, and Ovidio, 55, can be found every workday laboring along with their men putting up concrete block walls, or fitting handcrafted wood beams into an artisan ceiling, creating stylized mosaic tile floors, or building a new pool.
“There are a lot of maestros de obras nowadays who don’t even know how to properly put up concrete block walls. They just give orders to the workers what to do,” said Rolando. “But we have always worked with our crews, and know how to do everything for building between the two of us. We want to make sure everything is done correctly, not just tell people what to do.”
Specializing in residential construction, the two brothers began their construction careers at a young age. Ovidio has been working in construction for 42 years since he was 14, and Rolando got his start 34 years ago at age 16. Originally from the Tacacori area above the city of Alajuela, they come from a rural family of three boys and seven girls. Ovidio is number six on the scale, and Rolando is second to last at number nine.
“We were raised by our mother, with our father absent most of the time,” said Rolando. “We all worked picking coffee and in the fields since we were little kids.”
After finishing elementary school, Rolando stayed in agriculture for a few years until Ovidio involved him in a construction project at the Central American Adventist University campus in Alajuela. Rolando said he tripled his salary working in construction, so it was an easy jump to the new career.
Ovidio was already working in construction for several years, as was their older brother, Gerardo, who is now 66 and retired.
Ovidio and Rolando developed their skills over the years working with well-known master builders, electricians, carpenters, and plumbers in Alajuela.
“It was hard to move up in construction in this time. It took time to develop your skills and work your way up, with many requirements as you developed,” explained Ovidio. “I always liked learning new things; so like Rolando, I learned multiple skills and not just one. Many of the artisan skills we learned aren’t used commonly anymore. Now construction is more commercial to lower costs.”
While the pair is multi-talented and can skillfully accomplish all aspects of residential construction, Ovidio specializes in electricity, plumbing, carpentry and artisan roofs. Rolando loves “obra gris”, or working with concrete, structure, and ceramic tile. He also specializes in building custom spas, pools, and house painting.
Rolando credits his good fortune to work with high quality builders and architects for his workmanship skills. Before coming to Atenas, for 10 years he worked for famous U.S. architect Sherrill Broudy as foreman of the “ace construction crew” at Xandari Resort in Alajuela and its sister resort Xandari by the Pacific at Esterillos Este beach (sold and re-named Alma del Pacifico in Dec. 2010).
The brothers joined forces in 2010 when Rolando moved to Atenas; Ovidio commutes daily from his home in Alajuela. They have completed construction projects in the Atenas residential communities of Roca Verde, Hacienda Atenas, Lomas del Paraiso, Pica Flora, Vista Atenas, Santa Eulalia and Alto Lopez.
For the past five years they have been building custom luxury houses in the residential development of La Antigua del Valle in the Atenas neighborhood of Estanquillos. The houses were built “on spec” to be sold by developers Dennis Easters and Gerardo Gonzalez Porras, licensed Atenas Costa Rica realtors with Pure Life Development of Atenas. All homes sold before completion. The six homes in the countryside estate development range in size from 2,500-square feet to 3,500-square-feet of construction, all with handcrafted artisan details, and custom pools and spas.
“We love our builders Rolando Perez Gonzalez and his brother, Ovidio, and the quality of their work,” said Gay Boggs, who owns two homes in the La Antigua development, one of which is a vacation rental.
Both brothers agree they enjoy working together in their small family construction business in Atenas.
“Ovidio and I share our different talents to complement each other. We are always sharing ideas and advice on how to improve our work and a certain feature of what we are building. It’s a feeling of peace and trust to work with my brother, who I’ve known my whole life,” said Rolando.
“We understand one another well,” agreed Ovidio. “We have the same good taste. We both like quality in our work, and running a construction site that is orderly and clean. We always look to improve things, always find solutions, and do our best.”
How has construction in Costa Rica changed over the years? Besides commenting that most construction crews in Costa Rica are now Nicaraguans, including their own team, Rolando and Ovidio reminisced about the beauty of old-fashioned artisan building styles.
“People worked with more quality before, and now builders just want to build quickly in a commercial style that is less artisanal. I like to work the ‘old-fashioned’ way with the best in quality and detail,” said Rolando.
“You never stop learning in construction. It is always changing, and there are always new materials to build with. I enjoy beginning a project and finishing it with excellence,” Rolando added. “It’s hard work. You are out there in the sun, the wind, the rain. But it is satisfying when you finish building something beautiful and well done.”
Rolando Perez Gonzalez and Ovidio Perez Gonzalez run a full service construction business for all types of residential building projects: new house construction, house remodels and additions, pools and custom spas, ranchos and decks. Contact them at (506) 6159-0749 or 6050-5262; or email [email protected].
Article by Shannon Farley