When we were in the Monteverde area we stayed in a couple of different Tico homes (Tico/Tica is one of the preferred words that the Costa Ricans use to refer to themselves). Both homes were modest and in USA terms unfinished although quite functional.
Both had the Tico hot water for the shower and no other hot water anywhere in the house. Hot water is not used to wash clothes, hands, dishes, etc. The device in the shower uses electricity to heat the water, the more water you use, the more cold water that is added to the mix so turning the faucet all the way up gives you a colder shower. This actually works pretty well and avoids a lot of wasted water while you wait for the hot water to move from the hot water heater to the shower.
I prefer hot water to wash my hands and dishes but we never have gotten ill so I guess it isn’t really necessary!
As is common in many homes and public places, the area to wash your hands after you use the toilet is outside the actual toilet (and shower) area. It isn’t a bad way to plan things since it frees up the time that while someone is taking a shower or using the commode, someone else can wash their hands, brush their teeth, etc.
Most Tico houses are made of cinder blocks and have bars on the windows/doors or at least a substantial fence around the premise. (Our homestay family was unusual in that there were no bars/fence.
Floors are usually large ceramic tiles and are the most finished looking part of the house. They are extremely durable and easy to keep clean. Just don’t drop anything breakable on them.
Roofs are usually tin, often old and rusty, although I saw one house with a roof made of faded cardboard and magazines. It had been there for a while and with almost daily ran (often hard), I don’t know how long it lasts.
When we stayed in the stick built house in San Isadora, Ana has her home for sale but said it would probably sell to a foreigner since Ticos don’t like that it isn’t made of cinder blocks and doesn’t have bars on the window. (This requirement of bars/fences is interesting for a country with a low crime rate and no army.)
In the home we stayed the longest in Monteverde, there was not ceilings below the tin roof in most of the house. Nor was there much in the way of sheetrocked walls. Outer walls had more of a solid look to them, in part because I think in some areas they do put a sheet of something, different from sheetrock but something. The inner walls had the studs and cross bar framing exposed which actually wasn’t bad since you could use the cross bars as shelves for small items. In one B&B we stayed at, they used a contrasting bright enamel paint on the studs and cross bar framing to brighten up the room and it looked quite nice.
Houses generally don’t have any type of heat which is fine in the warmer areas but in Monte Verde it is very chilly from the wind and humidity. Several layers of clothes are sufficient to get warm though.
I may have mentioned this in an earlier blog entry but Ticos usually have a two compartment washing machine. Water (usually just cold) comes into the left side where clothes are placed with the detergent. When that side is finished agitating and rinsing, clothes are moved to the right side where they most of the water is spun out. I found out that these machines are actually about half the cost of a “regular” machine.