Building in Costa Rica

Some Helpful Advice for Building in Costa Rica:

You want to create a place of your own in Costa Rica.  The undertaking demands great patience and the right people working with you through the entire process.  Good contractors do exist. Check around. Look for an experienced construction firm that can assist you with permits as well as building. Interview several companies; ask lots of questions.  Click here to see our list of recommended architects, builders, contractors and engineers.

Make sure that the attorney has done the proper title research confirming that the property is suitable for construction.  Click here for a list of recommended Costa Rican attorneys.

Spend as much time as you can on the building site; get involved in the building process. This is as near as you'll get to guarantee that your house doesn't break the bonds of its blue print and technical specifications.

Hint: To keep control: dole out the cash to the contractor. Give him what he needs to buy materials. Pay him a bit at a time as the job progresses so the workers will be inspired to do quality work and to finish on time.

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Hiring an Architect or Civil Engineer

By law, all applications for construction permits must be filed by an architect or civil engineer who is a member of the Costa Rican Association of Engineers and Architects (Colegio Federado e Ingenieros y Arquitectos). These experts will review your plans to ensure the building meets seismic, electrical and other regulations standards.

How much does an Architect cost?

Here are the minimum rates charged by members of the Costa Rican Association of Engineers and Architects:

Preliminary study of construction plans and permits,: 0.5% of project cost.

(Such a study may or may not be required, depending on the project.)

Pre-project design: 1% to 1.5% of the price of project cost.

If the architect meets with you to discuss your needs, provides you with drafts of site planning, reviews construction plans and technical specifications of the project: 4.0% of project cost.

Once you have agreed with the layout and design of the property, the architect will draw up the plans. These will include a site plan, distribution plan, elevation and transversal and longitude perspectives, roof design and drainage, design of footings and support beams, structural plans, electrical design, mechanical and sanitary system design, interior finishing and construction. He will provide you with a list of materials necessary for the project, and will prepare a construction budget.

Figure 0.5% of project cost for global budgeting; 1.0% for itemized budgeting.

Control and Execution: Construction and project supervision

Regulation require one of three types of supervision

A. Inspection: The engineer or architect visits the site once a week, inspects to make sure that the plan is being followed by the general contractor, informs you of the quality of materials being used, and checks the invoices submitted by the general contractor. Cost: 3% of total construction costs.

B. Supervision: Engineer or architect visits your site daily and is more directly involved with the construction. Cost: 5% of total construction costs.

C. Management: Engineer or architect steps in to manage the project. Cost: 12% of total construction costs.

Before signing any of these contracts make sure that you have a thoroughly understanding its contents.

Hearts are broken less by malice than by miscommunication.


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