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Building a Home In Costa Rica

Hello everyone, I'm planning on moving to Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica in the near future and I'm currently saving money to build a home, but I'm having some problems figuring out the cost of per square meter/m2
I found this website ( http://www.crhoy.com/archivo/metro-para … /economia/ ) and came to the conclusion the the average that per square meter cost is 300.000 colones

There's 10 feet in 1 square meter

If I divide 300.000 colones(1 square meter) by 10(the amount of feets in a square meter) I get 30.000 colones, which is around $53 dollars.

Is $53 dollars per square foot and $528 dollars per square meter right or I am completely wrong? Sorry if the math is confusing.

300k colones are a bit less of USD $600 (if dividing by 500, the fastest way; now one dollar is around 575 colones), so your figures are right

This cost will of course, vary throughout the country, depending on materials. The article you quoted was posted in 2016

Wherever you decide to build, at whatever price it is, please consider living in your chosen area prior to committing to building a home, preferably for an extended time period.

A article worth reading is here

ANd there are expenses incurred with construction permits, utility requests, etc.

kohlerias :

This cost will of course, vary throughout the country, depending on materials. The article you quoted was posted in 2016

Wherever you decide to build, at whatever price it is, please consider living in your chosen area prior to committing to building a home, preferably for an extended time period.

A article worth reading is here

You're right, i should go to Costa Rica before moving. I have some family that live in Limon, I should reconnect.

MauroN :

ANd there are expenses incurred with construction permits, utility requests, etc.

I read somewhere that the architect is paid 10% of the project price. Hopefully 250k dollars will be enough.

Thank you all your replies. Knowing how much money I need to save helps a lot.

And don't forget to add in the cost of the land.  :o

Check out whether you can get a landline to be able to access the internet, as in some areas there are no more available...and cable is not always available.

Residency information

Working ...or rather not working ... in Costa Rica

SaturnHelios :

Hello everyone, I'm planning on moving to Puerto Viejo, Limon, Costa Rica in the near future and I'm currently saving money to build a home, but I'm having some problems figuring out the cost of per square meter/m2
I found this website ( http://www.crhoy.com/archivo/metro-para … /economia/ ) and came to the conclusion the the average that per square meter cost is 300.000 colones

There's 10 feet in 1 square meter

If I divide 300.000 colones(1 square meter) by 10(the amount of feets in a square meter) I get 30.000 colones, which is around $53 dollars.

Is $53 dollars per square foot and $528 dollars per square meter right or I am completely wrong? Sorry if the math is confusing.

Hola SaturnHelios,

The price can vary greatly, depending on location, cost of land, cost of labor.  I built a house myself on 5,000- m2 of land.  The house is 1,920 sq. feet.  My cost per square foot was $36,45.  That includes land, labor and materials.  That is a lot less than most people pay in the area I am in.  The main reason is that I acted as contractor myself and paid labor by the hour "not by a contract price."

When I first wanted to build I contacted to contractors who gave me a set contract price of $75,000 and $80,000 for labor alone.  I asked them how many people they'd have working, what they paid them per hour and approximately how long it would take.  Average that general workers are paid is about $3 per hour.  Contractors would normally get about $6 per hour.  When I multiplied it out, based on number of people and hours he estimated they would work, it was no where near $75,000.00.  When I pointed this out to the contractor, he said that if people work by the hour they don't work as hard or as fast.  Well, simple solution, work faster or I find someone else to do the work.

I have no idea why most people choose to pay a contract price.  I hired a English guy who worked for $6 per hour and two general workers at $3 per hour.  I met with a local hardware store, made a deal for a 15% discount on all materials and purchased them myself.

Also, I 100% agree that it is soooooo important to rent before committing to a purchase.  You really need to make sure this is where you want to live long term.

Best of luck to you on your adventure!  ☀️🌴

- Expat Dave

Dave, people like me agree to a contract price because we don't know anything about building so have to rely on a contractor, and many work by price of job not by hourly.

Note that most people couldn't even buy materials as they have no idea how or what to buy. And you might lose money by not knowing - buying too much of things or not buying enough, then you go back to get the same ceramic for example and they no longer have it... Problems with not knowing what one is doing...

For me the price was $25k total for our little 55 sq mt 1br "casita" and he actually stuck to that and did a good job, but did charge an extra $8k or so for "extras" not in the contract ... that I agreed to because they were to buy more quality materials and make the structure better, more comfortable etc.

All in all it was a good deal for me and he even finished ON TIME which was set in the contract.

We were there almost daily to check that things were going right even though in some cases we had no idea what was really "right", and they did screw up some minor things like a few windows where they left one inch spaces at the top (these were high up in our high ceiling area so we did not climb up to check them. We later had them fix those but I couldn't believe they thought they could get away with that.

I was told of a guy who builds houses for rich Ticos and charges by the hour and word on the street is that he makes his guys work hard and not slack off and he finishes on time etc. for a fair price. Don't ask me, I don't have his contact info but he's in the San Ramon area. So these type guys do exist here.

kohlerias :

This cost will of course, vary throughout the country, depending on materials. The article you quoted was posted in 2016

Wherever you decide to build, at whatever price it is, please consider living in your chosen area prior to committing to building a home, preferably for an extended time period.

A article worth reading is here

Everyone is right about make sure to rent there first. But know this:
Sometimes even renting there you will have no real idea of how it is in a different season unless you rent for one entire year.

Also, if you rent 1km or more away, you may have a different climate then where YOUR lot is, if you build. For example you might be exposed more on your lot than the house you are renting is, thus more rain or wind from a certain direction.

And yes the CLIMATE can be different 1km away, very different.

Also as for internet, your neighbor 800 feet away might be able to get a land line and you may not. I've seen this. So you have to ask ICE or whoever, if they can install a landline on YOUR specific lot - take a map and ask them.
And hope they are right with their answer.

samramon :

Dave, people like me agree to a contract price because we don't know anything about building so have to rely on a contractor, and many work by price of job not by hourly.

Note that most people couldn't even buy materials as they have no idea how or what to buy. And you might lose money by not knowing - buying too much of things or not buying enough, then you go back to get the same ceramic for example and they no longer have it... Problems with not knowing what one is doing...

For me the price was $25k total for our little 55 sq mt 1br "casita" and he actually stuck to that and did a good job, but did charge an extra $8k or so for "extras" not in the contract ... that I agreed to because they were to buy more quality materials and make the structure better, more comfortable etc.

All in all it was a good deal for me and he even finished ON TIME which was set in the contract.

We were there almost daily to check that things were going right even though in some cases we had no idea what was really "right", and they did screw up some minor things like a few windows where they left one inch spaces at the top (these were high up in our high ceiling area so we did not climb up to check them. We later had them fix those but I couldn't believe they thought they could get away with that.

I was told of a guy who builds houses for rich Ticos and charges by the hour and word on the street is that he makes his guys work hard and not slack off and he finishes on time etc. for a fair price. Don't ask me, I don't have his contact info but he's in the San Ramon area. So these type guys do exist here.

I would of course agree, if you don't have a background in construction in some way or form, it would be difficult to act as contractor yourself.  Just being able to read the planno/blueprints is a big advantage.  I had ours translated into English just to make sure everything was done to at least their specs.

And, as you say, you need to be there to check up on the people doing the work as often as possible.  I was on the job site every day.  Yet, I would run to the hardware store and by the time I got back something was screwed up.  It was a battle.

With the new place I'll have a house, two cabinas, a bird nursery/kitchen to build - plus all the bird habitats.  It shall be quite the adventure!   :joking:

- Expat Dave

Yes, the most important thing is to be there every day if you can and even if you don't know anything you learn as you go along and you can catch some mistakes.
We too missed some stuff when we had to go to town to buy ceramic or whatever, and came back and found things that weren't done quite right.

So I'd say it's true that the #1 thing is to just be there every day that you can - even if you "don't know anything".

Lots of good info here, one thing I read that I think is super important is to have a completion date with a penalty clause.
I have been to Jaco 3 times in the last 5 or so yrs and stayed at Jaco Laguna at the end of the beach. When I went there the first yr there was a small crew working on the adjacent lot, maybe 3-5 people tops. They were just doing some first floor work on a concrete construction either small hotel or large house. The next visit a yr later they were starting to form columns using steel form which they would tack weld together with what (by the sparks) was probably a 50 amp welder or maybe a car battery :-) they mixed the concrete with shovels and took it up to dump in the columns by bucket and rope. My last visit which was 20 months later they had poured the second floor and were working on columns for either the roof or another floor.
Not sure who owned the unit but I hope its not a retiree as they may be too old to use it by the time its completed.
Conversely,
Between visits 2 and 3 the lot 3 spots over had been taken from jungle to, For sale 2 story with roof top patio units using concrete floors and SIP panels.

I didn't have a penalty but did have a must be done by clause. LOL. Not sure how I could have done anything if it hadn't gotten done in time.
But luckily it did because the guy who built it was honorable and he got it done.
I do think a penalty clause would be a good idea if you could get the builder to agree to it.

SamRamon,

Just read your various posts in this section and see you built with SIPs which if I was going to build is the way I would go.

I am going to try to find time later to start a thread on Solar as I plan to live near the beach and being a Gringo with a capitol G love my A/C :-)

Look forward to chatting with you on the board as you seem to be one to take matters into your own hands. I am much the same, in my own house in Bethesda MD I have done my own heavy up, split A/C with gas furnace, complete bathroom remodel with tile shower, some hardwood flooring, as well as a 14 by 18 addition. So I would love to be able to build my own house in CR or at least do some major changes to make it more energy efficient and A/C friendly.

My advice - don't do it!  Rent or buy something that's already built.  Way too frustrating and absolutely no control over budget and no recourse at the end.  You can buy a really nice place for likely a lot less than what you are going to pay to build one.

cratedivision :

My advice - don't do it!  Rent or buy something that's already built.  Way too frustrating and absolutely no control over budget and no recourse at the end.  You can buy a really nice place for likely a lot less than what you are going to pay to build one.

I would agree and at the same time disagree.  First, pretty much anyone living here will tell you - ALWAYS RENT FOR AT LEAST A YEAR PRIOR TO PURCHASING!

Yes, new construction is frustrating.  I would say the same thing about building in the States.  Very much disagree with no control of the budget.  I paid my sub-contractors by the hour and I purchased my materials myself.  But if you elect to pay a contract price, (a set price for all labor), and allow the contractor to purchase materials, then you are correct, no control.

If you pay by the hour and you purchase the materials, you will pay 50-75% less for construction.  If you buy a completed house you will pay more.  At the same time it's much, much easier and a lot less frustrating.  On a budget, do it yourself.  Not a tight budget, buy completed.  ...just my opinion.   :whistle:

- Expat Dave

Well you have had a good experience and I am glad to hear that.  Our experience was somewhat different.  Our home that was quoted to us at a certain price cost us double and they get you so far in that you cannot get out.  Others in our area/development same thing happened so obviously we were taken.........there really are some "smooth" talkers.  If I knew then what I know now, I would NEVER build - buy something that's up.  You can see what you're getting.

Totally agree with cratedivision in that I would never again build here.

I would definitely build again here, in fact I hope to build a bigger house when I sell this one. But our bigger house would still be modest by most gringo "mansion" standards. Similar to what we built, already, just 20 or 30% bigger, 2 bedrooms instead of one etc.

I would use SIPS again, would use the same builder and hire others per hour for the details/ finishing work. I would always add steel posts to reinforce the SIP design and add tons of the best roofing screws to the roof. So many people I know have roof problems and we've had none. (Knocking on wood 3 times!) I would also highly recommend extra insulation under the roof and plenty of windows and a.c. outlets, and ceiling fans.

I would add a clause that the builder must finish by a certain date unless weather prevents it, or pay a penalty per week. (if we could get him to agree to that, which I have my doubts. Luckily ours was very good in terms of meeting the deadline we set.)

We did buy many of our own materials in order to upgrade the quality over what was included in the original contract.

We were involved in buying and choosing things like ceramic, ceiling material, insulation and windows, sink, toilet and so forth, and having done it once already, we could spend a lot less time on it next time, knowing what works and what we like and what we might change. By "spending less time" I mean on the shopping. We'd be able to spend more time on site by spending less time on the shopping, which would be good.

But all in all we had almost no problems building our house and because of sips it was up in a couple weeks and finished in 2 months. We paid a contract price.

Maybe we were just lucky and next time I'll have a bad time and agree with the others "Don't build!" Who knows? But I'll chance it because we did have a good experience.

If you pm me I will tell you a known builder who uses sips who i would never use, personally. Had a bad experience with him before dumping him and using someone else.

Just remember......a contract in Costa Rica has absolutely no meaning!!!!  If you run into problems and have to take the builder to court, good luck!  Takes years and years to be dealt with.  Remember you're not in the States!  Make sure you do your due diligence.  We thought we had and checked out our referrals, looked at previous homes built but found out later that the referrals were bias.  All I am saying is just be careful if you decide to build

cratedivision :

Just remember......a contract in Costa Rica has absolutely no meaning!!!!  If you run into problems and have to take the builder to court, good luck!  Takes years and years to be dealt with.  Remember you're not in the States!  Make sure you do your due diligence.  We thought we had and checked out our referrals, looked at previous homes built but found out later that the referrals were bias.  All I am saying is just be careful if you decide to build

I totally agree. Suing someone here is a very long and difficult row to hoe and most people I know have said "Why bother?" Only if you have lots of time and patience and stand to win a lot...

In the end the referrals are important so make sure you really do your due diligence. I admit we were simply LUCKY in that we chose a guy who was a friend of a friend, agreed to work cheap, which we needed, and turned out to be a very honest and good guy. We had some minor issues with him but in the end we resolved them and parted company on friendly terms.

Like cratedivision said, he did his due diligence but it wasn't quite sufficient. That has happened to me before too, regarding other issues (not building). So you really REALLY have to be careful and choose someone you can count on not to cheat you. (And Canadians and Americans are just as likely - if not more likely - to cheat you than Ticos! I know that was the case with me.)

Once with a builder and once with a property attorney, I did my due diligence (I thought I had enough great recommendations to trust them!) but in the end they were both liars and cheaters. Luckily I escaped both of them before I got in too deep!

Unfortunately it can be a mine field and you do have to be very careful. Try to find people highly recommended by many people and hopefully, people you know personally know them.

Well said.......take note of san ramon's comments - they are bang on!!!!!

A little off topic, but something really telling about the state of real estate sales (and foolishness of buyers) in CR is the number of adds you find in so many CR websites where a "developer/builder" is selling "Homes" in a "Community". Lots of these if you look have nothing other than a computer generated image of a Gringo Mansion often complete with a young trophy wife smiling shutting the door to her sportscar.....then when you look at the year the add is placed its 3 yrs old and ground has still not been broken LOL

There is an interesting article today you may be interested in 'A guide to construction....'

OMG hilarious!!!!!!

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