Questions about home construction in PR

My wife and I are headed to PR at the end of Jan to purchase a vacation home. We have scheduled a few appointments to view properties already but I am having a little difficulty finding information on common types of home construction in PR.

Being from Canada I am used to our building codes and primarily timber construction. Most the houses we are viewing appear to be concrete construction, mostly built in the 1990s.

My main questions are:
1. Are most homes from that era ICF or straight poured concrete with a stucco or painted exterior?
2. Were poured concrete homes at the time using re-bar reinforcements or is it a crapshoot based on the builder?
3. Are interior walls painted concrete, framed and plastered, or EPS Foam insulation that's been finished with stucco and tile? how is the electrical/plumbing usually run?

Some of the houses are in need of a total overhaul, which I am prepared for. I am an engineer and adept with most common construction/repairs such as plumbing and electrical. I just want to Make sure I know what to expect.

Any insight ahead of arriving would be greatly appreciated!

Dylanriverdale :

My wife and I are headed to PR at the end of Jan to purchase a vacation home. We have scheduled a few appointments to view properties already but I am having a little difficulty finding information on common types of home construction in PR.

Being from Canada I am used to our building codes and primarily timber construction. Most the houses we are viewing appear to be concrete construction, mostly built in the 1990s.

My main questions are:
1. Are most homes from that era ICF or straight poured concrete with a stucco or painted exterior?
2. Were poured concrete homes at the time using re-bar reinforcements or is it a crapshoot based on the builder?
3. Are interior walls painted concrete, framed and plastered, or EPS Foam insulation that's been finished with stucco and tile? how is the electrical/plumbing usually run?

Some of the houses are in need of a total overhaul, which I am prepared for. I am an engineer and adept with most common construction/repairs such as plumbing and electrical. I just want to Make sure I know what to expect.

Any insight ahead of arriving would be greatly appreciated!

Most houses in PR are build out of concrete blocks using re-bar and a poured concrete foundation and roof. Most roof are flat
There are also molded cement houses  and prefab concrete.

If you are looking at a humble PR house it will likely have a kitchen, dining area, living room, and 2 to 3 bedrooms, most have a single bathroom and the house varies in size from 800 to 1500 square feet per floor. You find single and 2 floors. In most cases, not all they are basically 2 houses one on top of the other, likely it has no hot water.

A lot of people build their own house, with zero plans, zero building standards, zero inspections. So watch what you get.ask when it was build and who build it.

A lot of houses that suffered damaged during the series of quakes we been having, were build without meeting any building codes and without building permits.

Interior walls and exterior walls are mostly painted over concrete, you can not get a loan or insurance on wooden houses in PR.

Make sure the owner and the home title match, get yourself a lawyer to ensure all is well with the title and taxes.

You should make initial offer with ZERO MONEY, once accepted, then you proceed to the official offer, typically requires 5% deposit. To ensure you do not loose the money, make the offer have a period of time so if the closing does not occur within that time you can walk away and get your money, also make it dependent on both a house inspection and an appraisal, houses are sold as is in PR so don’t expect any fixes before the closing, but need make sure any issues or repairs will not cost you above a cierta in amount, otherwise you walk and get your money back. If the appraisal does not meet, you also walk and get your deposit back.

Not sure where you plan to live, but if you are going to live in the east coast and want to build a custom home let’s talk I know people.

Thank you for replying so quickly!

I dont think we have the budget for a new build.
Our total relocation budgets will net to about $75k cash.
Out of that, we must purchase a home, repairs, a modest form of transportation and ship whatever belonging we plan to keep to the island.

In  Canada we are downsizing to a small condo.

Location isn't settled upon yet. We have 2 viewings IN utuado, one in Arecibo, one near ceiba and I believe one just east of San Juan.

We currently commute over an hour each day for work, and are looking for a more rural lifestyle. Major cities do not interest us.

I am an Aviation Engineer/Pilot by trade, however I also went to college for automotive.

Part of my Avionics background covers 120v household electrical, so I will be taking g care of electric and plumbing work myself.

My Brother in Law is a master concrete Mason, so we will likely use his services as well.

With Concrete block homes, is electrical and plumbing run inside the block prior to filling, or is it run on the outside of the wall through conduit?

Any links to PR building codes, so I can begin researching? Anything that I touch WILL be up to code.

Hi Dylan,

My house is cement.  Some components are poured, like support beams, floors, roof, some parts are block, like walls. 

The conduit is layed out with the rebar and tied prior to pouring cement.   Sometimes a chipper is used to run a line in preexisting walls. 

Cement buildings are a pita, but they are fire and hurricane proof!

Most times the cement is chipped / chizled out to put the receptacles, but the tube carrying the cables are put in place prior to pour. You can run from outside using PVC pipes, some do it above ground which I think look ugly, I would recommend instead to do it below ground and then fill with stones so it is a lot easier to get to any water or electrical pipes when repairs are needed. I don't have link to the construction standards. Avoid 90 degree angles, it will make it easier to replace wiring in the future without breaking into the cement again.

Dylanriverdale :

Thank you for replying so quickly!

I dont think we have the budget for a new build.
Our total relocation budgets will net to about $75k cash.
Out of that, we must purchase a home, repairs, a modest form of transportation and ship whatever belonging we plan to keep to the island.

In  Canada we are downsizing to a small condo.

Location isn't settled upon yet. We have 2 viewings IN utuado, one in Arecibo, one near ceiba and I believe one just east of San Juan.

We currently commute over an hour each day for work, and are looking for a more rural lifestyle. Major cities do not interest us.

I am an Aviation Engineer/Pilot by trade, however I also went to college for automotive.

Part of my Avionics background covers 120v household electrical, so I will be taking g care of electric and plumbing work myself.

My Brother in Law is a master concrete Mason, so we will likely use his services as well.

With Concrete block homes, is electrical and plumbing run inside the block prior to filling, or is it run on the outside of the wall through conduit?

Any links to PR building codes, so I can begin researching? Anything that I touch WILL be up to code.

A full budget of 75k for absolutely everything you mentioned may be a bit short. You would have to go with a structure in very bad shape in a lot that is 20-40 feet wider on each side, you can probably find that around 25k but they are hard to find. You could also go with a wooden house and build in cement one room at a time. Traveling to the island, bringing your stuff over, maybe bringing a vehicle or purchasing one will eat a chunk of that budget, leaving you a much reduced amount. Between the purchase and the repairs / materials it may be hard to stay in budget. Most places I seen like that are in communities and I think you want in the country (Campo). Many exist but hard to find as they are not that many listed and most realtors dont want to bother because it is so little money.
Check this site it will probably have some https://www.clasificadosonline.com/RealEstate.asp

New topic