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Financial Planning/Permitting Trap?


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Anyone pondering building a 'normal' size home here (160m2 in my case) may want to remember my experience.


I've been here 18 years and have remodeled two 'mansions' (I owned one) which were not 'blessed' with building permits or municipal government inspections. So that process was unknown to me.


I have purchased a lot with a view of the Pacific Ocean..... from just outside of Puriscal at 1,100m/3,300' altitude:>) No aircon needed. There are a couple of 'American' areas there already because it is peaceful and natural. This lot is in a new one.


My norteamericano neighbors recommended a builder they were pleased with and he offered me his preferred architect.


I figured 'home field advantage' for the permits/inspections ruled over bringing in an outsider, so away we go.


I designed a 2/2 home of two stories perfect for me and the architect rendered it, submitted the plans to the 'Colegio' which were rubber-stamped in less than two weeks with a cost estimate.


This price for materials and labor constrains your future real estate taxes, your needed INS policy for the workers, and the architects fee.


The architect didn't inform me that a windowless, detached one-car garage of cement floor, block walls, one electric light bulb and tin roof would be appraised the same as the home construction, which is a little more 'lux'. The colegio says "$20,000" for this garage is the appraised value. Why? Based on the footprint.


I expect it will be built for around $8,000.


An 3m x5m atrium outside the bath consisting of a three 7' high cement block walls, a window looking into the bath, a dirt floor since I'll be growing plants, no ceiling, no electric, no water, just a metal door is 'worth' $5,000 according to the colegio. I guestimate material of 200 cement blocks, some rebar and the workers glue it together in one day costing me about $500.


The 1.5m x10m cement sidewalk in front of the house is 'worth' almost $8,000 as per the colegio's $550m2 construction estimate, same as the kitchen. Imagine....a sidewalk costing $550m2! For 15m2 of cement? I expect this item to cost south of $1,000 if I embed a border of semi-precious gems.


The house itself is about $90,000, but these other three items add $33,000 to the colegios cost estimate.


So what?


The property tax will be based on this price. Not much, maybe $80 extra per year.


The INS insurance 'should be' $1,000 @ 1.2% of the colegio value, but is $1,600 when including the garage, sidewalk and atrium.


The architect wants $1,000 more above his $7,500 fee for the 'extra area'.


The architect could have warned me about this 'concept', but he wants his increased fee more.


He also refuses to build me 11' ceilings, even after several meetings. The plans are drawn and approved for 8.5' even after several reminders after reviewing his earlier iterations. That is dumbfounding, his story is that we'll "just build it higher and no one will care".


I'll be working it all out tomorrow, and expect a satisfactory outcome. I'll delete the three 'expensive luxury areas' for later days to save at least $1,600. I'll get my 11' ceilings. After the final inspection, I'll have the builder put up the garage, etc. But I write so others can be aware of planning to build in stages, the so-called 'poco a poco' method.



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If you delay the building of your luxurious extras, you will of course be 'required' to apply for another building permit at a later date ;) and watch out you don't find yourself with a home that requires to have to pay the luxury tax ... by the time the architect is finished. They have been known to contact building inspectors when they think they could have earned more... :ph34r:


Good luck!

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Very sorry for your experience .... we are just finishing building just outside of Puriscal and our builder and architect were phenomenal and up front. We had some similar requests and we talked about it before we committed. We have 205 square meters of patio and carport and went into this with the knowledge that the cost was the same as the finished house due to the "earthquake" requirements. Before we committed we had a budget for the whole project and were prepared for the cost. BONUS - we were $20,000 under budget. I have been the general contractor for houses built in Canada and I was meticulous. Bottom line is if you know what you want and can convey it before hand there should be no surprises. Again I am sorry for your experience.

Cheers .... Terry

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