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Making the Building Process Easy


Many of you are considering building a home in Costa Rica. First, you must measure the pros and cons of building versus buying in order to make the best choice.


The large majority of people looking to retire or relocate to Costa Rica chose to buy an existing house instead of building. Clearly this is the easiest choice of owning a piece of paradise. From the standpoint of time it is much faster to buy an existing home.


Buying an existing home requires finding an honest bilingual agent who has extensive knowledge about your chosen area of Costa Rica. Your agent should represent YOU and only YOU during the buying process. In some cases, agents will have their pet ‘kick-back’ listings that they primarily push. Most of these agents are nice people except that they aren’t working for you.


Once your agent helps you locate the perfect property you must be referred to an honest lawyer. This can be an even bigger challenge. Your lawyer will be responsible for doing a Title search and arranging all of the documents necessary for closing. If your lawyer does not speak English then your bilingual agent should translate your documents for you.


Your lawyer is also in charge of recording your property at the Registro Nacional (National Registry). You may have heard that the process has been manipulated by a few unsavory lawyers to sell properties three and four times without any of the “owners” knowing. Incidentally, the recording procedures are very important to your closing.


The lawyer should provide detailed instructions of how to confirm your clear title on the Registro’s website at www.RegistroNacional.go.cr (which is in Spanish only). The real estate agent should provide an affordable attorney with integrity who will be open and clear with you.


With all that said, if you are paying all cash the whole process can be accomplished in 7 – 10 days – depending on how long it takes to find your dream home. Of course you would save a lot of time if you narrowed down your search by location, size, price, and amenities before you venture out with an agent.


You must understand that the convenience of buying a beautiful new home comes with a higher price. A North American style 2000SF home on a nice one acre lot may cost over $275,000 in central Costa Rica. With the cost of luxury building attractively low, buying a build-able lot and building a custom home is a far less expensive.


You can achieve quality and luxury (turn-key) for around $65 per square foot. The same 2000SF home would cost around $130,000 to build. The average cost of a great lot with all utilities and located in a secure community is $70,000. You will have the exact house you want loaded with luxury for around $200,000. The up-charge of $75,000 is how developers make their money.


There are many things to consider when building your home in Costa Rica. Obviously, you must find a suitable building lot with good access, utilities, security, and killer views. Again, your search should be done with an agent who is an expert in real land values and familiar with local zoning regulations.


Next is locating a reputable builder or architect. Your choice of this person will be crucial to making the building process enjoyable. This person will make or break your experience and possibly your bank account. As Ben Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Your contractor will be in charge of organizing the entire project and it is vital that you chose wisely right out of the gate


Contractor Duties:


1. Organizing custom building plans for your approval.


2. Organizing all documents necessary for obtaining the proper permits to build.

(This duty is critically important. Although the rules are black and white during the permit process, but the people facilitating the permit process create the red tape. You need someone who has mastered the permit systems and has built relationships with the “right” people.)


3. Purchasing materials to begin construction.

(Your builder should be in good standing with suppliers in order for you to trust the material costs.)


4. Your builder will be in charge of facilitating the entire construction of your home.


Buying and existing home versus building comes down to a decision of time versus money. In my opinion, the massive savings that come with building make it a far better option and investment. Not only do you save money, but you get the exact custom house that you have dreamed of. You may say that the headaches associated with building should also be considered. However, having a good team will eliminate the majority of headaches.



Bilingual Builder Brings Quality and Integrity to the Atenas/Grecia Area


I was delighted when Pedro Sibaja, a general contractor from Cartago, asked me to spend the day with him to view his work. I was not only seeking a bilingual builder for myself, but for future clients as well. Pedro was dressed professionally, spoke beautiful English, and had an engaging smile that rarely left his face.


We pulled up to his first completed home in Atenas about mid-morning. There to greet us at the door of their brand new home was a sweet retired couple from Atlanta, GA. Nearly a minute went by before I was introduced as these happy clients smothered Pedro with their embrace.


Of course, my keen eyes were focused on the high quality and craftsmanship throughout their house. However, it was their genuine affection for Pedro that really impressed me. They thoroughly enjoyed the building process with Pedro at the helm.


Next we visited 2 more job sites. Both houses were over 2500SF, on great lots, with gorgeous custom swimming pools. Each home had decorative clay tile roofs, vaulted exotic wood ceilings, track lighting, granite countertops, custom doors and windows, and all modern amenities to living.


Each building site was bustling with about 8 workers including a foreman. Many contractors in Pedro’s position of managing multiple projects would just check-in with the foreman and bail. Pedro said “Como estas?” to every laborer as he shook all of their hands. This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but this personal care of his entire team is such an important characteristic of good management.


I was now sold on Pedro. His character and quality of work was far superior to his local competition.


He charges $65 per square foot. This price is “turn-key” which includes the plans, permits, materials and fixtures, construction, and basic landscaping. Only the best quality materials are used and all cabinets, doors and windows are custom made in Pedro’s workshop.


Further reducing the headaches involved in building, Pedro handles all of the excavating and land preparation needs of your building lot. Pedro also builds custom pools which may include artistic waterfalls, solar heaters, resistance jets, and gravity Jacuzzis for an additional cost of $10,000 (on average).


Pedro has been building custom homes in Costa Rica for 14 years. He is a designer as well as a builder. A house architect works with him to solidify and sign off on his plans.

His daughter Natalie, who also speaks perfect English, helps to manage all aspects of their projects. Pedro, his terrific team and his low turn-key price make the building process easy for you, the client.


In roughly 4 – 6 months you can have your custom dream home completed. You will save a large sum of money and the process will be painless. The end result will be a high quality house which will also be a solid investment.


Good Luck to all - Pura Vida!

Jeff Hickcox

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I hear from the ticos that there is a american builder from florida building houses in the jaco -parrita area .


look up MITIERRACONSTRUCTION.COM. There are alot of ticos in my area working for him now, they say this american is bilingual and has a sence of being realistic with his prices, plus he has a reputable home builder company in the states



just my 2colones

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