Build a house

The construction laws in Costa Rica are liberal

Every community has its own construction laws.

The coast area is an exception. The state law (Ley De Construcciones) and the construction housing - and settlement institute (INVU) regulate permits.

Every building project must be submitted with the responsible community through a licensed architect or construction engineer. For the planning and transaction, a local architect is imperative. Although it is possible to use the plans or ideas of a foreign architect, a local architect must make the construction plans.

With the writing of the construction contract, some aspects are important to be taken: In any case the contracts should establish unequivocally who would be responsible for the purchase of the necessary authorizations. The rates frequently run up to 15 percent of the project costs.

Rates of professional works of architects

Type of work
costs in % from the value of work
Previous studies
Construction plans with technical details
Global costs estimate
Detailed costs estimate
Work program
Inspection of the works

Cost part in %
Technical leadership

Cost part in %

Planning and construction time

At the construction of an one-family house, a time period must be estimated by at least eleven months of planning before the key transfer.

Construction as well as planning
in duration of weeks
Pre planning and development
Construction planning
Build authorization
Build time

Entire planning - and build time

Build authorization

The authorization procedure has two parts. At first, the building plans are approved by the central commission of construction authorizations. This has its seat in the INVU's housing office. After the receipt of the build authorization, the building plans must be submitted with the local planning authority of the respective community. When the community gives green light, the construction should begun within six months. There is no temporal limitation for the build time.

Construction costs

The following overview delivers final prices without costs for properties, outside works, green areas etc.

Average construction costs

Building type
costs per m² in U.S. dollar
One-family house one or two floors
450 - 500
Apartments, three or multi floors
500 - 600
Office buildings
350 - 400
180 - 200

Construction of bigger properties

If a bigger property should be apportioned into small lots, an opening plan must be produced. The opening is subject to a multiplicity of editions and needs a much time and patience. From the planning beginning as far as to the concession of the construction authorization, you should expect a period of eight to twelve months. Mostly inexpensive properties are insufficiently opened up; they frequently are badly accessible and have neither drinking water nor electricity. At such properties the following additional opening costs should be expected.

Works costs
in U.S. dollar
Water wells, 30m deep, drill authorization, pump etc.
High voltage management with posts and transformers
20.000 per kilometer
Country road, 5m broad, with gravel fortifies
40.000 per kilometer

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