Interior Design In Costa Rica

Interior Design In Costa Rica

About Finish Touch Enterprises

Interior Design In Costa Rica

Finish Touch Enterprises has been designing and constructing homes in Costa Rica for more than a decade.  Resulting in, the beautifully and unique homes that compare to no other.  Which include a promise to return years of comfort, elegance, and value.  Most importantly, to make memories that will be priceless.  Which could not be accomplished without a Interior Decorator towards the Interior Design In Costa Rica

Furthermore, it is paramount to endorse the employment of a decorator.  Which of is paramount to the successful completion of your vision and dream.  To clarify, here at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL we include a professional decorator in our interior designs.  As well as, assist you in your interior deocrating.  As a part of our service in providing you with excellence.

This article will explain the importance of a interior decorator for your interior design in Costa Rica.  Regardless of whom you choose as your designer or builder.  To summerize, is the the importance to complete your team of professionals and experts with a Interior Decorator.

In order to explain:

To explain, the decorator may spend hundreds of hours towards your project.  For the purpose of, decorating and coordinating of finishes.  Which may make or break your dream.  Unfortunately, on occasion we have seen home owners fault in this area.  Therefore, it is a decision of utmost importance to consider the value of your investment and contentment.

Services to consider:

    • Interior decorator, working directly with the architect for aesthetic niches.  Also, the electrical engineer for accent lighting, wall washing lighting.  Including the task lighting in bathrooms and kitchens.  In addition she may work with civil engineer towards landscape grades for gardens etc.
    • Furthermore, the coordinating of granites, flooring and light fixtures as well as plumbing fixtures.  Continueing with constant contact with the home owner for approvals.
  • Actually, the interior decorator works as much if not more than any other professional.  In addition, to the most contact liason between the project and home owner.


Becoming A Home With

Interior Design In Costa Rica

Are you overwhelmed with all of the decisions necessary to design your home?  It can be not only exhausting to make all of the decisions, but you may find yourself in a foreign country and not sure where to turn for choices.  It can also be very difficult to speak the language and discuss the details necessary for all of the design and decor necessary to make your house the beautiful home that you have envisioned.

In order to make the process more enjoyable, the best option is to work with someone with direct access to a local designer who is up-to-date on; new design features to make your home more customized and unique, as well as finishes availability in country. Ability to preorder and import finishes months in advance to insure timely deliveries. Frequent visits to the site insuring installations to spec.

Hiring an interior decorator is a smart decision if you’ve invested a good bit of money into your home and want to be able to showcase it to look its best. Decorators truly serve a purpose for everyone. Whether you have no idea where or how to begin to decorate your home, or whether you have an idea but need help tying pieces together, or you simply haven’t the time to execute your style and desires due to your busy day to day schedule.  Building your dream home should be fun and not overwhelming and stressful.  Building your dream home does end at bricks and mortar. You have designed a beautiful custom home. Now you are required to beautify the interior and complete the ‘wow’ factor.

Toss aside the idea that interior decorators are only for the rich and famous. In reality they save you a great deal of time and money and headache medicine!

  1. Interior design in costa ricaSave Money With Interior Decorator:

It might sound strange that hiring someone to decorate your home would save you money since you have the additional fee of the designer, however hiring a designer can help you to avoid costly mistakes that will not only help you save money but can increase the value of your home.  They will also be much more knowledgeable regarding new products local to the area so you not only have a more unique home, but this too can save you money on shipping and import taxes.


  1. Professional Assessment: For your interior design in Costa Rica

Interior design costa ricaA designer can give you a professional assessment of your situation, which will lead to a solid plan of action. The order of things in a design plan is key in determining what can be repurposed or should be edited. This will not only affect the budget but help you to spend it more efficiently. A designer offers an extra set of eyes, but these eyes are trained to see and notice things that you may not.

The numerous design decisions, including entranceways, lighting schematics, floor design, tile features, grout color, decorative ceiling design and color scheme throughout the home can make all of the difference in the overall look and feel of your home.  This is just to name a few. There are virtually 100’s of decorative features and 1000’s of combinations of features that will make your home stunning, unique, inviting, and make you the envy of your friends, family, and neighbors.

  1. Budgeting and Planning:Home designing Costa Rica

A designer can keep you on budget and save you time and effort. A designer knows where to go for resources for everything related to your home. This will save you endless amounts of time researching products, brands and prices. An on-the-ground designer will have all this readily on hand, and should he or she not, will spend the time researching so that you don’t have to.  They will be able to find that new, innovative granite kitchen sink, the just-hit-the-showroom-floor pool design and creative lighting options that are unique to your home.

A designers’ resources, and reputation with vendors, will qualify them to achieve the desired result on or below budget. Therefore, not only are you receiving professional interior design beautification, you are also receiving an administrator who cares about budget.

  1. Interior Decorating In Costa RicaLiaison:

A designer will be able to build a stronger bridge between you and your builder early on and can head off design misses in your overall plan. This is crucial in managing time and money. Also designers are trained to think about things we may overlook. It’s so important that the lighting and furnishing needs are addressed before construction.   Lighting design features such as the placement of lighting, specific task lighting, ambient design lighting, wall lighting and the combination of warm and cool lighting are critical at the onset to avoid costly changes later.

  1. Wide availability of resources:

There are things available to designers that are not available to the general public in terms of connections, resources and general merchandise. Designing and building homesBy culminating these resources designers can help to make your space look more collected, unique and pulled together.  Your designer is in direct contact with your builder and has access to contractor suppliers to produce a very custom feel, complete with custom-made front entry door designs, decorative architectural ceilings and custom interior door designs and colors.

  1. Wow Factor:

Designers can help to give you the “wow” factor you’ve been looking for. They are trained to think differently, spatially and to see an overall picture that clients often cannot. “Thinking outside of the box is what designers do all day long.

Costa Rica home builders

  1. A Trained Eye:

A designer is a professional with a trained eye that can automatically tell you if there is something wrong or right with a space. Having that immediate consult is a major advantage when making aesthetic decisions. It is the result of years of experience. Often times homeowners try to do it all themselves and get frustrated

  1. Visual Story-Teller:

Interior design is a skill and an art that will only enhance the space and the quality of your life in the space. Hiring a pro raises the level of that experience and makes your house a home. A designer can help you tell your visual story.

Finish Touch Enterprises has been designing and constructing homes in Costa Rica for almost a decade.  Beautifully and unique homes that compare to no other and promise to return years of comfort, elegance, and value.  Endorsing the employment of a local decorator of North American standards is paramount to the successful completion of your vision and dream.  The decorator may spend hundreds of hours towards your project where you are not available.  The decorating and coordinating of finishes may make or break your dream.  Unfortunately, on occasion we have seen home owners fault in this area.  Therefore, it is a decision of utmost importance to consider the value of your investment and contentment.

Services to consider:

  • Interior design, working directly with the builder of construction esthetics of finishes, lighting, fixtures
  • Exterior landscape design, incorporating balance, color, and functionality from plants, lighting, hardscapes
  • Interior decorating, working directly with the home owner for furnishings, to homeowners’ desires.

Following our series of building articles (in order) will empower you towards the success of your projects completion:

  1. How to Hire a Builder
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm 
  3. Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders
  6. Methods Of Building In Costa Rica
  7. Costa Rica Custom Home
  8. Costa Rica General Contractor
  9. Interior Design In Costa Rica (this article)
  10. Finish Touch Furniture SRL

Building A House In Costa Rica: Custom Home Builders Methods

Building a House in Costa Rica: Methods

Building a House in Costa Rica: Architect

Let’s talk about building a house in Costa Rica, and about the architect that will help you with the design of your real estate property.

Often practiced when building Costa Rica real estate homes for sale and often has favorable results.  However, there is risk involved.  Which would be important for you to understand.  For the purpose of when you interview your professional.

Building a house in Costa RicaFirstly, to become an architect requires 4 years of university.  Where they are taught BIM computer programs such as AutoCAD, Rivet.  Which are the primary software programs for architectural design.  Equally, they make construction drawings in 2 dimensions.  For floor plans and elevations.  In addition, they are taught computer programs for making 3d renders.

The entire educational training is focused to develop.  Firstly, their skill in designing attributes for architectural elements (make a nice design drawing).

Secondly, software training to implement their design for presentation (presentation training for marketing).  There is no educational training for Building a House in Costa Rica.

Building a house in Costa RicaMost importantly, they are not given one hour of training in engineering. Neither structural engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering nor mechanical engineering.  Which are key components to your home’s functionality.

Even though, as a certified architect with CFIA, they do not require licensed engineering stamps for buildings under 3 stories.  Wow, how scary is that.

Furthermore, the architect will enter generic structural details from a book.  Without any understanding of the elements design.  Simply a hit and miss on structural detail.  This also holds true with HVAC engineering, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering.

Knowledge of engineering

Usually, there are no considerations for civil engineering and stormwater management. As well as mechanical engineering for black water management, and greywater management.  Also, HVAC design is all implemented into your home design.  All of which, without a professional licensed engineer’s influence.

Architecture Firm Costa RicaMoreover, they have no training even in the basics of how to calculate bearing and horizontal stress.  In order to design rebar size and layout for columns and footings.

Which essentially holds up your house.  In fact, they draw from a generic schedule usually from a book.  These structural elements may possibly be undersized which is based on the load-bearing.

Or it may be oversized which is going to generate unnecessary costs. In addition to causing additional structural stress.

As a result of over-engineering a structure.  Which adds additional weight and stress to Building a House in Costa Rica.  Although stronger is not better because buildings do require a bit of tensile flex.  Especially in seismic zones (all of Costa Rica).

Recommended to request for your property

Consequently, to save money an architect may avoid sub-contracting engineering services.  As well as property studies.  All of which are optional and not mandatory (as they should be mandatory).  Yet the architect is designing structures that weigh more than 150 tons.  Which is a lot of weight distributed over a small area.  Therefore, it would be very much advisable to your favor.  Accordingly, to request the following:

  1. Accordingly have geotechnical studies done on your property. In order to check soil density and infiltration
  2. Correspondingly have a structural engineer review your preliminary design. As well as geotechnical studies.  This should proceed with the detailed construction drawings.  Also, inspections should be negotiated with reports
  3. In addition, have a mechanical engineer design your water distributions. Which includes venting, and waste management.  Also, inspections should be negotiated as well.  For pressure testing and report results
  4. If, your property has slopes and hills. Then involve a civil engineer.  For stormwater management, property access, black water design.
  5. Finally, the electrical engineer is mandatory. However, many are friends with the architect.  Which rarely come for inspections.  Therefore, you should meet with the electrical engineer.  As you will want your electrical designs to exceed code.  Including additional receptacles and lighting options.  Also, request inspections with reports.

Building a House in Costa Rica: Attributes for hiring an architect

When I review an architect’s curriculum.  Notably, I already know they graduated.  So, I skim over that part.  But I spend more time on their additional achievements and certificates.

This begins to tell me the story towards which category of employee they fit into 1 or 2.  In addition, it tells me their ability and knowledge towards understanding the mechanics of structure together with aesthetics.  In addition, I also like to look at an architect’s portfolio.

They all have them.  Which demonstrates their potential command of the programs.  Perhaps you have read my article Be Your Own Contractor.  Where I use the example of hiring a trim carpenter.

Where as some possess the skills for high quality. 

While the majority deliver mediocre results. 

Finally, there are those with dull blades. 

Equally the same holds true here.  Whereas the graduated architects leave the university.  All of which with their graduation certificates. However, only a few came from the top of the class.  That is who you’re searching for.

In summary to find a top of the class architect:

  • Notably a good command of presentation programs
  • Including clear, concise with relevant details on construction drawings without stuffing
  • A uniquely diversified portfolio without redundant architectural elements
  • Most importantly ambition with enthusiasm from the second class of employee
  • In addition to having certificates, credits, and accomplishments in other aspects of property development.

The cohesion of an architect and construction quality:

costa rica home buildersMost likely, your architect has no construction experience in Building a House in Costa Rica.  Similarly, he does not have any hands-on experience. Together with precision installations.  Including concrete mixes with the ability to recognize hydration proxies for concrete.  As well as other cement products including stucco, and wall plasters, etc.

Let’s begin with an architect’s prime contribution to your building a home project.  Simply, your architect will draw you the picture.

He will size the rooms and add appealing finishes.  Which you request.  In addition, he will attempt to moderate a budget for you.  However, only the builder will define the actual cost of construction.

Building homes in Costa RicaIn conclusion, how is he qualified in Building a House in Costa Rica?  Moreover, how is he to recognize when a contractor is doing a poor installation?  Furthermore, does he recognize a cold weak weld?  Which is compared to an emulsified binding weld?  More importantly, does he recognize stone nests or honeycomb in concrete mixes?

As a matter of fact, I find it interesting.  As to how many people put their faith, and life savings.  Into the hands of an unqualified administrator for building a house in Costa Rica.  Perhaps they hire a dentist to fix their car.

To explain a functional design

In reality it is the engineers that make the drawing functional.  Firstly, the structural engineer will design beam dimensions.  As well as column dimensions.  Including roof materials. Which are based on span and weight. Furthermore, he will calculate rebar sizes and quantity, and concrete strengths.

In addition, your electrical engineer will lay out your lighting and receptacles.  Including calculating lumens for each room.  In addition to sizing the panel boxes.  Furthermore, to balance your load phases.  As well as calculate load potentials and load demand.  In addition, he will design your low voltage systems.  Which include telephone, cable tv, security, intercom, telecommunications for WIFI.  As well as any other relevant system specifically for your home.

Moreover, HVAC engineers will design compressor and condenser locations.  Resulting from elevation installations.  In order to calculate lead line sizes.  Together with air handler ductwork sizes.  For distributions resulting in maximum efficiency.  Which contribute to climate control, humidity control, mold inhibitor, etc.

These descriptions are basic summaries.  Each description could have a much more detailed explanation for Building a House in Costa Rica.  However, our objective is to communicate the relevance and importance to include these services in your design.

Building a house in Cosa RicaCorrespondingly the mechanical engineer will design pipe sizes.  For potable waters and hot water layout.  To result in even pressure and logical locations of hot water systems.

Furthermore, he will design systems of black waters, grey waters, and storm waters management. So, your flow is consistent and vented according to or better than code.

Consequently, many of these calculations are redundant 8 out of 10 times.  Therefore, most architects bi-pass these professional services.  Whereas, they just use a redundant generic schedule.  Whereas he will be correct 8 out of 10 times instead of having these specifically engineered reports.  Although not a Costa Rica requirement it is commonly neglected.  Only to the financial benefit of the Architect.

When you are making an investment towards building a house in Costa Rica.  It would be wise to include the necessary professionals.  To put it another way, would you be comfortable if your pilot bi-passes the weight and balance calculations.  Before taking off because the results are the same 8 out of 10 times?  Most importantly, this is not an area to cut corners to save on budget.

Hire an architect for building a house in Costa Rica

Consequently, the risk to hire an architect for building a house in Costa Rica.  When we already know he does not have tools.  Neither does he have a work crew.  As well as he doesn’t have first-hand building experience.

Including there has been no apprentice program or Building a house in costa ricaintern program from a school requirement.  Furthermore, there are no basic engineering courses involved with architecture school.  In conclusion, his skills are limited to drawing design and the ability to present you with an artistic render.

Most commonly, when you contract your architect to build a home in Costa Rica.  That the architect will sub-contract the build to a builder.  Usually, somebody, he works with frequently or a family member.

This is most likely biased and not based on experience or quality performance. They will have a working relationship and depend on each other’s expertise.

On the other hand, he may recommend to you a builder, emphasizing the conviction of the builder’s quality.  Whereas it is most likely the objective is to collect the commission at the other end.  Which is a typical practice in Costa Rica.  So now you are paying your architect a fee directly or indirectly.

To Summarize

Accordingly, the best recommendation I can make for those choosing this method.  Would be to have a very detailed and itemized pro forma of construction, which should include all material quantities.  Including allowances for plumbing and light fixtures.  As well as flooring and countertops.

Continuing with work schedules and explanation of the crew.  Which will include labor expenses and government responsibilities.  Keep in mind, now your architect and builder’s allegiance are with each other and they will support one another.

If one asks for more money, the other will support him.  Your architect’s allegiance most likely will shift from you to the builder.  Once the Building a House in Costa Rica construction process begins.

Legal note:

A builder’s responsibility is to report payroll monthly to CCSS and INS.  Government responsibility payments are made monthly.  Should your builder bi-pass this responsibility by paying the crew cash.  In the event this gets discovered.  The government will lien the property and the property owner will be liable for these fees at the government’s calculations.  Which will include interest and penalties.

Architecture Firm For Building A House in Costa Rica

This method is favored over all other methods listed in this article.  For building a house in Costa Rica.  For reasons of convenience, simplicity, and project security.  Most commonly this type of method has intimidated property owners.  Typically to hire a firm of any sort is expensive.  However in reality, in this case, this method is more often far less expensive.

  • Uniquely ideal for building budgets $150k and higher.
  • Comparatively an architect firm has bundled a team of professionals. Therefore, providing superior results at warehouse pricing.
  • Accordingly, architect firm services are available throughout the country.
  • It will be explained the difference between the two options:
    • Firstly, an Architect – is a one-person operation. Whom will facilitate your project.  As well as organize professionals and sub-contractors. For a fee usually based on a percentage of the project value.
    • Secondly an Architect Firm – Is a board of professionals with individual master’s degree in specific areas of construction. In addition, architect firms are associated or partnered with a general contractor.  For the successful completion of your project.

Architecture Firms Stability

Architecture Firms are rooted and established.  They comply with all laws and bi-laws of Costa Rica.  In addition, they support their works by offering warranties.  More importantly, they are equipped with the necessary professionals to complete your designs and constructions.  Furthermore, they are available in all zones of Costa Rica.

Home Designing ServiceLet’s not take the human factor out of designing a house in Costa Rica.  As well as building a house in Costa Rica.  To begin the initiation of building a house in Costa Rica starts with the designing stage.

This generates emotion and an excitement response.  Often with disbelieving at the same time as excitement, and anxiety.  There may be moments of stress and concern.  Coupled with anticipation and patience (or lack of).

With that being said by employing an architect firm.  Which will simplify a complex process.  Continuing with the building a house in Costa Rica stage whereas you are already familiar with the professionals.  Which you have developed a working relationship.

Notwithstanding that trust is earned and not granted.  Therefore, continuing your building a house in Costa Rica.  With an already proven and trusted architect firm.  Which makes good logical sense.

To summarize

It is to the benefit of the property owner that there is cohesion between the architect firm and the construction crew.  Therefore, when the working crew requires clarification or an on-site decision presents itself.  There is direct communication established between the two entities.  Furthermore, the professionals make frequent visits to the site for inspections and confirmation of adequate installation processes.  With builders and architects, this would be a paid service that requires scheduling.  However, with an architect firm, the professionals are available to the crews at all times with no fees.

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is an Architecture Firm with a General Contractors’ license.  Therefore, I will not continue the advantages of an architecture firm here.  There are several articles explaining with detail.  Beginning with: Architect Firm and Costa Rica General Contractor

Second of Three Methods to Building a House in Costa Rica

Employ Custom Home Builders

Hire a home builderFor most people, choosing a builder can be most taunting.  Whereas it is a very important decision.  Because this finalizes all your efforts from choosing to come to Costa Rica.

To begin with, searching for property.  Continuing with finding an architect.  Furthermore, going through the process of designing a house.  Finally, now the fruits of all your labors come to this last decision.  Which is who are you going to choose to put it all together.

If this results in a bad decision, all your previous efforts would be in vain, turning your dream into a nightmare.

Therefore, let’s not drop the ball now.  Let’s make the right decision.  Which will make your dream a reality.

I’ve written an article which explains the different classes of a builder.  To clarify which class, they are best qualified.  You may read the article Class Grades of Costa Rica Builders.  In addition, there is an article to prepare you for hiring a builder.

Want to BE’s aka Two-Faced Custom Home Builders

Within this paragraph is in reference to people who pass themselves off as a builder.  Perhaps they have built for friends or their own home.  However, their main source of income comes from owning another business.

Such as a hotel, or cabanas, or a rancher or store owner who also builds on the side.  These types of ‘builders want to be’s are generally facilitator.  Which are not established with building suppliers nor manufacturers.

Most commonly they solicit their service on a commission basis.  Thereupon collecting commissions from the property owner, suppliers, sub-trades.  In some instances, even from the employees.

Usually, this class of custom home builders is without a license or building quadrennial.  Which they resolve themselves from all responsibility.  These people usually fall in the first class of employees as described in a previous article.

Now let’s get serious

Certified Custom Home Builders in Costa Rica

Building a house in costa ricaFirstly, when you contract Costa Rica home builders, most importantly you want this builder to be registered with the Colegio Federado De Arquitectos Y Ingenieros De Costa Rica bar (CFIA), which is the federal building department that enforces federal building codes.

Also, within the CFIA offices.  Include the Ministerio de Salute (Ministry of Health), as well as environmental ministries.

To explain that to register as a General Contractor is not mandatory in Costa Rica.

In fact, many builders do not register themselves as general contractors, which is curious because it protects the consumer with the bi-laws of the Consumer and Cooperative Affairs (Better Business Bureau).  If I forget to mention: Finish Touch Enterprises SRL CC-08073.

Structural Warrantee

In order to obtain a CFIA federal permit for Building a House in Costa Rica, you will require CFIA registered professional to be responsible for the project.

This will appear on your approved blueprints. Usually the architect’s name and CFIA carne number.  This person is responsible to make weekly inspections.  In addition to record in the Batricula the results of the inspections.  Basically, that the construction conforms with the plans.

If there is a structural issue with the house within 5 years, which is due to faulty workmanship or failed material.  Then the CFIA will demand the responsibility to correct the issue.

On the other hand, if your builder is not registered. then you’re on your own.  If your builder was to cut corners, the house warranty issue will be the property owner’s responsibility.

Notably when hiring a builder is to know the stability of the builder.  Is he rooted, does he have assets?

Hopefully, your builder is in a financially stable position to make the repairs, or does your builder live from payday to payday?


To explain the INS insurance is mandatory insurance.  Which is basically worker’s compensation insurance.  When you apply for your municipal permit (after receiving your federal permit).

The municipality will issue a ticket, which you carry to an INS agency and pay.  Following your return to the Municipality with proof of payment and they will issue a Municipal permit.

To clarify once you receive your federal permit, the CFIA will stamp a calculated construction value on your permit.  The Municipality will use 35% of this value as an estimated labor cost.  Continuing with the INS policy will be 3.6% of labor cost.

Most importantly having worker’s compensation insurance is a very important factor when Building a House in Costa Rica.

For reasons that accidents can happen easily, which are usually with a degree of severity.  Furthermore, there is no avoiding paying for INS. Because it is a part of the permit process.

Notably, that INS coverage includes 30 minutes before work and 30 minutes after work as they travel on their wobbly motorcycles with no brakes.

Paying INS and CCSS is the first step for insurance

The truth of the matter is you are not protected because the mandatory policy is paid.  To satisfy the policy the payroll must be reported monthly.  Included in the report is the employee’s name.

As well as a copy of their identification.  Which may be either cedula or passport number.  Continuing the report will show his rate of pay and his earnings for the past month.

In conclusion, the worker’s compensation insurance is only valid for those identification numbers. Therefore, any other person injured on-site is without coverage.

In addition to INS payroll reporting.  There is a copy of the same report to the CCSS.  Which is the socialize medical of Costa Rica.  To explain if an injury occurs. Then the person is transported to the clinic or hospital. Whereas his CCSS card is presented. Once it’s been established that the injury is work-related. Accordingly, he will be transferred to INS.

However, if your builder does not report payroll by the 8th, of each month, then INS will not cover the cost of an accident.

Neither will CCSS and most likely an investigation will commence. Most importantly by not complying with the Costa Rica payroll laws. Which may result in criminal and civil legal actions.  Most commonly are against the property owner where the violation occurred.

Building a House in Costa Rica: Cost of payroll taxes

The total amount which should be escrow from payroll calculations is 52.66%.  Which includes paid statutory holidays, vacation pay, liquidation cost, etc.  From 52.66% the monthly remittance for CCSS calculates to 38%.

To conclude that avoiding these payroll taxes is of no benefit to you.  In actuality, you are the one with all the risk.  As to mention your builder is free to go.

Therefore, you should not let your contractor convince you to bypass this expense when Building a House in Costa Rica.  Notably, if your builder wishes to cheat the government.  Then it stands to reason he will cheat you as well.

To clarify that this article is not meant to scare you.  But rather to explain a legal fact that you can verify.  From the following resources; CCSS or INS or your bank manager, or CFIA or your lawyer or your accountant.

In retrospect, these faulty practices were common in Costa Rica.  As there was little policing or enforcement.  However, within the last 10 years in Costa Rica.

I have personally witnessed a substantial amount of corruption get prosecuted.  In conclusion, old-schooled builders may still believe they can get away with it.  Stating that this is how things are done here.  In reality, the risk is very high and most likely will be discovered.

Another option of INS policy

On the other hand, for a builder that has permanent employees, most likely will have a permanent INS policy.  Meaning this builder will have a certificate of clearance document from INS. So this is the perfect scenario when Building a House in Costa Rica.

This proves that INS is prepaid, and all workers are covered.  Personally, Finish Touch Enterprises SRL’s policy also includes the general public who may be touring the construction site.

In addition, companies with permanent INS are companies.  That most likely has a certified accountant. Which are responsible for payroll calculations, payroll taxes remittance, and INS policy remittance.  In addition to payroll reporting.


Of course, when Building a House in Costa Rica, an important attribute towards hiring a builder is his stability.  Let’s examine how your builder has become rooted.

Firstly, does he have a company corporation? This demonstrates that he is most likely established with Hacienda.

Secondly, does he have a bank account in the company name? Which demonstrates that most likely has competent accounting practices.  Thirdly a declaration from Hacienda.  Which demonstrates he is current with filings of federal taxes.

In addition to the above, some note-worthy attributes would be branding.  To explain does the builder have signage on his vehicles?  Perhaps a web presence to display projects and details of his services.

Including an email that has his domain name and not a Gmail or yahoo extension.  Another source of branding would be the social media presence in his company’s name.  In summary, these are areas in which you need to use your own common sense.

Most importantly is that you want a builder to construct your investment.  With assurances of his competence to complete your project successfully.

On another note, Hacienda is the Costa Rica tax department.  All business owners do file a tax form of earnings.  All building supply stores and manufacturing shops report to Hacienda reporting their sales and to who.  Therefore, Hacienda will have a record of material purchases, and manufacture (cabinets, windows, etc) invoices.

In conclusion and warranty

The objective is to verify the Costa Rica Home Builders ability to warrant his work when Building a House in Costa Rica.  In the event that an issue presents itself within a year.  With all fairness that when new building materials are installed.

Which they need to conform to their new environment.  Resulting in expansions and contractions.  Which may cause a tile to delaminate, or a door to warp.  Perhaps an electrical component will fail.

Nonetheless, we wish to conclude if your builder can support his work and return for a repair.  Can he afford to return to make a repair?  After you have the keys to your new home, your builder should present with:

  • Firstly, a walk-through deficiency list. Take possession of your new home and make sure the doors close correctly, all the lights work, and he has completed his end of the contract as agreed
  • Secondly, a one-year warranty. It may happen that a tile may delaminate, or a door warp.  Or some issue that should not have to happen and most likely could not have been foreseen.  Your builder with all good faith should take care of you with these issues.  All within reason of course.
  • Thirdly, 5-year structural warranty. This is CFIA mandatory warranty.  If he does not repair a structural issue, the CFIA could decline all his permit applications until your issue is warranted.

Building a House in Costa Rica: Documents you may wish to request

When hiring a builder, there will most likely be 2 documents.  There will be a contract and a pro forma breakdown of cost.  Keep in mind, that you are the boss.  Not him, he works for you.  Therefore, you have control over the rules.


  • Contracts:

    • Are usually made in favor of the person who is writing them. Therefore if you are writing the contract between you and your builder. Then you will include all the expectations that you demand from him. If the builder has a generic contract, you should also include all your expectations either way.

Payment schedules:

    • Preparing your payment schedules should be frequent, small, and balanced towards that stage of construction advancement. The amount should reflect the material and labor cost of the payment stage.  Making fewer stage payments in larger amounts could end up badly for you.  Make sure to understand and negotiate this phase of your contract before Building a House in Costa Rica.
    • Construction is not an exact science. There may be unforeseen circumstances present themselves throughout the project.  Your builder without changing the price may need to make this up on the next draw and ask you for a partial advance.  Understand his issue and don’t penalize him.  You don’t want your builder stressed.  Work with him as you both have the same objective.
  • At minimum your contract sections should include:

    • Corporation names and legal representatives of each side with physical address, email, and phone numbers
    • Property description, catastre number, exact location
    • Builders identification numbers: CFIA carne number, passport/cedula number, INS number, CCSS number
    • Details of responsibility: what is the key role of each side:
    • All warranties including manufacture warranties of air conditioners, windows, etc.
    • Attachment exhibits: CFIA approved drawings, pro forma, stage payment schedule.
    • The amount of the contract
  • You may include additional information towards:

    • With details of deadlines.  Furthermore, assurance of his government responsibility’s.  Perhaps penalty’s, and arbitration procedure. If your out of country and may include communication requirements.  These are good to have in writing but difficult to enforce.
  • Detailed pro forma of a material breakdown:

    • This breakdown will include material take off calculations of concrete, rebar, block and all core material.
    • Quantity and unit price of flooring, cabinets, granites, plumbing/lighting fixtures, etc with budget allowances.

Once you are satisfied with the documentation that the builder has given you. And you have supplied your builder with his required deposit. Your builder will begin to prepare the lot. Construct a material storage and quarters for the crew. He will install service entries of electricity, water and provisional for drainage and black waters. This may take approximately two weeks.


Third of Three Methods to: Building a House in Costa Rica


Be your own general contractor

  • If this is NOT your intent to be your own builder. You will still want to read this article as I say many wonderful things about my company.
  • This method is more favorable for building budgets under $100k- and most likely to succeed.
    • Building budgets under $100k are homes that won’t have complicated engineered systems, they won’t have layered wall systems for climate control nor mold or insect deterrents, these homes are generally kit homes and small and won’t require precision tools or sophisticated installations.
  • If your building budget is above 100k and you choose this method of building.  It is important to know that, about 85% of these builds are unsuccessful.  As well as 98% of these builds well exceed the original budget.  Therefore make sure you have contingency financing or a recovery plan before attempting this method.
  • If you are considering this method, please feel free to contact me for more information. It could save you an abundance of money and a world of headaches.
  • It is law that your responsible (usually architect) is required to make weekly visits to record advancement in the Batricula. Basically, he reports that the construction is following the construction drawings.  This is to your benefit.  Many times, the architect is paid off not to come, or to come only once a month.  This is a bad idea.  For reasons beaing that his visits is a form of policing, and will keep your crew on their toes.

By the way, this method would return you the most stress.  All the responsibility will be solely on you.  You must take responsibility for the results.  It is most likely you will not save money, nor time.  Therefore, you will be doing this for the sole purpose of self-achievement.

Recommended prerequisites

To begin, it would work to your advantage as to have 7 to 10 years’ experience in North America of the construction process.  For reasons being, that you will have a better understanding of construction practices.  Which includes as to when to order and commit to sub trades and manufactures.  In order to maintain the construction advancement.  For example, windows and cabinets will take several weeks to manufacture.  Therefore, you will need to commit several weeks in advance from when you need them.

In addition air conditioning requires several visits at different stages of the construction.  Firstly, rough in to be done on early stages of construction.  Secondly to return later for additional installations of duct work. Thirdly, a final visit at the end of construction to install units.  Payment schedules should be balanced to percentage of each stage. This is just a small example of coordinating administrative experience you would want to have.

In addition, it would be very beneficial for you to have a good command of the Spanish language.  It is important to be able to negotiate prices from suppliers.  As well as understanding product details for quality control.  Also, you will want to be able to make and recieve phone calls. Having an interpreter for this increases the risk of commissions being paid to him.  This is common in Costa Rica.  Which is not considered stealing and is received as an entitlement.  Meaning, perhaps your interpreter is not getting you the best product at the best deal.  Perhaps he is getting you a product from who is paying the better commission.

Preparing all your agreements

My wife is Tica and often when she is with me the sales man will take her aside and offer her a commission.  On the condition if she would help  close the deal (she says no of course, (I think)). When someone say “go there and tell them I sent you”.  This comment generally reflects a commission being paid.  Emphasizing that they want the supplier to know you are there because they made the recommendation.

To continue, now that you have made your agreements with suppliers, subtrades, and so forth.  You will need to employ a crew to manage the installations.  In Costa Rica it is common for work crews to live on site.  Therefore, they will construct a bodega where your materials and tools will be stored.  Including, sleeping quarters, cooking area and bathroom with shower.  Of course, there is electric and water supplied.  This bodega will be built before your home starts.  Allow 3 or 4 days for 4 men and a budget of approx. $3,000

Preparing your crew

Finally, it is time to find a crew that will construct the home.  This crew will consist of 8 to 12 men.  Which will most likely show 90% of your home’s quality.  For example, in your home country, when you hire a trim carpenter.  There are few that are at the top of their class, several are mediocre, and then there is those that always have dull blades.  Costa Rica tradesman are no exception.  You will search for the best albinals, carpenteros, electristas, peons, ayudantes, and oporadios.  These men based on there experience and dedication will result in your homes quality.  Remember the 2 categories of employees.

When I started my company, I went through about 10 men to find that 1 good one.  It took me 2 years to establish the crew I have today.  You want to find a man that fits in the second category that I explain in an article Hire a builder.  This man should get along with other workers and not be bossy or a ‘know it all’.  You don’t want this man to be a partier that shows up half tanked from the night before and belligerent.  There are many attributes to a good employee (or company) over and above knowing how to do the job.

Costa Rica has different form of contracting

Costa Rica is completely different when it comes to tradesman and precision tools.  Most tools are made from broken car springs and bamboo.  Commonly, they carry the cheapest tape measures and low-grade trowels.  Mainly due to affordability. However, I have structured my company to build homes to North American style.  Collectively I have crews trained in specific attributes.  Where as my block layers, only lay block.  When the finish one house they go to the next one and pools.  I have similar crews for stucco, drywall, tile setters, veneer rock, and roofer.

This takes them away from being a ‘Jack of all trades’ and turns them into professional trades man.  They can achieve their trade expedentially with superior results.  If there is an onsite issue, they can profile the problem as a professional.  Because, they know their product first hand

Your new construction crew will construct the complete house from digging the footings to laying block.  Including, putting on your roof, installing your tiles, paint the walls, and hang your light fixtures.  The same 8 to 12 men will complete the house entirely.  This is how 95% of homes are built-in Costa Rica.  For this is a system I never agreed with.  Jack of all trade’s construction cannot deliver quality in my opinion.  You don’t have to be an engineer to spot a poor constructed home.  To the contrary, it usually becomes obvious imediatly entering the home.

In conclusion

To have a successful result in building your house in Costa Rica.  With being your own general contractor, you would want to have the following pre-requisites:

  • 5 – 7 years’ experience in construction in your home country to know procedures
  • 2 years’ experience in Costa Rica business to know labor laws, and tico culture
  • Building budget under $100,000
  • Intermediate command of the Spanish language to negotiate best terms, and to administrate your project
  • Have a good understanding of electrical and plumbing – these are major areas in Costa Rica that are lacking
  • Have 4 to 8 months free time to manage and administrate your project. This is a full-time job
  • Contingency funding for over budget or contingency recovery plan
  • Have plenty of aspirin handy

I will close this article method with a very strong emphasis in advising not to take this method.  Most likely, you will not save money and you risk your project.  In the 10 years in Costa Rica, I have seen hundreds of abandoned foundations for the very same arrogance.  Hire a builder and let him take on the responsibility and headaches.  You can administer budgets and work flow schedules

Following our series of articles (in order) will empower you towards success when Building a House in Costa Rica:

  1. How to Hire a Builder
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm 
  3. Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders
  6. Methods Of Building In Costa Rica (this article)
  7. Costa Rica Custom Home
  8. Costa Rica General Contractor
  9. Interior Design In Costa Rica
  10. Finish Touch Furniture SRL

Costa Rica Home Builders | Build a House | Custom Homes

Choosing a Costa Rica Home Builders Class

Designing a house in costa ricaFinding reputable Costa Rica home builders is paramount to the success of your project. Knowing what questions to ask and how to check the viability of the builder.

Above all to how to know their competence of construction methods.

A builder’s personal stability will ensure building stability. Even more, a General Contractors’ license is available in Costa Rica but is not mandatory.


Consequently, a licensed builder is more apt to provide you with quality as he will be compelled to government warrantees administered by the CFIA.

Costa Rica Home BuildersDepending on the type of home you’re building, there are different levels of construction value, which will determine the level of construction expertise you will require.

To explain, the more complicated your Costa Rica real estate homes for sale design. Then the more qualified your Costa Rica home builders should be.

Likewise to hire an over-qualified builder to build a ‘tico style’ home. Contrarily could be more expensive than what you really should be paying.

The following article will break down these construction values. Which will guide you to a process of builder selection.  In addition, the article Building A House in Costa Rica will help you hire a builder.  Once you have identified the class you require.

The categories for your understanding are:

  • Two-Faced Builder
  • Tico Style Home
  • North American Style Home
  • Smart Home Technologies
  • Vertical Builds Mountain Homes

You should note that no one has left school with the title ‘Builder’.  Whereas all builders began as a tradesman and advanced into the building.  As a result of their ability to facilitate the trades to complete the project. Included with years of experience.

Furthermore, the builder becomes familiar with the trade processes.  Which he can quickly recognize a fault with the material.  Or perhaps a poor installation is being performed.

Which he can rectify before it becomes a disaster and expensive to fix. Therefore, experienced Costa Rica home builders should be your first choice in all categories.

Another option not mentioned in this article:

It would also be note worthy to understand that a Architecture Firm and/or a General Contractor is a level above a builder.  Meaning an Architecture firms which have full staff and General Contractors have full time crews and equipment.  Both of these companies offer services and stability above a single bulder.  Which should be considered in your home designing and home building.

There are several ways of finding qualified Costa Rica home builders.  Firstly recommendations are always a good source.  However, you should know the person making the recommendation.

Often the one making a recommendation is a friend, family, agent, who is posing as a client of the builder.  I have seen blogs where it appears the builder is answering questions.  While in reality it is staged, scripted and it is all theatrics.  Therefore, qualify who is making the recommendation.  Hold reservations when reading dialogue on Facebook.

Two-Faced Builder:

Finding someone who claims to be a Costa Rica home builders.  However in reality their main business is not associated with building.

Perhaps they own a hotel or restaurant as a primary business.  This has higher risk factors that require a little more due diligence.

This type of builder does have stability and is rooted.  Although as a hotel owner and not the area of expertise you require.  Similarly, would you hire a dentist to fix your car?  If you are considering this ‘class’ of the builder.

You will want to ask:

  1. Is he actually a builder or a facilitator?
  2. Does he have a regular crew or does he take who is available at the moment?
  3. Does he have tools?
  4. Is he a legal entity with government responsibilities?
  5. Does he have insurance and report payroll?
  6. Does he have warranties on products and labor?

If any of your answers are ‘no’ to any of these questions.  Then you need to ask yourself what cost can reflect back on you.  Could it involve fines with the ministry of labor? Perhaps a lawsuit from someone who was hurt on the site?

Criminal problems back on you from Hacienda for payroll withholding taxes?  Could it break an established friendship between you and the restaurant owner?  Will he need a dentist after your done with him?  Read my article Building a House in Costa Rica for hiring advice.

Tico Style Homes:

costa rica home buildersThis style of home is referring to a basic house structure.  The term “Tico Style” is in no way meant as a condescending adjective.

On the contrary, this is the most economical way of homeownership. Furthermore, Tico style homes have many natural attributes, which I mention in my post Designing Your Cool House (coming soon) to keep the house cool.

In addition, there are ‘Tico Style’ prefab home designs. Which are available at your local building supply store.  These houses are not labor-intensive and can be completed in 6 to 8 weeks. Also works great if you’re wanting to construct cabanas or rental properties.

These styles of homes don’t provide comfort, aesthetics, or curb appeal. Meaning they provide shelter, bathroom facilities, no cabinetry.  Commonly kitchens are usually concrete top with wood shelves and no doors.

As a result, these homes are very simple, very basic. Which don’t include insect or mold deterrents. Nor insulation values and no acoustic values.  Furthermore no ambient values and often generic and economical materials.  Including flooring, windows, plumbing and electrical fixtures, etc.

Tico Style House Attributes

Building a HouseI have seen some of these homes finished off pretty nicely.  Which may include window moldings, rafter tails, and other finishing accents.  In addition, they generally have large eaves for shade and covered front porch areas.

Which provides shading on the house for natural cooling.  Furthermore, stucco finishes give pleasing colors.

Because these homes have great cross ventilation.  Together with an open attic area allowing breezes to pass through.  Your best option for cooling comfort is a fan.

These homes can be 50% concrete and 50% wood.  Or 100% concrete.  These homes can be secure, and safe.

Recommended Costa Rica Home Builders:

The recommended builder for this type of home is to simply hire a Maestro de Obras, which is a foreman of construction.  Of course, every construction worker in Costa Rica is familiar with tico-style housing.  When choosing a Maestro de Obras,  you will want to confirm he is a working Maestro de Obras. Unlike just a technical adviser as many consider themselves. Meaning he needs to be working with the crew with a tool in his hand.

Furthermore, Maestro de Obras will be knowledgeable in all aspects of the construction.  Therefore you should have a few test questions.  Particularly regarding electrical and plumbing. To explain, electrical and mechanical installations are consistent.  Whether or not tico-style home or mansion home.  Therefore, you want to make sure your mechanicals will function correctly.

Setting Up Administration

You will still need to administrate the purchase of materials, as well as the scheduling of deliveries.  In addition, you will want quality control over materials.  Also to make security provisions to guard against theft.  Furthermore, you will want to coordinate bi-weekly payroll.

Most banks have payroll services.  Moreover, this will keep you legal. Although Nicaraguans don’t have work visa’s you can still register their passports. For the reason that they will receive CCSS and INS coverage.  Most importantly to stay legal and don’t bypass this responsibility.

If your out of the country and cannot perform these administrative duties, alternatively you can sub this out to someone you trust.  Commonly architects often will be the technical administrator for materials and labor.  For the reasons that they are already visiting the site for weekly inspections.

North American Style Home:

Costa Rica Home BuildersThis is a category that most people reading this article will fit into.  To clarify that North American-style homes will incorporate engineered systems.  Including additional materials to provide us with comfort, and ambiance.  Furthermore considerations for aesthetics, security, and insect and mold inhibitors.

Normally, it was recommended to hire a North American builder to construct these homes.  However, I have met tico builders with equal qualifications  Which present knowledge, and honesty towards successful project completion.  Unfortunately, the language barrier has been a deciding factor for many owners.  Although this is a shame as many great tico builders are capable.

Recommended Costa Rica Home Builders:

Costa Rica Home BuildersThis builder should demonstrate stability, as well as he should own tools of construction and precision, together with the knowledge of the mechanics of products.

In addition to having experienced crew (prefer permanent crew).  Most importantly to have a General Contractors Carnet with CFIA, and be bi-lingual.

Finding a builder that holds all these characteristics can be difficult.  Although they do exist.  Which many of these qualified builders and general contractors.

The fact that likely they are exclusive builders to a development.  Therefore more difficult to find as these builders have little advertising and a weak web presence.

Prepare a list of questions to interview your builder.  For the reasons to recognize his knowledge and expertise.  In addition, expand your boundaries for a qualified builder.

As a matter of fact, General Contractors are credited with projects throughout the country. After all the objective is to hire a qualified administer to complete your project.  You may find the article  Method of Building A House in Costa Rica.

Where to begin

The ideal situation here is, to begin with, an Architecture Firm. To simplify a contract with them for a complete package.  To clarify this will prevent any miscommunication.  In the event, if you have not committed to a home design. While you are at the beginning stages to prepare and support your expectations.  So we invite you to read the series of articles in an orderly listed below.

If you do have your designs and you are looking for qualified builders, then I would refer you to hiring advice at Building a house in Costa Rica, and First Method of Building a House in Costa Rica, and Second Method of Building A House in Costa Rica.  In general, these articles should give you sufficient direction.  Furthermore the tools for interviewing and document control.

You are the boss of your project.  Moreover the builder works for you.  To emphasize that you are the facilitor with an objective.  Therefore, you are hiring his technical ability and management experience to facilitate your project.  Specifically under your supervision and approvals.

Facilitate responsibility

You may choose to have control over your material purchases.  Therefore you require to hire the builder strictly for labor costs.  In addition, you may have your own purchasing agent, who will scout out the best material purchasing prices.

Therefore, you only need to hire a qualified crew for installation.  Although this may be true this is very uncommon of course.  To clarify my point is that you may structure your build.  Perhaps to utilize your expertise and hire out the other phases.

Key points

  • How much experience this builder has in Costa Rica? How do I benefit from this?
  • What were these builders’ trade before becoming a builder? How do I benefit from this?
  • What warranties, guarantees, does he offer? How do I benefit from this?
  • Does he offer financing or attributes? How do I benefit from this?
  • Is the builder structured to save me money? How do I benefit from this?
  • What makes this builder unique from other builders? How do I benefit from this?
  • What is this builder’s price compared to other builders? How do I benefit from this?

Smart Home Technologies:

This is growing in popularity quickly.  Which does have a great presence in Costa Rica.  Uniquely this is a competitive field.  Whereas manufacturers such as Google and Apple are producing smart home technologies.  Which you can control your home’s functions by your phone device.

Costa Rica Home BuildersThese technologies for your home could include;

  • Wireless light switches
  • Motion sensory
  • Infrared sensory
  • Automation receptacles
  • Security systems
  • Climate control systems
  • Intercom and other communications throughout the home

Receiving the communications from these systems through RF (radio frequency) or IF (infrared signal).  Most commonly through wifi.  Where a smartphone, tablet, or computer provides interface controlling.  Specifically towards controlling air conditioning, lighting, cameras.  Possibly electrical backup redundancies such as solar systems.

Smart home technologies provide you with the ability to turn on lights.  Including unlocking the door for the maid, or feed the cat.  Furthermore water the grass, and clean the pool.  Specifically performed remotely from locations anywhere in the world with internet connectivity.  In addition to starting the car to keep the battery charged.  This list continues to almost infinite.

Recommended Costa Rica Home Builders:

It would be beneficial if your builder has a background and knowledge in telecommunications.  For the reason that outfitting your home with smart technologies.  Specifically requires a working knowledge of telecommunications.

Which include the installations of wireless networking systems. Also, UPS backup systems, and low voltage manifold installations. Thereupon knowledge of communication wiring usually with cat-6.

As well as knowledge of wireless systems similar to mesh internet installations.  Additionally backup systems for data and security.  Perhaps solar system technology for off-grid calculations.

Choosing this builder is the same as choosing a North American Style Homebuilder. However, your test questions should revolve around technology as well as structure.  Equally important that provisions should be included in the design for future additions.

To clarify this technology advances with new gadgets constantly.  Therefore your builder should have some experience with importing products.  For reasons that many of your systems will most likely come from outside the country.

Builder and Designer liason

Not only your builder but your designer as well, including your electrical engineer.  Should have a working knowledge of smart home technologies.  In addition to standard home wiring designs smart home system designs differs tremendously.  Therefore, smart home technology designers and builders should be sourced.

If you’re deciding to go with a smart home design and build.  Then it is most likely you have a general idea of the systems you would be interested in.  This is truly a project for Method of building a house in Costa Rica, and Costa Rica General Contractors.

Vertical Builds, Mountain Homes:

Costa Rica Home DesignOften mountain real estate properties have steep grades.  Which include slopes from front to back or back to front or side to side.  Most likely your designer will be very creative.

In order to use the natural topography.  Additionally, they will have provisions for stormwater management.  Together with utilizing creative structural engineering of cantilevers, and anchoring systems.

Your designer will create lot access for a place to park a car.  Perhaps this may be the only area of ground manipulation.  Whereas the house design may ‘spill’ off the mountain.  Which incorporates engineering ingenuity.  From the results of weight dispatches, fasteners available, lightweight materials, and flexibility.  While collectively staying focused on focal points, privacy issues, sun travel, and all attributes towards home designing.

A builder’s responsibility to constructing a home.  Although he only needs to follow the blueprint specs.  Often there are on-site decisions to be made.  Whereas your builder should have a good understanding of engineer.  Especially when it comes to engineered systems, cantilever, and fasteners.

Recommended Costa Rica Home Builders:

Building a house in Costa RicaIn addition to your builder, it would be advisable to have a structural engineer.  Specifically registered as the responsible for weekly inspections.

Knowingly two heads are better than one.  Which designing the very ‘bones’ of the structure.  Together with the installation of complex engineered systems.  Most importantly, this discussion is in regards to safety.  Therefore, it is paramount to govern your project correctly upfront.

Although this may sound a bit shallow.  Notwithstanding my experience when I have built mountain homes.

Accordingly, I have had better success.  As well as better home advancement.  When I assign a crew of good physical condition.

In light of a typical workday where there are verticle climbs and descents. Together with carrying heavy articles. Therefore, having a physically fit crew will keep a moderate pace of advancement.

A common issue on mountain builds is where to store materials.  Often, we have had to move the living bodega several times as the home advances.  Your builder should be a good thinker with much foresight for project advancement, material delivery, material unloading, and storage.

Alternative to a single builder

Building a house in Costa RicaFor a better chance of success, it would be advisable to have a team of designers and builders.  For this reason, it will save you an abundance of money and headaches.  Also, you may read Costa Rica General Contractors and Costa Rica Architecture Firms.

Calculating the weight of the house design will help calculate the delivery costs.  As often materials need to be transferred to a smaller vehicle to manage the mountain road grades and corners.

Therefore, the owner should be open-minded to material choices. For example, a solid block concrete home will have much weight.  Which will require a heavy anchoring system.

As well as contribute to several thousands of dollars on the foundation cost.  Together with several thousands of dollars on material deliveries.

Custom Home Design Costa RicaThe photo I have here is a house design called ‘Casa Sorento’.  Specifically designed for mountain construction.  The design includes a solid concrete construction on the mountain surface.

Transitioning to a lightweight material of steel and glass.  Ideal for cantilever design which only requires lightweight anchoring.  At the same time will require fewer deliveries.

As well as lighter material therefore more material per delivery.  Notwithstanding a proficient advancement.  Equally both ways you save money with a superior result.  The result is a beautiful home with a low cost to build.  Contact us for more info

A builder of this type of home will require a working knowledge of:

  • Masonry construction
  • Red steel construction (Costa Rica calls it black steel).
  • Engineered tensioner sway bars
  • Cantilever engineering
  • Tempered glass theory and installation
  • Quite possible pressure reduction valves

These types of builds can be complexed and technical.  Therefore you will want a builder who came from the top of his class.  Consequently, this may cost a few dollars extra.  Make your decision wisely.

Feel free to contact me if you wish for any further information on this type of build.  As well as furnishings

Following our series of building articles (in order) will empower you towards the success of the completion of your project:

  1. How to Hire a Builder
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm 
  3. Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders  (this article)
  6. Methods Of Building In Costa Rica
  7. Costa Rica Custom Home
  8. Costa Rica General Contractor
  9. Interior Design In Costa Rica
  10. Finish Touch Furniture SRL

Home Designing Service Details

This article will discuss what is included in your Custom Home Designing Service.  With Finish Touch Enterprises SRL

Home Designing ServiceI’ve written a series of articles that will answer a lot of people’s questions.  In the past 12 years of Designing and Building Homes in Costa Rica.  I have had my share of questions.  Many regarding the Home Designing Service.  So, therefore, I will attempt to make clear what is involved and what you will require.

I have structured the business model of Finish Touch Enterprises to be an ‘all in’ and ‘all inclusive’ company.  Meaning, there are no unforeseen surprises.  Our rates and services include all costs, including permit fees and mandatory insurance.

How Finish Touch Enterprises SRL Improves Your Experience

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a full-service Architectural Firm and a General Contractor in Costa Rica.  We are a company with continual growth by helping families and investors transition to Costa Rica living.  Specifically, our objective is to offer the best solutions with superior results.  Including offering the lowest prices with our Building Services and Home Designing Services.  This was accomplished by firstly, eliminating the middle man.  Secondly, less outsourcing of professional services.   Thirdly, equip the company with the necessary tools and equipment.

In most cases, a corporation’s business model consists of board members.  Each of them is a professional in their own area of studies.  Finish Touch Enterprises SRL adheres to the same format.  With a professional designing team, with each of them contributing specifics to their own area of studies.  Results with a complete and superior design.  Professionals that consist of architects, electrical engineers, structural engineers, interior designers, and more

The following list of Home Designing Service

  • An architect: for designs, drawings, elevations
  • The structural engineer: for footings, columns, roof design, red steel designs, connects, etc
  • Electrical engineer: receptacle and switch locations, load calculations, lumens calculations, service entry design
  • Interior decorator: designs for colors, textures, materials, niches, lighting, plumbing, and electrical fixtures
  • Permanently employed construction crews: Training men for specific skills
  • Heavy equipment for lot preparation, pool excavation, lot access, road building
  • Delivery trucks. No waiting, no extra delivery fees
  • Full-service woodshop creates custom kitchen cabinets, custom interior doors, custom entranceway doors
  • Stone profiling and polishing for granite countertops, stone sculpting and polishing for granite sinks, stair treads, window sills, etc
  • Window distribution license direct from the manufacturer, no middle man.  Warehouse prices directly to you
  • Pool equipment distributor direct from Pentair manufacture, no middle man.  Warehouse prices directly to you
  • Pebble pool finishes and glass bead aggregates
  • Fully insured company
  • Lísense with the Colegio Federado De Arquitectos Y Ingenieros De Costa Rica CFIA

Hire an architecture firm for home designing service

Designing a house in Costa RicaTo begin, when you are hiring an architect or architecture firm for your home designing service.  There will be many decisions to be made.  To begin, once your floor plan has been established and elevations.  You’ll begin to decide on finishing materials that cohere to the home aesthetics.  I call this the lipstick and mascara part.  Because it’s about colors, textures, material choices.  This can be overwhelming which is why our staff is here to take the difficult decisions.

When entering into a Home Design Service Agreement you will ask what is included and you will ask about costs.

  • Which materials and quality of materials will be used?
  • Details of the wall material
  • What will the roof consist of?
  • Flooring material and budget
  • Details of the type of windows that are going to be installed
  • Plumbing and lighting fixtures and budgets
  • Who will be reviewing the project and inspections
  • Cost for a complete design and permitting process

Engineered Systems for your Custom Design Service

Important to realize is there are many engineered systems, which are fabricated offsite transported to your property, and installed.  Many of these systems claim to save you time and money.  But most come with the sacrifice of quality.

If your designer is recommending an engineered system.  It may be necessary to do some research as to how you will benefit.  It is common for commissions to be paid for referrals.  Therefore you will want to validate that the recommendation is towards your benefit.  Not for the financial benefit of the one making the recommendation.

The thing that is important for your home design service is quality and function.  With being budget conscientious as well. In reality, you are going to enjoy this house for many years.  Therefore, it is more than an investment.  It is your home where memories will be made and cherished for a lifetime.  So incorporating the right systems is paramount.

What is included in your Homes Designing Service:

Costa Rica Architect FirmTo begin with the details of those questions.  Which is included in the Home Design Service Agreement with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL.

To begin the home designing service process you and I will begin to have a dialogue.  Perhaps by phone or through emails regarding your project.  We’ll be discussing the use of the home, whether it is a vacation home, retirement, permanent residence, or a rental income.  There are many variables all of which will influence design attributes and elements.

Further information as to your incision of home style.  Your likes and dislikes.  Must-haves, and necessities.  Your lifestyle particularly has a great influence.  Do you like to entertain groups of people or do you prefer a quiet lifestyle?  Do you spend a lot of time cooking or you don’t cook at all.  Again, there are many variables to influence your design.

In addition to a basic conversation for clarity and intention, we will discuss property budgets and all relevant articles.

Btw, budgets are always kept confidential.  Which are not shared with the staff.  It is best to have them focused on designing without restriction.  We will balance the design and budget

As a rule, I will visit the property to perform a pre-evaluation.  From there I would be checking for lot access and the ease of delivery vehicles have access.  I also look for lot servicing.  Neighbors and privacy issues.  Lot topography, tree evaluations.  I check for sun travel for morning and afternoon shade.  Focal points if any, and of course lot access for parking and turning around.

The home designing service agreement schedule includes:

    1. Preliminary studies of property
    2. Anti-project of property
    3. Geotechnical exploration and analysis
    4. Register Anti-Project to receive IVI reduction to 4%
    5. Conceptual design of floor plan and elevations
    6. Design finishes of exterior and interior materials/textures/colors
    7. Pool design and hydraulic engineered
    8. Detailed construction budget and schedule
    9. Detailed construction drawings
    10. Electric and mechanical design by certified engineers with CFIA
    11. Approval proceedings before the Costa Rican Engineers and Architects Bar
    12. Registration of professionals licensed with the CFIA for inspections
    13. Municipal approval process
    14. INS insurance (mandatory)
    15. Permits in hand

Home Designing Service Agreement Details

Project Stages: 

  1. Preliminary Studies of Property:

    1. Firstly, to begin with, a visit to the property.  This will actually be done periodically through the design process to verify elements.  The beginning visits are to determine the location of the house and outbuildings.  Lot access, parking, and turnaround.  This contributes to curb appeal.  Focal points exist or we need to create.  Neighbor location and privacy concerns.  Sun travel is also considered.  The natural lot topography and existing trees.  Lot servicing and any other attributes that will influence the design.
    2. Secondly, is the property amenities.  How near is the store, bank, clinic, restaurants, etc?  Some of these may have a factor on the design for storage or extra room, etc.
    3. Thirdly, is an interview with you to discuss the ‘must-haves.  What you are envisioning.  Your lifestyle and things you enjoy doing.  Are you entertainers or prefer a more relaxed quiet lifestyle?  A sports enthusiast, hobbies, activities, etc.  These attributes will influence living spaces, pool design, bedrooms, etc.
    4. Subsequently, the results from the above will initiate floor plan production.  As well as elevation plans of the house.  Including basic furniture layout and home attributes.  Which will encumber all attributes from the property inspection.  
  2. Anti-Project Of The Property:

    1. Creating an Ani-Project is basically a layout of your property.  We will show lot access and turn around.  House location, pool location, and gardens.  Basically, you will see social areas and the use of the land.  The ani-project will show all construction areas, fences if any, sidewalks, decking, etc.  From the approved anti-project, these attributes will be included in the construction drawings unless otherwise stated.
    2. We have a great deal of information on the Anti-Project.  You will find a North pointer in order to determine direction.  We include elevations of the building so it indicates the heights of the buildings.  The floor plan of the house is detailed so you can see the cohesion of indoor living with the outdoor living areas.  Often, we include tables of areas.  This gives a better understanding of proportion.  Air-conditioned areas to terraces, pool areas to decking, gardens or green areas, etc.
    3. The Anti-Project is also used for HOA approvals if relevant.  Often Asadas request an anti-project prior to approving a water availability letter.    
  3. Geotechnical exploration and analysis:

    1. Geotechnical Studies are not mandatory in Costa Rica and I’m not sure why, because they are extremely important.  These are soil studies on the property for density and perforation.  Importantly we want to know what lays beneath the home.  Often vegetative soil is about 12” on the surface of the property.  Which should be scalped off where construction will take place.  Then we need to know the density of the stabilized soil.  In order to calculate footing size.  Which is calculated by the weight of the house distribution over the soil density.  Also, we want to check soil up to 5 meters deep or to bedrock.  
    2. Perforation test tells us how quickly soil will absorb and drain water. We will design your stormwater management based on these studies.  As well as septic leach beds if applicable.
    3. Because these studies are not mandatory, many people believe they are not necessary.  For this reason, Finish Touch Enterprises has made Geotechnical studies a part of the design process and is included in the design fees.  They are important, and therefore, are included in your design file.
  4. Register Anti-Project to receive IVI reduction to 4%:

    1. This is fairly new to the Costa Rica permit process.  Costa Rica has initiated a goods and service tax of 13%.  Before, it was only a sales tax of 13%, but now it applies to all services in Costa Rica.  Of course, this was met with resistance from us architects and builders and for that reason, Congress temporarily suspended this tax for Architects, Engineers, and construction services.  In order to receive an exemption, a project needed to be registered with CFIA to receive an exempt number from Hacienda.
    2. September 1, 2021, this exemption was revoked and now a 4% service tax IVI will apply to construction services including designing.  However, you still must register the anti-project to receive the 4% reduction.  We include this process and registration fees as a part of our Custom Design Agreement
    3. It is also worth noting here that as of September 1, 2022, the 4% will increase to 8%
  5. Conceptual Design of Floor Plan and Elevation:

    1. Conceptual meaning starting point.  From all the data collected from the site visit, interview, and studies.  We will then begin with a preliminary design.  This design will be more detailed towards function, aesthetics, and budget conscience.  Much of this was completed for the anti-project.  But now we get into the details.
    2. Following the floor plan, we then design elevations.  This includes wall heights, ceiling heights, architectural ceiling designs if applicable, roof design, window, and door placement, sizes, and designs.
  6. Design Finishes of Exterior and Interior Materials/Textures/Colors:

    1. Our designers will then add some color, texture, and materials to the design. This is a part when things start to get exciting.  I call this part the ‘lipstick and mascara’ part.  As now house develops a personality reflecting its owner’s visions.  There is a cohesion of ceiling designs, floor tiles, feature walls, cabinets.  All of which set the mood.  From rustic to elegance.
    2. For visual reference, we create 3D renders to best communicate with you the aesthetics.  With this technology, it is as close to reality as we can get.  Of course in real life, there will be deference to a degree.  But it best depicts the end goal with reasonable accuracy.
    3. With the conceptual drawing and renders, we can more accurately calculate costs.  As we now have a drawing for material take-offs for exact measures of flooring, cabinets, block, concrete, etc.  As well as, renders for material choices, placements, and measures.
  7. Pool Design and Hydraulic Engineering:

    1. Pool designs and engineering are critical components of a home design.  This is a whole field of its own and requires much care and consideration.  The pool area will most likely be the area most used in a home design.  You will spend more time here than anywhere else in the home.  Not just for usage, but for visual serenity.  Often the pool area is seen upon entering the home for the ‘wow’ effect.  Knowing this, we at Finish Touch Enterprises, take much care and professional adherence and dedication to your pool design.
    2. To begin, the pool design should be a part of the house, not an add-on.  So we try to incorporate some home attributes and elements into the pool.  To give an adhesion between the two.  Also, size in proportion to the house and number of occupants.  All pools are custom designed and not pulled out of a book.  So we can include many features and conveniences to suit the families’ preferences.  Example; beach entry without steps, water cascades, infinity edge, bubblers, seating areas, light show, firewater, swim-up bar to an outdoor kitchen. etc.
    3. For more detailed information regarding the pool design.  We recommend reading this article Pool Design and Construction
  8. Detailed Construction Budget and Schedule:

    1. Collectively, this is a document that jointly goes with your construction drawings.  The construction drawings give you details of measurements.  Locations of attributes, and construction details of material quality.  The Detailed Construction Budget and Schedule are more inclusive of what you will receive.  Budgets on flooring, granites, taps, plumbing fixtures, lights, fans.  Most often builders don’t demonstrate what quality they use on these elements.  But we give you a 15-page document of all material breakdown quantities and cost
    2. The budget begins with relevant data.  Between the property and Finish Touch Enterprises.  This data is regarding Finish Touch Enterprises address, contact info, and General Contractor license info.
    3. The summary page of areas and costs of areas per meter squared.  What is included in the proforma and what is not included?
    4. Individual material quantities and costs.  This area is generic so when you read a ‘0’ in a quantity column, you know your house does not have this item.  However, if you choose to want this item, you will know what the cost is upfront.  Example.  If you did not want a hot water tank and preferred hot water on demand, your proforma will show the cost upfront.  We provide no surprises and total transparency.
    5. In addition, the proforma has labor costs to build this home which includes government responsibilities.  There is summary pages where you can view all cost collectively.
    6. The final pages show a schedule for the installation of the materials with a flow chart.  Followed by a monthly/weekly chart of costs during the progression of the construction.
  9. Detailed Construction Drawings:

    1. You will receive a complete set of construction drawings physically and digitally.  These drawings usually consist of 20 to 25 pages.  Each page will have the approval seal of CFIA.  Meaning they are certified and approved before the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica Bar (Federal Building Department).
    2. The drawings will include all relevant laminas to construct this home.  Sections on architectonics, elevations, cut sections, structural sections, electrical sections, mechanical sections, window/door schedules, areas, etc.
    3. Note: In addition, for your information purposes, with the construction drawings you can solicit builders for pricing or price comparisons.  We recommend you keep the proforma private for your personal comparisons.  With these two documents, you are best equipped for asking the correct questions.  Of course, we hope you continue with Finish Touch Enterprises as your builder.
  10. Electric and mechanical design and blueprints:

    1. After the approval of the conceptual drawing, we then get the engineers involved to make the design work.  Mandatory Electrical engineer and Mechanical engineer will be for every project.  There may be additional engineers required depending on specifics.
    2. The Electrical and mechanical engineers will firstly design to code and function.  Logically, this means we can see in the dark and water runs downhill.  Secondly, we continue these designs for function.  This includes 3-way switches at strategic points.  Location and heights of tv receptacles.  The convenient location of shower taps to showerheads.  And many other functions and features.  Thirdly, is aesthetics, our designers and engineers work together to finalize this stage.  This includes ambient lighting, wall washing lighting, task lighting.  Perhaps the vessel sinks with cascade taps.  Bathroom shower features.  Kitchen island features, and more.
    3. There are also careful considerations for HVAC designs.  Placements of ducting and returns for constant climate control.  Engineering for passive cooling is involved in this stage as well.  Telecommunications designs and any security considerations are done at this part.
  11. Approval Proceedings before the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica:

    1. At the beginning of the project in step 1 above, we mention the collection of permit documents.  By the time we completed all the steps including the detailed construction drawings, we should have collected all required documentation for permitting.  We then submit the package to CFIA
    2. The package is examined and notification is sent that it is complete.  Should they require further documentation they will request it at this time.  Once the package is determined complete, it is assigned a reviewer
    3. The reviewer analyzed the drawings to confirm they comply with all Costa Rica Federal Building codes.  Which include seismic stability, structural safety factors, wall systems, and other systems that are Costa Rica certified.
    4. Within the CFIA are also additional departments that will review the plans.  This includes the Ministry of health for any black water designs, the Fire Department for egress designs, the Ministry of environment for environmental concerns, and so forth.
    5. Once all departments have approved the designs, we are sent an invoice for permit payment which is paid by Finish Touch Enterprises.  All fees are included in the Architect Agreement between Finish Touch Enterprises and the Client.
  12. Registration of professionals licensed with the CFIA for inspections:

    1. On all laminates of the Construction Drawings, there is a section on the right side that we call the Canteen.  This area is where the CFIA will stamp a seal of approval.  This area also shows the page number, which section it belongs to, property owner name, project name.  Most importantly, it shows the names and license numbers of the designers, engineers, architects, and builders.  These license numbers are verified by CFIA for validity as only licensed professionals can apply for permits.  These are the professionals responsible for the construction accuracy and perform inspections weekly.
    2. Should the client hire another builder to construct the home, these registered responsible would resign and the new builder would register his professionals if he has any.  Otherwise, the Client would need to sub-contract new professionals to be responsible for the build.  This is a bit of a hassle but is not uncommon.
  13.  Municipal approval process:

    1. Upon receiving the CFIA approval, the plans may then proceed to the Municipality.  The Municipality has a couple of obligatory reviews for the plans.
    2. Firstly, they will review the anti-project for building setbacks and lot coverage.  The federal building code has federal bi-laws.  the Municipality has additional bi-laws.  These are usually presented to us when we receive the ‘Uso Suelo’ (Use of Land) document.  It usually stated, how high a structure can be for that zone.  Property setbacks.  Amount or percentage of lot coverage.  The municipality does not check for structural compliance.
    3. Secondly, the approval stamp from CFIA will have a value of construction.  The Municipality considers this value as an improvement to the property.  They then include this value in the property value to calculate your new annual property tax amount.
    4. Thirdly, the Municipality will confirm there is construction insurance valid.
    5. Once all the above is valid and verified, we are sent an invoice for permit payment which is paid by Finish Touch Enterprises.  All fees are included in the Architect Agreement between Finish Touch Enterprises and the Client.
  14. INS insurance (mandatory):

    1. INS is an acronym for Instituto Nacional de Seguros.  Costa Rica has government insurance for homes, vehicles, and life.  There are no in-country insurance companies.  Any insurance plans you may consider from any company outside of INS, then you are purchasing insurance from an American Company or some other country abroad.  
    2. Nonetheless, INS is a mandatory insurance requirement for construction.  The amount of insurance to pay for your project is calculated from the value stamp of CFIA.  INS claims that 35% of that value is labor costs.  INS is 3.6% of labor costs.  Therefore, proof of this payment must be declared to the Municipality before they issue a permit. All fees are included in the Architect Agreement between Finish Touch Enterprises and the Client.
    3. NOTE: Should the Client employ other contractors, then the contractor must provide his own INS for his employees
  15. Permits in Hand:

    1. This is the end of the pre-construction stage.  We now have all permits to proceed with construction.  You have certified approved construction drawings, you have a 15 page detailed proforma of all materials, and budgets for finishes, as well as a timeline for construction.  You have federal and municipal permits and construction insurance.  Ready to begin construction.  The Architect Agreement is complete and ready for a Construction Building Agreement.  Hopefully with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL.

Federal Building Permit and Rates

Costa Rica Designing Services AgreementYou will see a copy of a physical federal building permit.  In the yellow highlight, area are two boxes above one another.  The upper box list architects’ duties before construction.  The architect checks the box for which he is responsible.  The box below is the architect’s duties during construction.  Again, he’ll check the boxes which are relevant.

Besides the duty description is a % of the fee for which an architect will charge.  Some of these are mandatory to be checked while others are suggestive.  Depending on the firm you are dealing with, the architect rates can vary from 8% to 13% of the project value.  Once the CFIA stamp with a value is received, then, these %’s are calculated to actual fee values and are sent to Hacienda.

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a General Contractor in Costa Rica.  Our objective is to get you to the building stage as soon as possible.  For this reason, our rates are less than the minimum rate.  Our rates begin at $25,000 and increase by 8% after a budget of $300,000. All-inclusive: fees for federal, municipal, and INS fees.  We also include the cost for soil studies.  We include all costs for electrical and mechanical engineering.  As well as additional staff for Interior Design/decorating.

This is what separates us from all other architect firms and general contractors.  We have a very simple all-inclusive, no surprises business model.



Custom Home Builders

We are going to discuss what is involved to build a Costa Rica Custom Home with Finish Touch Enterprises SRL. Also, what is included in the cost of building a custom home with Finish Touch Enterprises?

One of the first questions that I am consistently asked is: “What does it cost to build a custom home in Costa Rica”?  Surprisingly enough, this is a difficult question to answer.  Because there are many variables that affect the price.  So in this article were going to explain some detail that you may consider.  In the event, your design and/or property have one of these variables that affect the price.

This article will go into detail about Finish Touch Enterprises standards. Which is what will be included in our building quotations. When an sq. ft price is given, it only represents a ‘general’ idea of cost.  It is not until there is a design that an ‘actual’ price can be determined accurately.  Whereas, from a drawing, we can calculate material quantities.

Costa Rica Custom Home Builders: Our Material Standards

  • To calculate safety factors, we use North American Standards.  North American SF is 5.  Costa Rica safety factor of 3,
  • An R-rating is sufficient to keep the house climate-controlled comfortably with little aid from air conditioners.
  • Passive cooling engineering in our designs for keeping the house naturally cool and economic savings
  • Our standards include inhibitors for mold and insects from inhabiting the house structure.
  • The exterior wall construction of 8″ block with 2″ additional cement finishes
  • High-performance windows with tinted glass and low E2 glaze
  • Seer 16 medium-efficient air conditioners.
  • Our standards include maintenance-free exterior finishes that resist mold and withstand UV from bleaching color.
  • Granite and marble countertops.
  • High-performance porcelain tiles.
  • Generous allowances for plumbing/electrical fixtures.
  • Electrical designs and installations North American standards.
  • North American standards for mechanical and plumbing designs.
  • Team of professional supervision of house construction.  Employed by Finish Touch Enterprises.
  • Our business model provides house construction prices lower than typical builders.

Take some notes as you read this article

This will help you create questions you will want to ask your architect and builder

This article explains the materials and methods that are standard in premium Costa Rica Custom Home Builders designs. I am going to explain the quality of the paint job.

To begin:

Custom Home BuildingI don’t subscribe to engineered wall systems, as, I have yet to see a system more superior than what we are using in our designs. Our methods have been taught for generations.

From fathers to their sons and to their sons.  These methods are common practices throughout Europe and Central America and South America, which are still being practiced to date.

Furthermore, we are combining proven old building technologies.  Together with new building technologies bringing you the best of both worlds.

Firstly Costa Rica is a small developing third-world country.  Many material and fastener products that we take for granted in North America are not available here.

Therefore, it may need to be imported. Otherwise, we will improvise and manufacture our own. Even concrete trucks are scarce and usually, we need to mix the concrete by buckets.

Costa Rica Materials

There are no modifiers or fortifiers for building material products.  Such as water-reducing agents, fly ash, accelerants, or retarders.  Most products are raw materials.  Sand, stone, cement.

Very rarely will you see laser levels or laser technology that almost every tradesman uses in North America.  Equipment for precision is also almost non-existent.

These construction methods here remind me of when I was a boy.  Following my father to a job site (he was a concrete contractor) and witnessing that tradesmen were actually craftsmen.  Cabinets were made on-site, stairs were made on-site, plaster walls, hardwood floors.  In today’s standard, these are now engineered systems, made off-site, and later delivered to be installed.

Also, things like decorative ceilings were done by hand with a sponge.  Now, all these jobs have been replaced by engineered systems and machines.  Craftsmen have been replaced by technicians.

In those days, they did things by hand.  Carpenters would create carving tools from broken saw blades.  As well as plasters would hammer their tack lathing to plaster crown moldings.  Commonly, this is how things are still being done in Costa Rica.


No modern tools or equipment:

Without giving away my age,  I have been old schooled for house designs and building quality.  Through the years I have adapted to new and modern technologies.

In addition, I have been certified in 18 decorative concrete applications.  Consequently, I have been credited with projects in Disney World, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios.  Namely many resorts and residences throughout Florida USA.  You can read a few of my qualifications at: About Us

Now I am bringing skills for Custom Home Building with the same old-school construction technologies.  Adapting to natural elements, with no modifiers or chemical inhibitors.  We all see that the older homes last forever.  Adapting to these methods will make your Costa Rica custom home a treasure for a lifetime.

Costa Rica Custom Home Builders: Construction methods


Building in Costa RicaFooting dimensions will be calculated by the structural engineer.  Mainly from the results of the soil studies and the weight of the house.

Costa Rica has a building code safety factor of 3, and our Costa Rica Custom Home Builders engineering uses a safety code factor of 5.

Meaning, our constructions are double the Costa Rica federal building code.  Let’s keep in mind that a building code is not about quality.

A building code is setting minimum standards.  Meaning you cannot go below this.  Therefore, it is advantageous for you, your family, your investment to exceed these codes.

Homes built from solid concrete and steel contribute much weight.  Which the weight of the bearing will need to be supported by reinforced concrete footings.  The bearing rebar is placed ¼ depth from the bottom of the footing.

Costa Rica’s seismic conditions also contribute to uplift situations.  So to protect the home from structure damage we also place reinforcing in the footing ¼ depth from the top of the footing.

As a result, the footing is reinforced top and bottom with continuous bars.  The amount and size of bars are variable and will be calculated by the structural engineer.

These continuous bars are supported by stirrups that will be placed approx. every 12”.  And this directly strengthens the tensile horizontal motion.

Dowels and columns and tie-beam:

Building in Costa RicaNow that we have supported the house with both bearing and uplift (dynamic and static), which is both vertical forces, now we need protections for horizontal (x and y factors).

We begin designing concrete columns, which will tie to the footing and to the tie beam (tie beam is the same as footing but at the top of walls).

These columns are strategically placed in all corners of the house by our Costa Rica Custom Home Builders crew.  Also on each side of an opening (windows and doors).  If a wall does not have corners or openings.  Then a column will repeat no less than 3 meters apart.  The number of continuous rods and stirrups will be designed by a structural engineer.

Also, tying into the footing are rebar dowels with a dogleg.  These dowels will be tied to the footing every 2 ft., which will enter the center of a block cell that will be filled with concrete.  These dowels will continue to the tie beam.

The footings, columns, tie beam.  After this, we only need to place patrician walls.  In addition to the heavily structural ‘bones’ that I mentioned.

Moreover, our Costa Rica Custom Home team continues to keep your family safe by using the 8-inch blocks on the exterior walls.  Also, install horizontal rebar on every third course of the block.  Which is 24″ separation, and the dowels are at 24″ o/c as well.  All together is cemented solid.

On our designs, we avoid designing long straight walls.  Not only for better attractive aesthetics.  But also for reasons structural.  The more corners we have, the stronger the structure will be.  This was the description of our structural system.

Walls and roof:

Building in Costa RicaThere are many wall systems, with each having its own advantage.  Varying in price and quality.  The west coast of Costa Rica has high heat and high humidity, rainy seasons, together with seismic activity.  Therefore, we need to choose a wall system for these conditions.

We at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL use 8-inch blocks on exterior walls and 6-inch blocks on interior walls.  Our closets will be steel studs and drywall.  The block walls will receive 2″ additional inches of cement scratch coats and finishes.  Resulting in approx 10″ final wall thickness.

Costa Rica Custom Home Builders: Advantages of Block Walls:

  • R-factor for keeping the house cool. Firstly block has a higher heat resistance (R) than other building materials.  Secondly our 8″ block together with the finishing materials.  Results with a finished wall thickness of 10 inches.
  • Acoustic value for blocking exterior noise (excuse the pun). This may include traffic noises.  As well as nocturnal animal noises.  There are seasons when frogs croak very loudly.  As well as seasonal bugs like crickets are noisy and disruptive.  Therefore, by using acoustic benefit materials, you can sleep more soundly with less interruption.
  • Structural strength for an earthquake for both vertical and horizontal.
  • Security, much more difficult to make a hole in reinforced concrete than clad wall systems.
  • Natural vapor barrier that allows the house to breathe. A very important factor for controlling humidity. (control humidity=control mold)

Foundation construction:

The foundation begins with a block stem wall from the footing to finish floor height.  This height will be set by the architect and engineer to ensure a positive flow of stormwater management.

We then backfill the inside and outside of the home.  Followed by the crew will then begin installing all underground services and service entries for electrical, plumbing, low voltage, potable water.  Inspectors will pressure test pipe fittings and check for leaks before the crew prepares the concrete floor.

The concrete floor is slab-on-grade, which is reinforced with mesh and a vapor barrier. The base is compacted to no less than 88%. We also make the terrace (back porch, lanai, veranda) at the same level as the house floor.

When we open the bi-fold patio door, these are on a recessed track.  And this makes your interior living room a part of your exterior living space all at the same level.

This has a striking effect when the same tile is transitioned through.  Which increases your space of outdoor living and indoor living.

Now that the floor is poured, the walls continue to tie beam height. All receptacles, switches, plumbing, low voltage, venting rough-ins are installed by our Costa Rica Custom Home Builders team during the construction of the walls.

At the same time, the horizontal block rebar is protruding in the column cages, followed by forming the columns to tie beam height and pour the concrete. Continuing with forming the tie beam (viga corona in Spanish).  This would include reinforced concrete lentils that will be poured over every opening whether it’s arched, elliptical, or square.


The reinforcing continues up to the tie beam. This includes the internal walls that will be of a 6-inch block with a tie beam that will connect to the external tie beam. Closets will be of light structural steel and drywall.  Or will be made from wood from our manufacturing shop.

There is no Promax wire here in Costa Rica, which is used in North America. Similarly, install conduit, and later we pull each color wire individually.

I have seen many electrical installations with TSJ wire which is like extension cord wire. This wire has a very high voltage drop and a much higher heat rating. It is not recommended to use this wire other than connecting a series of lights like pot lights, which should never be used as feed wire or for receptacles.

It is very important that we take into consideration the blueprint’s electrical layout.  As receptacles and switches are cemented into the walls and they cannot be changed later.  Nor adding new ones.  I will speak more of the electrical systems later in this article.

All the cement walls and concrete beams are trued by installing a scratch coat on both sides of the wall. This is called repello grueso.  Which will make the walls perfectly level and the corners at a perfect 90 degrees.

The interior wall will receive an additional coat called repello fino. This repello prepares the wall for a smooth plaster, which will prepare the wall to receive paint.

Your finished wall dimension will be 10 inches thick.  With tons of protection from elements.  I don’t know of any engineered wall system equivalent that will return you the same results.

The home begins to receive a white clean color:

Designing a House in Costa RicaAt this point, both interior and exterior walls will receive a sealer which is a pasty substrate. The sealer is high in calcium and as we know calcium is a purifier and will prevent unwanted mold.

Also, many insects and frogs do not like calcium as it burns their feet. Thus, protecting your home further from those unwanted critters from coming in or nesting.

Houses can be unoccupied for several months at a time with no fear of mold generating.  Make a note of this as most Costa Rica Custom Home Builders do not use these types of products.

The iron will be red steel or galvanized depending on the location of your property. If you are close to the ocean we recommend galvanized, which is corrosion resistant but light in structure.  Accordingly needing additional perlings as galvanized has less structural strength.

Therefore, the red steel is much stronger and does not require as many supports. Consequently being a little less cost-effective. We also, coat red steel with primer and corrosion-resistant paint.

Roofing dry in finishes:

On top of these trusses, we will put a layer of reflective insulation. The reflective installation is 97% effective and prevents heat from transferring into the house.

The reflective layer is on one side of the insulation.  Therefore, it also allows heat to escape from the attic, which is exactly what we want.  On top of the insulation, we dry in with a metal laminate.

You can read more of our engineering to keep your house cool here:  This will save on your electric bill.  I won’t go into detail about roofing material, our standard is decorative metal laminate.  There are recommended material upgrades depending on the budget.

Should your home have clay tiles (optional upgrade) our Costa Rica Custom Home Builders crew will install them on top of the metal laminate.  When installing clay tiles we put a rubber hose nailer for the tiles.  This allows as a buffer shock absorbing for when we have minor quakes.  A solid nailer would cause these tiles to break.

Costa Rica Custom Home Builders: Beginning of the Finishes

We are now getting into the easy and fun part because we are leaving the structural part of the construction. Thereupon we are entering into the finishing part of building a custom house.

Building in Costa RicaWe build a home from the footings to the roof.  Once we have the roof on, we then begin the finishes from the roof to the floor.

The finishes for the best curb appeal and comfort will be a major part of the budget. Beginning with the ceilings, whether flat, sloped, cathedral, or architectural.

We install furring strips and drywall backers. Before drywall is installed the electrical connections will be completed.  Ductwork installed.  Air handler installed.

We also weld ceiling fan supports to the rafters.  Once all electrical/mechanicals is completed, wires are pulled. We will close with drywall ceilings.

Custom Kitchen DesignsWalls are plastered smooth and walls and ceilings are painted with a primer.  We will paint the interior walls for the first time of 3.

The receptacles and switches will be installed (not cover plates). Panel box breakers installed. Floor tiles installed, baseboard installed (using floor tiles). Cabinets are installed. Granites are installed. Second coat of paint installed. Light fixtures and ceiling fans installed. Plumbing fixtures installed.

Air conditioners are installed, and all touch-ups and cleaning are completed.  Finally, the last coat of paint as we back out the door.

The exterior will be completed concurrently with the interior.  Stucco finishes and stone veneer (if any) will be installed.


A maintenance-free PVC tabla will be installed for eaves. Decorative angled facia or facia and eaves trough will be installed.  Either feature will be reviewed for each design individually.

Costa Rica Custom Home Builders: Notes on electrical

Electrical codes have not changed for the past few decades. However, our electrical conveniences have overwhelmingly increased.  New kitchen gadgets and gizmos that require additional outlets.  Entertainment centers usually require extra outlets.  Phone charges are becoming common attributes to be installed in outlets.

When we do our electrical layout, there are considerations about where the entertainment center will be located.  To accommodate outlets as well as low voltage systems.

Knowingly we’re going to require a few extra receptacles for TV, surround sound, modem, router, PlayStation Etc. In addition, we will include enough outlets in the kitchen as we have many kitchen appliances.

We will include a few extra outlets in the bedrooms and on the back Terrazas. Also, we will put an external panel box at the pool equipment house. This panel box may serve for landscape lighting, Rancho outlets, or any other exterior electrical requirement that you may wish to add on later.

Electrical switches; we generally plan three-way switches as we come in the front door and get into bed without being in the dark.  Meaning you come in the front door, turn one light on at the end of the room you turn it off, and turn the next light on at the end of the passage to turn it off turn and so forth. Our bedrooms have 3-way switches that once you’re in bed you can shut the light off.

An important factor to study:

The reason I feel it is necessary to write a few paragraphs on the electrical layout is that most inexperienced Costa Rica Custom Home Builders outsource to an electrical engineer.

This engineer will layout your electrical design to code. He won’t include any convenience switches or outlets. Often you will never meet the electrical engineer to discuss your electric requirements.  The result could leave you very dissatisfied. Our electrical demands have increased exponentially over the years. Receptacles with USB for chargers, motion switches, dimmer switches, rope lighting, accent lighting, ambient light colors.  LED’s, incandescent, halogen, sodium, florescent.

The electrical layout and engineering is a key component of your home’s design.  Equally for function and aesthetics.  Therefore, a contributor to your Costa Rica custom home design.

Quality Summary:

  • Seismic engineered foundation installation:
    • Uplift, bearing, and horizontal reinforcements.
  • Wall system
    • Acoustic, R-factor rating, security, mold, and insect inhibitor.
  • Generous allowances
    • High Standard Flooring
    • Plumbing Fixtures
    • Lighting Fixtures
    • Door handles, Switches, Receptacles
  • Medium efficiency air conditioners.
  • High efficiency tinted windows: Akaria and Europa with Plex bi-fold doors.
  • High R-value rated reflective insulation.
  • Solid wood cabinets made from:
    • Cedro, Guanacaste, Teak (all the same price).
  • Solid wood doors.
  • High ceilings, and decorative architectural ceilings

The purpose of this article is to equip you with the tools to make your search for a builder more understandable and to help you prepare your interview questions to control your Costa Rica custom home.

We encourage you to read the series of articles in chronological order to have the best results when working with Costa Rica Custom Home Builders:

  1. Hire a builder
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm
  3. Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders
  6. Methods Of Building
  7. Building Services Costa Rica
  8. Costa Rica Custom Home (this article)
  9. Costa Rica General Contractor
  10. Interior Designing A Home In Costa Rica

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a team of experienced Costa Rica Custom Home Builders, and we would appreciate being a part of your homeownership dream.  We welcome you to include us in your designer and builder search and we hope to hear from you soon with your details.

Hire a Builder

How To Hire A Builder

This article will be exclusively beneficial to those looking for How To Hire A Builder.  We will assume you (the reader) are in the design stages and are needing to prepare for the next steps.  This article will benefit you, and provide you with the tools you will need when interviewing potential builders/contractors.  Knowledge of terms, awareness of conditions will provide you confidence and power towards making the correct decision. By learning how to identify their competence, and management skills of not just construction methods, but also financial budgeting skills.  After all, they are building with your money, and do require skills in money management.  In addition, you will learn to identify their stability.  Which may be required for warranty issues that may arise.  Or perhaps an element installed incorrectly that requires a re-install at his expense.

Building a house in Costa Rica is fun and exciting with all the steps including seeing a vision become a reality.  Especially when making well-informed decisions of your team to make it so.

Analyzing the complexity of your project

Let’s begin with the complexity of your project.  Nevertheless, knowledge of particular elements of your home design.  Will govern the difficulty of your build.


in understanding the design difficulty.  Let me explain by example;  If your design is a prefab concrete home or similar, then the difficulty level is quite low.  These are very common and all workers know how to install these without direction.  It would be a waste of money to employ an architect or builder for this type of project.


for example, you are planning on building a North American-style home.  With typical comforts like air conditioning, granites, porcelain, pool, insulation, and some passive cooling designing, accent lighting, quality wood cabinetry, and finishes.  Then this type of difficulty would require more skills.  As well as supervision, therefore, you may wish to include regular inspections from an architect/engineer.  Your builder on this home should have a history of similar builds.  There should be a reference to their knowledge of North American style standards and precision.

It would be to your benefit if the builder had some branding.  Such as a website, signage, social media, or some sort of roots.  This demonstrates stability at a novice level.  Equally important, you may take a glance at your potential builder’s standard of living.  How stable is his home life?  Credit is very rare in Costa Rica and purchases are almost always done in cash.  Therefore, his standard of living (stability) will reflect his financial management skills.


In brief, your home design has complicated topography with steep slopes, multi-levels, a deep foundation, higher engineering systems.  Of course, any of these attributes will perplex the installation of foundations, wall systems, and roofs.  Likewise, smart home technologies or design elements require importing.  In this instance, you would want a General Contractor.  This would be a company established and rooted.  Most likely owns a shop, owns vehicles with branding.  Accordingly, he would have tools, have an office, and have staff.


Three Methods To Build

  1. First Method: Hire a crew – manage your own purchases, payroll, and inspections.  Payments weekly or bi-weekly
  2. Second Method: Hire a Home Builder – have an architect make inspections.  Payments based on construction advancements.
  3. Third Method: Hire a General Contractor – Office, tools, equipment, professionally staffed, precision results.  Payment construction advancements

Hiring A Home Builder

The most difficult, but also the most exciting process is the designing stage.  Use your imagination regarding what you want your dream home to be.  Create files on your computer and begin to save photos in folders to share with your designer.  Set the bar high, products can be produced in Costa Rica at a much reasonable price than in North America.  Your builder will know this and how to make it happen.  Especially, General Contractors who have their own shops for fabrication.

This house is not only an investment but also your home.  For that reason, this home will generate memories from events and it will be a part of your life. Don’t hesitate to utilize professional engineers and architects who will examine and analyze all aspects of a design. Particularly, home functionality and curb appeal.

Here are some home attributes to consider

What parts of the house will get direct sunlight and more shade.  This information will be a consideration when designing the location of private areas, social areas, and service areas.  As well as, the best location for windows and other attributes affected by these to hire a builder

Are you entertainers or do you live a more subtle life?  These are huge attributes for designing social areas.  Not just for size but controlling acoustics so there is less disturbance for the neighbors.  This is done by size, the shape of social areas, and materials for reflecting or drowning acoustics.

What considerations for the number of people, size of family, and children?  This will help the designer with common areas and create different areas for socializing.  12 people don’t usually gather in a group when socializing.  Perhaps only at mealtime.  Generally, they break off into groups.  Therefore, we need separate areas for seating and entertaining.  This is true for children as well.  They don’t usually ‘hang out with the adults.  They break off for their own fun.

You are the boss when Hiring a Builder

I am mentioning these attributes in this article because it becomes relevant to a builder during construction.  These are the areas that will most likely receive the most changes (based on my personal 40 years of experience).  We make the designs and blueprints as accurate as possible.  However, in real life, it takes on a new perspective and in most cases, you, as an owner, will ask for changes.  An experienced builder will spot early an area that would serve you better and bring to your attention before construction advances too far.  Making a change to the budget by debit or credit is more simplified.

As the owner, you will review and approve all design and architecture recommendations and changes.  You will want to be able to communicate with your builder at a high level.  If there is a language issue, then make means for interpreting.  The most common excuse I hear from crews when a major mistake/error occurs is “They didn’t say that I didn’t understand”.  At that point, something got more expensive.  Communication – Important when hiring a builder.

Personal Traits of Hiring a Home Builder

As you read the articles, you may wish to take notes and write any questions.  Contact me anytime, and I will be more than happy to answer your questions.  Knowledge is understanding and understanding brings power and confidence!

At Finish Touch Enterprises SRL, I want to help you with every step of building a new life in Costa Rica.

Generally, Home Builders in Costa Rica will fall into a couple of categories.  When you interview your builder, you are going to want to analyze which of these categories does he apply.  I personally use this method when I’m hiring new staff or crew members as well.  You will recognize these categories from your personal life as well.

Category One

People whose 1st priority is to earn money.  Their main focus is what is owed to them, and the second priority is the project.  The traits you will see in this type of professional or employee is:

  1. Calculating earnings regularly and frequently.  How much is owed to them at that moment?
  2. Watching the clock frequently.  Not wanting to work an extra second that does not have pay.
  3. High price for services.  Often over-evaluating their service.  Perhaps a little narcissistic.
  4. Frequent payment discussions.  Every communication will not end before some part of the conversation is about payment.
  5. Calculating holidays and work hours.  Every employee becomes a professional lawyer and accountant to what is owed
  6. Consistent lateness.  Coming late, leaving early, longer breaks.  More energy is spent on not working than actually working.
  7. Providing a service or report is an effort.  Any changes or requests will be met with resistance.

Category Two

People who love their job.  When someone likes what they do, they can’t help but be successful at it.

  1. Often take work home.  Their mind continues to work on how to be more efficient, complete a task, or make conditions better.
  2. Commonly staying late.  To be attached to a task with emotion and wants to see if finished with gratification.
  3. Being available for questions or tasks.  After-hours responses and weekend involvement.
  4. Represents themselves or the company to clients, vendors, and staff with pride.
  5. A positive attitude towards life.  Often smiles and laughs frequently.  Fun to be around
  6. Commonly involved in community engagements and/or sports.
  7. Committed to clients.  Whether it’s a deadline or concern, they put themselves in the other’s place.

Which Category Do You Want To Hire?

Let me share with you a couple of stories I witnessed in Category Two:

  • Staff working late:

Often, I will visit sites after working hours to inspect and review advancements. On many occasions, I pull into a site well after 5 p.m. I may find my truck driver washing the dump truck or crews working past “business hours” to finish a wall or section. This work is all with no pay. I do not pay overtime, so these people are working on their own time. Dedication and Integrity.

  • Staff working as a team:

My office staff wanted to participate in a sandcastle building competition as a Finish Touch Enterprises Team in Santa Theresa. My architect declined to participate; she wanted to complete construction drawings over the weekend, so she could submit the final draft for permits on Monday.  I remember the office staff was annoyed with her. 

My wife and I were out later that night, and when we passed by the office, the lights were on.  Curiously, I peaked in the window.  I was overcome with pride to see the entire office staff helping the architect finish the final construction drawings,  so she could participate in the contest.  The sandcastle building contest’s theme was global warming; the Finish Touch Enterprises Team with my architect sculpted a polar bear hugging the world and won first prize. Teamwork during and outside of work

  • Dedication to completion

A particular building job called for a flat concrete roof.  The concrete must be poured monolithically, or all at one time to avoid cold joints. Concrete needs to be poured consistently wet-on-wet, but the morning of the pour the electricity was out, and water pumps couldn’t supply water. Our solution? We poured the concrete using buckets and buckets and buckets of water from the river, which significantly slowed the process. Although we had high hopes, it soon became obvious: we could not finish the pour in one day. My Field Manager solicited 30 men from other working crews, and 80 of my employees volunteered to help.  The electricians set up lights on a generator, and the men worked until 10:30 p.m. We got the job done.  Of course, I supplied plenty of pizza, chicken, and refreshments. Dedication to quality completion.

These anecdotes are some examples of employee hiring, professional hiring, or hiring a builder.  These characteristics speak volumes about an individual.

Whom do you want to hire?

Even if you choose not to hire Finish Touch Enterprises SRL, I want to offer you the tools and knowledge to help you through the process.

Read through the article series below and after reading the articles, you will be confident to ask the right questions and know what you are required to do.

I took the time to write these articles to give direction to people who are considering: Designing and Building in Costa Rica.  Hiring an Architect Firm, How to Hire a Builder.  What questions to ask!  Knowledge of construction methods.   What to expect, and what to look for.  Once you have these skills, you are sure to enjoy the entire experience of Designing and Building in Costa Rica.

How To Hire A Builder: Prepare An Interview

An analogy: If you try to explain to a mechanic how your car works,  he will know whether you know what you are talking about, or not. On the other hand, if a mechanic explains to you how your car works, you will probably not understand what he is talking about.

However, you will be convinced the mechanic knows what he’s talking about because, well, he’s a mechanic. In reality, you will not know if he is a good or bad mechanic until your car is fixed well or fixed poorly. To learn if that mechanic is honest and is good at what he does.  You first have to interview him.

How to Hire a BuilderKnowledge is to understand and understanding gives you power and confidence. Similarly, your personal skills are compared with your competitor’s skills.  You will recognize, good quality, bad quality, correctly done, incorrectly done.  Subsequently, because you are qualified to make those assumptions.

Most importantly, it is to your benefit to know about the design and building process in Costa Rica to Hire a Builder.

The disadvantage of not understanding.  Will allow the opportunity of an unqualified person, probably from category 1 from above.  Too dazzle you without content.  Similar to a mechanics explanation of a complicated system.  Therefore,  Let’s even the playing field and give you the knowledge, power, and confidence to hire a builder.  With the tools to separate those who can and those who can’t.  When it comes to hiring an architect or how to hire a builder.

Hiring a Builder: Prepare A Questionaire

Knowledge is power and confidence, so you already know (from this and the other articles) what questions you should ask potential employees and contractors, including hiring a builder.  You are also going to feel confident in analyzing their responses.  Additionally, you are able to fairly evaluate the candidates’ competence, their abilities to successfully complete your project, their stability, and their character.

Just from this article, you know how to spot Category One or Category Two characteristics.

Whoever you may choose to design and build your dream house.  Keep in mind, you are the boss.  What you say, they must follow.  Not the other way around.  It’s okay to question potential employees and contractors. You should conduct interviews before you hire a builder and analyze every builder’s and contractor’s professionalism, competency, and experience.

Here is a questionnaire template to help you hire Home Builders in Costa Rica.

Unfortunately, I cannot write these questions for you because not every situation is the same. This template is an excellent place to start.

How to Hire a Builder – Questionnaire Template:

  1. Prepare 4 Experience Questions
    1. What are the builder’s schooling and post-schooling experiences? Note more than 10 quality years of work experience trumps schooling. Schooling teaches theory,  whereas, physical workings present issues that require resolutions. Designing and building a home has 24 specialty trade requirements, so it’s more important than your professional has first-hand knowledge in:
      1. Structural aspects of the ground, concrete, steel, etc
      2. Electrical and mechanical aspects with a good working knowledge of codes.
      3. Material options for aesthetics and finishes and engineered systems and how to install them.
      4. Engineering systems for roofing
    1. What is the builder’s main course of work and its relevance to your project?  Often a builder will have a primary or secondary income.  Perhaps he owns a hotel and builds on the side.  There are several variables on this subject.  But you should know how your project is prioritized by the potential candidate.
    2. What are their problem-solving skills and methodologies?
      1. Schooling is based on theories, introductions to new technologies, and software programs;  however, it is not a perfect world.  The real world requires a builder to have the ability to problem-solve unforeseen circumstances.  A professional tradesman knows how to resolve issues with superior results.
  1. Ask your professional to describe one of his most difficult projects and listen to how he resolved issues.  We all have our stories of what happened one day.  Of course, we all love to talk about (maybe brag a little) about ourselves.  Pay attention to the story of the issue and of the resolution.  Try to determine if there is an exaggeration to the story or how accurate the details are that he’s explaining.
  1. Prepare 4 Management-Skills Questions

    1. Ask how your professional organizes work crews.  Often a builder will hire friends and family before hiring qualified tradesmen
    2. What is his method of calculating material?  This may be a bit difficult, but, more than often the list is much longer than necessary.
    3. How does he coordinate sub-trades, like a window, cabinetry, flooring, etc. manufacturers?
    4. Much of this work must be organized several weeks before breaking ground. What are his methods to accomplish this prep work?
  2. Prepare 4 Company Stability Questions

    1. Is he licensed with CFIA?
    2. Has the company developed professional branding of web and social media presence?
    3. Does the company have the necessary equipment and tools?
    4. Is he rooted?  Is there a dedicated office, workshops, storage bodegas, etc?
  3. Prepare 5 To 10 Questions About Your Specific Expectations: (Remember you will know these answers before you even ask the question.)

    1. Which professionals design the home and which professionals inspect the home?
    2. What attributes have been or will be influencing your design?
    3. Does the company provide security for the project?
    4. When and how frequently will you get progress reports?
    5. Can the company supply the documents you need: license, insurance clearance?
    6. Can the company provide detailed proforma of material take-offs and construction schedule advancements?
    7. What is the “finishing allowance:” windows, flooring, cabinets, granites, doors, plumbing, light fixtures, etc?
    8. What quality-control systems does the company implement?
    9. Ask the company to explain all guarantees and warranties offered, including arbitrary-resolution process
    10. Finally, what is the company’s chain of command, beginning with each professional’s responsibilities on the project

Additional Sources For Hiring Home Builders in Costa Rica

You can contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.  There are no consulting fees. My objective is to make the building of your dream house in Costa Rica an exciting and awesome experience.

Whether you hire Finish Touch Enterprises SRL, I want you to use my experience in your favor.  Just fill in the Contact Form and let’s talk. I may even have some pizza and refreshments at the office. Again, you don’t have to be a client to speak with me; my goal is for you not to become a statistic.

If you read and take notes on the following articles, you will have a much better understanding of the entire house-building process and be able to proceed with confidence.  Again, contact me at any time for further information.

Thank you,


Founder and CEO of Finish Touch Enterprises SRL; 40 years designing and building


  1. How to Hire a Builder (this article)
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm
  3. Designing A House In Costa Rica Attributes
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders
  6. Three Methods Of Building In Costa Rica
  7. Costa Rica Custom Home
  8. Costa Rica General Contractor
  9. Interior Design In Costa Rica
  10. Finish Touch Furniture SRL


Designing a House In Costa Rica

So here you are, Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica! Terrific! I look forward to having you as a new neighbor in Costa Rica’s Pura Vida!

Pura Vida translates into “the pure life” or “the simple life.” It is a commonly used phrase to say hello, good-bye, everything is great, and everything is cool! Pura Vida is not just an idiom in Costa Rica; It is a way of life in Costa Rica.

To enjoy the full benefits of Pura Vida, you must take that first step: designing a House in Costa Rica.

Design a home in Costa RicaWhether you are still in the process of dreaming about Building a House in Costa Rica.  Or you have taken the plunge into Pura Vida and are currently active in designing or building in Costa Rica.  I want to share some trade secrets to save you time and money.

As the founder and CEO of Finish Touch Enterprises SRL. I would also want to help you in laying out and designing your dream home. Your house’s design is crucial. Because the more organized, structured, and knowledgeable you are about designing and building in Costa Rica, the easier the start-to-finish transitions will be.

This article is specifically written as a starting point to create the demeanor to approach Designing a House in Costa Rica

Let us take a moment to digress…please read my articles about the designing processes, the steps involved to progress your custom home design.  Articles of your involvement and what you should communicate and methods of communicating with your architect or designer.  I have also written articles explaining professional involvements to complete a design and permits and what costs to expect.  We at Finish Touch Enterprises feel the best approach to relieving anxiety and skepticism is to educate people to understand the mechanics of Designing and Building a house in Costa Rica.

Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica on Paper

Any design model needs to be built on paper before it can be transformed into a tangible construction.  You should be working closely with your architect and builder to develop details.  That will include concise measures, materials, and delivery schedules.

Realistically, you should allow approximately 4 to 8 months for designing and permitting completion.  As well as attaining the required permits before construction can begin.  Do not rush your design process! This is a common error I see too often.  People want to start building today.  Without a good design and concise details, your project could soon turn into a disaster.  Try not to under-evaluate the importance of a complete and concise design.

Of course, even people who live in Pura Vida in Costa Rica, experience anxiety during this phase. That’s why I wrote this and other articles: to help you design your dream home effectively, efficiently, and with the least amount of anxiety.  This is and should be a pleasurable experience that you want to be proud of, for years to come.

Our Ideology of House Design

Our ideology at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is to work closely and personally with every client and reduce any stress. One way to allay anxiety and stress is to have accurate, organized, and detailed-design plans, and permits.  Having a staff taking care of all the details big and small.  Sourcing specifics and unique elements, preparing imports if necessary.  Having a team on your side positively certainly reduces concerns, doubts, and fortifies confidence.

Even if you don’t choose to hire Finish Touch, (my personal recommendation), the success of your project directly results from competent, experienced professionals.  I make myself available for any who may have questions on concerns.  You don’t have to be a client to make contact with me in this regard.  With my Canadian background, I am always pleased to help.

Rule #1: You are The Boss when designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the people you hire may know all the terms, codes, and methods you don’t, but they still work for you. You have the right to be as involved as much as you want in the design process. Asking questions and holding professionals accountable are “not bothering them;”.  Asking questions and holding professionals accountable is good customer service.  In my past experience, I have had clients who were involved with every nail, screw, rebar, light bulb.  While other clients were, “don’t call me until your done”.  Either way is right.  This is your investment, this is your home, this is your project.  Your architect and builder are obligated to deliver to you results.  Including answering all questions of concerns, doubts, or uncertainty.

You are the boss.

Typical Beginning to Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica

The first professional with whom you’ll speak is a Licensed Architect.Designing a house in Costa Rica

It is the architect’s responsibility to draw the picture of your dream home.  Most architects do not have engineer training; therefore, the primary focus is on aesthetic and cosmetic attributes. The architect will take your ideas and visualizations and create a drawing on paper.

A good architect will work with you through multiple drafts until the visual on the paper matches the visual in your mind.  He will sketch a design with function, spirit, and artistic taste.

Produce a result

For your design to function well after you are satisfied with the general layout.  It may be necessary to involve other professional services.

An Electrical Engineer is mandatory on all Costa Rican house designs.  Also, it’s important if you are able, to participate in the electrical design.  Electrical codes are very much out of date in accordance with our electrical demands.  We have many more kitchen appliances, entertainment center appliances, bedroom gadgets, and we demand more convenient receptacles for charging units.  In addition, there is ambient lighting, task lighting, wall washing lighting, landscape lighting.  As you can see, many elements that you can participate in for the electrical design.

Depending on the size of the home, you may not be required to employ a Structural Engineer.  But having a Structural Engineer on-hand to review your preliminary plans before the detailed drawings are prepared benefits you.  This would include, a comprehension of the soil studies for footing size.  Lintel calculations, rebar sizes, frequency of rebar, structural roof design. etc.

Your Architect will generalize your structural footings, columns, and tie beams. In other words, that glass wall you envision may need some structural reinforcement.  Even the Architect’s final drawing is ill-defined without the engineering reviews.

House Designing prerequisites:

Because soil tests are not mandatory, people often overlook soil tests.  However, do yourself a favor and get soil studies on your lot. You, your engineer, and your builder need to know the structural characteristics of the ground, water dynamics, and filtration.

Also, you could even go a step further and ask a Structural Engineer to review the soil-studies results before designing a house. I personally have more than 40 experience in construction.  Have I got stories for you, from those who chose to skip certain engineering steps.  We at Finish Touch Enterprises SRL include soil studies in our Architect Agreement.  It is a part of your package and we also send the results to CFIA when submitting for a permit.

Note References for Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.

Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica or any place is a complex process, which should not be executed by one person or a single architect. Pura Vida really does take a village.  Hiring the right team to make your dream house in Costa Rica a reality will make the entire journey easier and more cost-effective. Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica is your first step toward the Pura Vida.

There is no sure way for putting together your team of designers.  Every case and situation is a bit different.  You don’t want to hire someone overqualified as it is an unnecessary expense.  But on the contrary, you don’t want to hire someone underqualified.  As your end result could cost you much more than money.  Finding that sweet spot is knowing how to choose the team in the first place.  Not just the yellow pages, (that don’t exist in Costa Rica either).

There are articles on this website that if you take the time to read will give you the tools for choosing your team.  Take notes to what is relevant to your situation, know the right questions to ask, and know what answers should come back.  This can be fun and exciting as you will begin a whole new friendship.  Make sure to include Finish Touch Enterprises on your list for interviews.

Attributes of Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica

If you’re reading this article, you are probably considering designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.  Or at least, dreaming about designing a house in Costa Rica.

Lot Attributes;

Let’s talk aboutCosta Rica Architect Firm some essential design and property attributes.  This is the first step of putting together a vision.  That is the attributes of your lot.  To name a few would be; the lots focal points, topography, trees age and species, neighbors, sun travel, mechanical noises, or possible nature noises, rivers, any existing attribute that may influence the design elements.  More details here

Personal Attributes;

Having your personal attributes on hand makes the process of designing and Building a House in Costa Rica enjoyable and less stressful.  We recommend preparing by creating a “Designing a House in Costa Rica” Binder with Photos and Notes.  Not every attribute I discuss will be relevant to you.  So in keeping with the Pura Vida, jot down only those notes that are relevant to you.

Taking notes and creating a binder will not only help you stay organized but also help you see your dream become tangible. You can designate specific sections, such as designs, permits, soil studies, photos, expenses, electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and schedules.  Also, you can even incorporate my articles in your binder for easy reference.

Have fun with your Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica Binder! Decorate or stylize your binder to reflect your aspirations and ideas. If you have not already done so, please, read the article: Costa Rica Architect Firm, which will explain what Finish Touch incorporates into every one of our designs.  Including your home and budget.

In your quest for the Pura Vida home, Two Attribute Categories deserve consideration: Property Attributes and House Attributes.

Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica: Property Attributes

1) Existing Topography in Costa Rica

When designing a home in Costa Rica, Property Attributes come first. What are Property Attributes? Primarily, existing topography (i.e., slopes, hills, terrain, and angles).designing a house in costa rica Americans often refer to the Western United States as God’s Country.  Costa Rica is also God’s Country.

Industries and prefabricated housing do not dominate the landscape. Nature created the land in Costa Rica, and Nature does not make mistakes.

Therefore, to fully enjoy all the beauty that Costa Rica has to offer, you probably want to keep the main features of your property as they are.

Topography analysis provides engineers with the necessary information they need.  For creating property access, including a place to park and maneuver vehicles.

Your actual home design may naturally conform to the side of a mountain or hill.  Understanding the basic topography and property elevations contributes to the home-design layout.

Which may include two stories, a basement walk-out, a raised or non-raised bungalow.  Or split-levels. Knowing the topographical benefits and limitations ultimately dictates how the house, perimeters, walls, and stories will be laid out.

Why do you have to know all this stuff? Knowledge is power and power is confidence. From a design point of view, you want to minimize the cost of your house’s foundation.  Or having to use budget funds for retaining walls.

2) Your Design’s Focal Point

Hire a builder costa ricaThat underlying beauty and variety of landscapes in Costa Rica create natural-design focal points. Which vista do you want to keep with your morning cup of coffee? Would you prefer a canopy or an oceanic view?  In the evening when you are sipping an adult beverage on the pool terrace?  If such a view does not exist on your property, then we will design and make one.  With tropical lush flora.

Do you even want a veranda? Knowing the focal point of your house design allows you to plan for particular house attributes. This is your dream—and Costa Rica is the most spectacular place to live out your dream.  So take advantage of every property and house attribute you can when designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.

3) Sun Travel On Your Property

There is an abundant amount of sun in Costa Rica.  Which is probably one of the main reasons you want to escape North America.  We have approx 8 hours of full sun rays per day compared to approx 3 hours of full sun in Canada and the northern states.  I shouldn’t have to explain the health benefits of the sun.  We’ve all learned a lot about the natural vitamin D and benefits of vitamin D against the covid calamity.

In addition, this amount of sun allows us to harvest its rays to produce electricity.  With an average of 8 hours of direct sun rays, the payback time for alternative energy of Photovoltaic is less than 5 years.  Wow, just imagine, free electricity for life.

The path the sun travels across your property can help you optimize your living space.  From a design point of view, sun travel considerations for windows locations, window sizes, location of bedrooms.  Sunsets, sunrises, sunny areas, and shaded areas.  Most people take this for granted.  Nonetheless, we use it to your advantage.

4) Privacy Considerations

Even in Costa Rica’s Pura Vida, you may want more privacy. When you’re having fun by the pool, or entertaining people for a bbq.  Perhaps a romantic moment with that special one.  In any situation, you want to feel secure, safe, and with complete privacy.  The list could be endless for reasons wanting your own personal privacy.  Therefore, your designer needs to analyze the best way to achieve this.  From house layout, house positioning, live fence, elevations, windows, or if necessary a wall.

If there is an adjoining lot with no structure, then your designer would have to make an educated assumption as to where a structure would be constructed.  There is also noise pollution that may be a part of this equation.  Not often, but sometimes we need to pay attention to outside noises.  If this is so, then we would consider a water feature to drown out sounds, or plant trees that attract certain birds.

This is an attribute that can be easily overlooked.  It is a simple issue and can save a lot of future frustration if taken care of early.

In Summary

Property studies are essential in designing.  Eliminating some house attributes to accommodate existing property attributes will save you a ton of money.  If necessary get several observations from various professionals.  Or consider an Architectural Firm like Finish Touch Enterprises that has a full complement of professional designers and engineers.

So, before you embark on designing and Building a House in Costa Rica, understand your property advantages and disadvantages beginning with the conceptual design.

House Attributes

1) Purpose of Designing and Building a House in Costa Rica

When designing and Building a House in Costa Rica, you will want to consider your house’s purpose. Is your home: an investment you’ll be renting for extra income. Or is it a part of a retirement plan.

Let’s not forget the ideal purpose of aDesign a house in Costa Rica permanent residence. Would be to accommodate a work schedule and retirement plan.  But still have the relaxing and welcoming humbleness.  I place to feel accomplished, and create new lifelong memories.

Or perhaps a vacation get-a-way for the family.  A vacation home can generate income if you choose, or be reserved specifically for your family and friends.  When escaping the cold climates, or big-city hustle and bustle rat race.  Where better to hang your hat than in a tropical, serene setting in Costa Rica, where it is summer every day of the year.  Coupled with a refreshment.

Each of these purposes contributes to design attributes.  An example would be that vacation homes would want to focus more on social areas and outdoor living.  Smaller closets and storage, outdoor kitchen, and so forth.  We may also recommend for a vacation home is to have two master bedrooms and two guestrooms are beneficial.  Because two families often travel together.

Or perhaps you are planning on a house exclusively for retirement and family visiting.  Then, you may want to incorporate more luxurious elements like a serenity pool, an impeccable garden landscape, and outdoor lighting.  Budgets would be higher on finish elements and decorative elements.  Like, architectural decorative ceilings, gourmet kitchen, smart home technology, etc.

This truly can be your dream home, do not limit your imagination or life. Pura Vida!

2) Lifestyle-Activity and Impact Ratio

Once you communicate the purpose of your house.  Especially if the home is for your personal use.  Then you’re going to find it easier for choosing your home’s attributes and elements.  Beginning with, assessing your Lifestyle-Activity Impact Ratio. Meaning, are you very active, sports-oriented, competitive.  Or more sedative, relaxed, laid back, more visual for gardens, water features, birdhouses.

Designing A House In Costa RicaMany elements are reflected in the pool design.  A pool can be a play pool with lots of splash and spa exercise.  Or a pool can have cascades, infinity, fire, and water features.

The surrounding area of the pool can be active with an outdoor kitchen, casita, studio, area for horseshoe competitions, or other lawn games.  Or the pool can have interesting terrace level characteristics, serene lighting, bar, chalupa, hammock, or other relaxing themes.

Besides lifestyle characteristics, there is age can be included.  Are there children or grandchildren that should be considered in the design attributes?  This can be especially important for vacation rental purposes.

In that binder, you are going to have fun making.  You may wish to designate a section for Lifestyle-Activity, Impact Ratio, so your architects, engineers, and builders can adequately accommodate your needs. Communication among you and those professionals working for you is crucial. Remember what I said earlier: You are The Boss! Ultimately, your home should be designed to your standards of comfort and reflect your traditions.

3) Spirit of the Home

A house, no matter how innovatively or luxuriously designed.  It is still just a house until it is lived in and the inhabitants give their home a Spirit.  You want your house to have a personality, which reflects you.

Designing A House In Costa RicaWhat curb appeal do you want your home to have?  A Mexican-Spanish façade with a modern interior, Columbian or Mediterranean architecture with a more traditional interior.  Or simply a modern beach house.

Do you want stone-work featured walls, more natural-rough woodwork, or a low-maintenance stucco finish?  Don’t forget Costa Rica’s mountains lend themselves to Mountain architecture or even vertical-building designs.

When your home has its own spirit or character, this will dictate how you feel when you’re in the home.

This is why you want to communicate clearly to your designers, engineers, and builders what kind of home and specific features you want. Even if you end up with an over-stuffed binder with many ideas.  Including notes, photos of houses and environments (especially helpful to designers), drawings, and scribbles, I would much rather sift through many ideas with you.  Discovering what you like.  Rather than your asking me or whomever you hire to make those decisions for you.

What spirit do you want your home to have and what kind of spirit do you want to live in?

We, at Finish Touch Enterprises and all other quality architects and Costa Rica home builders, follow systems for designing and building houses.  Only you can make a house a home filled with joy, sharing, and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Let us help you build you a “home” beyond just a constructed house.

4) Budget

The final house-design attribute is budget. The budget may be the most critical aspect of designing and Building a House in Costa Rica.  Because you can get so much more for your money in Costa Rica than in North America.

With that said, I understand that nobody wants to “break the bank” in building their dream home. The lower cost of a higher standard of living is probably one of the reasons you are designing a house in Costa Rica.

Conveniently, we utilize “Thumb Calculations” of what things generally cost per square foot or square meter as a starting point. A detailed list of costs is outlined in these two articles: Home Designing Service and Customizing a home in Costa Rica.

“Thumb Calculations” help us determine the size of your home, pool, Casita, garage, outdoor kitchen. Once we have established a preliminary design, we can calculate material quantities, such as linear feet of cabinetry, porcelain tiles, number of showers, ceiling fans, and other plumbing and light fixtures.

With this information, we can accurately calculate how much building your dream home in Costa Rica will cost. From the preliminary drawings, we can make adjustments until the design and the budget balance.

Again, whether you hire us or not, please contact me at Finish Touch Enterprises. I will be glad to answer any questions and help you find a place to start if that’s what you need. My only regret about moving to Costa Rica is that I did not move here 10 years earlier. I want you to experience the incomparable Pura Vida in Costa Rica.

Conclusion on Building a House in Costa Rica

With information from the 4-property attributes and the 4-house attributes, you can compose an anti-project design, which enables us to propose preliminary designs andhow to hire a builder budgets.  This proposal, which can be adjusted to balance the design and budget, is for your review.

  • Anti-Project of the project overview
  • Lot-access and parking
  • House position and foot-print layout
  • Pool position and foot-print layout
  • Outbuilding position and foot-print layout (i.e. garage, casita, pool, outdoor kitchen, etc)
  • Landscape-preliminary design
  • Floor plan including kitchen, closets, bathrooms, and furniture layouts
  • House elevations and 2D exterior views of the front, rear, right side, left side with proposed finishes
  • Preliminary budget with finishing and overall building details.  We offer our clients style, unique design, custom finishes, over 20 years of experience, free consultation, and a full staff of professionals.

Follow our series of building articles to empower you toward the success of your project’s completion:

  1. How to Hire a Builder
  2. Costa Rica Architect Firm 
  3. Designing And Building a House In Costa Rica Attributes (this article)
  4. Home Designing Service Costa Rica
  5. Costa Rica Home Builders
  6. Methods Of Building In Costa Rica
  7. Costa Rica Custom Home
  8. Costa Rica General Contractor
  9. Interior Design In Costa Rica
  10. Finish Touch Furniture SRL