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Building A House In Costa Rica

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 Rica

Firstly, 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 Rica

Most 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 Rica

Moreover, 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 builders

Most 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 Rica

In 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 Rica

Correspondingly 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.

Building a house in Costa Rica

Including there has been no apprentice program or intern 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 Service

Let’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 builder

For 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 Rica

Firstly, 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

Costa Rica Home Builders | Build a House | Custom Homes

Choosing a Costa Rica Home Builders Class

Designing a house in Costa Rica

Finding 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 Builders

Depending 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 builders

This 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 House

I 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 Builders

This 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 Builders

This 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.

These technologies for your home could include;

Costa Rica Home Builders

  • 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 Design

Often 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 Rica

In 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 Rica

For 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 Rica

The 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
How To Hire A Builder

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