A Design and Permitting Service

This is a Design and Permitting Service that you are going to require when you are ready to develop your property. Firstly, we want to eliminate any confusion or complicated processes.   This article will explain to you in simplified terms for your comprehension.

Architects in Costa Rica are usually connected with engineers and builders.  These professionals will assist in the designing mechanism, as the design advances.  There may be additional charges for their services, so, it is important to ask an architect upfront about these potential additional costs.  We have a saying that:

An architect knows something of everything, whereas, an engineer knows everything about something.

If your lot is flat, and the properties touching your property are flat.  Then, you would most likely only require an architect and electrical engineer.  If the home design would require a septic design, then you would also include a mechanical engineer.  This is a requirement by the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica (CFIA).  Expats would refer to the CFIA as the Federal Building Department.

Design and Permitting Service

Design Service

These engineers are required to be registered on your construction drawings as responsible in their area of professional studies.  When we submit construction drawings to CFIA, a reviewer receives the construction plans and property documents.  He will then check all the permit documents for validity, and check the listed professionals for validity as well.  Then the plans proceed to the approval process to the various departments in the CFIA.  That includes the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Fire Department, Building Department, and so forth.

In addition, to the aforementioned, you may require additional studies from professionals.  On the property or involved in the design.  This may be due to your lot’s location or the topography of the lot or other attributes in the design that may require a professional’s consult. You may require a structural engineer a civil engineer, environmental engineer.

Detailed Specialties in Engineering

  • Structural Engineer
    • Design of footings size and rebar placement as a result of soil studies
    • Deep foundation systems for stability or on steep-sloped property
    • Steel structural iron designs for tie-beams, support beams, lintels, etc
    • Cantalevers, truss designs, roof spans, etc
  • Civil Engineer
    • Designs of lot access, and building platform
    • Stormwater management
    • Road designs
  • Environmental Engineer
    • Tree cut permit
    • Building structure greater than 1,000 sq.m
    • Project located in an environmental protection zone
    • Require Setena resolution for earth movement
    • Require concession for river water, or a well

To be clear, these specialty professionals are required only in the event of property or design circumstances.  Not on all design projects.

Designing Service Staff

Furthermore, depending on location, lot topography, it is recommended but not mandatory for environmental engineers and geologists to perform studies on the property for stabilization.  The sonic movement for seismic design, infiltration studies, and soil sample studies.  This is not necessary in all cases and should be discussed with your designer.  In other words, soil studies are not a mandatory procedure but are highly recommended in about 90% of cases.  You may wish to demand this be done to your property and have the results translated to you in leman terms.

Finish Touch Enterprises’ includes the soil studies in all of our Design Agreements.  Without a doubt, we want to begin a project on the right foot.  Avoiding this procedure could result in a failure of a system.  Consequently, that will most likely be expensive.

Summary of Design and Permitting Service

    • An architect will consult with you regarding the home design.  He will acknowledge your budget, home style, number of rooms, your lifestyle, any special needs, and your ‘must-haves.
    • From there a preliminary study would be done on the property.  Considerations for lot topography, the proximity of neighbors or future neighbors, any privacy concerns that may exist,  sun travel to determine sunny areas and shaded areas, lot access, focal points, and other attributes for your design. (The above two points are a free service of Finish Touch Enterprises SRL).
    • It is at this point, that it would be known if additional engineering would be beneficial or required.  This is also the time where the pencil meets paper and a preliminary design with elevations is prepared for your approval.  All attributes and elements from the interview and property prelim study are utilized.
    • Once you approve the prelim design and budget, the engineers are then put to work to make the design function and meet all codes; building code, fire code, environmental codes, etc.  The designer is also put to work to perform her magic to deliver you a ‘wow’ factor appearance.  All professionals work with the architect in this stage.
    • Construction drawings are prepared to display details of construction methods, materials, finishes, elevations, roof design, pool design, kitchen design, measures, window schedules, door schedules, and other required information.

Prepare for your Design a House Interview

We have posted a few blogs that may be of help to you. It is suggested that you read these to better prepare yourself and communicate with the architect.  Have a paper and pen when reading the articles to make notes.  It is paramount to communicate with the architect all attributes and elements that you are envisioned for your new Costa Rica Home.  The more he understands your vision, the more likely he will deliver you a design specific to your wants.

Visual aids are far more explanatory than objectives or descriptions.  Photos show spirit and details.  So, therefore, have some with you to demonstrate certain elements, attributes that you would like to have in your design.

Permitting Service

We begin collecting documents required for the permits when we begin designing the home.  The Design and Permitting Service is a two-service process that works in concert.  Some documents can take months to receive, so, therefore, it is recommended to begin early to acquire them.  Some of these documents can only be requested by the property owner.  So for that reason, it is the property owner’s responsibility to solicit these documents.  We do help and we will do all the work, but we do require the cooperation of the property owner.

Not all builds require the same documents.  Here is a list of documents that may be required for your property.  The preliminary study will determine which documents will be required.

List of Permitting Service Documents

        • Uso de Suelo (Use of Land) – This document is solicited from the Municipality and usually, only the property owner can request it.  This can take up to one month.  If the registered plot plan does not have a ‘Visado’ stamp, then it may take up to 3 months just to sort through it.
        • Certified Water Availability Letter – This can only be issued by AyA or an ASADA.  No other entity can issue the Water Availability Letter.  This as well must be solicited by the property owner.  We can do this for you, but you need to sign the documents.
        • Plano Catastre – This is the registered plot plan.  We can get a certified copy from the Nation Registry Office.  It will be a map of the property, the location of the property, and property size.
        • Property Title – We can get a certified copy from the National Registry Office.  The title will indicate whom or which entity is the owner of the property Catastre Number
        • Persona Juridica – This is only necessary if the property is in a corporation name.  Similar to Articles of Incorporation, this document will indicate who is the owner of the corporation, that owns the property.
        • Copies of passports – Self-explanatory.  It is important to note, that the passports must match the Persona Juridica ID.  If you have new passports with new passports numbers that differ from the Persona Juridica, then a lawyer will need to update this before we file for permits.
        • D1 or D2 – These are Ministry of Environmental declarations and approvals.  They are not necessary for all builds.  However, if your project is multi-resident, or is over 10,000 sq. ft., or is in a protected zone, you will need one of these documents.

Permitting Service Submittals

The above documents together with the construction drawings are submitted to the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica (CFIA for short).  This is the federal building department.  Finish Touch Enterprises SRL is a registered and licensed General Contractor in Costa Rica.  With carnet number CC-08073.  All our professionals are also registered with CFIA and are registered as employees of Finish Touch Enterprises.  All engineers, architects, and designers are entered into the cantine of the construction drawings.

A reviewer will receive the documents and check that all is correctly formated, all licensed professionals are current, all necessary documents are submitted.  From there, the package travels to all the ministries.  Ministry of environmental, Ministry of Health, Fire department, and finally building department.

Then we are notified of our excellent work and approvals.  It is then time to pay the fees involved and the plans are returned with a seal on each page.  At the same time, we also receive an electrical permit from them.  We then submit the approved plans to the municipality, where they check that we comply with all municipal by-laws.

Once we receive their approvals, we then show proof of paid insurance (mandatory) and we then pay the municipal permits.

Completion of Design and Permitting Service

We have finally reached a stage where you are ready to put a shovel in the ground.  Permits are in hand.  However, before you get too excited.  You must have a builder ready to operate that shovel.  You have now completed your Design and Permitting Agreement, and now you need to enter into a Building Agreement.  We certainly hope that you will continue with us to complete the build.  In addition, to receiving your permits, we also give you a detailed proforma of materials and labor costs to build the house.  This proforma is 15 pages and details a complete material take-off.  As to, how many blocks, how many rebars, roofing material, there are budgets for electrical and plumbing fixtures, as well as flooring and other finishes.

With your approved construction drawings, and detailed proforma costs.  You now have the tools to solicit other builders and do comparison costs.  This is a large investment and you must make an informed decision of whom you will entrust for your build.

Following our series of building articles in order will empower you toward the success of your project’s completion.