How to hire a builder

How to Hire A Builder

How To Hire A Builder In Costa Rica

Dreams Can Come True

Hire a builder costa ricaIf you could live anywhere, where would you live? Do you want temperate weather, ocean breezes, world-class shopping, a quiet-rural life, low-cost healthcare, friendly people, and easy-access services? You have to enjoy at least a few of those things! Costa Rica has all those qualities and more.  Which is why we will show you how to hire a builder in Costa Rica.

I know what you’re thinking, “Who has the money to live in Costa Rica?” The answer is you probably already have the money you need to live grandly in Costa Rica. One person can live an upper-class North American lifestyle for as little as $1,400 to $2,000 a month. Oh, and that money includes everything: housing, transportation, health care, entertainment, and more. Convinced yet?

Finish Touch Enterprises SRL can help you make your dreams a reality. We aren’t just in the construction business; we are in the “making dreams come true” business. I am Michael, the founder and CEO of Finish Touch Enterprises SRL, and I have been helping people fulfill their dreams in Costa Rica for over 10 years.

I am a general contractor with more than 38 years’ experience. Originally Canadian, I worked as a general contractor in Canada, the United States, and Costa Rica. I moved here ten years ago, and my only regret is that I didn’t move here ten years earlier. Let’s make your dream project a success.  I can guide you through the process of how to hire a builder in Costa Rica. Owning a home in a tropical paradise can be a reality.

Why Know How To Hire A Builder in Costa Rica?

The cost of building a house and having a high standard of living is reasonable in Costa Rica. Having a housekeeper and gardener is a luxury in North America; having a housekeeper and gardener in Costa Rica is common for the middle-class. Perhaps you even need an in-home health aid, which in North America can break your budget, but in Costa Rica, an in-home health aide is within your budget. Everyone wants good, cost-effective health care and you can get that benefit in Costa Rica, which has socialized health care. Actually, many people favor Costa Rica for as a destination for medical tourism.

So, you will have access to excellent health care, but you may not need as much healthcare as you do in North America. The weather is temperate year-round with ocean breezes mitigating the humidity. Costa Rica boasts a healthy atmosphere without smog, pollution, snow, and icy roads. All those bulky, inconvenient winter clothes you have for cold falls, winters, and sometimes springs—don’t bother to pack them! I can tell you first hand that Costa Rica’s food is healthy because it’s grown in natural soil without pesticides and hydroponic chemicals. You can find processed food, but most of Costa Rica’s food has no additives. Free-range chickens, pigs, and cows are not “mass-produced” in slaughterhouses.

So, what’s the catch? There’s always a catch, right? If you want to enjoy a higher standard of living, a slower paced-life, and a better life in Costa Rica, you need to know one thing: how to hire a builder—how to hire the right builder. Personally, I would suggest Finish Touch Enterprises SRL, but even if you don’t hire me, I still want to help you through the process.

The Benefits Of Building A Home In Costa Rica. 

  • Permanent residency without sacrificing your current citizenship
  • As a retiree, enjoy a high standard of living for a low cost
  • Intelligent-income investment with a high-annual ROI year-round
  • Additional out-buildings on your property, which can serve as a rental (rendering extra income), a guest house, or both.
  • Quality home care that provides assisted living in such a healthy environment
  • Government stability: Costa Rica does not have an army, but offers higher education opportunities, socialized medicine, and socialized banking.
  • Healthy food and a healthy lifestyle
  • All of these benefits are contingent on knowing how to hire a quality builder


Design Ideas

Designing A House In Costa RicaHave an en-suite apartment on your property at a fraction of the cost in North America. This apartment can serve as extra income, a great gift to your family, an inviting guest house, or a place where you can affordably care for your parents. You could also utilize this structure for a live-in, home-health aide who will provide superior comfort for you and your family.

To begin building a “ hassle-free” house in Costa Rica, you will need to accomplish a series of steps in a specific order.  I have created this checklist with all these steps and details that are often an after-thought with many general contractors. You will need to design your home and have detailed construction drawings to obtain your building permit.  Often, hiring an architect or a Costa Rican Architectural Firm is the best path to achieve all these details; however, I am focusing on how to hire a builder in this article.

Three Methods To Building A House In Costa Rica

  1. First Method: Hire an architect or architectural firm
  2. Second Method: Hire a builder
  3. Third Method: Be your own builder

This article will assist you:

  • Select your lot or narrow-down where you want to build
  • Possess a title to your property
    • A copy of the title, which shows your corporation as proprietor
    • A copy of a persona juridical, showing you own the corporation
    • Most importantly, the corporation-share certificates and the books of the corporation locked in a safe
    • Ensuring your property’s water, electric, and telecommunication
  • Select your architect or architectural firm
  • In-progress or finished house designs
  • Finalizing your construction drawings
  • Attaining all necessary permits

Approaching How To Hire A Builder And Other Professionals

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.  There is a multitude of research and catalogues to help you start the design process, including folders of photos and pages of sample communication dialogue between you and your designer. This home is not only an investment, but also your home-- get everything to exactly match your vision.  Don’t hesitate to utilize professional engineers and architects who will examine and analyse every square inch of design for home functionality. That third story may not be practical, or the jacuzzi in the back yard may be very doable.

As a veteran contractor, I know how much detail goes into a building a house and these details can overwhelm a first-time home designer. Here are some elements to consider: what parts of the house will get direct sunlight or more shade, the best location for windows and terraces, furniture placement in regarding electrical outlets and switches, optimal home-entertainment center locations, wall features, niches, storage, specific needs, how to hire a builderpersonal attributes. Did you also want a home library or study? Designers can make that happen.  As the owner, you will review and approve all design and architecture recommendations and changes.

I want to offer a little Costa Rican advice on hiring employees, companies, and firms: read the rest of this article, so you will be better equipped to interview potential builders, designers, architects, etc.  After you finish this article, click on the link at the end of “Designing a House In Costa Rica.” The articles in this link will make sure you are confidently prepared to start and finish your dream home in Costa Rica.

How To Hire A Builder And General Hiring Advice

As you read my blog posts, you may wish to take notes and write any questions.  Contact me anytime, and I will be more than happy to answer questions for you.  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, employees and contractors will fall into two categories:

Category One

People whose goal is to earn money

  1. Calculating earnings regularly
  2. Watching the clock frequently
  3. High price for services
  4. Frequent payment discussions
  5. Calculating holidays and work hours
  6. Consistent lateness
  7. Providing a service or report is an effort

Category Two

People who love their job


  1. Often take work home
  2. Commonly staying late
  3. Open to working at least some weekends
  4. Communicate with you outside of “business hours” to ensure your satisfaction
  5. A positive attitude towards life
  6. Commonly involved in community engagements and/or sports
  7. Committed to clients’ deadlines, regardless of quoted “work hours”

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 sand castle 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 sand castle 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 electric 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 Category Two people who have integrity and take pride in their work.  

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 wrote these articles to help not only my clients, but also everyone who wants to design and build a house in Costa Rica. I will also give you the knowledge to separate Category One workers from the Category Two workers.

Prepare An Interview on How To Hire A Builder And Other Professionals

how to hire a builder in costa ricaAn analogy: If you explain to a mechanic how your car works,  he will know within a few seconds whether you know what you are talking about. On the other hand, if a mechanic explains to you how your car works, (unless you know cars), you will probably not understand what he is saying.  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 know that a mechanic is honest and is good at what he does, have to interview him with someone whom you trust and knows cars.

Knowledge is understanding and understanding is power and confidence. You need to know about the design and building process in Costa Rica or anywhere before you hire an architect or builder.  If you don’t understand certain architectural and engineering terms, Category Ones will easily dazzle you with fancy words and phrases for complex protocols. Let’s even the playing field and give you the knowledge, power, and confidence to hire the best people to design and build your house in Costa Rica. I would probably refer you to Finish Touch Enterprises SRL, but you can make up your mind after reading relevant articles. You are not just “Googling” how to build a house or how to hire a builder in Costa Rica; I am giving you all this information in one place.

Prepare A Questionnaire On How To Hire A Builder And Other Professionals

How to hire a builderKnowledge is power and confidence, so you already know (from this and the other articles) what questions you should ask potential employees and contractors and what the answers should be. Just from this article, you know how to spot a Category One or Category Two employee or contractor. Whomever you may choose to design and build your dream house, you are giving them your money. 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 a builder.

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 experience?
      1. Note more than 10 quality years of work experience trumps schooling. Designing and building a home has 24 specialty trade requirements, so it’s more important that your professional has first-hand knowledge in:
      2. Structural aspects of the ground, concrete, steel, etc…
        1. Electrical and mechanical aspects with a good working knowledge of codes.
        2. Material options for aesthetics and finishes including substrates for insect and mold inhibitors.
        3. Engineering systems for roofing
    1. What is the builder’s main course of work and its relevance to your project?
    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 for unforeseen circumstances.
  1. Ask your professional to describe one of his most difficult projects and listen to how he resolved issues. Every builder has his story.
    1. More importantly, learn if his problem-solving methods are competent and efficient. (Remember the buckets of water?)
  1. Prepare 4 Management-Skills Questions

    1. Ask how your professional organizes work crews.
    2. What is his method of calculating material requirements accurately?
    3. How does he coordinate sub-trades, like window, cabinetry, flooring, etc. manufacturers?
    4. Much of this work must be organised 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 a professional web and social media presence?
    3. Does the company have all the necessary equipment and tools?
    4. Established branding on vehicles or other rooted locations?
  3. Prepare 4 Networking Questions

    1. Who are the primary suppliers and regular businesses with whom the company is associated?
    2. What is the builder’s community involvement? (Remember we want to hire from the Category Two.)
    3. What are the company’s future goals and expansion of services?
      1. In other words, how ambitious is the company or is the company stagnant and complacent?
    4. Can the company supply you with various references on their behalf?
  4. 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, monthly proof of government responsibility payments, etc?
    6. Can the company provide detailed performa 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 How To Hire A Builder

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.

I am disgusted when I read horror contracted stories about people losing their investment and instead of having a house, having a disaster. Incompetence and dishonesty in the construction business mar the name of all Category Two professionals. 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 takes 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


  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

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