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Real Estate FAQ | What are the steps to build a house in Costa Rica

Real Estate FAQ | What are the steps to build a house in Costa RicaTo build a house in Costa Rica is quite a process. We are committed to making the process of your property purchase as smooth as we can. So, before you make any mistakes, let me walk you through the 9 steps to build a house in Costa Rica.

1. Budget

What is your budget? Have you thought about your budget yet? Dreaming of a large house on a beautiful home site is so easy. You don’t want to have to abandon your project when it’s built halfway. First, look at your finances and see what you can afford.

2. Financing

Do you need financing to build a house? Are you a Costa Rican citizen or resident? Then talk to your banker first before you start looking at property. Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you go any further. Once you’re pre-approved, you can start shopping for land.

Non-residents are not eligible for a mortgage in Costa Rica with local lenders and banks.

3. Land

Book a meeting with one of our expert agents in the area you are interested in. Take into account the availability of the utilities. Look at properties you can afford, so you can build a house that is within budget.

Get a water letter as well as the zoning from the municipal engineering department before you purchase. Also, check for any restrictions. Get soil samples to see if you need soil replacement or not.

4. Close

Once you have an accepted offer, find yourself a closing attorney. Make sure your attorney does a complete title search and double-check on the requirements for a permit to build a house. Then close, so you can start the permitting process.

5. Design

What sort of house can you visualize for yourself? This is the most exciting part! Ask your real estate agent to recommend an architect. Also, ask around for other referrals and their references. Match the design of your future house to your budget. As soon as you have the design and construction plans, you can start the permitting.


  • Setbacks from rivers should be requested from INVU.
  • House drawings should be submitted first to the Federated Engineers and Architects Association (CFIA) for approval
  • Power should be requested from CNFL or the power company in that particular location
  • Water should be requested from Acueductos y Alcantarillados or by the institution responsible for the water service supply in that particular location.
  • If the construction is larger than 300 m2 (3,300 ft2), an environmental feasibility certificate has to be granted by SETENA.
  • The final construction permit should be requested at the engineering department of your municipality.
  • For any doubts, check on this overview created by CFIA.

7. Refine

Refine with your architect and builder the details of your future home. Select the colors, finishing materials, fixtures and more!

8. Build

Once you have your finances in place for the construction and the closing on the property has occurred, you can start to build a house in Costa Rica. If you’ve settled all the payments with your builder, and you involve a home inspector at each stage, you should be ready in around 6 months (depending on the rains).

9. Move in

With all you’ve been through, you really deserve the last step of the process. YES! Enjoy watching your new home take shape. With construction complete, it’s time to move in.

The steps to build a house in Costa Rica are quite clear. BUT… stay on the agenda, don’t make any changes during the process. Contact us, the experts, for all your real estate purchases and sales.

Feel free to leave your comments on this blog. If you like this article, please feel free to share it on your social media.

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While we’re at it, I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Finally, please remember the American-European real estate Group’s agents when you refer a real estate agent. Because we DO appreciate your business.

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Ivo Henfling

Your West-side of San Jose real estate agent, covering Escazu and Santa Ana, Rohrmoser and Ciudad Colon. If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the Central Valley or looking for any property for sale in Escazu or Santa Ana, you need to contact Costa Rica real estate agent Ivo Henfling. Ivo has been selling Costa Rica real estate on the westside of San Jose, in the locations of Rohrmoser, Sabana, Escazu, Santa Ana and Ciudad Colon for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and those other areas. For Ivo, a deal is not a good one unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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