Real Estate in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais Costa Rica
Properties for Sale in Mal Pais, Santa Teresa, Playa Hermosa and Manzanillo
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Costa Rica Real Estate Guide

Building Permits

The process of getting permission to build outside the beach zone can be complicated depending upon where your property is located. Beachfront development has a different set of rules compared to private land. Although it is national code that regulates building, practical application will vary in populated areas like San Jose versus rural areas such as the Nicoya Peninsula. Santa Teresa, Mal Pais and Manzanillo are governed by the municipality of Cobano and all permits must be submitted there for approval.

Code is not nearly as strict as in the United States. You must present proof of ownership and a set of building plans signed by a Costa Rican architect. There is a preliminary study and a pre-project (anteproyecto) performed by the architect. Set fees for architects are between 4%-6% of the value of the construction. For larger projects, you may be required to do an environmental impact study and possibly another study for supporting infrastructure. For residential real estate construction, a single permit is issued at the local municipality with a one-time inspection before construction begins. In rural areas, follow up inspections are rare. It is the architect’s responsibility to make sure you follow the approved plans. You must have a proper water supply and septic system.

The permit process should take a couple of weeks not counting the time it takes to draw up your building plans. Some materials like cement and wood are equal to stateside prices but labor is very inexpensive. General labor costs are around $15 per day and a decent carpenter or block layer will cost around $25 per day. One of the biggest reasons Costa Rica offers such high profit potential is the low cost of construction. Building costs can be as low as $40 per square foot, and for a luxury construction, costs are around $90/sf. Much of the cost also depends on what part of the country you are looking to build and they seem to be on the rise.

A permit to cut any tree over 15cm in diameter at a height of 130cm is needed. Please do not butcher your lot, work around the trees and the animal right-of-ways. Permits are obtained through MINAE, http://www.minae.go.cr.

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